Cecilia Vaisman, our beloved colleague and friend, died on September 27, 2015. In addition to serving as a senior producer for Homelands, she was associate professor at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, and a mentor and inspiration to many.
Born in Argentina and raised in the United States, Cecilia received a degree in Latin American Studies from Barnard College and joined the staff of NPR as a producer. As a co-founder of Homelands Productions, she produced radio features and documentaries from Central and South America, the Caribbean, South Asia, and the USA on identity and women’s issues, the environment, health, and development.
Cecilia was co-executive producer of the Homelands series “World Views,” senior producer of “Vanishing Homelands” and “Searching for Solutions,” and project director of the Spanish and Portuguese language versions of “Searching for Solutions.” She also produced the documentary series “When the Rainforest Burns” and created Argentina’s first radio documentary news program for Radio América in Buenos Aires.
After five years in Havana in the early 2000s, she spent a year as a visiting fellow at the Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame, then taught courses in political science and Latino and Gender Studies at Notre Dame, the University of Illinois Chicago, and Northwestern University. She worked at Chicago Public Media as a project editor overseeing coverage of the Great Lakes region before joining the faculty at Medill in 2012.
Cecilia received the Clarion Award and the National Federation of Community Broadcasters’ Golden Reel Award, as well as two Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards for reporting on the disadvantaged. A series she co-produced for NPR on AIDS in Brazil won her an Armstrong Award. In 2016, Cecilia was honored posthumously with a Studs Terkel Award from the Chicago-based organization Public Narrative.
Please click here for an obituary in the Chicago Tribune, and here for a brief audio tribute produced by WBEZ in Chicago. You can watch a video of a January 2016 memorial event at Medill by clicking here.