Lily Altavena

I’m an education journalist at the Detroit Free Press, building a new beat focused on inequities in Michigan’s public school system.

I joined the Free Press in 2021 after three years of education reporting at The Arizona Republic, with stints as an environment and city reporter.

I’ve spent my adult life in a lot of different places: from producing a morning show in the control room of a tiny TV station off I-30 in Dallas to fetching tapes in the halls of 30 Rock to reporting on a story in one of those tiny chairs in a kindergarten class in Mesa, Arizona (the best out of the three work environments).

I like writing about education, healthcare and the environment.

Where I’ve been, specifically 

I was busy during my two years as a graduate student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University (I received my master’s of mass communication in 2017). For eight months, I investigated state takeovers of school districts with News21, creating a first-of-its-kind database tracking how many people have been affected by takeovers in the last decade. As an investigative reporter with Cronkite News, I was the senior producer and lead reporter on HookedRx, a documentary about prescription opioid abuse that aired simulcast on every one of Arizona’s TV stations.

Before grad school, I spent a little more than a year producing EyeOpener, a nationally syndicated morning show for Tribune Media in Dallas, Texas. That job, which occasionally entailed running the camera system, rolling the prompter and boothing the show at the same time, came after a year working as a production assistant in documentaries.

Still reading? Before I graduated with a bachelor’s degree from New York University, I interned at the Village Voice, The New York Times and NBC News. I grew up in Michigan up until the age of 13, when I moved to Phoenix: I consider both states to be my home.

(photo by Tom Tingle)

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