More Than a Fellowship: Supporting the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation’s Mission

Ana Suárez

By Ana Suárez

Medill/Foley fellow for winter/spring 2021

It has been a great honor to serve as a fellow of the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation. Working with JWFLF has exposed me to the compelling story of Jim Foley, whose tireless work as a freelance conflict journalist to capture the brutality of war, give a voice to the marginalized, and share those stories with the world cost him his life. His life and legacy are rooted in “inspiring moral courage, one person at a time,” and this mindset and mission resonated with me as a journalist and inspired me to apply for this position. 

It is not too often we are privileged enough to work in our chosen profession while also advancing the safety and wellbeing of our colleagues all over the world. This fellowship has given me that opportunity, and for that, I’m very grateful. JWFLF has exposed me to the perennial danger journalists face and the importance of protecting those who bring us an unvarnished draft of history. As a Medill graduate student at Northwestern University—Jim’s alma mater—I feel even more honored to be a part of upholding his legacy and continuing his work to empower others. 

During my time as a fellow, I’ve been able to apply my background as a Medill media innovation and content strategy journalism student to help the foundation advance its mission. I’ve contributed by monitoring the news for updates on threats to journalists and the struggle to free Americans held hostage abroad, overseeing the social media accounts for our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, and Shutterfly, and managing the foundation’s website. This work has heightened my awareness of hostage-taking and atrocities committed against journalists. I’m proud to have helped JWFLF strengthen its mission to protect these journalists and other Americans at risk of kidnapping and give voice to those who have been silenced. 

I’ve been able to connect my work at the foundation with my studies at Northwestern. I am passionate about the intersection between journalism, technology, and design. I believe investing in technology-driven storytelling will be essential to reach wider audiences and facilitate responsible dissemination in an information-abundant world. Through my work at JWFLF, I’ve learned how disinformation and online violence threatens journalists and truth-telling. I hope to leverage these important lessons to shape narratives that heighten awareness and mobilize people to take action. Now more than ever it’s important for journalists to inform the public in a compelling way so they can continue to hold power to account and keep democracy strong. 

Through this fellowship I have had the pleasure of working with JWFLF’s dedicated team, always committed to the cause and working tirelessly on behalf of all those who sacrificed their lives in pursuit of the truth. The Foley family has turned personal pain into a mission and exemplified how to lead with purpose. This experience helping the foundation accelerate its impact through Jim’s legacy has left an indelible imprint on my life. Although my time here will come to an end in June, the cause will continue.