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Winners of the Richard J. Margolis Award

2023

Jordan Michael Smith
Smith writes about the failures of the criminal justice system and mass incarceration

2022

Mara Kardas-Nelson
Kardas-Nelson's work interrogates inequality in the international development sector and environmental movements.

2021

Wes Enzinna
Enzinna's own experience of growing up in a working-class family informs his longform reportage and personal essays on how the poor cope in an increasingly unequal society.

2020

Stephanie Anderson
Anderson writes about rural life, agriculture and the environment, with a recent emphasis on women's role in agriculture.

2019

Mansoor Adayfi
Adayfi writes about his 14+ years of captivity at Guantánamo Bay Prison Camp and the injustice of keeping the camp open and holding prisoners without charge.

2018

Ellyn Gaydos
Gaydos writes about the lives of people living and coping in rural America.

2017

Leslie Jill Patterson
Patterson digs into the lives of defendants charged with capital murder in Texas.

2016

Denver David Robinson
Robinson's work focuses on the effect of homophobia and poverty on LGBTQ people worldwide.​

2015

Daniel Hernandez
Hernandez explores hardship, survival and redemption in afflicted and marginalized communities through individual stories that convey issues of national concern.

2014

Blaire Briody
Briody looks at how environmental and economic issues affect everyday Americans, focusing on those often ignored by politicians and major media outlets.

2013

Patrick Arden
Arden explores the lives of Americans in poverty and the relationship between income inequality and political power.​

2012

Inara Verzemnieks
Verzemnieks inhabits the worlds she writes about, focusing on people making homes in places where no one was meant to live.

2011

Sabine Heinlein
Heinlein explores the injustices and idiosyncrasies of American life through her immersion in the lives of those living on its fringes.​

2010

Doug Hunt
Hunt details stories of racial injustice in Columbia, Missouri, from the city's slavery era to the 1923 lynching of James Scott and modern-day law enforcement.

2009

Joe Wilkins
A native of Montana, Wilkins writes about about the American West. In the words of one reviewer, "Joe Wilkins writes his truths straight from the broken heart of a broken land."

2008

Gabriel Thompson
Gabriel Thompson's work with Mexican immigrants as a community organizer inspired him to labor among them and write about their lives.​

2007

Stephanie Griest
At the time she won the Margolis Award, Griest was investigating the the murder of a prominent gay activist in Mexico and interviewing migrant workers and the families of rebels in Oaxaca.

2006

Marie Myung-Ok Lee
Lee's writing focuses on the impact of the environmental pollution on human health. When she won the Margolis Award, she was working on book about the relationship between pollution and the rise in diagnosed cases of autism in the U.S.

2005

Kisha Lewellyn
Lewellyn's writing explores the relationship of farmers and ranchers to working landscapes. At the time of winning the award, Lewellyn was developing an essay on the rising number of women farmers in the United States and their historical role in farming.

2004

Nelson Smith
Smith's work on the social and architectural history of the small tenement building in Manhattan's East Twenties, where he had lived for the past 20 years, led him to explore why people come to cities.

2003

John Bowe
Bowe's investigation of the enslavement of a group of Mexican farmworkers in South Florida was published in the April 21, 2003, issue of The New Yorker. He was working on a book about the growing number of slavery cases in the U.S. when he won the Margolis Award.

2002

Iyesetta Massaquoi
A native of Sierra Leone and a medical student at the time, Massaquoi won the Margolis Award for her powerful stories about the impact of Sierra Leone's long-running and brutal civil war on its children.

2001

Otis Haschemeyer
Haschemeyer, selected for "The Best New American Voices of 2003," wrote about a Desert Storm sniper he knew while living in Arkansas. He planned to incorporate that piece into a longer work dealing with the Gulf War and the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

2000

Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
LeBlanc's documentary reportage illuminates the lives of adolescents living in poverty, juvenile justice, women in prison and outcast children.

1999

Susan Parker
A former elementary school teacher and bicycle-tour guide, Parker embarked on a writing career in 1995, after her husband was paralyzed following a devastating bicycle accident and Parker became his caretaker and the couple’s sole breadwinner.

1998

Laura Distelheim
When she won the award in 1998, Laura Distelheim was writing "Grace Notes," a collection of profiles of people who had found the strength to overcome the challenges of poverty, illness, displacement, discrimination and persecution.

1997

Julie Lasky
Lasky’s focus is on the arts. Her articles, essays and book reviews have appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The American Scholar and Forward.  In 1992, Lasky was named managing editor of Print, a bimonthly graphic-arts magazine.

1996

E. J. Graff
Since winning the Margolis Award in 1996, E.J. Graff has continued to garner accolades and recognition for her writing on issues of women and children, marriage and family, and gender and sexuality.

1995

Josip Novakovich
The son of a Croatian clog-maker, Novakovich immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 20 to attend Vassar College. He is the author of a collection of essays, Apricots from Chernobyl, and a short story collection, Yolk, both published in 1995 by Graywolf Press.

1994

Maggie Dubris
WillieWorld, Dubris’ book-length prose poem was an outgrowth of her 10 years of work as an ambulance driver in New York City's Hell's Kitchen. It is a gritty and stunning portrait of the horrors and miracles found in America's abandoned inner cities.

1993

Judith Levine
Levine combines reportage, history, social science and personal writing to explore the cultural politics of sexuality, gender, family and the overlapping practices of psychology and criminal justice.

1992

Richard Manning
Manning received the first Margolis Award for a lyrical account of his experience building a log cabin with his wife in the Montana wilderness, a work that later appeared in his second book, A Good House (Grove Press). He has continued to write regularly about the social, political and environmental threats to America's West, winning numerous awards along the way.

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