Institute for Southern Studies Staff

Chris Kromm - Executive Director and Publisher of Facing South

Chris joined the staff of the Institute in 1997. From 1997 to 2000, he was the editor of Southern Exposure magazine, the Institute's award-winning journal of politics and culture. He was appointed executive director in 2000. He is also publisher of Facing South, the Institute's online magazine.

A frequently-sought commentator on Southern politics and current issues, Chris has appeared on over 300 TV and radio broadcasts including American Public Media's "Marketplace," CNN "Live," C-SPAN, Democracy Now, KCRW California's "To the Point," Mississippi Public Radio, MSNBC's "All In with Chris Hayes," NPR's "All Things Considered," Pacifica Radio, WUNC's "The State of Things," and Sirius XM Radio. Kromm's writing has appeared in The Herald-SunThe HillThe Huffington PostThe Independent WeeklyThe Nation, The News & ObserverSalon, and other publications.

Chris is the author or co-author of more than 60 Institute reports on topics ranging from the changing demographic and political landscape in the South to money in politics, labor, voting rights, and disaster recovery in the Gulf Coast. Kromm's reports have been covered in more than 350 media outlets, including ABC News, Associated Press, BBC World, Bloomberg News, CNN News, NPR, The New YorkerThe New York Times, Reuters, The Washington Post, and USA Today.

Under Chris' leadership, the Institute and its media programs have been recognized with several prestigious honors and awards, including the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting, a North Carolina Justice Center Defenders of Justice Award for Policy Research and Advocacy, a Harry Chapin Media Award for coverage of poverty issues, an Investigative Reporting award from the North Carolina Press Association, and honors from the National Press Club, Society of Professional Journalists, and the White House Correspondents' Association.

Read Chris' latest Facing South articles here.


Sue Sturgis - Editorial Director

Sue joined the Institute in November 2005 as director of Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch, a project to document and investigate the post-Katrina recovery. A former staff writer for The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the Independent Weekly in Durham, North Carolina, Sue directs and writes for the Institute's online magazine, Facing South, with a focus on energy and environmental issues. She was the first journalist to be awarded the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters' Catalyst Award for her commitment to educating the public about important environmental issues.

Sue has authored or co-authored numerous Institute reports, including "Life After BP" (2011), "Faith in the Gulf" (2008), "Hurricane Katrina and the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement" (2008) and "Blueprint for Gulf Renewal" (2007). Her work has also appeared in other publications including The American Prospect, The Progressive, and Salon. Sue holds a master's in journalism from New York University and a bachelor's in social work from Penn State.

Read Sue's latest Facing South articles here.


Rebekah Barber - Research Associate

Rebekah is a Research Associate at Facing South/Institute for Southern Studies focusing on racial justice, democracy and Southern history. As a student activist she, organized around issues including voting rights, the Fight for $15 and Medicaid expansion. She is a graduate of N.C. Central University in Durham, North Carolina, with bachelor's degrees in English and history.

Read Rebekah's latest Facing South articles here.


Ethan Clauset - Web Director

Ethan Clauset directs the Institute's website development and online publishing strategy. He is a former volunteer and board member of Internationalist Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and co-founded the Internationalist Prison Books Collective, which sends free books to prisoners in Mississippi and Alabama. He provides internet advice and consulting for nonprofit organizations, including the Institute for Southern Studies, WXYC-FM and Daylight Magazine. Ethan is a graduate of the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Alex Kotch - Researcher/Writer

A Chapel Hill, North Carolina, native, Alex joined the Institute team in January 2014. Now living in Brooklyn, New York, he still conducts research for the Institute and contributes regularly to Facing South, often focusing on money in state politics. Alex's stories about campaign finance, elections law, the environment, education reform, and social justice have also appeared at AlterNet, DeSmogBlog, The American Prospect,, Truthout, Vocativ and The Brooklyn Rail.

His research and reporting at the Institute and Facing South have been featured in The New York Times, National Journal, Salon, Jacobin, Media Matters, Harvard Political Review, Georgia Public Broadcasting, The News & Observer, Triangle Business Journal, The Charlotte Observer, Greensboro News & Record, and the StarNews.

Alex has a bachelor's in music from Brown University and a master's and doctorate in music composition from Duke University, and he's an active producer and DJ of electronic dance music.

Read Alex's latest Facing South articles here.


Dana Webb-Randall — Office Coordinator

Dana joined the Institute for Southern Studies in August 2016 to manage and support the Institute’s office and internal processes. She has worked for several nonprofit organizations throughout her career that have focused on issues like diversity, homelessness and substance abuse prevention. Most recently, she worked in public health in Oklahoma, managing quality improvement, accreditation, community assessment, strategic planning and evaluation. Dana is a native of Virginia and earned bachelor’s degrees in English and African-American Studies from the University of Virginia.


Allie Yee - Associate Director

Allie joined Facing South and the Institute for Southern Studies in July 2014 and became Associate Director in September 2016. Working closely with the Executive Director, Allie manages the Institute's key programs, strategic research and internal operations. Her research focuses on demographic change, immigration, voting and civic engagement in the South, and her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Greensboro News & Record and AlterNet. 

Prior to joining the Institute, Allie was a fellow at the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation where she assisted in making grants to nonprofit organizations in North Carolina working on a range of issues. She graduated from Duke University with a degree in public policy studies. 

Read Allie's latest Facing South articles here.