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2008 recipient: Ruth Teichroeb

Telling stories that make a difference.

Ruth Teichroeb receiving the Distinguished Alumni Service Award from Henry Paetkau and another personThe Conrad Grebel University College Distinguished Alumni Service Award for 2008 was presented to award-winning journalist Ruth Teichroeb during the celebrations of Grebel’s Peace and Conflict Studies 30th anniversary on February 29, 2008. Teichroeb, a 1980 graduate of the University of Waterloo, was one of the first students to take a minor in the Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) program.

The purpose of the award is to honour significant service and contributions of Grebel alumni while inspiring other alumni and current students.

Upon graduating from the University of Waterloo, Teichroeb worked in the mental health field before returning to school at Carleton University where she earned a journalism degree. After working as a reporter for the Province newspaper in Vancouver, she moved to the Winnipeg Free Press in 1988 to cover social issues and to write a weekly editorial column. In 1997, she moved to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer where she worked first as an education reporter and in 2002 became a fulltime investigative reporter.

Teichroeb said,

The PACS courses I took at Grebel helped me develop tools to analyze why conflicts between individuals and communities sometimes deteriorate into violence. At Grebel, I learned to dig deeper and look for links between individual struggles and systemic injustices, something that has been invaluable in my journalism career.

The focus of Teichroeb's journalism career has been social change and justice. She has written extensively on children including issues of abuse of deaf children, protection for unaccompanied children, fatal neglect of children in the child welfare system. She has also written on mad cow disease, justice for interned immigrants, abusive police officers, domestic violence, DNA test problems in crime labs.

At Grebel, I learned that societies can't afford to ignore those on the fringes. And I have spent much of the last two decades writing about those who are most vulnerable and telling stories that could make a difference,

says Teichroeb, whose book "Flowers on my Grave: How an Objibwa boy’s death helped break the silence on child abuse" was published in 1997 by Harper Collins Canada.

Lowell Ewert, Director of Peace and Conflict Studies at Grebel, said,

Ruth is an exemplary model of how responsible journalism can advance the cause of peace by shining the spotlight of truth on the dark secrets of injustice. A strong and vibrant press is essential to peaceful democracy.

Teichroeb has received more than twenty awards for her writing including the prestigious Best of the West award in 2006 for investigative reporting, two Blethen Memorial Awards, and was the runner-up for the 2002 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism award. She is a five-time recipient of the Pacific Northwest Society of Professional Journalists Award and received an unprecedented two Michener Fellowship awards in Canada for her writing about adolescent treatment centres.

In describing Teichroeb's writing for the Hearst Honors awards in 2005, in which she was awarded second place for watchdog reporting, one of the judges said,

This is an excellent example of journalism that speaks for the voiceless.

She was a 2002 Fellow of the Dart Centre, an organization dedicated to building a cohort of journalists covering issues of violence, and has lectured at the University of Washington on the effects of covering crisis situations and on a panel for a seminar for journalists on Reporting and Writing About Sexual Violence.

The distinguished alumna award was a wonderful surprise!

says Teichroeb who was also recently chosen as one of 12 US journalists to be awarded a 2007-08 John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University, designed "to give outstanding mid-career journalists the chance to broaden and deepen their understanding of a changing world. To improve the quality of news and information reaching the public through the news media: print, broadcast and cyberspace" (John S. Knight Fellowship).