The fearless pursuit & expression of truth

The Michael Kelly Award honors a writer or editor whose work
exemplifies the quality that animated Michael Kelly’s career.

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2015 Winner: Rania Abouzeid

Politico Magazine
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Reported at great personal risk during three extended trips into Syria, “The Jihad Next Door” is the definitive account of the terrifying rise of jihadists in Syria. Winning unprecedented access to senior members of al-Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, as well as ISIS fighters, Rania Abouzeid discloses how al-Qaeda gained a foothold in Syria and ISIS used the Syrian conflict as an incubator to hatch its regional ambitions.

2015 Michael Kelly Award Finalists

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Matthieu Aikins


Aikins embedded with a civil defense team in Aleppo to chronicle the strife in Syria.

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Alex Campbell


Campbell revealed how the legal system can be stacked against battered women.

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Dexter Filkins

The New Yorker

Filkins reported on the deteriorating situation in Iraq and the fight against ISIS.

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Past Michael Kelly Award Winners

2014 Winner


Rukmini Callimachi

The Associated Press

As the West Africa bureau chief for The Associated Press, Rukmini Callimachi consistently displayed a passion for the truth, reportorial ingenuity, and a commitment to the highest standards of journalism. At great risk to her own safety, Callimachi discovered a large trove of internal documents from al-Qaida that illuminated the internal workings of the terrorist organization and its strategy for the region. Reporting from Mali—again at great personal risk–she tracked down the bodies of six victims shot by the military, forcing the Malian government to initiate an investigation.

2013 Winner

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Brian Mockenhaupt

A former infantryman in Iraq, Brian Mockenhaupt wanted to write about what happens when someone in the military has to assume his dead boss’s job, and those under him have to adjust to new leadership during the most stressful time of their lives. It’s a situation unfathomable to most of the civilian world, but one the military takes for granted. Mockenhaupt’s reporting stretched over 18 months, taking him from a platoon in Afghanistan that went on daily—and deadly—foot patrols in Afghanistan to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where Marines from the platoon struggled to reintegrate into the world they had left behind.

2012 Winner

Sarah Stillman

Sarah Stillman

The New Yorker

In “The Invisible Army,” Sarah Stillman tells the story of ten Fijian beauticians who were recruited for lucrative jobs in a posh Dubai salon, only to end up in Iraq giving manicures and massages to U.S. soldiers. “Through their mistreatment, Stillman exposes the larger scandal of thousands of foreign workers on U.S. military bases reduced to something like indentured servitude,” said the Kelly Award judges in a statement. “Working as a freelance reporter without a contract, Stillman spent more than a year reporting the story, traveling to four countries, six military bases, and two war zones.”

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