Skip to main content
Ava Greenwell

Ava Thompson Greenwell


Ava Thompson Greenwell teaches reporting classes at Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. In addition to her classroom duties, she has held several administrative posts, including associate dean for curriculum, director of the Teaching Television Program, co-curator for the nationally recognized Ida B. Wells award and director of the McCormick Tribune Fellows Program.  Currently, she serves as co-director of the South Africa Journalism Residency Program and as faculty mentor for the Posse Program.

The Chicago native is director/producer of Mandela in Chicago, a documentary film about the city’s anti-apartheid movement. She is also author of Ladies Leading: The Black Women Who Control Television News. Greenwell, an academic life coach, has been a freelance correspondent for WGN-TV and Chicago Tonight, a PBS news program. She also worked as a reporter at WFLA-TV in Tampa, FL; WCCO-TV in Minneapolis, MN; and WEHT-TV in Evansville, IN. 


Greenwell holds a BSJ and MSJ from Northwestern Medill and a Ph.D. in African American Studies, also from Northwestern.


“Unseen, Yet Heard: Invisible Power and Gendered Racism Among Black Women Television News Managers in the U.S.”

Authored Works

  • "I Never Felt Any Cold Feet: How Age Gender and Family Background Shaped the Sit-in Movement in Henderson, Kentucky,” Souls, a critical journal of black politics, culture and society, Vol. 15, Issue No. 1-2, July 2013. (Peer Reviewed)
  • “Twentieth-Century Ideology Meets Twenty-First-Century Technology: Black News Websites and Racial Uplift,” Fire!!!: The Multimedia Journal of Black Studies 1, no. 2 (2012): 111-138. (Peer Reviewed)


  • “Telling Stories of Victims in Indiana Serial Killings,” October 27, 2014, Chicago Reporter 
  • “Women in Power: Hypervisible, Yet Unseen, March 4, 2014, CNN
  • “Power to the People: Hair Texture and Gender Matter to TV News Audiences,” December 28, 2012, Huffington Post
  • “Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin and the ‘Threatening’ Black Male,” December 8, 2012, Huffington Post 
  • “Teaching Our Children to Tell and Talk Can Help Heal,” November 26, 2012
  • “Helpless as my son, 13, was profiled and cuffed,” September 19, 2012, CNN
  • “What’s Missing From Television Coverage of Missing Persons?”January 20, 2012, Huffington Post
  • “Troy Davis Execution, Suppression of Race Discussion?” September 23, 2011

Awards And Honors

  • 2016 Kartemquin Diverse Voices in Doc. Fellow
  • 2014 Scripps Howard Academic Leadership Academy Fellow
  • 2007 Associated Student Government Faculty Honor Roll
  • 2006 Educator in the Newsroom Fellowship
  • 2001 McCormick Distinguished Clinical Professor Award