Brazilian human rights journalist joins CIS as the 2023 Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow

Brazilian human rights journalist joins CIS as the 2023 Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow

Gabriela Sá Pessoa reports on social and climate justice issues with a focus on Indigenous communities in the Amazon of Brazil.

February 6, 2023 | Center for International Studies
Gabriela Sá Pessoa
February 6, 2023

Brazilian journalist Gabriela Sá Pessoa joins the MIT Center for International Studies (CIS) as its 2023 Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow. 

The seven-month fellowship includes a research position at CIS, and reporting assignments at The Boston Globe and The New York Times.

Passionate about the intersection of human rights and climate change, Sá Pessoa plans to explore the Amazonian economy and how the policies forged by the government of Brazil affect the lives of Indigenous communities who are attempting to survive amidst environment crimes and deforestation.

“Women journalists’ courage and compassion have always inspired me,” said Sá Pessoa. “Being selected as an Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow is one of my life’s greatest honors. At this moment of history, when we are routinely watching setbacks in women’s rights, this experience renews my faith and courage to keep working as a journalist to explore the issues that matter the most to the world.”

Sá Pessoa will be on hiatus from her news researcher position at The Washington Post, where she produces reporting on the Amazon, human rights violations and environmental crimes. Prior to The Post, Sá Pessoa worked for two media outlets in Brazil: Folha de S.Paulo, covering local and national politics, and UOL, where she was assigned to COVID-19 coverage and the investigative desk. At UOL, she was part of the reporting team honored for its coverage of President Bolsonaro’s family. In 2015, Sá Pessoa won the Roche Prize for Health Journalism in Latin America from the Gabriel García Márquez Foundation for a New Ibero American Journalism for her investigation of legal abortion. In 2019, Sá Pessoa received a scholarship to Columbia University, granted by Ling Institute to promising Brazilian journalists.

The Elizabeth Neuffer Fellowship is awarded annually by The International Women’s Media Foundation and provides its recipient with educational, training and coverage opportunities related to their reporting on global injustice. Sá Pessoa was selected from a pool of more than 130 applicants from 51 countries. 

“The Center is delighted to welcome Gabi to our research community. Her reportage on human rights and environmental justice demonstrates a commitment to addressing social inequalities, very much in the spirit of Elizabeth Neuffer. My hope is that she will find her time at MIT both refreshing and rewarding,” said Richard Samuels, director of the CIS and Ford International Professor of Political Science.

Neuffer, whom Samuels knew personally, died in an automobile accident in 2003 while on assignment in Iraq as a reporter for The Boston Globe. In her honor, the Center helped the IWMF establish the Elizabeth Neuffer Fellowship to advance women journalists working in the field of human rights and justice.

The Center for International Studies (CIS) supports interna­tional research and education at MIT. It is the home of MIT’s Security Studies Program; the MIT International Science & Technology Initiative, its pioneering global education program; the Program on Emerging Technologies; and seminars and research on migration, South Asia politics, the Middle East, cybersecurity, nuclear weapons, and East Asia. The Center has traditionally been aligned with the social sciences while also working with MIT’s premier science and engineering scholars. CIS produces research that creatively addresses global issues while helping to educate the next generation of global citizens.