Donna Bryson joins Denverite team as housing and hunger reporter

Hassan Latif, founder and executive director of Second Chance Center, speaks with reporter Donna Bryson in his Aurora office, Sept. 24, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Hassan Latif, founder and executive director of Second Chance Center, speaks with reporter Donna Bryson in his Aurora office, Sept. 24, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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Denverite got itself another new team member today.

Donna Bryson joins us as our housing and hunger reporter — an addition we made with the support of 18 local nonprofits. Before she arrived here, she worked for the Associated Press in London, Cairo, New Delhi and Johannesburg, where she was the bureau chief. She’s been a Denver-based freelance journalist for the last six years and in that time has written two books, “Home of the Brave,” which covers a grassroots effort in Montrose, Colorado to help military veterans reintegrate into civilian life, and “It’s a Black White Thing,” about race in South Africa.

She’s also reported and written for The Christian Science Monitor, The Daily Beast, Equal Times, Stanford Social Innovation Review, The New York Times, The Denver Post, Stars and Stripes, VICE and The Wall Street Journal.

And she’s already hard at work reporting and writing for Denverite, digging into some of Denver’s most important issues. We took a few minutes out of her already busy first day for a little Q&A.

Ashley Dean: After six years of freelancing, you’ve been back in a newsroom for half a day. How does it feel so far?

Donna Bryson: I’ve missed newsroom conversations — I love journalists and their quirky sense of humor. And the dog across the hallway is gorgeous. So, I’d say it feels great so far.

AD: I know you’re already very busy. Can you give us a little preview of what you’re working on in your first week?

DB: I’ve embarked on what I’m calling a listening tour. I’ve had a lot of coffees already with people who know much more than I do about housing and hunger, and am looking forward to more. Some of those conversations have produced story ideas, some have just given me a sense of what people are concerned about. Before I came in on my first morning I interviewed Hassan A. Latif about his plans for affordable housing in Aurora.

AD: You’re a longtime Denver resident. What do you tell outsiders and newcomers about this city?

DB: I love books and assume all my friends do as well. Which is why I often take visitors to see the cool automated return system at the Central Library. I also tell people Denver is growing fast, which can be stressful but also presents many opportunities.

AD: What kinds of stories are you looking forward to telling?

DB: My favorite stories are about people getting together to solve problems. I’m out to find stories about people with solutions to problems around housing and hunger. Hassan told me today that he’s drawn an optimistic lesson from the contentiousness around his affordable housing proposal: “The most encouraging thing I’ve learned is that there are so many people working on this issue and trying to find solutions.”  I think I should write that on a Post-it and put it on my new desk at Denverite, which is so far pretty bare.