Celeste Hamilton Dennis (she/her) loves the scoop. Growing up in Levittown, New York with a single mother who asked questions at every turn—Who was at the pool today? Her mother ask where I was? How did the Bowmans afford that new porch of theirs?—it seemed inevitable she’d be just like her.
After studying literature at Boston College and University College Dublin, Celeste thought she wanted to be a music journalist and interned at The Long Island Press. While it was awesome to get free tickets to concerts, it wasn’t her thing. So she decided to head to Guyana with the Peace Corps, where she taught reading at a high school and badly imitated Missy Elliott at karaoke.
She landed a job at Idealist.org after returning, and stayed for nearly a decade, working at all three of their offices: New York, New York; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Portland, Oregon. At Idealist, she dabbled in community outreach and spent most of her time writing about social entrepreneurs and everyday changemakers. Afterward, she had the privilege of working with community college students to craft their stories.
It seemed natural, then, that Celeste would fall in love with solutions journalism. She actively reports on responses to social issues, and believes these stories are necessary to combat the hopelessness and distrust audiences feel right now about media. Her favorite stories to do are those that combine the unexpected. At Berkeley, she hopes to meet at the intersection of solutions journalism and literature, as well as explore new ways of engaging communities that go beyond the traditional paradigm.
When she’s not being a mom to two little girls, she’s seeking out rad dance parties, planning her next travel destination, and writing about mouthy women for a short story collection set in her hometown.
Class of 2002
University College Dublin
Portland Community College, Marketing Specialist
AWARDS & HONORS
Society of Professional Journalists NW Excellence in Journalism, Runner Up in Soft Feature Reporting for “The Unlikely Style Icon Teaching Older Women to be Fashion Rebels,” 2019
Society of Professional Journalists NW Excellence in Journalism, Runner Up in Soft Feature Reporting for “What Is Barbershop Therapy?”, 2018
PUBLICATIONS & OTHER WORK
"Art Teachers Are Teaching Girls to Code," Next City, 2021
"What Happens When Essential Workers Need Childcare," YES! Magazine, 2020
"19 Volunteers Sharing an iPhone are Trying to Support Incarcerated People Through COVID-19," Talk Poverty, 2020
"How a Stock Photography Project is Confronting Fat Bias," YES! Magazine, 2019
"The Unlikely Style Icon Teaching Older Women to be Fashion Rebels," Narratively, 2019
"What is Barbershop Therapy?" YES! Magazine, 2018
"This Contemporary Art Museum is Run by Kids," Artsy, 2017
MEMBERSHIPS & AFFILIATIONS
Solutions Journalism Network
Tom Wolfe Mentorship Cohort, 2019
REPORTING INTERESTSArt Activism, Immigration, affordable housing, aging, community organizing, fat justice, mass incarceration, mental health, migration, public schools, racial and economic justice, reproductive justice