Diara J. Townes is a Program Manager for Aspen Digital, supporting its Commission on Information Disorder and a variety of new and ongoing initiatives in Washington, DC.
She graduated with her masters in social journalism from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York in 2019, where she currently teaches an advanced research course. Diara is also the 2019 recipient of Newmark’s Newsweek Alumni Prize in journalistic achievement, recognizing her engagement work with disenfranchised residents of the Rockaways impacted by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Prior to Aspen, Diara was an investigative researcher and the community engagement lead for the nonprofit misinformation research organization First Draft. In addition to researching disinformation around US election issues, breaking news events, public health and climate science, she led First Draft’s partnership with ProPublica’s 2020 Electionland project and the US 2020 Student Network, an all-volunteer college student collaborative that built monitoring, verifying and reporting skills for over 50 emerging journalists. Diara earned her bachelor’s degree in marine and environmental science from Hampton University in 2010, a historically Black institution.