Gretchen Rachel Hammond
Multi-award winning Journalist
Reporter
 
Long and short-form breaking and investigative news, arts and political features. Staying far ahead of the Chicago dailies. 
Photographer
 
 
News-making moments flawlessly captured on camera.
Researcher
Proven use of the latest data and social media sources to generate investigative pitches, leads and sources. 
                     A few words from me
  
“I was born in Manchester England. Back then it wasn’t a place many Americans tended to visit unless they’d got lost on the way to Scotland.”
 
"When I was seven, I interrogated my father as to why the English were still in Northern Ireland when we obviously weren't wanted there. I refused to accept his answers of ‘it's complicated.’ After two hours, he left the room.”
 
“I arrived in the US as a foreign exchange student in 1988. American history and culture were not taught within the snobbery of an expensive English private-school classroom so the lesson on the American Revolution went something like this: ‘Oh and by the way in 1776, we lost the colonies.’ So when the exchange company asked me where I wanted to live, I picked the three places I’d seen on television- New York, Los Angeles and Miami (Vice). They gave my requests serious consideration and sent me to New Albany, Indiana.”
 
"I will always remember watching Bernard Shaw hunkered down in an Iraqi basement in 1990. I was burning with jealousy. So, a decade or so later, I joined Fox News as a film-critic. The response I received when I suggested anthropologists study Vin Diesel in a petri-dish was as close to the threat of aerial bombardment as I thought I could get.”
 
"As a journalist, whether on an investigative assignment or uncovering aspects of a story covering an event one must always go beyond due diligence. For me, the thrill of the hunt has become an addiction."


“Being a fundraiser for 15-years helped make me a better journalist. It takes a great deal of fastidious research, data mining, dispassionate objectivity, understanding of historical causation, usage of astute sources and substantial quotes to convince a conservative foundation in Indianapolis to fund a production of ‘Naked Boys Singing'.”
 
“In 2014, I completed a four-part investigation into the arrest and imprisonment of a Black transgender woman named Eisha Love and the subsequent murders of two women immediately following the incident. I worked entirely alone and uncovered a connectivity between all three cases as well as slipshod investigations by the Chicago Police Department (CPD). As a result of the stories, Love has retained a top attorney. After nearly four-years in the Cook County Jail she was released in December, 2015. It’s not very often one can say a story changed a life that profoundly.”

"In 2016, I donated a kidney to one of the newspaper's readers. Although I have been nominated for or won awards every year that I have been writing for Windy City TImes, this was one of the proudest and most humbling moments of my life."


  
       In Detail
  1. 2011-2013
    Director of Development - Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
    Primary fundraiser for SNAP: Major gifts solicitation, grant writer, donor steward, researcher and leader of strategic development initiatives. Wrote and designed email/hardcopy campaigns, grants and annual reports which increased individual giving by 115 percent in year one. Raised approximately $950,200 in year one. Wrote and designed monthly newsletter and organized distribution which improved sustaining gifts by 38 percent. Created promotional fliers, donor solicitation forms and SNAP information sheets for distribution at conferences , protests etc.
  2. 2013-2017
    Senior staff writer - Windy City Media Group, LLC
    Winner: 2015 Lisagor Award-Best In-Depth Reporting in a Community Newspaper. Winner: 2016 National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association Award- Excellence in News Writing (non daily) Finalist: 2016 Lisagor Award - Best In-Depth Reporting in a Community Newspaper and Best Editorial Writing. Finalist: 2017 Lisagor Award - Best In-Depth Reporting in a Community Newspaper. Multi-part investigative reports on issues including DCFS and juvenile justice, Chicago Police Department Burge torture cases, violence, imprisonment and unsolved murders of transgender community members and human rights abuses of LGBT detainees held in Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities. Powerful arts and political features including the work of noted LGBTQ activists and advocacy groups. In-depth interviews with noted local, state and national politicians. Coverage of local, state, national and international events. Compelling breaking news consistently scooping Chicago dailies. All relevant research, interviews, photography and video completed individually. Expert use of data-journalism and social media for location of leads and sources.
  3. 2006-2011
    Assistant Director of Development - Golden Apple Foundation
    Primary organizer and fundraiser of the Golden Apple Awards: a $500,000 awards presentation and gala televised on WTTW Channel 11 in Chicago. Primary organizer and fundraiser of the Golden Apple Awards Central Illinois: a $300,000 awards presentation and gala televised on WILL TV in Champaign Illinois. Wrote and designed polished events brochures and mid/end-of-year direct mail appeals. Increased major donor numbers through prospect research and wealth screening. Created and implemented quality assurance guidelines working directly with vendors in assuring that needs and deadlines were met.
  4. 2001-2003
    Film-critic and producer - WXIN FOX 59 (Tribune Broadcasting) and WXNT 1430 AM (CBS Radio)
    WXIN FOX 59 Presented film reviews during Friday morning segments for WXIN Fox 59. All segments written and edited for on-air presentation. Pitched segment ideas and story leads to executive producer for outside broadcasts or specials. WXNT 1430 AM Wrote, produced and co-hosted hour-long program weekend program concentrating on film. Generated and researched segment ideas, developed content, edited soundbites and clips. Conducted live and pre-recorded interviews with local and national filmmakers and celebrities.
  5. 1997-2006
    Director of Development and Public Relations - Theatre On The Square
    Originated, wrote and successfully executed two year Capital Campaign for Theatre on the Square to purchase its location from the landlord. Raised over $69,000 per annum through the creation and execution of three annual fundraising events, including the 'Mass Hysteria' street party. Print, radio and television campaigns raised audience numbers at an average yearly rate of 39 percent Re-invented the theater’s brand image with an emphasis upon targeting new and younger audience demographics.
  6. Freelancing
    Feature reporter and theater critic for NUVO Newsweekly, Indianapolis. Published author: The Last Circle/BL Books 2013. Member National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. Member: Association of Fundraising Professionals. Skilled with all Microsoft Applications, datacatalogues, LexisNexis, Datahub, Freebase, Datacouch. Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, Periscope, Tumblr, Classmates, Instagram.
  7. 2017-Present
    Contributing Writer - Tablet Magazine
    Breaking news, features, political, arts and entertainment and investigative news affecting Midwest Jewish communities

 Photography

            Books
The Last Circle is a chilling and brutal account of a genocide driven take-over of America by radical, right-wing, Christian conservatives.

Based upon existing platforms and quotes from American Conservative political and church leaders, The Last Circle chronicles the rise to power of a United States Evangelical theocracy and the small group of Pagan and LGBT friends who must escape the country in order to survive.

The U.S. economy is plunged into depression allowing a charismatic preacher to seize control of the government as the leader of the Tea Party and 'Revangelism' movements. With the support of a starving nation, he engages in a gruesome, systematic program of religious and cultural cleansing.

Laura Salway is the leader of a devoted group of friends who maintain a precarious Wiccan Coven in Indianapolis. After publicly performing a Pagan ritual in protest of the new administration, they attempt to flee to the safety of Europe. In a cat and mouse chase through the Southern states, they are relentlessly pursued by Shelby Langman, the vitriolic director of the Bureau of Religious Protection, charged with keeping America safe from threats to Judeo-Christian values.

Their terrifying journey tests the limits of the Coven's friendship and Laura must discover who among them is secretly tipping Shelby off.

The Last Circle 

"If you will not be saved, there will be consequences."

"A compelling read. Well-conceived and grippingly structured and told. The Last Circle is disturbing in its indictment of an America we are slowly becoming. Like a passenger trapped in a car slowly skidding on an icy road toward the edge of a ravine, the reader must confront the looming reality of a theocracy in the United States - and what that would mean for those who have been the focus of that regressive movement's obsessive hate for decades."

"The discussion within this book is certainly a relevant one and something that is important to think about. Each chapter begins with a quote from a modern-day conservative and some of them are frightening in their complete lack of understanding, humanity or even comprehension of the basic fundamentals of Christianity."

"I got angry, upset, I laughed giggled and couldn't read The Last Circle fast enough. Then I would go back and reread the pages just to make sure I didn't miss anything."

"I'm not even sure where to start on this book other than: READ IT. So many of the thoughts conveyed are ones I have often had. The what ifs. The "How can anyone think like that?" or better yet, "Do people really think that way?" Turns out they do. When reading the quotes that preface each  chapter, I was thinking them figments of Gretchen's imagination, perhaps Shelby's thoughts. Imagine my surprise when I finished the book to see the key of whom said such heinous things."

"Well written and frighteningly realistic. Once you start reading it's hard to put down. Page after page the fear escalates until you are seeing connections on the evening news. This is a scary look at where we are headed, if the right wing, evangelical Christians are not reined in."

"A very compelling thriller, set in a near-future American dystopia. What could happen if all of the fundamentalist Christian wing-nuts got it all their own way politically? This, like the very different "Handmaid's Tale", shows a version of the results, and why we need to take their sometimes ridiculous rhetoric seriously."




BUY IT HERE

               Testimonials 

  1. Gretchen Rachel Hammond's writing is powerful, insightful, and incisive, and whether she's covering a story in our neighborhood or on the other side of the world - I know she has our community's best interests at heart.

    Lenka Rezniak, reader

  2. Ms. Hammond's reporting is poignant and powerful. I applaud her strong work.

    Nell Cotton, reader

  3. I have always known Gretchen to be balanced and straight forward in her reporting.

    Alexis Martinez, community leader

  4. In a journalistic world where most reporters don't care enough to follow up and really get things right, Gretchen does just that. Her work adds value to any paper or media outlet fortunate enough to have her.

    Riley Johnson, community leader

            Six Pints At the Old Mill

  
Since I grew up in England, naturally once I hit puberty the first thing to do was find a suitable pub that would become my ‘local’ and second home. It was a place separate and totally immune to the changing world outside it. 
 
Found in an inconspicuous corner adjacent to the rail and bus station in the Manchester suburb of Altrincham, The Old Mill belonged only to those who had made themselves its natives from the moment they pushed open its heavy oak door. Outsiders were welcomed but only if they stayed no more than one evening. To visit any other pub was akin to vacationing in Spain—only go in drunken groups, pick up a few souvenirs, chase some local tail and immediately start complaining about how things just aren’t the same as at home.
 
We had a ritual at The Old Mill which allowed a person who had been dumped, lost a job, voted Labour or suffered any other traumatic loss or life-event to vent freely with the full support and encouragement of everyone around her/him on the understanding that the following day it was never discussed again.
 
To help the person in question along, everyone chipped in and bought six pints of harmfully strong ale. This blog is dedicated to the uncensored free-thought processes that usually emerged three hours later. 
 
"And behold on the sixth pint, we saw all that we had made and we thought it good."
  

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Gretchen Rachel Hammond




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