Debra Adams Simmons is the executive editor for culture at National Geographic Magazine, where she manages coverage of the lived experiences of people around the globe. Adams Simmons was a 2016 fellow of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. She spent the past year examining the future of local news and identifying scalable journalism innovations for foundations and philanthropic organizations. She spent seven years as the managing editor of the Plain Dealer in Cleveland before joining its parent company, Advance Local as a vice president. At Advance, she worked to strengthen content across the company’s 30 news sites and newspapers, identified and developed talent, and supported content initiatives for diverse audiences. A 30-year news veteran, Adams Simmons has extensive reporting, editing, and senior news management experience. A career journalist, she serves as a consultant to the Knight Foundation, Ford Foundation, and Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan—where she has advised the them on how to shape a Detroit-based, multi-million dollar journalism engagement fund. She worked for nearly 10 years as a reporter and editor at the Detroit Free Press, which helped inform her work on behalf of the Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund. She also spent four years as the editor of the Akron Beacon Journal, and worked as an editor and reporter at the Virginian-Pilot, the Hartford Courant and the Syracuse Herald-Journal. Adams Simmons has served as president of the Associated Press Media Editors, has been a member of the board of directors of the International Women’s Media Foundation and the American Society of News Editors, and has chaired the board of Athena International. She graduated from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and its College of Arts & Sciences, where she serves on the board of visitors. She has a robust civic life, having served on several boards including the City Club of Cleveland, Ideastream, Business Volunteers Unlimited: The Center for Nonprofit Excellence, In Counsel with Women, Hawken School, Akron Art Museum, and the Youth Excellence Performing Arts Workshop.
Join National Geographic photographers Philip Cheung, Kris Graves, and Daniella Zalcman in conversation with National Geographic Executive Editor Debra Adams Simmons, as they discuss their ongoing projects visualizing racist and discriminatory histories through a new lens.Learn More