Almost a decade later, we reconnected in Chicago where I was in town for a trunk show, and Alison ended up meeting her future husband that same night! I was so lucky to have designed Alison’s wedding dress three years later!
Alison produced and appeared in the spectacular 7-part investigative podcast “Somebody” about the 2016 murder of Courtney Copeland. Last year she co-produced the SHOWTIME documentary “16 Shots” on the police killing of Laquan McDonald, which received Television Academy Honors for documentary special, as well as Peabody and Emmy nominations!
She is also the author of the must-read book “Exoneree Diaries: The Fight for Innocence, Independence and Identity.” I'm so proud of all that she's accomplished and continues to fight for in terms of social justice and equality. I know that her work comes with a price and I'm thankful for the effort she is making to make the world a better place for all of us. All that in addition to being a wife and mom to 2 adorable little boys!
Tell us about yourself?
I’ve always loved to write and to investigate. As a kid, I scribbled stories in spiral notebooks and pretended to be a detective. In 2005, I published my first story and then started freelancing for magazines before pursuing journalism full-time in graduate school at Northwestern University in 2008. I got my first general assignment reporting gig working in TV news where I found myself drawn to criminal justice stories. I left TV and turned to wrongful conviction work, investigating cases as a journalist, which I continue to this day.
Along the way, I realized that there was an under-reported slice of the Innocence Movement, with respect to the lack of resources and compensation for exonerated prisoners. I published my first book in 2016, “Exoneree Diaries: The Fight for Innocence, Independence and Identity,” after spending several years documenting the lives of four exonerees. In the meantime, I also reported on issues related to policing and mass incarceration, landing a job at the Invisible Institute, a small nonprofit journalism production company on the South Side of Chicago. I lead investigations at the organization and co-direct our journalism program. At Invisible Institute, I recently co-produced the documentary “16 SHOTS” for Showtime, as well as a 7-part documentary podcast, “Somebody” with The Intercept on iHeartRadio. The podcast follows a Chicago mom’s investigation into her son’s murder, and it explores the racial disparities and turbulent relationship between law enforcement and citizens.
How have the times affected you as a business and as an individual?
I gave birth to my second child a few weeks before the pandemic was announced and shelter in place was instituted. It was a complicated birth, so it’s been challenging to recover while taking care of two kids at home while simultaneously launching a podcast. While the podcast stayed on the top charts for its entire two month run, it was daunting to distribute something that we all had worked so hard on for more than three years, only to see the national consciousness so radically shifted. I felt like people were so consumed by pandemic news that they couldn’t mentally digest the type of story we wanted to tell around police accountability. Then, we as a country were gripped by the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor (and so many others). And it has been intense for my family (my husband is Black. We protested together in our neighborhood in Chicago where many shops are boarded up with beautiful murals and Black Lives Matter messages. It’s a painful time, yet full of possibility as we reckon with these realities.
What is your most-used emoji?
What was the worst haircut you ever had?
Mushroom cut in the 80s which my mom alleges was a “Dorothy Hamill” hairstyle.
Who was your childhood actor/actress crush?
He’s not an actor, but Paul Revere was my first crush. 🤦🏻♀️
What’s the most embarrassing fashion trend you used to rock?
I wore tan pantyhose for 2/3 of my life, and I regret it.
You have your own late-night talk show, whom do you invite as your first guest?
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
"When in doubt, do nothing.”
When you die, what do you want to be remembered for?
Being a badass who did good things.
What was the worst job you ever had?
Watching five children ages 9, 7, 5, 2, and 1
Which band/artist-dead or alive would play at your funeral?
What’s your favorite place of all the places you’ve traveled that feels like home and is not where you currently live?
What’s one thing we don’t know about you?
I used to have double vision
If you could hang out with any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
The Bride from “Kill Bill.” For combat tips.
If you could choose any person from history to be your imaginary friend, who would it be and why?
What is your favorite curse word
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
What is your greatest fear?
Harm to loved ones. And knocking out my teeth
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Macaroni and cheese