Geneva Overholser is a senior fellow at the Democracy Fund, and an independent journalist in New York City, speaking and writing about the future of journalism. She was editor of the Des Moines Register when the paper won a Pulitzer Gold Medal for Public Service for a series on an Iowa woman who was raped. The woman's name and photographs were used in the story, sparking a national debate on the naming of rape victims.
Overholser was professor and director of the USC Annenberg School of Journalism until July 2013. She was the ombudsman for The Washington Post from 1995 to 1998 and then served as a columnist for the Washington Post Writers Group. From 1989 to 1997, she was a board member of the Pulitzer Prizes at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, serving as chair in her final year.
She was editor of The Des Moines Register newspaper from 1988 to 1995, leading the paper to the Pulitzer Prize in 1991. She also earned the award of Gannett Editor of the Year in 1990, and was named Best in the Business by the American Journalism Review and Editor of the Year by the National Press Foundation.
Overholser held the Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Reporting in the Washington bureau of the University of Missouri School of Journalism from 2000 to 2008. She was a member of the editorial board of the New York Times from 1985 to 1988.
She is a board member of the Rita Allen Foundation, Northwestern University in Qatar and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism Foundation, and a former board member of the Women's Media Center, the Academy of American Poets, the Committee of Concerned Journalists, the Carnegie Endowment for International Piece, the Knight fellowships at Stanford and the American Society of Newspaper Editors, as well as the journalism advisory committees of the Knight Foundation and the Poynter Institute. She chaired the board of the Center for Public Integrity. She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and of the Society of Professional Journalists.
She co-edited, with Kathleen Hall Jamieson, the book "The Press" in the Oxford series, Institutions of American Democracy. She is the author of "On Behalf of Journalism: A Manifesto for Change."
She earned her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College in 1970, and a Masters of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism in 1971. She has received Alumnae Achievement Awards from Wellesley, Medill and Northwestern, as well as honorary doctorates from Grinnell College and St. Andrews College.
Overholser worked as a reporter for the Colorado Springs SUN from 1971 to 1974. She lived and worked overseas, in Kinshasa (then Zaire, now Congo) and in Paris, from 1974 to 1979. She is the sister of Nannerl Overholser Keohane, former president of Wellesley College and Duke University, and of Knowles Arthur Overholser, an associate dean of engineering at Vanderbilt University.