Rachel Dissell

Rachel Dissell
JSK Community Impact Fellow
independent journalist
Cleveland, Ohio

Rachel Dissell is a JSK Community Impact Fellow and an independent journalist in Cleveland, Ohio. She reported for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland for 18 years. “Reinvestigating Rape,” a series with reporter Leila Atassi, led to the testing of 14,000 Ohio rape kits and indictments in nearly 800 cold cases. “Toxic Neglect,” a series with Brie Zeltner, exposed Cleveland’s poor track record for public health investigations when children were poisoned by lead. The series sparked a community-wide effort to proactively protect children. In 2019, Cleveland passed a law that requires all rental homes to be inspected for lead hazards. “Case Closed,” a series with Andrea Simakis, explored the systemic failures of Cleveland police through the experience of a grandmother who had to solve her own rape. The story won the 2020 Dart Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma. Recently, Dissell has worked to build community-rooted collaborations with more than a dozen websites, newspapers and radio stations. She’s part of The Witness Project, which explores crime witness cooperation. She’s also reporting on the experiences of Clevelanders during COVID-19 in a partnership that provides stories to neighborhood outlets.