Next Gen Safety Trainers: Gwendolyn DeGroff-Gunter

The journalism community is becoming increasingly diverse, yet the vast majority of security advisers and trainers are cisgender, white men. The IWMF and ROAAAR’s Next Gen Safety Trainers program is improving the model for newsroom safety management, training women and nonbinary folks from the U.S. throughout 2021. In this series, get to know this new generation of inclusive, diverse safety trainers.

Name: Gwendolyn DeGroff-Gunter

Title: Police Lieutenant, Retired

Pronouns: her/she

Location: Minneapolis, Minn. And Florida after November!

A new, diverse generation of journalism safety trainers means… That journalists around the world will be safer because the training they receive will contain information that gives them deeper understanding of what dangers they may face simply being who they are. Representation counts.

You have a background in police work. What drew you to make the change to training in journalism safety?

When George Floyd was murdered journalists from all over the world flooded Minneapolis. I did a few interviews with different outlets and one was NPR. I then spent a day with a reporter from NPR and I found it fascinating. Then [a contact] from NPR put me onto the Cohort and I haven’t looked back since!

How do your identities shape your view of what safety is?

Wow, good question. For me, I have always been more male appearing. As a young female athlete, men would bully me until they realized I was female and then they would hit on me. Very confusing. I found myself in very scary situations pretty regularly. I would also have run-ins with the police because they would mistake me for a black male. I was arrested 3 times in Chicago because they thought I was a black male drug dealer. It is what inspired me to become a police officer.

What’s been your favorite experience or learning from this program so far?

Hearing the other stories and experiences. That has been absolutely amazing.

What are you hoping to do in the journalism safety world after this fellowship?

I hope to teach/train in the U.S. and around the world.

When you’re not at work, what are you usually doing?

Traveling with my wife, traveling to watch my daughter play D1 Rugby, or traveling with my dogs.



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The International Women's Media Foundation is a DC-based organization dedicated to strengthening the voice of women worldwide.