Telling Kentucky's Story

Pulitzer Prize Winners at the KBF



Maria Henson

Joel Pett

Maria Henson (’82) joined Wake Forest as associate vice president and editor-at-large in June 2010. She oversees Wake Forest Magazine, teaches journalism and blogs about the WFU community.

After graduating from Wake Forest, Henson spent her career at newspapers throughout the country as a reporter, Washington correspondent, columnist, editorial writer, investigative editor and editor. She is the first and (so far) only Pulitzer Prize winner in Wake Forest’s history. She won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing for her series about battered women in at the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky and edited the series about Yosemite National Park in The Sacramento Bee that won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Among her national honors, she was selected as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1993-94, an Arthur Burns Fellow in Germany and a Jefferson Fellow at the East-West Center in Hawaii, where she received a lifetime achievement award. Most recently she was deputy editorial page editor at The Sacramento Bee. In 2008 and part of 2009, she lived for 1½ years in Africa, mostly in the bush of Botswana.

Wake Forest Magazine, under Henson’s direction, won the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) silver medal for most improved university magazine in the country and top honors as the best university magazine in the Southeast in 2012, followed by more awards in 2013, 2014 and 2015, including national silver and bronze medals for the overall magazine and a gold medal for periodical staff writing.

A great joy for her is mentoring students. She supervises a magazine intern every semester and one semester a year teaches News Literacy. She considers the skill of being able to discern what is verified journalism in a time of information overload as critical to a citizen’s ability to navigate civic life and nurture democracy.

Joel Pett was born in Bloomington, Indiana, 1953. He lived in Ibadan, Nigeria, 1959-1964. He has traveled in over thirty foreign countries on five continents. His college major at Indiana was French. He freelanced for nine years before joining Lexington Herald-Leader in 1984. He joined USA Today as contributing cartoonist in 2002. He is a 3-time finalist for Pulitzer Prize for cartooning, and a winner in 2000. He received the Robert F Kennedy Journalism Award in 1999. Other awards include the Population Institute Global Award Winner in 1985. He is the past president of Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. He has led U.S. State Department cartooning workshops in Cameroun (2000) and Bulgaria (2005). He has been a board member of Cartoonists Rights Network International. His proudest non-cartooning accomplishments: college intramural golf title, shutting out a University of Kentucky player in a game of HORSE, two-second quarry-frisbee-grabbing cameo on TNT. Embarrassments: endless

His cartoons have appeared in hundreds of newspapers and magazines nationwide, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Daily News, The Boston Globe, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, George, Business Week, Ms. and Discover.



Maria Henson was awarded the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Now an Associate Vice President and journalism instructor at Wake Forest University, as well as the editor of Wake Forest magazine, we were thrilled to have Professor Henson join us on KBF Kids Day. On Friday, November 4th, Professor Henson taught a Master Class to 300 Kentucky high school students, "Is it Journalism? How Do You Know?" Two students in attendance were winners of an essay contest and had the opportunity to interview Professor Henson following the class.



Professor Henson returned to the Frankfort Convention Center on Saturday, November 5th, for the 35th Annual Kentucky Book Fair. In celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize, newly named Kentucky Humanities Council Executive Director Bill Goodman interviewed the 1992 Pulitzer Prize winner.




Joel Pett was awarded the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning. The long-time Herald-Leader cartoonist appeared on the main stage at the Kentucky Book Fair to discuss the evolution of political cartooning, the life of a political cartoonist in today's climate, and winning the Pulitzer Prize.



Click here for Maria Henson's series of articles on Domestic Violence.