A native of Pittsburgh, she obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and started her career as a reporter at the legendary City News Bureau of Chicago wire service before
working at Florida Today and the Cincinnati Enquirer newspapers. In 1999 she went to the then-St. Petersburg Times, now the
Tampa Bay Times, where she spent the next decade covering government and immigration in Florida.
She has reported from Honduras and Cuba during her years as a journalist and has studied at language schools in Guatemala, Mexico and Ecuador, becoming fluent in Spanish.
In addition to completing her new book, Green Card Stories, she recently obtained a master's degree in Latin American & Caribbean Studies at the University of South Florida in Tampa, having written a thesis based on years of her research in Cuba.
She currently works as a freelance journalist, including for the Reuters news agency.