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Maria Ressa ’86: CEO and Executive Editor, Rappler

Maria Ressa in the newsroom
Maria Ressa ’86 visited The Daily Princetonian’s newsroom in 2019.
Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian

Since she was named a 2018 Time Person of the Year, Philippine journalist Maria Ressa has only risen in prominence, as the regime of Rodrigo Duterte amplifies its persecution against her. In June, a court convicted Ressa, who co-founded and leads the news site Rappler, and a colleague, Reynaldo Santos Jr., of “cyber libel.” Though she has appealed the decision, Ressa faces up to six years in prison.

The next month, more than 400 alumni took out a full-page ad in The Washington Post, urging the U.S. government to “exercise its influence” on Ressa’s behalf. Signatories include Andrea Campbell ’04, Stephen Engelberg ’79, Rep. Derek Kilmer ’96 (D-Wa.), and Rep. Terri Sewell ’86 (D-Ala.), all of whom are featured on our list. Ressa is a dual American citizen.


In May, Ressa addressed the Class of 2020 as Baccalaureate speaker. In her virtual speech, she told graduates, “You are standing at the rubble of the world my generation created. The upside? Your class will be among the first to have a freer hand to imagine and create the world as it should be — more compassionate, more equal, more sustainable.”

Ressa graduated from Princeton with an A.B. in English.