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Distinguished Fellow

WCEE hosts a prominent scholar, public figure, or activist at U-M during the academic year. The fellow may give a public lecture, teach a course, or otherwise participate in scholarship on campus.

Iuliia Mendel

WCEE Distinguished Fellow, 2023-24

Iuliia Mendel is a Ukrainian journalist, political commentator and opinion writer for The Washington Post. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Politico Europe, VICE, The Evening Standard, World Affairs Journal, Kyivpost, Spiegel Online and CNBC. After several years as a television journalist, and a fellowship with the World Press Institute in Minnesota, Mendel served as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s press secretary from June 2019 to July 2021. Her 2022 book, The Fight of Our Lives, covers Ukrainian politics, the Russian war against Ukraine and her work with President Zelenskyy. Mendel comes to the University of Michigan as the WCEE Distinguished Fellow and a Knight-Wallace Fellow, and will actively participate with both units during her time in Ann Arbor.
Twitter: @IuliiaMendel Instagram: @iuliia_mendel

The War for Hearts and Minds: Populism’s Battle with the Media

As a journalist and later as press secretary to President Zelenskyy, Mendel met many political leaders– including Vladimir Putin, Alexander Lukashenko, Jair Bolsonaro and Donald Trump– with populist platforms that simplified complex issues and appealed to citizens’ strongest emotions. She found that populism today is often based on disinformation that is easily amplified by social media and new technologies and easily exploited by populist leaders in both democratic and autocratic contexts. Mendel’s research will seek solutions to protect and empower truth-seeking journalists around the world in a climate of growing populism.