#SEJSpotlight: Karla Mendes, Investigative Reporter, Mongabay; SEJ Board of Directors, DEI Chair; Rainforest Investigations Network Fellow, Pulitzer Center

#SEJSpotlight graphic for Karla Mendes


Meet SEJ's first Brazilian and Latin American board member, Karla Mendes! Karla has been working as a correspondent for international outlets since 2015 and she has specialized in covering environmental, land and property rights issues since 2017.

  • In December 2023, Karla won 2nd place in the Lincoln Awards with a year-long investigation into land-grabbing from palm oil companies in the Brazilian Amazon. In 2023, Karla was also a winner of the 2023 SEAL Journalism Environmental Award and the Judge J. Elliott Hudson Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of King's College in Halifax, Canada.
  • In 2022, her 18-month investigation that revealed how “sustainable” palm oil triggered deforestation and water contamination in Brazil’s Amazon won 2nd place in the SEJ Awards for outstanding investigative reporting and 3rd place in the Fetisov Journalism Awards.
  • In 2020, Mendes won first place in the Outstanding Explanatory Reporting category in the SEJ Awards for a project with Max Baring, published by Thomson Reuters Foundation about Maranhão's Guardians of the Forest. The documentary was also honored in the Tulum WE Film Festival and the Colorado Environmental Film Festival and received an honorable mention at the Naples Human Rights Film Festival.

Karla has a master's degree in investigative and data journalism from the University of King's College, Canada, and an MBA in finance from São Paulo's Fundação Instituto de Administração. She is fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Karla said, “It's impossible to separate my environmental career from the SEJ: a well-timed reporting grant was a milestone in my shift to environmental reporting. I highly recommend the SEJ to environmental journalists all around the world.” Join us — apply for SEJ membership.

Check out some of Karla's work for Mongabay:

Find Karla:

Instagram     @bykarlamendes
LinkedIn       /bykarlamendes
X/Twitter      @karlamendes


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