The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Memo on The Post’s Investigative Unit expansion

WASHINGTON DC, MAY 24: The Washington Post Building at 1301 K St. NW in Washington DC, May 24, 2016. (John McDonnell / The Washington Post)

Announcement from Executive Editor Sally Buzbee and Managing Editors Cameron Barr and Krissah Thompson:

We are thrilled to announce that Trish Wilson will move to The Post’s Investigative Unit as investigative projects editor, reporting to Investigations Editor Jeff Leen. In this role, she will bring visionary thinking to a range of subjects and concentrate on high-impact projects. Desmond Butler will also move to the unit as an investigative reporter. They will pursue their own projects and work in collaboration with other editors and reporters in Investigative and elsewhere in the newsroom when appropriate.

As The Post’s first climate and environment editor, Trish led a team of reporters focused on climate change and the environment, an urgent issue to which she brought revelatory reporting and investigative ambition. Under her leadership, the team won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for “2C: Beyond the Limit,” a series on extreme climate change. Post journalists traveled to every continent but Antarctica and put the changing climate within its human context, showing the severe impact that rapid warming is having on communities around the world. Last year, she led the team as it explored the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, which data show are undercounted in many nations. In the three years she ran the desk, the climate team doubled in size, added a Climate Solutions vertical, and has become an increasingly indispensable source for understanding the impacts of climate change around the world.

Trish came to us in 2018 from the Washington bureau of the Associated Press, where for five years she led international investigations. A series she launched at AP on the war in Yemen won a Pulitzer for international reporting in 2019 after she had joined The Post.

Trish started her career in South Florida and later joined The News & Observer in Raleigh, where she led coverage of education, science, medicine and the environment. In 2004, she moved to The Philadelphia Inquirer, where her team produced a package on the dismantling of the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush. In 2011, Trish joined AP’s Mexico City bureau, where she managed Latin America coverage; she moved to Washington to lead international investigations in 2013.

A Nicaraguan American, Trish graduated from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and earned a master’s in Latin American studies at the University of Florida. She lives in Washington with her husband, author (and former Post journalist) Charles Fishman, two children and two Labradors. Her new assignment begins immediately.

Desmond came to The Post in 2020 as an investigative reporter on the climate team, where he was a major contributor to last year’s “Invisible” series on undercounted greenhouse gas emissions. He also exposed a real estate deal in which the company of agriculture secretary nominee Sonny Perdue was able to buy a small grain plant from a large agricultural conglomerate for a fraction of the property’s estimated value.

Before joining The Post, Desmond capped a 15-year run with the Associated Press with a posting as an international investigative reporter based in Washington. He previously served as AP's chief correspondent in Turkey, where he covered Syria's civil war and revealed the existence of the "Cuban Twitter," a social media network secretly established by the United States to destabilize the government of Raul Castro. Before joining the AP, he was based in Berlin, where he studied as a Fulbright Scholar and spent four years reporting on terrorism in Europe for The New York Times. His honors include the Overseas Press Club of America's Joe and Laurie Dine Award in 2017.

A native of New Hampshire, Desmond received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and classics from Georgetown and a master’s in philosophy and German literature from University College, Oxford. He lives in Washington with his wife, Miriam Mahlow, and their three children. His new assignment also begins immediately; he will report to Trish.