Dick Tofel was the founding general manager (and first employee) of ProPublica from 2007-2012, and its president from 2013 until September 2021. As president, he had responsibility for all of ProPublica’s non-journalism operations, including communications, legal, development, finance and budgeting, and human resources.
During the period of Tofel’s business leadership, ProPublica won six Pulitzer Prizes, seven National Magazine Awards, five Peabody Awards, three Emmy Awards and nine George Polk Awards, among other honors. Also during this time, ProPublica grew from an initial staff of just over 20 to more than 160, and raised more than $225 million from other than its founding funders.
During the 2021-22 academic year, Tofel is a distinguished visiting fellow in the Department of Social Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where he is leading a faculty seminar on “The Pandemic, the Press, and Public Health.”
Tofel was formerly the assistant publisher of The Wall Street Journal, with responsibility for its international editions and U.S. special editions, and, earlier, an assistant managing editor of the paper, vice president, corporate communications for Dow Jones & Company, and an assistant general counsel of Dow Jones. Just prior to ProPublica, he served as vice president, general counsel and secretary of the Rockefeller Foundation, and earlier as president and chief operating officer of the International Freedom Center, a museum and cultural center that was planned for the World Trade Center site.
He serves on the board/advisory board of the American Journalism Project, CalMatters, The City, the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas, Austin, Outlier Media, Retro Report, the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Center for Media and Democracy in Israel.
Tofel is a recipient (with Paul Steiger) of the 2021 Kiplinger Award for Contributions to Journalism from the National Press Foundation, and earlier received the 2020 Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service in Newsletter Journalism for the ProPublica Newsletter “Not Shutting Up,” and the 2019 Newmark Journalism Award from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.
He is the author of “Not Shutting Up: A Year of Reflections on Journalism” (2020); “‘A Federal Offense of the Highest Order’: The True Story of How the Joint Chiefs Spied on Nixon, And How He Covered It Up” (2019); “Speaking Truth in Power: Lessons for Our Sorry Politics from Our Inspiring History” (2018); “Home Run Revolution: Babe Ruth in His Time, 1919-1920” (2015); “Non-Profit Journalism: Issues Around Impact” (2013); “Why American Newspapers Gave Away the Future” (2012); “Eight Weeks in Washington, 1861: Abraham Lincoln and the Hazards of Transition” (2011); “Restless Genius: Barney Kilgore, The Wall Street Journal, and the Invention of Modern Journalism” (2009); “Sounding the Trumpet: The Making of John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address” (2005); “Vanishing Point: The Disappearance of Judge Crater, and the New York He Left Behind” (2004); and “A Legend in the Making: The New York Yankees in 1939” (2002).
Tofel is a graduate of Harvard College, Harvard Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School (masters in public policy).