Leiva, Fehder, Win 2007 Alexia Foundation Grants

SYRACUSE, NY – Photojournalist Alvaro Leiva, from Madrid, Spain, is the winner of the 2007 Alexia Foundation Grant for professionals, and Syracuse University photojournalism graduate student Jeffrey Fehder is the student winner.

Leiva, 36, has been with Panos Picture Agency since 2001 and has worked on stories in over 80 countries. He was a finalist for the W. Eugene Smith Grant in 2004 and again in 2006. He won this year’s 17th annual $15,000 Alexia Foundation Grant for his story “Black River: Life On The Mississippi River Delta.”

Fehder, a Syracuse University photojournalism graduate student, is currently an intern at the Syracuse Post Standard. He received a BFA from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU in 2002. Prior to returning to school at SU he worked for six months as a photographer’s assistant to Arnold Newman. The Alexia Grant for the first place student winner is a $9,000 scholarship toward tuition, fees, and living expenses to study photojournalism in London in the fall semester through the Syracuse University Division of International Programs Abroad. First place also carries with it a $1,000 grant for completing the proposed picture story, and a $500 award to the college department that sponsors the winning student's entry.

“This is the fourth time in 17 years that an SU student has won the top Alexia award,” Syracuse University photojournalism professor David Sutherland said. “SU senior photojournalism major Veronica Wilson won an award of excellence. Five awards are given annually. When the judges narrowed the field from the 55 applicants to six, SU photojournalism grad student Narayan Jot Mahon was also in the pack of finalists, but after 40 minutes of wrangling, discussion, and compromise, Narayan was eliminated leaving SU with two of the top five awards. There were applications from 41 universities from around the world.”

The Alexia Foundation for World Peace was established by the family of Alexia Tsairis, an honors photojournalism student at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University who was a victim of the terrorist bombing of Pan Am flight #103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, on December 21, 1988. She was returning home for the Christmas holidays after spending a semester at the Syracuse University London Centre. Alexia, known as a promising photojournalism student, had interned for the Associated Press in New York City and she was deeply committed to world peace, supporting the efforts of Amnesty International and Greenpeace. The annual photography grants to professionals and students are "dedicated to helping photographers produce pictures that promote world peace and cultural understanding."

In the professional category, the judges narrowed the entries down from 230 to four before selecting Leiva for the Grant. The others finalists in the top four, in no particular order, were Dana Gluckstein from Los Angeles, CA; Jan Grarup from Holbaek, Denmark; and Larry Towell from Bothwell, Canada.

In the student category, the second place winner was Brian Lehmann, a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has interned at The Palm Beach Post and The Concord Monitor and is a staff photographer for the university’s newspaper, The Daily Nebraskan. Lehmann often assists photographer Joel Sartore.

Student Award of Excellence winners were Matthew Lutton, a junior at University of Washington; Deanna Alejandra Dent, a student at Arizona State University; and Veronica Wilson, a senior photojournalism major at Syracuse University. Each student Award of Excellence winner receives a $500 cash grant and a $1600 scholarship. There were 53 students from 41 universities and one high school student who applied to the competition this year.

The Alexia Grant judges were Dudley Brooks, assistant managing editor for photography at The Baltimore Sun; John Long, a 35-year photographer and editor retired from The Hartford Courant who is also NPPA’s Ethics Committee chairman and an adjunct professor of picture editing at Syracuse University; Michele Stephenson, who in December retired after 19 years as Time magazine's director of photography. George Wedding, a former Newspaper Photographer of the Year and former director of photography for the Sacramento Bee, joined the judging online from California as an off-site judge. The judging was done at Syracuse University in February.

The winners' portfolios can be seen on the Alexia Foundation Web site at www.alexiafoundation.org.