Maida Odom directs the Internship and High School Journalism Workshop programs and teaches Public Affairs Reporting. Empowering future generations of journalists with critical tools and unbiased outlooks is, in her view, a noble and worthwhile mission.
An award-winning journalist, Odom worked as a regional correspondent for The Boston Globe and wrote for Opportunity Journal, a news magazine published by the National Urban League, before joining Temple’s Journalism faculty in September 2006.
Odom grew up in Akron, Ohio, and worked at the Akron Beacon Journal and The Dayton Daily News (and interned for a summer at The Chicago Tribune) before joining The Philadelphia Inquirer, where she worked as a staff writer for more than 20 years. At the Inquirer, she covered the first year of busing for school desegregation in Delaware and worked as a city desk reporter, a copy editor and finally, as a features writer. Her articles included profiles of former Federal Judge A. Leon Higginbotham; historian John Hope Franklin; then-head of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Mary Frances Berry; poet Gwendolyn Brooks; composer and music mogul Kenny Gamble, head of Philadelphia International Records; and historical features. Her feature articles on issues included: HUD “community-building” initiatives for controlling urban sprawl; welfare-to-work initiatives; racial profiling of motorists; educational deficiencies among welfare recipients and their job prospects; daycare concerns; employment challenges facing ex-convicts; and human relations issues, neighborhood initiatives and community development.
Odom also initiated an Inquirer feature section dedicated to work issues and employment trends. Subjects included the growth of temporary employment agencies, the pain a CEO feels while directing major corporate layoffs, life at the Unemployment Office, the employment of people with mental-health issues, the implementation of family-leave policy, meeting the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act and the growth in lawsuits against employers.
Much of her work at the Inquirer focused on urban and poor people’s issues in Philadelphia, including poverty among senior citizens, and homelessness, public housing and education issues. In 1986, her coverage of the 1985 deadly confrontation between the city of Philadelphia and MOVE—a radical back-to- nature group—earned local, state and national journalism awards. She was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and a winner of the National Headliners Award.
Odom has written and directed two documentary films: 1199C-25, about the history of District 1199C of the National Union of Hospital and Healthcare Employees, and Charles Bowser: His Work, His Wisdom, about a Philadelphia activist and mayoral candidate during the 1970s. She has also written two plays: MOVE Mocks Us All, based on the 1985 confrontation and its aftermath, and The Executioner, based on her experiences on the courts beat.