Leaving school after 8th grade, Mary Annette Pember spent time traveling and visiting libraries, eventually earning her GED.
As a young adult, Pember became the first Native woman to graduate from the University of Wisconsin Madison School of Journalism. She then went on to become the first Native woman press photographer to work as staff shooter at mainstream newspapers The Green Bay Press Gazette, The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Arizona Republic, The Oregonian, and The Lexington Herald Leader. During her career she has won numerous mainstream and Native American Journalism Association awards.
While an active member and executive member of NAJA, she created and funded the New York Times/Native American Journalist Association annual photo shoot out at conferences; created and presented workshops on photography, lighting and Photoshop at annual conferences, and mentored many Native shooters. She also collaborated with the Society of Environmental Journalists to create fellowship for NAJA members and worked with the Richard LaCourse family to help create the prestigious Richard LaCourse NAJA Award.
In the past she’s held positions as a Board member, and President at NAJA, successful fundraiser and worked and encouraged mainstream news representation of Native journalists by building relationships with the American Society of Newspaper Editors. She also formed relationships with Unity Journalists of Color, helped coordinate the NAJA conference in Seattle in 1999, and helped coordinate the move of the NAJA office to South Dakota and relationship with the Al Neuharth Center.
Recently, in connection with her ground-breaking work reporting on intergenerational trauma, Pember has been awarded a Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism and a grant from the Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism, University of Southern California; the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism.
Pember finished a writers’ residency at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire over the summer of 2016.
Areas of coverage: covered Native higher education for Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, Tribal College Journal, Native women’s issues including reproductive rights, sexual violence, environmental issues, health issues such as diabetes and obesity and general coverage of Indian country.
She is the author of the popular Indian Country Media Network freebie, Intergenerational Trauma: Understanding Natives’ Inherited Pain, and frequently writes posts on Culture, Nations, History and Education for Indian Country Today.