Casey Parks is a staff reporter covering New Orleans and Mississippi. Prior to joining The Hechinger Report, she spent a decade at The Oregonian, where she wrote about race and LGBTQ issues and was a finalist for The Livingston Award. She was the assistant editor of The Jackson (Mississippi) Free Press and the inaugural winner of the New York Times' Win a Trip to Africa with Nicholas Kristof contest. In high school, she worked before and after classes at The Alexandria Daily Town Talk in Central Louisiana. There, she fielded angry calls on the circulation desk in the morning and retyped press releases in the afternoon. The editors rewrote her first story, but she still keeps a copy of it in her desk. She earned a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, where she also studied race, poverty and education.