Joanna Kakissis is an international correspondent based in Kyiv, Ukraine, where she leads NPR's bureau and coverage of a conflict that has upended millions of lives, affected global energy and food supplies and pitted NATO against Russia.
Kakissis began reporting in Ukraine shortly before Russia invaded in February. She covered the exodus of refugees to Poland and has returned to Ukraine several times to chronicle the war. She has focused on the human costs, profiling the displaced, the families of prisoners of war and a ninety-year-old "mermaid" who swims in a mine-filled sea. Kakissis highlighted the tragedy for both sides with a story about the body of a Russian soldier abandoned in a hamlet he helped destroy, and she shed light on the potential for nuclear disaster with a report on the shelling of Nikopol by Russians occupying a nearby power plant.
Kakissis began reporting regularly for NPR from her base in Athens, Greece, in 2011. Her work has largely focused on the forces straining European unity — migration, nationalism and the rise of illiberalism in Hungary. She led coverage of the eurozone debt crisis and the mass migration of Syrian refugees to Europe. She's reported extensively in central and eastern Europe and has also filled in at NPR bureaus in Berlin, Istanbul, Jerusalem, London and Paris. She's a contributor to This American Life and has written for The New York Times, TIME, The New Yorker online and The Financial Times Magazine, among others. In 2021, she taught a journalism seminar as a visiting professor at Princeton University.
Kakissis was born in Greece, grew up in North and South Dakota and spent her early years in journalism at The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina.