Reader senior writer Maya Dukmasova was born in St. Petersburg and immigrated to the U.S. in the ’90s, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Her family eventually settled in upstate New York, where Maya made her altweekly debut while she was still in high school; she’s a two-time winner of the Syracuse New Times’s annual haiku contest. Maya studied philosophy and religion at the University of Rochester and earned her master’s in art history from the University of Cambridge before she moved to Chicago in 2013. Though she’s largely abandoned the 17-syllable structures of her traditional Japanese poetry-writing days, the honors have continued to stack up. Since joining the Reader in 2016, Maya’s investigative reporting and in-depth stories on Chicago housing, politics, and social injustice have won her three Peter Lisagor awards, two Association of Alternative Newspapers (AAN) awards, and grants from the Chicago Headline Club’s Watchdog Fund and the Fund for Investigative Journalism. In the past year, she’s also been selected to participate in the Illinois Humanities Envisioning Justice Program and a writing residency through the Logan Nonfiction Program. Industry and peer recognition are cool, for sure, but as a true Cancer, Maya is more concerned with fighting the good fight than with tooting her own horn. When it comes to working at the Reader, she says, “Being a part of an institution with deep roots and a legacy of excellence in the type of reporting I aspire to as a journalist is very motivating and humbling.” Maya likes relaxing at Pratt Beach and Promontory Point, enjoying nature at the Garfield Park Conservatory and Jackson Park’s Japanese Garden, meeting friends at the Sovereign in Edgewater, and snuggling with her orange cat Kesha (not named for Ke$ha). In 2020, Maya published A Home in Chicago: Rent, Ownership, and Neighborhood Struggle Since the Collapse of Public Housing, as part of the paper’s Best of the Chicago Reader book series—though we might as well call the collection The Best of Maya Dukmasova So Far because, if anything, Maya just keeps getting better.