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Kirstin Downey became a staff writer for the Washington Post in 1988. In the mid-1990s, Downey began writing articles and columns on the American workplace, tracking employment statistics and emerging trends. She initiated a series of articles on the increasing incidence of sexual harassment incidents nationwide. In 2000 Downey was awarded a Nieman fellowship at Harvard University, where she studied American economic history at Harvard Business School and participated in the Harvard Trade Union Program, where young labor activists are trained to become leaders in the movement. The fellowship also gave Downey the opportunity to focus full-time on research for her new book, "The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR's Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience" (2009). In 2008 Downey shared in the Pulitzer Prize awarded to the Washington Post staff for coverage of the campus slayings at Virginia Tech.