Jill Nelson was born and raised in Harlem and has been a working journalist for over twenty years. She is a graduate of the City College of New York and the Columbia School of Journalism. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, Essence, The Washington Post, The Nation, Ms., The Chicago Tribune and the Village Voice. Jill was a staff writer for the Washington Post Magazine during its first years of existence, and was named Washington D.C. Journalist of the Year for her work there. She freelances and lectures widely, and writes a twice-monthly column, “On the Verge,” for NiaOnline.com and is a monthly contributor to the Op Ed page of USA Today. She was a professor of Journalism at the City College of New York from 1998 to 2003. Jill wrote the best-selling memoir, Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic Negro Experience (Noble Press, hardcover, 1993 and Penguin, paperback, 1994), which won an American Book Award. She is the author of Straight, No Chaser: How I Became A Grown-Up Black Woman (Putnam, Fall 1997, Penguin, Winter 1999) and edited Police Brutality: An Anthology, for WW Norton, published in April 2000. Her first novel, Sexual Healing, was released in June 2003. Her latest book, the non-fiction Finding Martha’s Vineyard: African Americans at Home on an Island, was published in May 2005 by Random House.
Jill lectures widely on race, gender, politics, media, writing and other topics. In 2006 she hosted a writer’s workshop in her house on Martha’s Vineyard and a series of one day writing workshops at her home in New York City.
The mother of an adult daughter, and a grandmother, she lives in Harlem.