Joel Simon worked as a journalist in California and Latin America before joining CPJ as Americas program coordinator in 1997. He began his career as a writer and photographer based in Central America, focusing on Guatemala's civil war. After obtaining a master's degree in Latin American studies from Stanford University, Simon moved to Mexico City in 1989 where he worked as an associate editor for Pacific News Service and as a freelance writer and photographer for a number of U.S. publications. In Mexico, Simon covered immigration, environmental issues, and the debate over the North American Free Trade Agreement. From 1991 to 1994, Simon was based in San Francisco and worked as a contributing editor to SFWeekly. He returned to Mexico in 1994 to report on the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas as a freelance correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle. Over the next three years, he covered the peso devaluation and resulting political upheaval in Mexico while making several reporting trips to Cuba. Simon's book on Mexico's environmental crisis, Endangered Mexico: An Environment on the Edge, was published by Sierra Club Books in 1997. Simon was promoted to deputy director in 2000 and in that capacity participated in CPJ missions to Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Yugoslavia, Tajikistan, Mexico, Colombia, and the Gambia. He has written widely on press issues, including press freedom and international law, for Columbia Journalism Review, Slate, Newsday, and others. Simon became executive director in July 2006.