Donna De Cesare was born in New York City. After completing an M.Phil degree in English Literature at Essex University, England (1979), she began working as a photographer, writer and later as a videographer.
De Cesare's photographs have appeared in news and arts publications including The New York Times magazine, Life, DoubleTake, Aperture and Mother Jones. She has also worked as a videojournalist and producer on documentaries for The Learning Channel winning an Emmy award (1996) for the video documentary "Killer Virus."
Her groundbreaking reportage about the spread of US gang culture to Central America has won national and international awards including an Alfred Eistendstadt magazine photography award (2000), a Canon photo essay award, Pictures of the Year (2000), In 2002 she was awarded a top prize in the NPPA Best of Photojournalism contest for her photo-essay on Colombia published by Crimes of War.
De Cesare's internationally competitive grants for documentary photography include the Dorothea Lange Prize (1993), the Alicia Patterson Fellowship (1997), the Mother Jones International Photo Fund Award (1999), the Soros Independent project fellowship (2000-2001) and a six-month Fulbright fellowship (2005).
Recognized as an expert on issues of youth identity and gang violence, DeCesare has worked as a consultant to UNICEF both as a photographer/reporter and in helping to develop the protocols for representation of at-risk children and youth which UNICEF now promotes globally. She is also on the Executive Board of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma.
An Associate Professor of Documentary Photography at the Journalism School at University of Texas in Austin. She teaches photography workshops for at-risk youth, journalism students and professional photojournalists in the US, Spain and in Latin America.
She has been a judge for local, national and international photographic contests including the top award for Documentary Photojournalism in Latin America given by the Fundacion para un Nuevo Periodismo (2006), POYi, the International Pictures of the Year competition (2004).
DeCesare's forthcoming website Destiny's Children is a collection of photo narratives exploring how war, trauma and gangs impact the personal choices and social stigmas faced by young people across the Americas. This English/Spanish website will be a tool for educators, activists and youth working to address the challenges and legacy of youth violence.
For a preview see: Edgar's Story
Books, Essays and Artist catalogs: Contributing Photographer
Documenting Migration’s Revolving Door. Nieman Reports, Harvard University, Cambridge MA Fall 2006
- Hijos del Destino: Youth Violence in the Americas: LSE Arts,
London School of Economics, London UK, 2005
- “The Story of Edgar Bolaños,” essay by Donna DeCesare in Gangs and Society, Columbia University Press, 2003.
- Points of Entry: A Nation of Strangers, The Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CA, 1995
- A Terrible Beauty, Artist's Space, New York, 1994
- Nicaragua: A Decade of Revolution, Norton Publishers, 1991
Donna DeCesare’s photographs have been shown in solo and collaborative exhibitions in the US and Latin America.
Selected and Current Exhibitions:
- El Salvador Inside Out. Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas Austin, Texas, Opening April 17, 2008
- Sharing Secrets: Portraits of children Exposing Stigma. Traveling
exhibition, opened at Open Society Institute, NY, NY 2006
- Mi Odisea Latinoamericano. Photojournalism Biennale, Multimedia projection in, Sala del Deseo Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City, Mexico June 9-July 9, 2005
- Hijos del Destino: Youth Violence in the Americas. Traveling Exhibition, Opening May 26, 2005 The Atrium, London School of Economics, London England.
- Colombia Images and Realities. Opening National Museum, Bogotá, Colombia December 2003. Traveling in 2004-2005 in Colombia with collaboration of the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights.
- The Human Condition: After Effects. Opening The Nathan Cummings Foundation, New York 2003. Traveling in 2004-2007 to Lehigh University, the International Festival of Photography in Pinyao, China and other venues.
- Deportees. Fotofiesta 2003, Centro Colombo Americano and University of Medellín, Medellín Colombia 2003.
- Street Gang Exports: The Road from Los Angeles to Latin America. Visa Pour L' image Photojournalism Festival; Perpignan, France. Sept. 2 - Sept. 11, 2000.