Shira T. Center

  • Spring 2014
Shira T. Center (neé Toeplitz) is the Politics Editor for Roll Call, the top news source on Capitol Hill for more than 50 years, based in Washington, D.C. One of the beltway’s best campaign reporters and analysts, she has covered politics from Alaska to New Hampshire and everywhere in between for a decade.
Known for her expertise, versatility, and comfort across media platforms, Center breaks news, pens long form stories, and appears on television and radio outlets around the country. Whether in Sarah Palin’s Anchorage redoubt, a Capitol Hill rotunda, or in J. Edgar Hoover’s old office at the Department of Justice,
Center has an easy time asking the tough questions of powerful people. But more importantly, she knows
how to write about what they tell her, unpacking their spin and illuminating the behind-the-scenes story of
what’s really going on for her readers. Center frequently appears on television programs that run the political gamut, from “Hardball” with Chris Matthews on MSNBC, to “Your World” with Neil Cavuto on Fox, to the NewsHour on PBS. Center has also offered commentary on campaigns for CBS, ABC, CNN, CNBC and C-SPAN. She regularly guest hosted “Showdown 2012” on XM’s politics station, POTUS, during the last election.
At Roll Call, Center was the first national reporter to interview Sen. Al Franken after his election, and the last to do an extended interview with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin before she was selected as the GOP nominee for vice president, as well as the final reporter do an in-depth interview with former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. before his hospitalization and corruption charges. Center has broken news on Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s (D) moves towards national office, former Sen. John Ensign’s (R-Nev.) resignation, and former Sen. Arlen Specter’s (D-Pa.) party switch — a story so popular it crashed Roll Call’s website. Currently, Center guides her publication’s political coverage as its editor, running the most-read section in the company’s entire newsroom.
An authority on Congressional races, Center spearheaded Roll Call's coverage of the decennial redistricting process following the Census. She possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of the demographics and geography of each congressional district and she can articulate the intricacies of voting rights laws in digestible and interesting way.
Center uses social media to enhance and promote this work, whether she is filing for Roll Call’s politics blog, the newspaper, her Tumblr or 15,000-followers on Twitter. Last year, she pioneered a reported campaign road trip on Roll Call’s first news microsite. Also in 2012, she was as an invited panelist at
SXSW, the premier national technology conference in Austin, where she spoke on partisanship and political journalism.
In addition to Roll Call, Center’s writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Washingtonian, National Journal and Reason Magazine. Center has also worked at POLITICO and National Journal’s The Hotline.
Center is a sought-after guest speaker for young women in politics and journalism. An annual speaker at
WeLEAD, a program for young female professionals at American University’s Women & Politics Institute,
Center has also lectured on political journalism at the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University and been a panelist at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics. She serves on the Advisory Council of Running Start, a non-partisan program for collegiate women interested in politics, and regularly speaks to the group’s fellows interning on Capitol Hill.
Center graduated from Northwestern University with a B.A. in political science, earning honors for her thesis on gender and communication in politics.
Center hails from Pittsburgh and is an avid Steelers fan. She lives in D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood with her husband and cat, who are also Steelers fans.