Liz Willen, a former senior writer for Bloomberg Markets Magazine, became the assistant director of the Hechinger Institute for Education and the Media at Teachers College/Columbia University in March. A Tufts University and Columbia Journalism School graduate, Willen spent a decade at Newsday/New York Newsday, where she covered the New York City public school system and City Hall before joining Bloomberg News in 2001. With colleagues David Evans and Michael Smith, Willen won the George Polk Award for Health Writing in 2005 for “Big Pharma’s Shameful Secret,’’ which also won a Sidney Hillman Award, the Investigative Reporters and Editors Magazine Medal and an award from SABEW (Society of American Business Writers and Editors.) The story documented how poor people are exploited in experiments to test new drugs, as the FDA relies on private ethics boards financed by Big Pharma to provide oversight. Willen won the Front Page Award for beat reporting on education in 2005 from the New York Newswoman’s Club and first place for magazine writing from the Education Writer’s Association. She also won a 2003 award from The Society of the Silurians in business/financial reporting for a story about the impact of corporate scandal on colleges. She was a member of a team of Bloomberg reporters who won a first place breaking news award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in 2004 for stories on Citigroup. Willen and her husband, New York Daily News reporter and author Greg B. Smith, have two sons, Damon and Brendan, and live in Brooklyn, N.Y. and are active New York City public school parents. She is also a manager of the Downtown United Soccer Club boys under-10 team.