Marisa Peñaloza

Marisa Peñaloza is a senior producer on the National Desk. From breaking news to documentary-style features, Peñaloza's productions are among the signature pieces heard on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition.

Her work has covered a wide array of topics, from hurricanes, education, immigration, politics and the economy to homeland security and litigation. She has also produced investigative reports and traveled across the U.S. and the world for NPR.

Although Peñaloza's permanent assignment is on the National Desk, she occasionally travels overseas on assignment. She traveled to Haiti soon after the 2010 earthquake hit and she's gone back several times to follow the humanitarian organizations working on the island nation. She's covered education in Peru and a dengue outbreak in El Salvador, the Madrid train bombings in Spain as well as the Tsunami in Banda Aceh, Indonesia.

In 2011, she traveled to Honduras to cover the sock industry as part of a two-part series on globalization and to El Salvador to produce a series of stories on immigration. Her past productions include coverage of the Elian Gonzalez custody battle from Miami, protests outside the Navy site on the Island of Viequez, in Puerto Rico, the aftermath of the crash of the American Airlines flight 587 in New York. She contributed to NPR's 9/11 coverage. Peñaloza was one of the first NPR staff members to arrive on the Virginia Tech campus to cover the shootings in 2007. She was on assignment in Houston waiting for hurricane Ike to make landfall in September 2008, and she continues to produce coverage of New Orleans recovery after Katrina.

An award-winning journalist, Peñaloza was honored with the 2011 National Headliner Award in investigative reporting and the Grand Award for a series of stories looking at the role of confidential informants - people who pose as criminals so they can provide information to federal law enforcement; except sometimes, these informants are criminals themselves.

In 2009, Peñaloza was honored with several awards for contribution to "Dirty Money," an enterprising four-part series of stories that examined law enforcement's pursuit of suspected drug money, which they can confiscate without filing charges against the person carrying it. Local police and sheriffs get to keep a portion of the cash. The awards for "Dirty Money" include the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi Award in the investigative reporting category; the Scripps Howard Foundation's National Journalism Foundation Award; and the RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award in the "best website" category.

In 2008, Peñaloza was honored by the Education Writers Association with its "National Award for Education Reporting" for a year-long NPR on-air and online series following a Baltimore-area high school's efforts to improve student achievement. She won the Nancy Dickerson Whitehead Award for Excellence in Reporting on Drug and Alcohol Problems in 2007, for a five-part series of stories that examined this country's gains and losses since the war on drugs was launched more than thirty years ago, "The Forgotten Drug Wars." She is the recipient of the 2005 unity award for producing Debbie Elliott's Brown vs Board of Education piece, "Before Desegregation: The Education Migration."

In 2003, Peñaloza produced a two-part story entitled "Corruption at the Gates." NPR correspondent John Burnett and Peñaloza discovered that some U.S. border officials are on the take, illegally passing drugs and immigrants into the country in return for bribes. The reports won them a National Headliner Award in the investigative reporting category.

In 2001, "Globalization and the Return of Dengue" won Peñaloza the Pan American Health Organization's Award for Excellence in International Health Reporting. The story was part of a series of stories for NPR and American Radio Works on globalization and disease.

Peñaloza made the leap from television to radio in 1997, when she joined NPR's National Desk. Before coming to NPR she was a staff at the local NBC station and a freelance writer for the Fox affiliate in Washington, DC.

Peñaloza graduated from the George Washington University in Washington, DC, with bachelor's degrees in Broadcast Media and Political Science.

Around the Nation
5:07 am
Mon March 24, 2014

25 Years After Spill, Alaska Town Struggles Back From 'Dead Zone'

Orca Inlet, Cordova's fishing harbor, on a blustery day this month. Commercial fishing is the small Alaskan town's primary industry.
Marisa Peñaloza NPR

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 12:25 pm

On March 24, 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez struck a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil into the pristine water. At the time, it was the single biggest spill in U.S. history. In a series of stories, NPR is examining the lasting social and economic impacts of the disaster, as well as the policy, regulation and scientific research that came out of it.

It's a blustery, snowy March day when Michelle Hahn O'Leary offers a tour of Cordova, Alaska, situated on the eastern shore of Prince William Sound.

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Veterans And Other-Than-Honorable Discharges
5:22 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Filling The Gaps For Veterans With Bad Discharges

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 11:18 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

All this week on MORNING EDITION we've been hearing about veterans we don't usually discuss, people who served in the military and then left with a less than honorable discharge. Even if they saw combat, veterans with bad paper, as it's called, do not get the healthcare or benefits accorded to most vets.

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Veterans And Other-Than-Honorable Discharges
4:58 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Path To Reclaiming Identity Steep For Vets With 'Bad Paper'

Michael Hartnett was a Marine during the Gulf War and served in Somalia. He received a bad conduct discharge for abusing drugs and alcohol. His wife, Molly, helped him turn his life around.
Quil Lawrence NPR

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 11:19 am

When Michael Hartnett was getting kicked out of the U.S. Marine Corps, he was too deep into post-traumatic stress disorder, drugs and alcohol to care as his battalion commander explained to the young man that his career was ending, and ending badly.

"Do you understand what I'm saying to you, son? It's going to be six and a kick," Hartnett recalls the commander telling him.

The "six" was an expected six months of hard labor in the brig. The kick happened at Hartnett's court-martial, and finally woke him up out of the haze.

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Code Switch
3:01 am
Thu August 1, 2013

To '60s Civil Rights Hero, Math Is Kids' Formula For Success

Bob Moses works with Jennifer Augustine, Guitoscard Denize, Darius Collins and other students who are part of this Algebra Project classroom. It's one of several student cohorts across the country where students who've struggled with math get to college-level by the end of high school.
Christopher Connelly NPR

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 6:01 pm

Bob Moses is 78, but he has the same probing eyes you see behind thick black glasses in photos from 50 years ago when he worked as a civil rights activist in Mississippi. The son of a janitor, Moses was born and raised in Harlem. He's a Harvard-trained philosopher and a veteran teacher.

He started a math training program — the Algebra Project — with a MacArthur "Genius Grant" 30 years ago. The goal is simple: Take students who score the worst on state math tests, double up on the subject for four years and get them ready to do college-level math by the end of high school.

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Law
10:34 am
Fri February 15, 2013

Attorney Advocates For Poor As Immigration Debate Continues

Jose Pertierra is an immigration lawyer from Cuba. He is well-known for defending Elian Gonzalez and works on behalf of refugees.
Becky Lettenberger NPR

As Washington debates changing the immigration system, the demand for immigration attorneys has already jumped, even without new laws in place.

Lawyers such as Jose Pertierra, a veteran immigration attorney, are trained to interpret the law, but Pertierra sees his role as much more.

Every Thursday at 6 p.m. for the past 10 years, Pertierrra is here — on the set of the Spanish language TV studios of Univision in Washington, D.C., near Capitol Hill. He does a segment on immigration where he answers viewers' questions.

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Health Care
4:43 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

Immigrants Key To Looming Health Aide Shortage

Senior woman in wheelchair holding hands with caretaker
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 6:44 pm

In the shadow of the Capitol on a recent sunny morning, about 50 home care workers from around the country gather to lobby their legislators for basic labor rights. Most are native-born Americans, but about a quarter are documented immigrants from Africa, Latin America, India and the Caribbean.

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Around the Nation
6:21 pm
Mon October 22, 2012

For Ex-Felons, Limited Rights Mean A Future On Hold

Former felon Vikki Hankins has been fighting for civil rights for convicts for years. After applying to have her own civil rights restored in 2008, 2009 and 2011, Hankins was recently informed that she will not be eligible to apply again until 2017.
Michael Ciaglo News21

Vikki Hankins wants nothing more in the world than to have her civil rights restored. Hankins, 43, lost the right to vote — and many others — when she went to a federal prison for selling cocaine in December 1990. She spent almost two decades behind bars for her crime.

Today, Hankins is an author and an undergrad who dreams of going to law school. She got out of prison four years ago and quickly applied to have her rights — like voting, serving on a jury and becoming a lawyer — restored.

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Latin America
4:40 pm
Thu June 7, 2012

Mexico's Once Dominant Party Poised For A Comeback

Mexican presidential front-runner Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, waves to the crowds during a campaign stop in the northern border city of Tijuana, Mexico, on June 3. The once dominant PRI, out of power for the past 12 years, looks likely to make a comeback.
Alex Cossio AP

Originally published on Thu June 7, 2012 5:54 pm

First of two parts

As Mexico approaches its election day on July 1, polls indicate the candidate for the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, is well ahead and appears likely to return his party to power.

The PRI governed Mexico for seven decades until 2000, when it was tossed out by an electorate tired of a corrupt political machine. Now, discontent with the current leadership and the rampant drug-related violence has created an opening for the PRI to come back. Still, some Mexicans are queasy about the prospect of the party's resurgence.

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Making Babies: 21st Century Families
4:28 pm
Tue April 17, 2012

Carrying 'Dreams': Why Women Become Surrogates

Ian Waldie Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 8:24 pm

Last in a four-part report

Surrogacy is an idea as old as the biblical story of Sarah and Abraham in the book of Genesis. Sarah was infertile, so Abraham fathered children with the couple's maid. Today, there are many more options for people who want to grow their families — and for the would-be surrogates who want to help.

Macy Widofsky, 40, is eager to be a surrogate.

"I have very easy pregnancies. All three times have been flawlessly healthy, and I wanted to repeat the process," she says, "and my husband and I won't be having more children of our own."

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Making Babies: 21st Century Families
4:03 pm
Tue April 17, 2012

Gifting Birth: A Woman Helps Build Other Families

Charity Lovas has given birth to eight children, three of whom are her own.
Courtesy of Charity Lovas

For most mothers, there is no event in life bigger than giving birth to a child. Charity Lovas has given birth to eight children, yet only three of those children are her own.

It all began in 2002, when she and her family were living in Indianapolis. She says she was reading the Sunday newspaper and spotted an ad for ovum donors. She had never heard about it. She was curious.

She called the number in the ad. A woman at the other end of the line explained the egg donor program, and said they had a surrogate program, too.

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Sports
3:04 am
Wed April 4, 2012

U.S. Rhythmic Gymnastics Star Readies For London

Rhythmic gymnast Julie Zetlin, seen here during last October's Pan-American Games, hopes to win a medal for the United States at the Summer Olympics in London.
Martin Bernetti AFP/Getty Images

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Latin America
12:01 am
Tue January 17, 2012

The Challenge Of Measuring Relief Aid To Haiti

Pierre Jean Nelson (left) has lived at Champs de Mars, a camp for displaced people, since the quake hit.
Marisa Penaloza NPR

Originally published on Tue January 17, 2012 9:13 am

After Haiti's devastating earthquake two years ago, Americans donated large sums of money. This helped charities and aid groups save lives immediately after the disaster. But it's been much harder for them to help Haitians rebuild their devastated country. In the second of two stories, NPR's Carrie Kahn and Marisa Penaloza report that its difficult to get detailed information about how organizations spend their money.

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Latin America
12:01 am
Mon January 16, 2012

Two Years After Quake, Many Haitians Await Aid

Seventy-three temporary wooden shelters were built last month by the American Red Cross together with other nongovernmental organizations in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince. Some residents of the new settlement, Village Carvil, have already added living space with tarps.
Marisa Penaloza NPR

Originally published on Mon January 16, 2012 11:05 pm

First of a two-part report.

It was two years ago this month that a 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, killing hundreds of thousands and leaving more than a million people homeless. Through U.S. charities, Americans donated more than $1.8 billion, but some in Haiti haven't seen much of that yet.

Charles Giiagliard, his wife and their five children live in a tiny one-room shack in downtown Port-au-Prince.

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Reporter's Notebook
6:00 am
Sat January 14, 2012

In Haiti, Hope Is Still Hard To Find

Elicia Andre, who says she used to be much larger — a sign of affluence in Haiti — is now skin and bones.
Marisa Penaloza NPR

You can see some progress in Haiti two years since the 7.0-magnitude quake hit. But Port-au-Prince is a tour of unrelenting misery and often disturbing images. Things are happening — slowly. You can tell the pace of progress by looking into people's eyes — emptiness looks back at you. Pain is etched on their faces.

You see it in Elicia Andre. We met her back in December at the homeless encampment run by Catholic Relief Services in Port-au-Prince, where she sought refuge after the quake. The charity had just given her $500 to rent an apartment for a year.

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Living Large: Obesity In America
6:04 am
Sun December 11, 2011

Spandex Stretches To Meet U.S. Waistlines

Ed Gribbin, head of Alvanon, says spandex is a "democratic" fiber because it morphs to the body as opposed to limiting it.
Marisa Penaloza NPR

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 6:44 pm

Part of an ongoing series on obesity in America

When you think of spandex, 1970s disco mania may come to mind. Spandex came off the dance floor and into everyone's closet — stretchy leggings, jumpsuits and leg warmers were the rage. But spandex had a life before disco. It was invented by two DuPont chemists. It made its debut in 1959, first used in bras and jockstraps, as well as in workout gear.

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Living Large: Obesity In America
6:04 am
Sun December 11, 2011

From Body Scan To Body Form: Sizing A Clothing Line

Alvanon is the largest maker of mannequin body forms in the world. The Manhattan-based company uses a device called AlvaScan to create these forms — which are then used to create clothing sizes. "We are so diverse that in any given size, there are probably four or six different body types that are represented," says the company's president, Ed Gribbin.
Courtesy of Alvanon

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 6:44 pm

Are you size 4? A 6? An 8? Often women shoppers don't know. And they can actually be all those sizes without gaining or losing an ounce.

Ed Gribbin, president of Alvanon, a clothing size and fit consulting firm in New York City, says everyone has a number in their head. When you go shopping, you instinctively look for your size, but more often than not, the item doesn't fit.

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