Marisa Peñaloza

Marisa Peñaloza is a 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 was in Haiti soon after the heartquake hit near Port au Prince in early 2010. 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. Last year, 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.

Peñaloza is an award-winning journalist. This year, Peñaloza and a NPR team were honored with several awards for "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. She lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland, with her husband Eric Niiler, also a journalist, and son Diego.

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5:26am

Mon March 24, 2014
Around the Nation

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

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 10:25 am

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

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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6:00am

Thu December 12, 2013
Veterans And Other-Than-Honorable Discharges

Filling The Gaps For Veterans With Bad Discharges

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 9:18 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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4:56am

Wed December 11, 2013
Other-Than-Honorable Discharges

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

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 9:19 am

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

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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2:28pm

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

Carrying 'Dreams': Why Women Become Surrogates

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 6:24 pm

Ian Waldie Getty Images

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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2:03pm

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

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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