Pam Fessler

Pam Fessler is a correspondent on NPR's Washington Desk, where she covers poverty and philanthropy. She's produced stories on homelessness, hunger, and the impact of the recession on the nation's less fortunate. She's also reported on non-profit groups, how they're trying to address poverty and other social issues, and how they've been affected by the economic downturn. Previously, she reported primarily on homeland security, including security at U.S. ports, airlines, and borders. She has also reported on the government's response to Hurricane Katrina, the 9/11 Commission investigation, and such issues as Social Security and election reform. Pam was also one of NPR's White House reporters during the Clinton and Bush administrations.

Before becoming a correspondent, Fessler was the acting senior editor on the Washington Desk and oversaw the network's coverage of the impeachment of President Clinton and the 1998 mid-term elections. She was NPR's chief election editor in 1996, and coordinated all network coverage of the presidential, congressional, and state elections.

At NPR, Fessler has also been deputy Washington editor and midwest National Desk editor. Before coming to NPR in 1993, she was a senior writer at Congressional Quarterly magazine. Fessler worked at CQ for 13 years as both a reporter and editor, covering tax, budget, and other news. She also worked as a budget specialist at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget during the Carter Administration, and was a reporter at The Record newspaper in Hackensack, NJ.

Fessler has a Masters of Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and a bachelor's degree from Douglass College in New Jersey.

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3:29pm

Thu July 24, 2014
Politics

Rep. Ryan Unveils His Anti-Poverty Plan, A Rebuke To LBJ Programs

Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 6:22 am

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, speaking before the start of the Virginia GOP Convention in Roanoke last month, has unveiled a new plan aimed at tackling poverty in America.
Steve Helber AP

For much of this year, Republicans have talked about finding new ways to get Americans out of poverty but have offered few specifics — until now.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan unveiled his plan Thursday to fight poverty, which he says will help fix safety-net programs that he calls fragmented and ineffective.

Here are the highlights of Ryan's plan:

  • Allow states to experiment with federal aid, by merging things like food stamps, child care and welfare into what he calls an "Opportunity Grant."
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3:17pm

Wed July 23, 2014
The Salt

Summer Program For Hungry Kids Gets Creative With Food Delivery

Originally published on Thu July 24, 2014 2:49 pm

Logan Kovach, 6, Matthew Kovach, 2, and Allyson Kovach, 5, eat a lunch distributed by the YMCA in Hopkins County, Kentucky.
Pam Fessler NPR

More than 21 million children get free or reduced priced meals during the school year. But in the summer, that number drops to only three million.

The big question is what happens to all the other children. Do they get enough, and the right food, to eat?

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2:19pm

Wed July 16, 2014
Law

With A Series Of Small Bans, Cities Turn Homelessness Into A Crime

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 11:00 am

Susan St. Amour panhandles on a median in Portland, Maine. The city tried to ban loitering on medians last year, but a judge found the law unconstitutional.
Caroline Losneck for NPR

Laws that criminalize homelessness are on the rise across the country, according to a new report by an advocacy group. The laws prohibit everything from sleeping in public to loitering and begging. Advocates for the homeless say the laws are making the problem worse.

Susan St. Amour is among those who could be affected by the new restrictions. Twice a week, she stands on a median strip at an intersection in downtown Portland, Maine, asking passersby for cash. She says she needs the money to get by.

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3:06am

Mon July 14, 2014
Law

How Banning One Question Could Help Ex-Offenders Land A Job

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 5:40 pm

Sherman Justice says he struggled when he got out of prison after serving time for robbery and drug trafficking.
Pam Fessler NPR

Washington, D.C., is expected to join four states and several cities soon in prohibiting companies from asking job applicants — up front — if they have a criminal record.

It's part of a growing movement called Ban the Box, a reference to that box on a job application form that asks, "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?"

Advocates for the laws say having to check the box prevents many ex-offenders from getting a fair shot at a job.

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4:00am

Tue June 17, 2014
Business

Charitable Giving Nears Pre-Recession Levels, Annual Report Shows

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 4:25 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

NPR's Business News starts with giving on the rise. Americans last year gave $335 billion to charity. That's according to a new report released today by the Giving USA Foundation. That is close to the levels of donation before the recession. NPR's Pam Fessler reports.

PAM FESSLER, BYLINE: After the recession, experts predicted it would take many years - maybe even a decade - for charitable giving to get back to where it was before the economic downturn. But it now appears to be right around the corner.

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