Pam Fessler

Pam Fessler is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, where she covers poverty and philanthropy.

In her reporting, Fessler covers homelessness, hunger, and the impact of the recession on the nation's less fortunate. She reports 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. Her poverty reporting was recognized by a 2011 First Place Headliner Award in the human interest category.

Previously, Fessler 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. Fessler 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. Prior to that role, Fessler was the 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, 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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2:46pm

Fri August 29, 2014
It's All Politics

Texas Voter ID Law Goes To Trial

Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 11:09 am

A voter in Austin, Texas, shows his photo identification to an election official in February.
Eric Gay AP

Dozens of lawyers will gather in a federal courtroom in Corpus Christi, Texas, on Tuesday for the start of a new challenge to the state's controversial voter ID law.

The trial is expected to last two to three weeks, but it's unlikely to be the end of what's already been a long, convoluted journey for the Texas law — and many others like it.

First, some background:

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5:12pm

Wed August 27, 2014
Shots - Health News

Life After Ice Buckets: ALS Group Faces $94 Million Challenge

Originally published on Wed August 27, 2014 7:29 pm

Bill Gates, Martha Stewart, LeBron James, Lindsay Lohan, Kermit the Frog and Conan O'Brien all got icily drenched for charity.
via YouTube

The ALS ice bucket challenge continues to bring in huge donations this summer for efforts to cure and treat what's commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. As of today, the viral campaign has raised more than $94 million for the ALS Association. That's compared with $2.7 million raised by the group during the same time last year.

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3:28am

Mon August 25, 2014
Politics

On The Fall Docket: Who Gets To Vote — And Who Gets To Decide?

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 1:23 pm

Voters crowd into their polling place Aug. 15 at Keonepoko Elementary School in Pahoa, Hawaii.
Marco Garcia AP

A federal appeals court in Denver is scheduled to hear arguments Aug. 25 in a dispute over whether Kansas and Arizona can require voters using a federal registration form to show proof of citizenship.

It's the first of several significant cases this fall that could determine who gets to vote, and how, in at least six states. The outcomes could also answer a much broader question: Who gets to decide?

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5:12am

Tue August 19, 2014
Business

In Case You Didn't Know, Feds Say Raising A Child Is Expensive

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 7:35 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

3:53am

Mon August 18, 2014
The Salt

More Military Families Are Relying On Food Banks And Pantries

Originally published on Mon August 18, 2014 10:58 am

Volunteers at the Maryland Food Bank in Baltimore sort and box food donations on a conveyor belt. The bank started working with groups like the USO in 2013 to provide food aid to families affiliated with nearby military bases.
Pam Fessler NPR

Despite the economic recovery, more than 46 million Americans — or 1 in 7 — used a food pantry last year. And a surprisingly high number of those seeking help were households with military members, according to a new survey by Feeding America, which is a network of U.S. food banks.

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3:32am

Fri August 8, 2014
Around the Nation

Trauma Plagues Many Immigrant Kids In U.S. Illegally

Originally published on Fri August 8, 2014 11:15 am

A young immigrant caught crossing the border illegally is housed inside the McAllen Border Patrol Station in McAllen, Texas, last month.
Pool Getty Images

Many of the Central American children who have entered the U.S illegally in recent months have come with a heavy burden — a history of hardship and violence. And many of the children now face difficult and uncertain futures.

This has social service agencies around the country scrambling to figure out how to help the more than 30,000 unaccompanied minors who have been placed with family and friends since January, as they await their immigration hearings.

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5:52pm

Thu July 24, 2014
Politics

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

Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 8:22 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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5:17pm

Wed July 23, 2014
The Salt

Summer Program For Hungry Kids Gets Creative With Food Delivery

Originally published on Thu July 24, 2014 4:49 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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3:28am

Mon July 14, 2014
Law

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

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 7:40 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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5:33am

Tue June 17, 2014
Business

Charitable Giving Nears Pre-Recession Levels, Annual Report Shows

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 6:25 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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