Jennifer Brookland

Producer, "The State of Things"

Jennifer Brookland
Credit Jennifer Brookland

Jennifer Brookland is a temporary producer for The State of Things.

Jennifer grew up in Baltimore, MD and studied International Politics and African Studies at Georgetown University. She spent four years as a Special Agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations in North Carolina and Maryland, and deployed to Djibouti and the Comoros Islands.

After earning her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University she contributed to News21, a national reporting project on transportation safety in America. She also interned at PRI’s “The World” and in Nairobi with IRIN, the United Nations’ humanitarian news and analysis service. She received a master’s degree in human security and NGO management from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Jennifer spent three years producing content for international development organizations in D.C, highlighting aid work in countries including Tajikistan, Haiti, Honduras, India and Tanzania. She moved to Durham in 2015 and began freelance writing, editing and producing. Now that Durham is getting an Ethiopian restaurant, she’s vastly more likely to stay.
 

Barak Richman
Barak Richman

New York City’s Fifth and Sixth Avenues are home to some of the world’s biggest, richest retailers and financial giants. But on a stretch of 47th Street that connects these two thoroughfares, an ancient barter economy for diamonds still holds sway. The diamond industry is built on family relationships and ethnic networks, and it operates independent of modern legal and financial institutions.

Kathy Cowell

A childhood spent in downtown Manhattan did not dampen Adam Summers’ passion for the outdoors. His family took yearly trips to Canada’s woods and streams, which instilled in him a special passion for marine life. Now a comparative bio-mechanist, Summers is an expert in the evolution, anatomy and movement of fish.

Band, 'Added Color'
Daniel Freiberg / Daniel Freiberg

Brothers Dan and Kiko Freiburg grew up subconsciously absorbing the rhythms and beats of the music from their mother’s native Brazil. But their own musical tastes range from death metal to gypsy jazz. They moved to New York and found two other musicians with an equal desire to create a new group and a new sound. The band, which changed its name to Added Color in 2017, began writing music, touring and releasing EPs – all mostly on its own. 

Worker at a vaccine manufacturing facility.
Sanofi Pasteur / Patrick Boulen / Flickr - Creative Commons

When German measles, or rubella, broke out in the U.S. in the 1960s, women were terrified about the disabling effects the disease could have on their unborn babies. Clinicians eventually developed a vaccine but would not administer it to pregnant women, believing it was too risky – a decision that led to thousands of abortions and a huge amount of stress and fear. 

Picture of Margaret Maron
Bob Witchger / Margart Maron

In 1981, Margaret Maron published a mystery novel about NYPD homicide detective Sigrid Harald and her investigation of a poisoning. More than 35 years and 31 titles later, Maron felt she had one more story to tell before retiring from novel writing.


 Gal Gadot arrives at the world premiere of "Wonder Woman" in Los Angeles.
Jordan Strauss/Invision / AP - 2017

Superheroes have captured the American imagination since the 1930s. Characters including Superman, Batman and Spiderman represented men of strength and moral fiber who inspired as they fought the forces of evil. It was an easy jump to the silver screen, where today, multiple superhero films are released every year, blowing up box office records as often as they do the bad guys.


Photo of Becky Holmes
Becky Holmes

 

Becky Holmes grew up eating the bread and processed foods her family could get from food pantries. They struggled with obesity, mental illness and other ailments that made Becky realize what you eat matters. She vowed to break the cycle of poverty and be the one to give back.  


Photo of author, Richard Russo
Elena Ceibert / Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Russo started thinking a lot more about the trajectory of his life once he turned 50. In his new book, his characters are going through a similar process.   

the.myrmldon / Flickr/Creative Commons

Any military veteran who commits a crime must do the time. But veterans who are not U.S. citizens face a special sentence: deportation. Even after serving their sentence, they may be kicked out of the country they served. Some find their way to a makeshift shelter and support center in Tijuana, Mexico that was set up by another deported veteran.

Chuck Liddy / Charlotte Observer

A five-part series in the Charlotte Observer reveals the corruption and abuse that remains disturbingly commonplace in North Carolina’s state prisons. Reporters Ames Alexander and Gavin Off spent two years reporting on officers who smuggled cell phones and drugs into prisons, assaulted prisoners and perhaps even colluded with inmates on a homicide. 

 Donald Trump
Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

Seismic blasting is a controversial technique used to map offshore oil reserves. In January of 2017, the Obama administration officially denied applications for seismic blasting in the Atlantic, but the Trump administration reversed that decision with an executive order a few months later. The announcement brought many in coastal communities out to protest, stating concerns about the impact of seismic blasting on marine life and tourism.


sugargliding / Flickr/Creative Commons

Part guidebook, part preservation effort, "Living at the Water's Edge: A Heritage Guide to the Outer Banks Byway" (The University of North Carolina Press/2017) takes visitors to the proverbial porches of those who live along the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway. The 21 unincorporated communities from Whalebone Junction to North River Bridge are unique.

Bobbie O'Brien

An average of 20 military veterans commit suicide each day. While men and women killed in combat are remembered as heroes, those who take their own lives after returning home are rarely glorified. 


Courtesy Jane Williams

In her practice as a psychologist, Jane Williams counseled people dealing with grief. She came across many patients who experienced a spontaneous thought that brought them comfort and peace. Williams collected some of their stories in a new book, "Mysterious Moments: Thoughts That Transform Grief." (Library Partners Press/2017).


Scott Beale / Flickr/ Creative Commons

It is tough out there for biotech companies. The rewards can be big, but the time frames are long and the risks are high. Research Triangle Park-based G1 Therapeutics is the latest hope for the area’s biotech scene.

Doctors at Duke Hospital.
Duke Medecine

Medicine is becoming more and more precise. Healthcare professionals have growing access to big data, computational power and genetic sequencing and testing. Advances such as genetic screenings that rule out ineffective chemotherapy treatments are already being used clinically. Many other diseases, from high cholesterol to depression, are also on the list to potentially benefit from getting more precise interventions.

Shearsman Books

When poet Jon Thompson considers the American landscape and culture, he often finds himself scratching his head, thinking, “This is a strange place we live in.” Thompson has been reflecting on America’s unique scenery, people and passions, and this inspired him to write a collection of poems called “Strange Country” (Shearsman Books/2016).

Madeline Gray

 For Zelda Lockhart, writing is part of the healing process. She used her experience writing her own novel and leading writing workshops for other women to create a guide on writing for closure. Her new book “The Soul of the Full-Length Manuscript: Turning Life’s Wounds Into the Gift of Literary Fiction, Memoir or Poetry" (Lavenson Press Studios/2017) encourages self-expression of multiple genres to create healing for authors and the characters they create.

The North Carolina Legislative Building
Dave Crosby / flickr

 

A 3 a.m. vote at the state legislature last week resulted in the sudden transfer of $1 million from education, nutrition and cultural programs to pilot programs combating opioid addiction. The money was taken exclusively from districts represented by Democrats.

www.pulitzer.org / Gigi Kaesar

When it comes to relations between the United States and Russia, it can be hard to tease out the politics from the personalities. Sovietologist and political scientist William Taubman has made this task into something of a specialty. He has studied Russian language, politics and culture for 50 years, and  is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the biography, "Khrushchev: The Man and his Era" (W.W. Norton & Co./2003).

Justin Ashley

Justin Ashley was a star teacher at McAlpine Elementary School in Charlotte. In 2013 he won state awards naming him “Teacher of the Year” in history and social studies. But his personal life was falling apart. Ashley says he had $100 in his bank account and a worsening prescription drug addiction.

Courtesy Sonorous Road Productions

Raleigh Little Theatre’s “Women And War” series aims to bring audiences into the minds and experiences of women in the military community. From Vietnam-era nurses who volunteered with the Red Cross, to modern-day spouses dealing with repeated deployments and a fighter pilot who finds herself grounded by a pregnancy, the plays highlight narratives of war that often go unheard.

Flickr Creative Commons

Mission Health, a hospital system in Western North Carolina, announced this week that it would close its maternity ward at Angel Hospital in Franklin, North Carolina. The hospital serves a mostly low-income, rural population. Mission Health said it cut the hospital’s labor and delivery services to remain solvent in the face of low reimbursement rates.

Naomi Prioleau
Elizabeth Baier / WUNC

Burgeoning interest from foreign architects is sparking hope among High Point furniture manufacturers that they could find a new market overseas. A group of architects from India recently made their first visit to the area. And in Guilford County, one in 20 adults struggles with basic literacy tasks like reading a story or a map.

Journalist Mark Binker died April 29, 2017.
Courtesy N.C. Insider

 

Last week’s jam-packed and dramatic legislative schedule would have been a welcome distraction this week for political reporters in the General Assembly. They mourned the loss of veteran political reporter Mark Binker, an irreplaceable friend and colleague, who passed away suddenly at the age of 43.

GERRY BROOME / ASSOCIATED PRESS

A rush to execute death row inmates in Arkansas led to national concern about the use of the death penalty. In North Carolina, juries continue to send people to death row. They sentenced 16 people to death in the last ten years. But in that time there has not been a single execution. Some are questioning why the country has the death penalty if it is not being used. Others advocate for abolishing it altogether. They say it does not deliver the justice it intended, costs too much, is not administered fairly, and could amount to cruel and unusual punishment.

Phillip Lewis

In the novel “The Barrowfields” (Hogarth/2017) a character named Henry grows up revering his literary father, a man who ensconced the family in a strange house on a hillside in western North Carolina. But his father’s dark unraveling pushes Henry away.

He abandons the sister and mother he had promised to protect and vows to stay away from his gloomy mountain hometown forever. But the ties of family and home prove stronger than Henry’s will to escape them both.

Courtesy of Penguin Books

Sixteen years ago, environmentalist Paul Hawken searched for a comprehensive list of the most effective solutions to climate change. He was dismayed to find that not only was there no such compendium, but no one seemed capable of producing one. So, Hawken decided to make one himself. He gathered data from scientists and organizations to map, measure and model existing solutions to climate change and the effects they would have if scaled 30 years into the future.

Courtesy Cliff Missen

People with few means but big hearts stepped in to help Cliff Missen as he transitioned in and out of foster care as a child. When he turned 18, Missen made a vow to pay it forward and live a life in ​service of the poor. He made good on that promise when he brought well-drilling technology to rural villages in Liberia and an information technology program to Joss, Nigeria.

Nina Honeycutt and Elizabeth Anderson

 Social workers are often embedded with populations who are ignored and marginalized. A group of social work students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill wanted to break down the divide and find a way to introduce some of these individuals to the wider community. They collected personal testimonies from 18 individuals from all walks of life with the hope that these narratives will increase awareness and compassion for those who are often silenced. 

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