Laura Lee

Managing Editor

Laura Lee is the managing editor of The State of Things. Born and raised in Monroe, North Carolina, Laura returned to the Old North state in 2013 after several years in Washington, DC. She received her B.A. in political science and international studies from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2002 and her J.D. from UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law in 2007.

Laura briefly strayed from her Tarheel allegiance in 2011 to obtain a masters degree in journalism from the University of Maryland where she was an Eleanor Merrill Fellow.  Prior to WUNC, Laura worked for NPR on the Washington desk, All Things Considered and Talk of the Nation. She was previously WUNC's assistant news director for talk programming. 

Ways to Connect

It's A Wonderful Life
wikipedia

From Elf to Home Alone and Love Actually to A Christmas Story, the tradition of a holiday film is as vital to some people as singing carols or decorating a tree. 

Revisions to the state's tax code mean filers in 2014 could see changes to their exemptions, deductions and overall tax payments. Here are five key facts about the changes:

The U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan budget deal this week. The measure prevents another immediate government shutdown but the fight on Capitol Hill over spending and taxation is far from over.

And a tweet by North Carolina Republican Bob Rucho sparks national controversy. Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the latest developments in politics, nationally and in North Carolina. 

Erin Nenni Band CD
Erin Nenni Band

Singer-songwriter Erin Nenni and guitarist Scotty Miller performed as an acoustic duo until late last year when they decided to form the Erin Nenni Band. They play tomorrow night at The Pour House in Raleigh, but first they talk with host Frank Stasio and perform live in studio.

SELC's Derb Carter (left) and NC DOT's Tony Tata in the WUNC Durham Studios for The State of Things. Engineer Robin Copley adjusts the microphones.
Carol Jackson / WUNC

The North Carolina Department of Transportation closed the Bonner Bridge last week, leaving Hatteras residents with few options for transportation to and from the mainland. In the wake of the closing, politicians have accused environmentalists of delaying construction of a replacement bridge. Activists say the blame is misplaced and the Department’s delays are at fault. 

As the world mourns the passing of South African President Nelson Mandela, political expert Ken Rudin reflects on Mandela’s legacy. He’ll also offer an update on the race for the United States Senate seat currently held by democrat Kay Hagan. Host Frank Stasio talks with Political Junkie Ken Rudin about the latest in the world of politics.

jleblancdesigns.com

  

When Project Runway mentor Tim Gunn told contestants on Season 12 to “make it work,” North Carolina State University students saw a familiar face.

Justin LeBlanc teaches fashion and design at North Carolina State University and he was a finalist on the Lifetime reality series this year. As the first deaf contestant in the show’s history, LeBlanc made headlines not only for his design skill, but for showing that his deafness did not hinder his ability to achieve.

Lee Smith Explores History Through Fiction

Dec 3, 2013
Algonquin Books

  

In her latest novel, Chapel Hill author Lee Smith tells the story of Asheville's Highland Hospital, a pioneering mental institution that once housed Zelda Fitzgerald.

"Guests on Earth" (Algonquin/2013), reveals this real-life history through the prism of fiction, all while exploring the relationship between creativity and madness. Frank Stasio talks with Lee Smith about her new book.

Frank Stasio hosting 'The State of Things' from Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh
NC Museum of Natural Sciences

Today, The State of Things is broadcasting live from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Look below to watch the program live. 

Fossil Fair at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

  

Science is a place where facts and objectivity reign supreme while politics is a blend of perspectives and opinions. So what happens when science and public policy collide?

Worker oversees the process of mixing water with fracking fluids to be injected into the ground.
Joshua Doubek, via Wikipedia

 

  Experts have been looking at the piedmont and coastal plain as a potential fracking zone. 

The Clothesline Muse is a new multi-discipline theater project.
The Clothesline Muse

  

In the past, the clothesline was a place where a community’s women met to hang laundry. 

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

United States Senator Kay Hagan faces a tough battle to keep her seat in 2014. Some polls indicate Hagan’s lead over several Republican challengers is diminishing. GOP Strategist Karl Rove travelled to the state this week to raise money for one of those challengers: North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis.

Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the Senate race and other North Carolina politics.

Wake County School Bus
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Sweeping reforms in education laws this year angered many teachers.

Hundreds protested the lack of a pay increase, the elimination of tenure and the end of the master’s degree supplement. For the more than 95,000 teachers across the state, the day-to-day challenges in the classroom continue.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Dave DeWitt, WUNC’s Raleigh Bureau Chief and Education reporter, about his latest series on the profession.

Courtesy NClegion.com

When Patricia Harris became leader of the North Carolina Department of the American Legion, she was the first African-American and the first female to take the post. 

Veteran student, Fort Bragg
Fayetteville Tech Community College

    

One of the most pressing concerns for armed services members returning home is employment.

Teachers demonstrate Monday morning outside Riverside High School in Durham
Dave DeWitt

    

This week, North Carolina teachers protested funding shortages in the education system by staging walk-ins across the state.

Many were upset by budget cuts that affect instruction for the state’s more than 1.5 million students. Host Frank Stasio talks to North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson about the plight facing the state’s K-12 education system.

mcsurely.com

  

Al McSurely has spent more than five decades fighting racism, poverty and discrimination.

In the 1960s, he was arrested for sedition in Kentucky and then for Contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents to the McClellan Committee. His experience in the legal system led him to start law school at the age of 48. McSurely worked for many civil rights clients, including a landmark case on behalf of UNC housekeepers.
 

Random House

  

For most people, the home is a private sanctuary. But for Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and his family, inviting strangers to live in their house is just a way of life.

Center for Teaching Quality

Teachers who excel in instruction are often encouraged to pursue administration. But what if teachers could take on leadership roles and influence policy without giving up their job in the classroom?

The Road From Gap Creek

More than 12 years ago, Robert Morgan’s “Gap Creek” (A Shannon Ravenel Book/2013) catapulted to the top of the New York Times Bestseller list. Oprah selected it for her book club. Fans loved the characters and their struggles in Appalachia. Robert Morgan promised a sequel and more than a decade later, he brings readers back to Gap Creek in his latest book, “The Road From Gap Creek” (A Shannon Ravenel Book/2013) .

Wikipedia

  

Congress finally ended the government shutdown this week and voted to raise the debt ceiling. The battle may be over for the moment, but the political differences continue. Host Frank Stasio talks with Rob Christensen, chief political writer for the News and Observer; and Michael Bitzer, politics and history professor and acting provost at Catawba College.

Rocking Out At Recess

Oct 18, 2013
Justin Roberts

The New York Times calls him, “the Judy Blume of kiddie rock,” and USA Today says he is “hands down the best songwriter in the genre.” Grammy-nominated children’s musician Justin Roberts writes not only for young audiences but for parents and grandparents as well. He and the Not Ready for Naptime Players will play at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Carrboro ArtsCenter. Host Frank Stasio talks with Roberts about his music.

Wikimedia

  

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unc.edu

On Saturday UNC Chapel Hill inducted its first female chancellor, Carol Folt.

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