Leoneda Inge

Race and Southern Culture Reporter

Leoneda Inge is WUNC's "Race and Southern Culture Reporter." She is the first public radio journalist in the South to hold such a position, which explores modern and historical constructs to tell stories of poverty and wealth, health and food culture, education and racial identity.

Leoneda's most recent work includes the series, "Perils and Promise," an in-depth series focused on the challenges of rural education in Vance County. Leoneda has also featured reports on "Organic Tobacco," "Rebuilding Slave Cabins" and traveled to Tokyo, Japan tracking the importance of North Carolina’s pork industry to that country.

Leoneda is the recipient of three Gracie Awards from the Alliance for Women in Media and several awards from the Associated Press, the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) and the National Association of Black Journalists. In 2006, she and a team of WUNC journalists won an Alfred I. DuPont Award from Columbia University for the series "North Carolina Voices: Understanding Poverty."

Leoneda is a graduate of Florida A&M University and Columbia University, where she earned her Master's Degree in Journalism as a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Business and Economics. In 2014, Leoneda traveled to Berlin, Brussels and Prague as a German/American Journalist Exchange Fellow with the RIAS Berlin Commission/RTDNF.

Ways to Connect

RDU
www.rdu.com

Public and private funds are now all accounted for to guarantee the new RDU to Paris flight takes off on time.

Perils and Promise, Rural Education, Advanced Placement
Leoneda Inge

Some teachers and schools administrators say one of the biggest obstacles to success for public school students in rural communities is poverty.  And research shows if you are poor, you have a good chance of being overlooked for gifted, honors or advanced classes.

In our series, Perils & Promise: Educating North Carolina’s Rural Students, we spoke with students in an Advanced Placement class in Vance County about their path to success.

Anthony Jackson, Vance County Superintendent, Vance County Schools
Vance County Schools

Many of North Carolina’s rural school districts sit in the middle of communities with struggling economies resulting in high unemployment rates, poverty rates and high school dropout rates.

A picture of a student doing school work.
Marco Arment / flickr.com/photos/marcoarment/1969185955

North Carolina is home to more Early College High Schools than any other state. New numbers show some of the most successful programs are in rural school districts.  Early College High Schools make it possible for students to earn an Associate’s Degree while still in high school. 

Pat McCrory, Gov McCrory
Wes Gappens / NC Chamber

Business leaders, bankers and policy-makers gathered in Research Triangle Park for the annual Economic Forecast Forum sponsored by the North Carolina Bankers Association and the North Carolina Chamber.

People First Tourism, NC State, Chris Smith
People First Tourism

A new tourism venture aims to help travelers wander off the “beaten path” and help small entrepreneurs at the same time.

It’s called “People First Tourism.”  Duarte Morais is an Associate Professor of Equitable and Sustainable Tourism at NC State.  He is also the CEO of "People First Tourism."  He says money can be made by providing authentic experiences for visitors.

“For tourism to really benefit local communities there should be a lot of locals involved in tourism as small business owners," said Morais.

Duke released a new study that looks at the high depression rate in clergy members.
public domain

A close-up look at American churches shows women clergy have hit a “stained-glass” ceiling.

Mark Chaves is a Duke University professor of Sociology, Religious Studies and Divinity.  And for nearly 20 years, he has been studying congregations of all faiths and denominations.  He directs the National Congregations Study.

Chaves says, one thing that has stood out – the number of women leading churches has not budged.

The Carolina Theatre today
Josh Hofer / The Carolina Theatre

The Carolina Theatre of Durham has been celebrating record attendance and revenue—up 42% in the past two years—from $3.5 million to $5 million.

But theater administrators revealed yesterday that because of accounting "errors and omissions," they are actually more than $1 million dollars in debt.

The theater receives an annual $650,000 subsidy from the city of Durham, and City Manager Tom Bonfield is trying to understand the magnitude of the problem.

Housing
Leoneda Inge

The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates today but experts say that’s unlikely to slow down the real estate boom in the Triangle. Most of the action is in Wake County, especially in Fuquay-Varina and Morrisville. 

Operator work on infusion pharmaceutical industry
xmagics / Dollarphotoclub.com

Vance County no longer has the strong economic based it used to have in textile manufacturing.  Today, it’s becoming more and more clear one of the best workforce opportunities for workers here is in advanced manufacturing.  But like many in rural communities, Vance County residents will likely have to leave home for these jobs.

Jobs
Thinglass / Shutterstock.com

There’s good news on the jobs front for 2016.  That’s according to the latest Duke University – CFO Global Business Outlook Survey.

Chief Financial Officers say they expect to increase hiring by about 2.4 percent in the New Year.  And wages should jump almost 3 percent.

But John Graham, a Finance Professor at Duke and director of the survey, says CFOs still struggle with finding qualified employees.

Perils And Promise, Rural Education, Vance Public Schools
Leoneda Inge

Like many rural counties, Vance County is not bustling with manufacturing jobs anymore.

In fact, the largest employer in Vance County is the school district.  Its main offices sit in the former textile headquarters of Henderson and Harriett Mills, a testament to the changing economy.  

In our series Perils & Promise: Educating North Carolina’s Rural Students, we follow a group of 10th graders to their first career fair.

Collards, State Farmers' Market, Thanksgiving
Leoneda Inge

'Tis the season for turkey, sweet potatoes and green bean casserole!

Well, around these parts, many tables may forgo the canned green beans for fresh collard greens.  The sturdy big-leafed vegetable is a staple for holiday meals, especially popular in the South.

NCCU. College Graduates, End Zone
NCCU

North Carolina Central University is recruiting thousands of former students for a new degree program in Behavioral and Social Sciences.

The new program will be offered to students online and face-to-face.  Dean Debra Parker says it’s part of the “End Zone” program, encouraging former students to return to school and graduate with a degree that has eluded them for years.  "End "Zone" symbolizes the NCCU spring graduation ceremony that takes place on the school's football field.

Physician Assistant, Duke Medicine, Rural Health
Leoneda Inge

This is the Affordable Care Act’s third open enrollment season and Obama Administration officials expect at least one million more people will enroll by the end of next year. 

The increase in the country’s insured population has resulted in major growth in one profession in particular – the physician assistant. This year, Duke University is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its Physician Assistant Program, the oldest in the country.

 John Hope Franklin
Duke Performances

Renown historian John Hope Franklin would be 100-years-old if he were alive today.  Duke University is celebrating his legacy with the symposium, “Global Slaveries, Impossible Freedoms–The Intellectual Legacies of John Hope Franklin.”

Perils And Promise, Vance County Schools, Fire Academy
Leoneda Inge

Rural communities across North Carolina have been working hard to re-build their economies and prepare a future workforce.

In Vance County, the public school district has two career academies in place to provide professional development for students and help them focus early on a career.  Plus, academies have been proven to help with student attendance and dropout rates.

Food Bank, Food Lion
Leoneda Inge

The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina will soon be able to deliver food to the needy with its new mobile food pantry.

Food Lion donated the truck.  President Meg Ham says many families in need don’t have the transportation to get to a food distribution center.

Vance County Schools, Rural Schools
Leoneda Inge

Western Vance High School near Henderson is not your traditional high school.  It’s a “second chance” school for students who could not find success at their home school.  That means they likely were not going to graduate.  And in these times, that also means it would be extremely hard to find a job.

In our series, Perils and Promise:  Educating North Carolina’s Rural Students, we talk with students at Western Vance as they move closer to getting a diploma.

Rural Schools, Vance County Schools, Western Vance
Leoneda Inge

Rural counties across the state are not experiencing the economic recovery underway in the Triangle, Triad or in the Charlotte Mecklenburg region.  The unemployment rate is higher, the poverty rate is higher and the high school drop-out rate is higher.

RTP, Research Triangle Foundation
Leoneda Inge

The head of the Research Triangle Foundation announced Thursday they’ve raised enough money to move forward with a major, more urban redevelopment project in Research Triangle Park.

The Research Triangle Foundation has secured $50 million to begin breaking ground on Park Center.  The plan is for this 100-acre property to include two hotels, housing, restaurants and entertainment.

www.onevotesncc.org

Early voting is underway in many local elections.  And yesterday was proclaimed “National Voter Registration Day” by the White House.

Civil rights activists and scholars applaud such efforts, saying one of the most pressing issues still facing African Americans in the south is access to the polls. 

InnovateNC, Institute for Emerging Issues, Wilmington
NC State

A new initiative to help spark innovation across the state will focus on five cities.  The announcement was made Friday at NC State's Hunt Library.

“Next up we have Greensboro!  Come on up Greensboro!” shouted Christopher Gergan, CEO of Forward Impact.

Gergan helped make the "InnovateNC" announcement.

Jean Christian Barry, Graduate, College, Black Male
Leoneda Inge

Thousands of college freshmen have been settling in to their dorm rooms and classrooms across the state this week.  The drop-off can be especially emotional for parents sending their first child off into the world. 

I have been planning and dreaming of this day since my sons's birth.  But as all parents find out, plans don’t always come out as you expect.

It seems like Jean Christian Barry has been washing clothes, towels and sheets for weeks. Every time I turn around, he’s folding or packing something.

Millennials
Kenan Flagler Blog

It’s been a tough job market for the young worker since the last recession and economic downturn.  Many in that under-35 age group have been squeezed out for lack of experience or credentials.

But a growing number of companies are seeing the benefits of hiring Millennial workers.  Two North Carolina companies in the Triangle stand out.

It’s hard to keep up with all the “best places to work” lists that include analytics software giant SAS.

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