Laura Sullivan

Laura Sullivan is a NPR News investigative correspondent whose work has cast a light on some of the country's most disadvantaged people.

Sullivan is one of NPR's most decorated journalists, with three Peabody Awards and two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Batons. She joined NPR in 2004 as a correspondent on the National Desk. For six years she covered crime and punishment issues, with reports airing regularly on Morning Edition, All Things Considered and other NPR programs before joining NPR's investigations unit.

Her unflinching series "Native Foster Care," which aired in three parts on All Things Considered in October 2011, examined how lack of knowledge about Native culture and traditions and federal financial funding all influence the decision to remove so many Native-American children from homes in South Dakota. Through more than 150 interviews with state and federal officials, tribal representatives and families from eight South Dakota tribes, plus a review of thousands of records, Sullivan and NPR producers pieced together a narrative of inequality in the foster care system across the state. In addition to her third Peabody, the series also won Sullivan her second Robert F. Kennedy Award.

"Bonding for Profit" – a three-part investigative series that aired on Morning Edition and All Things Considered in 2010 – earned Sullivan her second duPont and Peabody, as well as awards from the Scripps Howard Foundation, Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, and the American Bar Association. Working with editor Steve Drummond, Sullivan's stories in this series revealed deep and costly flaws in one of the most common – and commonly misunderstood – elements of the US criminal justice system.

Also in 2011, Sullivan was honored for the second time by Investigative Reporters and Editors for her two part series examining the origins of Arizona's controversial immigration law SB 1070.

For the three-part series, "36 Years of Solitary: Murder, Death and Justice on Angola," she was honored with a 2008 George Foster Peabody Award, a 2008 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, and her first Robert F. Kennedy Award.

In 2007, Sullivan exposed the epidemic of rape on Native American reservations, which are committed largely by non-Native men, and examined how tribal and federal authorities have failed to investigate those crimes. In addition to a duPont, this two-part series earned Sullivan a DART Award for outstanding reporting, an Edward R. Murrow and her second Gracie Award from the Alliance for Women in Media.

Her first Gracie was for a three-part series examining of the state of solitary confinement in this country. She was also awarded the 2007 Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize for this series.

Before coming to NPR, Sullivan was a Washington correspondent for The Baltimore Sun, where she covered the Justice Department, the FBI and terrorism.

As a student at Northwestern University in 1996, Sullivan worked with two fellow students on a project that ultimately freed four men, including two death-row inmates, who had been wrongfully convicted of an 18-year-old murder on the south side of Chicago. The case led to a review of Illinois' death row and a moratorium on capital punishment in the state, and received several awards.

Outside of her career as a reporter, Sullivan once spent a summer gutting fish in Alaska, and another summer cutting trails outside Yosemite National Park. She says these experiences gave her "a sense of adventure" that comes through in her reporting. Sullivan, who was born and raised in San Francisco, loves traveling the country to report radio stories that "come to life in a way that was never possible in print."

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The Two-Way
7:36 pm
Thu July 23, 2015

Sen. Grassley Not Satisfied With Answers From The Red Cross

Originally published on Fri July 24, 2015 2:03 pm

The American Red Cross has met its deadline to say how it spent almost half a billion dollars in Haiti. But the charity's answers have left at least one senator unsatisfied.

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Goats and Soda
3:06 pm
Tue July 21, 2015

Documents Show Red Cross May Not Know How It Spent Millions In Haiti

The Red Cross funded these homes in the Parc Tony Colin community in Bon Repos, Haiti, after the 2010 earthquake, but residents say the structures are starting to deteriorate from water damage. Newly obtained internal reports raise questions about how the Red Cross spent nearly $500 million in Haiti.
Marie Arago for NPR

Originally published on Tue July 21, 2015 6:23 pm

The American Red Cross is under pressure this week to answer detailed questions from Congress about how it spent the nearly half-billion dollars it raised after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Some of those answers might be difficult to come by. New documents obtained by NPR and ProPublica reveal that the Red Cross may not have an accurate accounting of how all the money was spent.

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The Two-Way
10:51 am
Fri June 12, 2015

American Red Cross News Conference In Haiti Grows Heated

Originally published on Fri June 12, 2015 1:36 pm

Haitian journalists pressed an official from the American Red Cross to explain how the charity spent almost half a billion dollars in the country — but got few answers at a news conference this week at Le Plaza Hotel in downtown Port-au-Prince.

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Special Report: The American Red Cross
4:36 pm
Wed June 3, 2015

In Search Of The Red Cross' $500 Million In Haiti Relief

After the earthquake in Haiti, the American Red Cross raised nearly $500 million. Five years later, it is difficult to know where all that money went.
Marie Arago for NPR

Originally published on Wed June 3, 2015 11:35 pm

When a devastating earthquake leveled Haiti in 2010, millions of people donated to the American Red Cross. The charity raised almost half a billion dollars. It was one of its most successful fundraising efforts ever.

The American Red Cross vowed to help Haitians rebuild, but after five years the Red Cross' legacy in Haiti is not new roads, or schools, or hundreds of new homes. It's difficult to know where all the money went.

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The Two-Way
6:26 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

Federal Judge Says South Dakota Officials Violated Native American Families' Rights

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 10:33 am

Two of South Dakota's largest tribes won a sweeping victory in federal court that could reverberate for tribes across the country.

A federal judge has ruled that the state Department of Social Services, prosecutors and judges "failed to protect Indian parents' fundamental rights" when they removed their children after short hearings and placed them largely in white foster care.

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Law
5:41 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

Native American Tribes Win Child Welfare Case In South Dakota

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 10:03 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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The Two-Way
6:40 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Red Cross Criticizes NPR's Coverage; NPR And ProPublica Respond

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 3:08 am

The American Red Cross recently sent NPR and ProPublica a request for corrections to our series of stories detailing problems at the Red Cross, including its response to Superstorm Sandy.

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The Two-Way
10:19 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

New Tools Let Police See Inside Peoples' Homes

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 12:52 pm

Federal agencies and local police are using a new device to look inside homes and buildings, reports USA Today.

The device, called the Range-R, operates like a stud-finder except instead of detecting studs inside a wall, it detects motion beyond the wall, including breathing as far as 50 feet away.

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The Two-Way
3:14 am
Wed January 14, 2015

For S.C.'s Poet Laureate, An Inauguration Poem Without An Inaugural Audience

South Carolina's Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth was surprised that her poem won't be featured at the governor's inaugural ceremony.
Karen Ray Donner

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 11:09 am

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley starts her second term today. But absent from the inaugural ceremony will be a long-standing tradition: a poem read by the state's poet laureate.

State officials say they cut the two-minute poem for time, but some residents suspect it was the mention of slavery that got it tossed.

Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth has written poems for South Carolina's past three inaugurations. She describes those efforts as "safe."

The poems leaned heavily on nature and animals.

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Law
4:18 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

In South Carolina, Class Action Lawsuit Pits Foster Kids Against State

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 12:32 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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The Two-Way
2:07 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

Senator Asks Red Cross To Explain Its Finances

Originally published on Fri January 9, 2015 3:38 pm

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, is asking the American Red Cross to explain inaccuracies in how it has said it uses public donations, citing questions raised by an NPR and ProPublica investigation.

Grassley called into question how much of the charity's donations actually go to disaster services.

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The Two-Way
3:02 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Michael Phelps Pleads Guilty To DUI

Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps was sentenced to 18 months' supervised probation today after pleading guilty to drunken driving.

He was arrested in September after leaving a casino in downtown Baltimore. Police documents show that he swerved over a yellow line while going 84 in 45-mph zone. Police say Phelps failed field sobriety tests and registered a 0.14 on a blood-alcohol test. In Maryland, the legal limit is 0.08.

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The Two-Way
2:53 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

White House Says Any Response To Sony Attack Needs To Be 'Proportional'

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 3:26 pm

The White House says the devastating cyber attack on Sony Pictures was done with "malicious intent" and was initiated by a "sophisticated actor" but it would not say if that actor was North Korea.

Spokesman Josh Earnest says the matter is still under investigation.

"Regardless of who is found to be responsible for this, the president considers it to be a serious national security matter," Earnest says.

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The Two-Way
3:37 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Study: Just 20 Percent Of Female Campus Sexual Assault Victims Go To Police

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 5:52 pm

Young women who are sexually assaulted are vastly unlikely to report those crimes to police, according to a newly released Justice Department report.

Even more striking, women ages 18 to 24 who are in college or trade school are less likely to report such incidents than those who aren't in school, despite the increasing number of sexual assault advocates and counselors on campus in recent years.

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The Two-Way
7:23 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Justice Department Vows To Fight States That Violate Indian Child Welfare Law

In the middle of a lengthy speech to Native American tribes last week, Attorney General Eric Holder planted the Justice Department firmly on the side of tribes against states, as the tribes struggle to keep their families together.

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The Two-Way
4:12 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Obama Administration Unveils New Limits On Racial Profiling

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 5:44 pm

The Obama administration released new guidelines today to ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement officers. The guidelines replace ones adopted by the Bush administration in 2003.

The new rules prohibit profiling based on race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, religion or sexual orientation and apply to federal officers, such as the FBI and Secret Service and any local law enforcement that work with them on task forces.

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Around the Nation
7:38 am
Sun December 7, 2014

Red Cross Finances Called Into Question

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 2:52 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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NPR News Investigations
6:56 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Red Cross Misstates How Donors' Dollars Are Spent

An American Red Cross worker stands on an inundated Brooke Avenue following heavy rains and flash flooding Aug. 13, in Bay Shore, N.Y.
Andrew Theodorakis Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 5:51 pm

The American Red Cross's CEO, Gail McGovern, has spelled out the organization's promise to donors repeatedly in recent years.

"Ninety-one cents of every dollar that's donated goes to our services," McGovern said in a speech at Johns Hopkins University last year. "That's world class obviously."

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Around the Nation
5:14 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

Ohio State Football Player's Death Draws Attention To Head Injuries

Originally published on Mon December 1, 2014 6:28 pm

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

The Two-Way
4:49 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

Community Activists Question Timing Of Grand Jury Announcement

A police officer in Ferguson, Mo., stands guard as protests turned violent following Monday night's announcement of the grand jury's decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 8:17 pm

For weeks, Ferguson police and local leaders met with community groups and activists to work out a plan for the aftermath of the grand jury's decision whether to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

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