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Tanya Ballard Brown

Tanya N. Ballard is a Southern girl, an optimist and a wild dreamer who laughs loudly and often.

As an editor for NPR.org, Tanya brainstorms and develops web-only features; collaborates with radio editors and reporters to create compelling web content that complements radio reports; manages online producers and interns; and, line edits stories appearing on the website. Tanya also writes blog posts, commentaries and book reviews, has served as acting supervising editor for Digital Arts, Books and Entertainment; edited for Talk of the Nation and Tell Me More; and filed on-air spots for newscast. Occasionally, she sits in with the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast team and hosts NPR Facebook Live segments.

Projects she has worked on include Abused and Betrayed: People With Intellectual Disabilities And An Epidemic of Sexual Assault; Months After Pulse Shooting: 'There Is A Wound On The Entire Community'; Stuck in the Middle: Work, Health and Happiness at Midlife; Teenage Diaries Revisited; School's Out: The Cost of Dropping Out; American Dreams: Then And Now; Americandy: Sweet Land Of Liberty; Living Large: Obesity In America; the Cities Project, Farm Fresh Foods; the Dirty Money series, winner of a Sigma Delta Chi Award for Investigative Reporting, a Scripps Howard National Journalism Award and an Edward R. Murrow award; the "Friday Night Lives" series, winner of an Edward R. Murrow Award; and, "WASP: Women With Wings In WWII," winner of a GRACIE Award.

Tanya is former editor for investigative and long-term projects at washingtonpost.com and during her tenure there coordinated with the print and online newsrooms to develop multimedia content for investigative reports.

Tanya is a native of Charlotte, N.C., an alumna of N.C. A&T State University, and a former congressional fellow with the American Political Science Association. She has been a reporter or editor at GovExec.com/Government Executive magazine, The Tennessean in Nashville and the (Greensboro) News & Record.

In her free time, Tanya fronts a band filled with other NPR staffers, sings show tunes, dances randomly in the middle of the newsroom, takes acting and improv classes, teaches at Georgetown University, does storytelling performances, and dreams of being a bass player. Or Sarah Vaughan. Whichever comes first. She lives in Washington, D.C.

New York City is one step closer, as part of a larger plan, to shutting the doors on the Rikers Island jail complex. On Wednesday, city officials announced an agreement to start a public review process of proposed sites for smaller jails in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens.

"This agreement marks a huge step forward on our path to closing Rikers Island," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "In partnership with the City Council, we can now move ahead with creating a borough-based jail system that's smaller, safer and fairer."

As the year draws to a close and the news cycle continues to reset every day, let's pause and revisit some of the most important news events from 2017.


The Inauguration

If you've been convicted of marijuana-related crimes in California, you might be able to have your record wiped clean or the charges greatly reduced under a provision in the state's new marijuana law, Prop 64. More than 4,000 people have already petitioned the courts about their records and sentencing.

The police response to the Pulse nightclub massacre in 2016 followed protocol, but more training and better coordination are needed moving forward, according to a new 200-page review from the Justice Department and the Police Foundation.

As investigations continue into the terrorist truck attack in New York City that left at least eight people dead and several more injured on Tuesday, officials are shoring up security for Sunday's kickoff of the New York City Marathon.

With more than 51,000 runners expected, the annual 26.2-mile race is one of the largest in the world. As many as 2.5 million spectators could be along the race route.

Two weeks ago he locked arms and knelt with his players before the national anthem, then stood with them as it played. Now, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says players who "disrespect the flag," won't take the field.

For social media editors, the worst nightmare is accidentally posting something personal on the work account.

On Monday night, NPR swing editor Christopher Dean Hopkins lived that nightmare when he posted about Ramona, on NPR's Facebook account:

Twelve minutes later, after realizing his mistake, he edited that post and replaced it with this:

"We don't generally delete posts, so I tried to do it in a way that would be transparent," Hopkins says. "My job is to promote our good work, and I catastrophically failed in that last night."

When police entered 64-year-old Stephen Paddock's 32nd-floor hotel room at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo says, they found "in excess of 10 rifles."

William Weaver was 14 and a rising high school sophomore in the fall of 1964.

He was also one of 14 black students integrating the all-white West High School in Knoxville, Tenn.

"As soon as we got into the school, the principal was calling the roll. He said, 'Bill Weaver,' and I said, 'My name is William.' And he said, 'Oh, you're a smart N-word.' I'd been in school maybe 30 minutes and he suspended me," Weaver, 67, says, while recounting his first day at school during a recent visit to StoryCorps.

Though the violence has ended in Charlottesville, Va., debates and protests continue and Confederate statues and monuments are being removed all over the country.

Wally Funk has spent her life in pursuit of a dream. The pilot, flight instructor and almost-astronaut longs to go to outer space.

In 1961, she was part of a group of female pilots who took part in tests to determine whether women were fit for space travel. The project was run by the same doctor who developed tests for NASA astronauts and the women became known as the Mercury 13.

While college campuses struggle with consent, and when and how "no means no," a nearly 40-year-old court case in North Carolina says a person can't be charged with rape if their partner revokes consent during sex.

Mass shootings in Orlando, Fla., Alexandria, Va., and San Francisco during the first two weeks of June — two of them on the same day — have once again put America's complicate

A year ago, a gunman opened fire in Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. Deonka Drayton was one of the 49 people killed that night, in what was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Drayton was 32 at the time, and had a son with Emily Addison.

"She had a beautiful voice, the most amazing smile, and she smelled so good all the time," Addison said during a recent visit to StoryCorps.

The two moved to Florida together in 2012, and Drayton hated the heat.

When Anthony Planakis was going through the New York Police Academy, they told him to write his interests down on a little card.

"Beekeeping, of course I put that down," says 54-year-old Planakis, who is a fourth generation beekeeper. "And the very first job, the sergeant comes right up to me and I just look up and go, 'Hey, Sarge,' and he goes, 'Bees?' and I go, 'Yeah, where?' 'Harlem.' And I go, 'Cool.' That was it, that was the first job I handled," he says.

Renowned sports writer and commentator Frank Deford, 78, died on Sunday, just a few weeks after his last piece aired on Morning Edition. He had recorded 1,656 commentaries for NPR over nearly 40 years.

Manuel Cuevas moved to the U.S. from Mexico in the late 1950s to pursue his calling as a tailor.

He started sewing when he was 7 when most kids were occupied with other things, such as playing.

"The guys at school were more about playing ball and the slingshots," 78-year-old Manuel explained to his daughter, Morelia, at StoryCorps in Nashville. "That never interested me. I was really an outcast. I'd go to bed and I'd dream about fabrics and leathers and about the things that I'm going to make the next day."

Stare hard at your March Madness brackets because the weekend is over and we are down to the Final Four.

When South Carolina faces Gonzaga in the NCAA final four playoffs in Arizona on Saturday, it will be the first time both the seventh-seeded Gamecocks and the No. 1 seeded Bulldogs have played their way into the semifinals.

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