Jennifer Ludden

Jennifer Ludden is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. She covers a range of stories on family life and social issues.

In recent years, Ludden has reported on the changing economics of marriage, the changing face of retirement as the baby boomers enter old age, and the ethical challenges of modern reproductive technology.

Ludden helped cover national security after the 9/11 attacks, then reported on the Bush administration's crackdown on illegal immigrants as well as Congressional efforts to pass a sweeping legalization. She traveled to the Philippines for a story on how an overburdened immigration bureaucracy keeps families separated for years, and to El Salvador to profile migrants who had been deported or turned back at the border.

Prior to moving into her current assignment in 2002, Ludden spent six years as a foreign reporter for NPR covering the Middle East, Europe, and West and Central Africa. She followed the collapse of the decade-long Oslo peace process, shared in two awards (Overseas Press Club and Society of Professional Journalists) for NPR's coverage of the Kosovo war in 1999, and won the Robert F. Kennedy award for her coverage of the overthrow of Mobutu Sese Seko in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

When not navigating war zones, Ludden reported on cultural trends, including the dying tradition of storytellers in Syria, the emergence of Persian pop music in Iran, and the rise of a new form of urban polygamy in Africa.

Before joining NPR in 1995, Ludden reported in Canada, and at public radio stations in Boston and Maine.

Ludden graduated from Syracuse University in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in English and Television, Radio and Film Production.

Pages

3:32am

Wed May 15, 2013
The Changing Lives Of Women

Stay-At-Home Dads, Breadwinner Moms And Making It All Work

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 7:21 pm

Dawn Heisey-Grove hands off Zane to Jonathan after a midday feeding. The couple were both working full time when Jonathan lost his job as a graphic designer two years ago.
Kainaz Amaria/NPR

The next time you see a father out shopping with his kids, you might need to check your assumptions.

"I'll get the, 'Oh, look, it's a dad! That's so sweet!' "says Jonathan Heisey-Grove, a stay-at-home father of two young boys in Alexandria, Va., who is pretty sure the other person assumes he's just giving Mom a break for the day. In fact, he's part of a growing number of fathers who are minding the kids full time while their wives support the family and who say societal expectations are not keeping up with their reality.

Read more

3:34am

Sun May 12, 2013
Around the Nation

Bombing Suspect's Lawyer A Quiet Defender Of The Notorious

Originally published on Sun May 12, 2013 5:11 pm

Defense Attorney Judy Clarke has defended Arizona mass shooter Jared Loughner, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.
Gregory Bull AP

Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and Arizona mass shooter Jared Loughner all have one thing in common: defense attorney Judy Clarke. With her help, all three avoided the death penalty.

Clarke routinely faces an enraged public, top-notch prosecutors and difficult, often disturbed clients. Now, Clarke is soon to face those things again with another high-profile client, alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

With such notorious clients, you might assume Clarke is tough, aggressive and happy in the spotlight.

Read more

2:58pm

Tue May 7, 2013
Environment

Filling In The Gap On Climate Education In Classrooms

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 12:50 pm

Cy Maramangalam gives a presentation about climate change for the Alliance for Climate Education.
Courtesy of Alliance for Climate Education

The auditorium at James Blake High School in Silver Spring, Md., is packed when Cy Maramangalam strolls onstage, sporting jeans and a shaved head.

Read more

2:26pm

Mon April 22, 2013
The Changing Lives Of Women

Moving Out And Buying In: Single Ladies Emerge As Homeowners

Originally published on Fri June 28, 2013 8:38 am

First-time homeowner Amanda Cowley in her new home in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, D.C. After married couples, single women are the largest demographic group of homebuyers.
Gabriella Demczuk NPR

It's hard to remember that just a few decades ago it was difficult, if not impossible, for a woman alone to take out a mortgage. Federal legislation changed that.

And yet, it's still surprising to learn how dominant single women have become in the housing market today: Their share is second only to married couples, and twice that of single men.

Read more

1:31am

Wed March 27, 2013
Education

A Hot Topic: Climate Change Coming To Classrooms

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 11:29 am

For the first time, new nationwide science standards recommend teaching K-12 students about climate change.
iStockphoto.com

By the time today's K-12 students grow up, the challenges posed by climate change are expected to be severe and sweeping. Now, for the first time, new nationwide science standards due out soon will recommend that U.S. public school students learn about the climatic shift taking place.

Mark McCaffrey of the National Center for Science Education says the lessons will fill a big gap.

Read more

2:53am

Fri March 22, 2013
Around the Nation

Kids' Voices Key On Both Sides Of Gay-Marriage Debate

Originally published on Fri March 22, 2013 1:21 pm

The Rev. Gene Robinson, along with his daughter Ella and partner Mark Andrew, attend a news conference after Robinson was confirmed as bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minneapolis in 2003. Robinson was the church's first openly gay bishop, and his daughter is an advocate for gay marriage.
Eric Miller Getty Images

12:59am

Fri March 1, 2013
Business

Stay-At-Home Workers Defend Choice After Yahoo Ban

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 11:51 am

Yahoo's sweeping edict against telecommuting has been felt as a personal attack by some of the two-thirds of Americans who regularly work from home.

Lawyer Shannan Higgins of Washington, D.C., finds one line of the company memo outlining the policy change particularly offensive: "Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home."

For nearly a decade, Higgins has worked one day a week from the basement office in her rowhouse, where she takes pride in her work and is obsessed with efficiency.

Read more

1:14am

Tue February 19, 2013
Environment

Forecasting Climate With A Chance Of Backlash

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 3:31 pm

Jim Gandy, chief meteorologist for WLTX, in Columbia, S.C.
Brian Dressler Courtesy of WLTX

When it comes to climate change, Americans place great trust in their local TV weathercaster, which has led climate experts to see huge potential for public education.

The only problem? Polls show most weather presenters don't know much about climate science, and many who do are fearful of talking about something so polarizing.

Read more

1:24am

Tue February 5, 2013
Health

FMLA Not Really Working For Many Employees

Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 11:47 am

Jeannine Sato holds her 2-year-old son, Keni; 5-year-old Hana is held by her father, Mas Sato. Jeannine decided to leave her job when her employers said she could take six weeks off after giving birth to her first child or risk losing her job.
Courtesy of Jeannine Sato

Twenty years after President Bill Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act, workers' rights groups say many employees still must choose between their family or their job.

They're marking the anniversary with calls to expand the law, and for Congress to pass a new one that would provide paid leave.

What Falls Under The FMLA?

Read more

10:34pm

Tue January 29, 2013
U.S.

Debate Over Rebuilding Beaches Post-Sandy Creates Waves

Originally published on Wed January 30, 2013 10:49 am

Ongoing beach nourishment, like this project in Viriginia Beach, has been the topic of debate. Some people say it's needed to protect beach communities; others decry the costs.
Pam Spaugy U.S. Army

For a half-century, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been in the beach business, dredging up new sand as shorelines wash away. Federal disaster aid for Superstorm Sandy could provide billions more for beach rebuilding, and that has revived an old debate: Is this an effective way to protect against storms, or a counterproductive waste of tax dollars?

On a recent blustery day at Virginia Beach, the latest beach nourishment project is in full swing. A bulldozer smooths out pyramids of sand, and on the horizon, a large, black hopper dredge appears with another load.

Read more

1:31pm

Thu December 27, 2012
U.S.

An Abundance Of Extreme Weather Has Many On Edge

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 7:40 pm

A parking lot full of yellow taxis is flooded as a result of Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 30 in Hoboken, N.J.
Charles Sykes AP

Opinion polls show 2012's extreme weather — producing wildfires, floods and drought — has more people making a connection with climate change. For Marti Andrews in southern New Jersey, a turning point was the summer's hurricane-like derecho.

"I don't want to say I freaked out about it, but holy crap, it scared me," she says. It packed winds up to 90 miles per hour and nonstop lightning, which Andrews says looked like some wild disco display in the sky.

"I've never seen anything like that," she says. "I sat there on the couch thinking, 'Oh my God, we're all gonna die!' "

Read more

2:34pm

Wed December 26, 2012
U.S.

Debating The Impact Of An Immigration Crackdown

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 5:24 pm

John Steinbach shows a day laborer in the parking lot of Ricos Tacos Moya a photo he took of him for an ID.
Lauren Rock NPR

In 2007, when Virginia's Prince William County ordered police to check the immigration status of anyone they had "probable cause" to suspect was in the U.S. unlawfully, the impact was swift at family restaurant Ricos Tacos Moya.

"Suddenly nobody showed up," says Stacey Moya, an employee, and daughter of the owner. "Nobody was around. Not one soul. We would go hours without any customers, any clients. Nothing."

Read more

1:20am

Thu December 13, 2012
U.S.

Finding A Child Online: How The Web Is Transforming Adoption

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 7:03 am

Eric James and his partner, Zerxes Spencer, have spent the past year looking to adopt. To speed up the arduous process, the couple built a website about their lives to draw in interested birth mothers.
Courtesy of Eric James

When Eric James and his partner, Zerxes Spencer, decided to adopt last year, they signed on with Adoptions Together, a reputable agency close to their home in Maryland. They attended the agency's seminars to learn about the process, met other "waiting parents" and formed personal bonds with the staff. But there was just one problem.

Read more

3:43pm

Thu November 29, 2012
Around the Nation

In Wake Of Recession, Immigrant Births Plunge

Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 4:45 pm

A new report finds the U.S. birth rate has dropped to its lowest level on record. It's fallen twice as much among the foreign-born.
iStockphoto.com

A new report finds the U.S. birth rate has dropped to its lowest level on record, led by a dramatic decline in births among immigrant women. The trend has been visible at La Clinica del Pueblo, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., that holds a weekly neonatal clinic.

Read more

1:57pm

Wed November 21, 2012
All Tech Considered

Parent Over Shoulder: Apps Help Mom Snoop Online, But Should She?

Originally published on Wed November 21, 2012 3:57 pm

As more teens get mobile devices, parents are using apps to track their every tweet and post.
iStockphoto.com

When his teenage son ventured into social media, Virginia father Mike Robinson wanted to make sure he could keep tabs on him. Robinson works in IT, so he rigged a surveillance system that works no matter what kind of device either of them is on.

"It's sort of like a version of remote desktop that enables you to run the program kind of silently in the background," Robinson says.

One day, checking in from his iPhone, Robinson discovered that his son had come across an adult meet-up site on Facebook.

Read more

1:47am

Wed October 17, 2012
Health Care

Home Health Aides Often As Old As Their Clients

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 10:03 am

Onether Lowery, 80, (standing) is a home health aide for Rosalie Lewis, 86. As a whole, the aides are largely female and far older than women in the general workforce.
Jennifer Ludden NPR

In a red brick rambler in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C., Onether Lowery begins her daily shift as a caregiver. She skillfully helps 86-year-old Rosalie Lewis into her electric wheelchair, holding her from the back, then bending over to ease her down.

It's an impressive feat: Lowery herself is 80 years old.

"My mother, she was 89 when she passed away," Lowery says. "I took care of her and I just fell in love with older people. I get along with them very well."

Read more

3:33pm

Tue October 16, 2012
Economy

Home Health Aides: In Demand, Yet Paid Little

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 1:29 pm

Home health aide trainees Marisol Maldonaldo (center) and Nancy Brown (right), shown here with assistant instructor Miguelina Sosa, are studying to join one of the nation's fastest growing yet also worst paid sectors of the workforce.
Jennifer Ludden NPR

The home care workforce — some 2.5 million strong — is one of the nation's fastest growing yet also worst paid. Turnover is high, and with a potential labor shortage looming as the baby boomers age, there are efforts to attract more people to the job.

Read more

2:42pm

Wed September 26, 2012
It's All Politics

New Groups Argue A Conservative Take On Climate Change

Originally published on Thu September 27, 2012 8:22 am

Former South Carolina Republican Rep. Bob Inglis now runs the Energy and Enterprise Initiative.
Energy and Enterprise Initiative

One topic you don't hear much about from Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is climate change. Like so much else, it's become politically divisive, with polls showing Republicans far less likely to believe in it or support policies to address it.

But two new groups aim to work from within, using conservative arguments to win over skeptics.

Read more

1:35am

Thu September 13, 2012
Around the Nation

Can Marriage Save Single Mothers From Poverty?

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 12:05 pm

New census figures showing a link between single motherhood and poverty have some analysts touting marriage as a means to curb poverty. But others say it's not so simple.
iStockphoto.com

Newly released census figures show a long-standing and glaring contrast: A third of families headed by single mothers are in poverty, and they are four times more likely than married-couple families to be poor. The disparity is on the rise, and as the number of single mothers grows, analysts are debating if more marriages could mean less poverty.

Read more

2:27pm

Tue August 7, 2012
Around the Nation

Would-Be Parents Wait As Foreign Adoptions Plunge

Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 1:15 pm

Mike Cannata with 2-year-old Bella. Mike and his wife, Barb, brought Bella home from Bulgaria this past spring after spending five years attempting to adopt.
Marisa Penaloza NPR

When Barb and Mike Cannata adopted their first daughter from China almost a decade ago, the process was smooth and relatively quick — just 17 months from start to finish.

Now a chatty and confident 9-year-old, Emma is an accomplished equestrian with her show horse, Ajax. But the family had trouble explaining to Emma why it took so long to get her a little sister.

When the Cannatas decided to adopt again in 2007, Barb Cannata says, everything had changed. They ruled out China early on.

Read more

Pages