Rachel Otwell

Rachel's reports focus on the arts, community, and diverse culture. She produces NPR Illinois' original program, Illinois Edition. She also hosts The Scene, which airs on Thursdays and features cultural happenings in the central Illinois region.

She's a graduate of the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois Springfield. While working toward that degree she spent a session covering the state legislature for NPR Illinois and Illinois Public Radio with a focus on fracking. Rachel also holds degrees from UIS in Liberal & Integrative Studies, Women & Gender Studies, and African-American Studies. She's tutored Rwandan refugees in Ohio, volunteered at a Kenyan orphanage,  served as an activities assistant at a nursing home, and volunteered at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. 

Rachel started a career in public media in 2011 when she interned for the National Public Radio program Tell Me More with Michel Martin in Washington, DC. Her reports have also appeared on NPR's Weekend Edition, NPR's All Things Considered, NPR's Morning Edition, WorkingNow.org, and 51%.

"cutest baby foot" by Flickr User Lisa Borbely / (CC BY 2.0)

 Illinois is doing better than many other states when it comes to implementing protections for working families.

That's according to a study by the National Partnership for Women & Families. The group's Vicki Shabo says in 2014, Illinois passed a law requiring accommodations for nursing mothers in the workforce. But she wants to see the state expand other rules.  These include giving more than 3 months of unpaid leave to care for a newborn or seriously ill family member.

Steve Moses/Flickr

A new study was completed on one of the mounds at Cahokia State Historic Site.  It shows human remains dated at 900 years old belonged to both men and women.

This contradicts earlier theories that the mound was for elite warrior men, and, according to one professor, shifts the narrative more toward fertility symbolism.  

About 300 people stood on Lawrence Avenue outside of Springfield's LGBTQ community resource facility, The Phoenix Center

Across the nation those in and who are allies of the LGBTQ community are mourning the loss of life in Orlando over the weekend. 

Rachel Otwell

  A student at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana was charged with murder this week, after she turned herself in and showed authorities the body of a newborn in her back-pack. Authorities say Lindsay Johnson - 20 years old from Monee - suffocated her son last month after giving birth to him in a dorm bathroom.

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