Rachel Otwell

Rachel's reports focus on the arts, community & diverse culture. 

She's a graduate of the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois Springfield, and while obtaining that degree she spent a legislative session covering news for Illinois Public Radio with a focus on fracking. Rachel also holds degrees 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, D.C. Her reports have also appeared on NPR's Weekend Edition, NPR's All Things Considered, NPR's Morning Edition, WorkingNow.org, and 51%.

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Chris Quintana covers "culture wars" on college campuses and other news for The Chronicle of Higher Education. He was intrigued by the story of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign's one-time icon, Chief Illiniwek.

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Legislators of both parties are calling on Governor Bruce Rauner to voice support for the Equal Rights Amendment. While a ratification proposal passed the state Senate, it has yet to be called for a vote in the House, where it appears there may not yet be enough votes to gain the supermajority needed. But what's really at stake?

Rachel Otwell / NPR Illinois

A decades-long battle for state ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment is still pushing on. On Tuesday, supporters traveled from different areas of the state to urge lawmakers to act.

The congressional deadline to pass the ERA was 1982. The amendment would add language to the U.S. Constitution saying rights should not be denied on account of sex.

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LGBTQ rights advocates have been pushing a measure they say would amend school code in a way that would be beneficial when it comes to noting the community's role in state and national history. Last week those representing groups like Equality Illinois urged lawmakers to pass the proposal, which has yet to reach a vote outside of committee.

Rachel Otwell / NPR Illinois

The Equal Rights Amendment, commonly referred to as the ERA, aims to end the legal distinction between men and women, something supporters say would enhance equality when it comes to issues like equal pay. Congress approved it in 1972, and then it went to the states for ratification. 38 states had to approve it by 1982, a deadline set by Congress. It fell short by three.

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