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%.

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.

State of Illinois

R​ape crisis centers have had to scale back services because of the budget stalemate - which is headed toward its tenth month.

There are about thirty in the state - all part of the same coalition.

The Prairie Center Against Sexual Assault is one ... it serves 11 counties in central Illinois ... and helps over 500 people annually.

It provides counseling, and medical and legal advice for victims.

Shelley Vaughan heads it ... she says she's had to lay-off employees and stop doing rural outreach.

Lisa Ryan / Illinois Public Radio

Money is still being raised to help run the Illinois State Museum in Springfield -- even though its doors have been closed to the public for three months. A not-for-profit that deals with grants and private donations continues to solicit, sending out pleas for donations in the mail.

The chair of the board, Guerry Suggs, says it’s mostly union employees still on the job. 

“We have now obviously more time to do curation work because we don’t have to deal with the public,” Suggs said. “So the museum’s collections are in fact being maintained.”

RACHEL OTWELL / Illinois Public Radio

Muslims in Illinois are coping with increased scrutiny and incendiary rhetoric. In this second part of a two-part report, we Illinois Public Radio's Rachel Otwell introduces you to a business owner in Champaign-Urbana.

Last weekend, more than 200 people of various religions and ethnicities attended a Springfield prayer vigil. It honored the lives lost in Paris and San Bernardino.

Muslim youth opened by singing the U.S National Anthem. Speakers included a rabbi, a Christian minister, and members of the Islamic Society of Greater Springfield.

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