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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; filed on-air spots for newscast, and helped curate the NPR Tumblr. Occasionally, she sits in with the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast team and she sometimes hosts NPR Live! segments.

Projects she has worked on include After Pulse; 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 teaches at Georgetown University, does storytelling performances, fronts a band filled with other NPR staffers, sings show tunes, dances randomly in the middle of the newsroom, takes acting and improv classes, and dreams of being a bass player. Or Sarah Vaughan. Whichever comes first. She lives in Washington, D.C.

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.

In March of 1907, Congress passed the Expatriation Act, which decreed, among other things, that U.S. women who married non-citizens were no longer Americans. If their husband later became a naturalized citizen, they could go through the naturalization process to regain citizenship.

But none of these rules applied to American men when they chose a spouse.

When Anna Taylor got her U.S. patent for false eyelashes in 1911, it's doubtful she could see far enough into the future to know that trying to make lashes look longer and fuller would turn into a multimillion-dollar industry.

Not surprisingly, artists Damian Duffy and John Jennings felt especially daunted by the chance to adapt renowned speculative-fiction writer Octavia Butler's beloved Kindred for a new graphic novel edition.

"It was like, this is awesome, we got this project, it's, like, our dream project! Yayyy!," Duffy said. But excitement quickly turned to panic. "I have to do what now?" he also said to himself.

As we mourn the golf great Arnold Palmer, we acknowledge another contribution he made to our culture: the tasty and refreshing iced tea and lemonade beverage that carries his name.

When peals ring out from a 130-year-old church bell at the Sept. 24 dedication ceremony for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, they will signal the end of a long journey.

The historic "Freedom Bell" usually hangs in Williamsburg, Va., in the tower of the First Baptist Church, which was founded by slaves. It started making its way to Washington, D.C., on Monday, according to The Associated Press, in order to herald this latest historical event.

Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, best known for being the voice of opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment, died on Monday. She was 92.

Her death was confirmed by her son John, who said she died of cancer at her home in St. Louis.

According to The Associated Press, Schlafly's self-published book, A Choice Not an Echo, brought her into the national spotlight in 1964. The news service reports the book, which sold 3 million copies, became a manifesto for many conservatives and boosted Sen. Barry Goldwater's bid for the 1964 GOP presidential nomination.

She's back.

Earlier this week actor and comedian Leslie Jones decided she'd had enough of Twitter trolls targeting her because she dared to co-star in a reboot of the 1984 film, Ghostbusters.

She was tired of being called ugly and savage, and being compared to gorillas and apes.

She was tired of being called a coon.

She'd had enough. She was tired.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch testified before the House Judiciary Committee for several hours on Tuesday, fielding questions about the probe of Hillary Clinton's emails during her tenure as secretary of state, the backlog of cases in immigration courts, the mass shooting in Orlando, the two police shooting deaths in Minnesota and Louisiana, and the murders of police officers in Dallas, among other things.

People across the country joined protests and held vigils late this week, following two highly publicized police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota. As those incidents dominated headlines and social media, a sniper targeted law enforcement at a peaceful protest in Dallas, killing five police officers and shocking the nation.

#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. Each weekend, we highlight some of the best stories.

More than 2 million New Zealanders voted to keep the Union Jack on their national flag, ending a 10-month process and squashing a move Prime Minister John Key said would make it easier to distinguish from Australia's flag and bolster national pride.

The current flag has been the national symbol for 114 years, according to The Associated Press. The rejected design, which featured a silver fern, was selected from more than 10,000 submissions from the public.

Stock markets rallied Friday, but the year hasn't started off so great for Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average was down more than 500 points for a bit on Wednesday, the Standard & Poor's 500 index has dropped about 7 percent this month and markets around the world have lost trillions(!) of dollars in value.

Some experts predict we are headed for — if not already in — a bear market, or one in which prices are falling and investors start selling aggressively.

Updated on Jan. 27 to add video of speech:

A totem pole stolen by actor John Barrymore in 1931 that later ended up as a yard decoration for actor Vincent Price was returned to Alaska tribal members on Thursday.

The Associated Press reports that the stolen pole was one of more than 100 that once stood in the old village of Tuxecan on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska, which was inhabited by the Tlingit people.

New Delhi officials urged drivers to park their cars and use public transportation Thursday, in a new effort to combat air pollution.

A major road closed for five hours and residents were encouraged to take public transportation, the Associated Press reported.

Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of the state of Delhi, and his cabinet colleagues, led cyclists along the four-mile-long route, on the first of what will be a series of days aimed at cleaning the city's air.

Kejriwal told AP:

Some Twitter users pulled up their feed Tuesday and saw changes involving the reply, retweet and "fav" buttons.

#NPRreads is a feature we're testing out on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers throughout our newsroom will share pieces that have kept them reading. They'll share tidbits on Twitter using the #NPRreads hashtag, and on occasion we'll share a longer take here on the blog.

This week, we bring you four reads.

From Joanna Kakissis, our correspondent in Athens, Greece:

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court hears arguments on same-sex marriage, which is now legal in about three dozen states.

But it's also legal in most states to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender — LGBT — people in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodation.

So in many states, a person could marry someone of the same gender and then get fired for being gay.

It's not often that people get a second chance, and in fact, for many people, there is no such thing as a second chance.

In our semi-regular Word Watch feature, we take a look at a word or phrase that's caught our attention, whether for its history, usage, etymology, or just because it has an interesting story.

Just as there are those who seek to drag Mr. Jackson's name through the mud, there are those who insist that he was a saint, an angelic figure to be put on a pedestal. He was neither. Michael Jackson was, like all of us, a complicated human being. -- "Remember The Time: Protecting Michael Jackson In His Final Days"

Our lives are recorded all the time, and what we're seeing behind the curtain makes us wonder whether or not we should be looking back there in the first place.

For many people, chitlins (or chitterlings) are a tasty (or, for some, nasty) soul food dish made out of pig intestines. If you can get past what they are (or how badly they stank when cleaned and cooked), then you can shake some hot sauce or sprinkle some cha-cha relish on top and dig in. There's even an annual chitlin' festival in South Carolina.

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