Laura Sullivan

Laura Sullivan is a NPR News investigative correspondent whose work has cast a light on some of the country's most disadvantaged people.

Sullivan is one of NPR's most decorated journalists, with three Peabody Awards and two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Batons. She joined NPR in 2004 as a correspondent on the National Desk. For six years she covered crime and punishment issues, with reports airing regularly on Morning Edition, All Things Considered and other NPR programs before joining NPR's investigations unit.

Sullivan partnered with the PBS series FRONTLINE to produce an hour-long documentary investigating the Business of Disaster in May 2016, which examined who profits when disaster strikes. The film and radio pieces grew out of a series of investigations examining the American Red Cross in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake and Superstorm Sandy. The pieces were honored with her second award from Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press and her third from Investigative Reporters and Editors.

Her unflinching series "Native Foster Care," which aired in three parts on All Things Considered in October 2011, examined how lack of knowledge about Native culture and traditions and federal financial funding all influence the decision to remove so many Native-American children from homes in South Dakota. Through more than 150 interviews with state and federal officials, tribal representatives and families from eight South Dakota tribes, plus a review of thousands of records, Sullivan and NPR producers pieced together a narrative of inequality in the foster care system across the state. In addition to her third Peabody, the series also won Sullivan her second Robert F. Kennedy Award.

"Bonding for Profit" – a three-part investigative series that aired on Morning Edition and All Things Considered in 2010 – earned Sullivan her second duPont and Peabody, as well as awards from the Scripps Howard Foundation, Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, and the American Bar Association. Working with editor Steve Drummond, Sullivan's stories in this series revealed deep and costly flaws in one of the most common – and commonly misunderstood – elements of the US criminal justice system.

Also in 2011, Sullivan was honored for the second time by Investigative Reporters and Editors for her two part series examining the origins of Arizona's controversial immigration law SB 1070.

For the three-part series, "36 Years of Solitary: Murder, Death and Justice on Angola," she was honored with a 2008 George Foster Peabody Award, a 2008 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, and her first Robert F. Kennedy Award.

In 2007, Sullivan exposed the epidemic of rape on Native American reservations, which are committed largely by non-Native men, and examined how tribal and federal authorities have failed to investigate those crimes. In addition to a duPont, this two-part series earned Sullivan a DART Award for outstanding reporting, an Edward R. Murrow and her second Gracie Award from the Alliance for Women in Media.

Her first Gracie was for a three-part series examining of the state of solitary confinement in this country. She was also awarded the 2007 Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize for this series.

Before coming to NPR, Sullivan was a Washington correspondent for The Baltimore Sun, where she covered the Justice Department, the FBI and terrorism.

As a student at Northwestern University in 1996, Sullivan worked with two fellow students on a project that ultimately freed four men, including two death-row inmates, who had been wrongfully convicted of an 18-year-old murder on the south side of Chicago. The case led to a review of Illinois' death row and a moratorium on capital punishment in the state, and received several awards.

Outside of her career as a reporter, Sullivan once spent a summer gutting fish in Alaska, and another summer cutting trails outside Yosemite National Park. She says these experiences gave her "a sense of adventure" that comes through in her reporting. Sullivan, who was born and raised in San Francisco, loves traveling the country to report radio stories that "come to life in a way that was never possible in print."

A new report by the New York attorney general's office finds that a lack of accountability in the nation's flood insurance program is costing taxpayers millions. The office also announced 50 felony charges against an engineering firm for allegedly writing fraudulent reports in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. The report comes after NPR and the PBS series Frontline aired a yearlong investigation called "Business of Disaster," which uncovered how private insurance companies made...

The American Red Cross spent a quarter of the money people donated after the 2010 Haiti earthquake — or almost $125 million — on its own internal expenses, far more than the charity previously had disclosed, according to a report released Thursday by Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley. The report also says the charity's top officials stonewalled congressional investigators and released incomplete information about its Haiti program to the public. It concludes "there are substantial...

This story is Part 1 of a two-part series. See our second piece about local recovery programs that are struggling to help homeowners here . On a cold rainy day last fall, dozens of people gathered in a plaza across the street from New Jersey's state Capitol. They held press conferences and slept overnight in lawn chairs. Everyone had come to make the same point: They'd made it through Superstorm Sandy, which hit the shores of New Jersey and New York in October 2012. But three years...

Sen. Chuck Grassley is asking federal investigators to give him the names of officials at the American Red Cross who did not cooperate with the government's recent inquiry into the charity. Grassley, an Iowa Republican, sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office Monday morning saying that the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he heads, "has received additional information that Red Cross personnel did not provide unfettered access to the GAO even after multiple requests for relevant...

The American Red Cross is facing new criticism today as government investigators and a congressman call for independent oversight over the long-venerated charity. Federal legislation is being unveiled that would force the Red Cross to open its books and operations to outside scrutiny — something it has repeatedly resisted. The proposed American Red Cross Sunshine Act comes in response to a report by the Government Accountability Office, also being released today, that finds oversight of the...

The American Red Cross, which has often boasted of its transparency, attempted last year to halt a congressional inquiry into its disaster relief work, according to a private letter Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern wrote to Rep. Bennie Thompson. In the letter, McGovern asked Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi and the ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, to "end the inquiry" he requested into the charity and how it coordinates with the federal government. The Government...

The American Red Cross is under pressure this week to answer detailed questions from Congress about how it spent the nearly half-billion dollars it raised after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Some of those answers might be difficult to come by. New documents obtained by NPR and ProPublica reveal that the Red Cross may not have an accurate accounting of how all the money was spent. The reports — internal assessments from 2012 of the group's health and water projects — found

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJIrMDIU0C0 Haitian journalists pressed an official from the American Red Cross to explain how the charity spent almost half a billion dollars in the country — but got few answers at a news conference this week at Le Plaza Hotel in downtown Port-au-Prince. Frustrated journalists began talking over the official, Walker Dauphin, after he appeared to avoid providing details explaining where the money went, according to a video of the gathering . The news conference...

When a devastating earthquake leveled Haiti in 2010, millions of people donated to the American Red Cross. The charity raised almost half a billion dollars. It was one of its most successful fundraising efforts ever. The American Red Cross vowed to help Haitians rebuild, but after five years the Red Cross' legacy in Haiti is not new roads, or schools, or hundreds of new homes. It's difficult to know where all the money went. NPR and ProPublica went in search of the nearly $500 million and...

Two of South Dakota's largest tribes won a sweeping victory in federal court that could reverberate for tribes across the country. A federal judge has ruled that the state Department of Social Services, prosecutors and judges "failed to protect Indian parents' fundamental rights" when they removed their children after short hearings and placed them largely in white foster care. According to the suit, some of the hearings lasted less than 60 seconds. The suit says some parents were not allowed...

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley starts her second term today. But absent from the inaugural ceremony will be a long-standing tradition: a poem read by the state's poet laureate. State officials say they cut the two-minute poem for time, but some residents suspect it was the mention of slavery that got it tossed. Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth has written poems for South Carolina's past three inaugurations. She describes those efforts as "safe." The poems leaned heavily on nature and animals....

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: Child welfare advocates filed a class action lawsuit this afternoon against the state of South Carolina, saying it has failed to protect thousands of children in its care. The advocates are demanding changes at a state agency that has faced repeated cases of child deaths and mismanagement. NPR's Laura Sullivan reports. LAURA SULLIVAN, BYLINE: For several years now, South Carolina's Department of Social...

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, is asking the American Red Cross to explain inaccuracies in how it has said it uses public donations, citing questions raised by an NPR and ProPublica investigation. Grassley called into question how much of the charity's donations actually go to disaster services. The Red Cross, and specifically CEO Gail McGovern, have repeatedly said, "91 cents of every dollar that's donated goes to our services," according to McGovern's speeches and the Red Cross' website....

Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps was sentenced to 18 months' supervised probation today after pleading guilty to drunken driving. He was arrested in September after leaving a casino in downtown Baltimore. Police documents show that he swerved over a yellow line while going 84 in 45-mph zone. Police say Phelps failed field sobriety tests and registered a 0.14 on a blood-alcohol test. In Maryland, the legal limit is 0.08. This is the second time Phelps, 29, has been convicted of driving...

The White House says the devastating cyber attack on Sony Pictures was done with "malicious intent" and was initiated by a "sophisticated actor" but it would not say if that actor was North Korea. Spokesman Josh Earnest says the matter is still under investigation. "Regardless of who is found to be responsible for this, the president considers it to be a serious national security matter," Earnest says. President Obama is holding daily meetings with his homeland security advisers and cyber...

Young women who are sexually assaulted are vastly unlikely to report those crimes to police, according to a newly released Justice Department report . Even more striking, women ages 18 to 24 who are in college or trade school are less likely to report such incidents than those who aren't in school, despite the increasing number of sexual assault advocates and counselors on campus in recent years. Only 32 percent of young women not enrolled in school reported they had been raped or sexually...

The Obama administration released new guidelines today to ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement officers. The guidelines replace ones adopted by the Bush administration in 2003. The new rules prohibit profiling based on race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, religion or sexual orientation and apply to federal officers, such as the FBI and Secret Service and any local law enforcement that work with them on task forces. The guidelines, however, do not apply to screeners at airports...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: For many people the end of the year is a time to give to charity. But how do you know where your money is really going? For the past few months, NPR has been examining the American Red Cross and the organization's flawed efforts to provide disaster services in two of the last major hurricanes to hit the U.S. The charity's own documents suggest it put the appearance of serving victims ahead of actually...

The American Red Cross's CEO, Gail McGovern, has spelled out the organization's promise to donors repeatedly in recent years. "Ninety-one cents of every dollar that's donated goes to our services," McGovern said in a speech at Johns Hopkins University last year. "That's world class obviously." She said the same thing to the City Club of Cleveland in April. And the Economic Club of Indiana in June. The statement was also displayed prominently on the Red Cross's website . Laura Howe, Red Cross...

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

For weeks, Ferguson police and local leaders met with community groups and activists to work out a plan for the aftermath of the grand jury's decision whether to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. But any results of that effort quickly vanished following Monday night's announcement as buildings burned and stores were looted . Many activists who had attended the community meetings with local officials in preparation blamed both police and the county...

A federal appeals court has ruled that a man who has spent about 40 years in solitary confinement in a Louisiana prison should have his conviction overturned. Albert Woodfox, the only member of the so-called Angola 3 still incarcerated, was convicted of the 1972 murder of a young prison guard named Brent Miller. Woodfox was found guilty along with fellow inmate Herman Wallace. Wallace's conviction was overturned last year as his health was failing. He was released from prison last October and...

"Text neck," the posture formed by leaning over a cellphone while reading and texting, is a big problem, according to the author of a newly published study in the National Library of Medicine. Kenneth K. Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine, says the bad posture can put up to 60 pounds of pressure on the upper spine — sometimes for several hours a day, depending on how often people look at their devices. "It is an epidemic or, at least, it's a...

Airbus has filed a patent for a new plane that looks decidedly more Star Trek Enterprise than airplane. The Financial Times dubbed it "flying doughnuts." According to the patent application , the craft would address a long-standing problem for plane designers — pressurized cabins, which stress planes on the front and back ends and require heavy, reinforced frames. The patent says the new design would distribute that pressure in a way that would be more "economic and efficient."...

"I believe that sports betting should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated." That's what NBA Commissioner Adam Silver writes in a New York Times op-ed that argues for the legalization of gambling on professional sports, which he says is "currently illegal in most of the United States outside of Nevada." Times are changing, Silver says, and gambling has become popular and accepted. He notes that most states have lotteries...

Updated at 12:45 p.m. ET. A new employee survey isn't good news for the American Red Cross. Just 39 percent of employees trust the senior leadership of the organization. And 4 out of 10 employees have doubts about the charity's commitment to ethical conduct. The summary of the survey results obtained by NPR and ProPublica comes on the heels of NPR and ProPublica's reporting last month that the charity struggled to meet the basic needs of victims in recent storms...

You don't have to be convicted of a crime — or even accused of one — for police to seize your car or other property. It's legal. Several videos online are shedding some light on the controversial practice. The practice is called civil asset forfeiture, and every year it brings cities millions of dollars in revenue, which often goes directly to the police budget. Police confiscate cars, jewelry, cash and homes they think are connected to crime. But the people these things belong to may have...

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript DAVID GREENE, HOST: This week we have been reporting on the American Red Cross and its performance around Superstorm Sandy. After that storm devastated parts of the East Coast two years ago, Americans donated more than $300 million to the charity, but now some are challenging the charity's effectiveness and its priorities. NPR and ProPublica obtained internal documents suggesting that the American Red Cross put public...

The Justice Department has weighed in on a class-action lawsuit in South Dakota pitting Native American tribes against state officials, and come down resoundingly in support of tribes. It's the first time the department has intervened in a federal district court case involving the Indian Child Welfare Act, a law meant to keep Native American families together. The department filed an amicus brief in the case concluding that the state is violating the rights of Native American parents. In the...

A few months back, Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, brought a bill to the floor that basically offered tax incentives to businesses and individuals. Those incentives are called tax extenders. They include big stuff and small stuff — tax breaks for wind farms, tax breaks for schoolteachers who buy their own supplies. Tax breaks for rum producers in Puerto Rico, people who make movies, race track owners, even some breaks for people who bike to work. In other words, something for every...

Pages