Laura Ziegler

Special Correspondent

Laura Ziegler began her career at KCUR as a reporter more than 20 years ago. She became the news director in the mid 1980's and  in 1988,  went to National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. as a producer for Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon.

In 1993, she came back to Kansas City as the Midwest correspondent for National Public Radio. Among the stories she covered - the floods of 1993, the ongoing farm crisis and rural affairs, and presidential campaigns.

After the birth of her 3rd child, Laura returned to KCUR as producer of Under the Clock, a weekly talk show broadcast live from Union Station. It was hosted by former Kansas City mayor Emanuel Cleaver. When he was elected 5th district Congressman in 2002, Laura returned to KCUR as a part-time reporter and producer.

Laura has won numerous awards for her work, including three regional Edward R. Murrow awards.

In 1992, Laura was awarded a Jefferson Fellowship in Journalism with the East West Center at the University of Hawaii which took her to China, Japan, Burma, Bangladesh and Thailand.  In 1990, she was part of a reporting trip to the then -Soviet Union with the American Center for International Leadership.

Laura graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Anthropology from Vassar College.

She, her husband, and their three children - Julia, Ellie, and Benjamin, live with Laura's father in the house in which she was born.

Ways to Connect

Timothy Dorset / Stinson Leonard Street LLP

It’s not often you see a bunch of high priced lawyers sitting side by side community activists in a neighborhood meeting hall.

That’s what happened Friday.

They showed up at the Marlborough Community Center at 82nd and Paseo in Kansas City, Missouri because Legal Aid of Western Missouri was getting a grant.

Legal Aid received $257,441 to fund a program that pairs private law firms with blighted neighborhoods. The project is called Adopt-A –Neighborhood.

The Western District Missouri Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that a man's claim of discrimination against his former employer, Cook Paper Recycling Corp., was not covered under Missouri Law.

James Pittman alleged he'd been harassed for years and subsequently fired because he was gay.

In the opinion, Chief Judge James Welch wrote that if the state meant to cover sexual orientation in its anti-discrimination law, it would have said so. 

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

It's not the norm, but it's not uncommon for fraternities to recruit high school seniors to join their organizations. Those that do often reach out to high school athletic coaches, and tap legacies (students with generational ties to the fraternity) and siblings for a night out on the town or a ball game.

At the University of Kansas, it is an age-old tradition.

Jane McQueeny, Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity & Access (IOA) at the University of Kansas, has resigned.

McQueeny has been the face of the university’s response to an increase in the number of sexual assault and discrimination complaints under the federal Title IX law. The increase does not necessarily mean an increase in the incidence of cases, but an increase in reporting. In the past, McQueeny has said higher numbers of complaints is a good thing because it means more people are coming forward.

“Jane was first person to head the newly-created Title IX office in 2012,” said Erin Barcomb-Peterson, with the KU Office of Public Affairs. “She spearheaded the role of the university’s response to sex discrimination complaints.”

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

As the brisk morning morphed into a warm autumn afternoon, residents and business owners began to gather on the perimeters of the site along Kansas City's Independence Avenue where two veteran firefighters died saving civilians in an apartment building fire Monday night.

Seventeen-year Kansas City firefighter Larry Leggio and John Mesh, 13 years with the force, died outside the structure when part of the burning building crashed down on them .  According to reports, they had just brought two residents from upper story apartments to safety.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Draped in fashion of Royal blue, caps bobbing up and down in a sea of fans, they lined up Grand Avenue and wrapped around 13th Street to squeeze into the noon rally at The Power & Light District Wednesday.

There was Royals swag and spirit, and the chance to get nostalgic with veterans of the 1985 Championship Royals team.

Outfielder and speedster Willie Wilson, five-time All Star second baseman Frank White, and starter Dennis Leanord were among those who shared stories about their careers and cheered on the 2015 team.

In response to the recommendations of a special sexual assault task force, the University of Kansas will now officially collaborate with an off-campus rape crisis center.

University officials say they don't know how many victims fail to report incidents of sexual violence, but they know the number is high. Victims often want anonymity, and seek services off campus to reduce their chances of running into other students, faculty or staff.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

A hotel ballroom in Independence, Missouri, packed with local South Sudanese erupted into applause, song and ululations Saturday as their vice president entered the room. 

Vice President James Wani Igga was swept up into a spontaneous parade, greeting men and women with outstretched hands and warm embraces.

Some had traveled from as far as Minnesota and Iowa to hear what the vice president had to say about the most recent peace treaty, signed in August, between the four-year-old South Sudanese government and rebel forces.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

As the nation's Capitol was humming with activity around the pope's visit, Catholics in Kansas City came together Thursday at Rockhurst University to watch the historic address to a joint session of Congress. 

A large crowd gathered in the auditorium of Pedre Arrupe, S.J. Hall on the Rockhurst campus. Students, faculty and staff, and members of the community watched the pope on two large screens at the front of the hall, applauding vigorously almost every time they saw Congress clap. There was also a giant screen feeding live tweets from around the country.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

If you’ve driven down State Line Road just north of 39th Street recently, you’ve seen the bustling construction under way. It’s a multi-million dollar addition to the University of Kansas Hospital that will include new beds, department offices and operating rooms.

And right there in the middle of the humming machinery and hard-hatted workers is Linda Mawby’s house.

file photo

Pope Francis on Tuesday appointed Springfield-Cape Girardeau Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr. as the new bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. 

Johnston, 55, replaces Archbishop Joseph Naumann, who had been leading the diocese on an interim basis since the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn in April.

Archbishop Naumann introduced Bishop Johnston to Chancery staff at the Catholic Center in downtown Kansas City Tuesday morning.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

This story was rebroadcast as part of our best-of 2015 series. It was originally reported in September 2015.

The Missouri River shaped Kansas City.

It ferried traders and explorers. It helped establish Kansas City's reputation as a transportation hub.

Slaves escaped across the river, where some settled in the town of Old Quindaro in the Kansas Territory, soon to be Free Kansas.  

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Adding extra preparations following the disastrous bird flu outbreak this year, federal authorities have tapped Kansas State University to share its course on responding to agricultural emergencies.

K-State's National Agricultural Biosecurity Center, or NABC, is helping the Federal Emergency Management Agency provide training to first responders, according to a release from K-State.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

It's not that there's a problem with plans to develop the Quindaro Township site in Kansas City, Kansas — some feel it's the way they're being executed.

The African Methodist Church owns nearly 100 acres of  the Quindaro site, once an important spot on the Underground Railroad, a thriving business and cultural community, and site of the first African American University west of the Mississippi.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Slavery along the Missouri River in what is now the Kansas City metro area was not the slavery of Gone With The Wind.

University of Missouri-Kansas City history professor Diane Mutti-Burke, who has written extensively about slavery in Missouri, says slave owners tended to have less than 20 slaves. Those with more than 20 are historically defined as "plantations."

With the recent passing of Jesse Hope, the founder and curator of the Old Quindaro Museum and one of the historic township's most dedicated champions, questions arise about the future of the site and its legacy. 

Guest:

  • Laura Ziegler, community engagement reporter, KCUR
KCUR

 

For some, it’s a quiet reading corner in the crowded public library.

For others , it’s the same spot at the bar in their favorite local pub, or table at the corner coffee shop.

Maybe your favorite home-away-from-home is an art gallery or museum.

When we heard at one of our neighborhood meetings that some felt their community offered a lack of gathering spots, we got to wondering — where do you like to hang out?

TELL KCUR:  Where are you most comfortable when you’re not at home?

Creative Commons / around-the-world.wuerth.com

Kansas City has been selected to participate in an initiative aimed to help officials better implement the city's strategic goals through the use of consultants and technical experts.

"What Works Cities" is sponsored by the Bloomberg Foundation -- as in former New York mayor and business scion Michael Bloomberg -- and it’s dedicated to enhancing openness and using data to improve government efficiency.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

My colleague, Donna Vestal, and her husband Eric like living in the Northland.

They have space. Their expansive backyard spills down from their deck like their own personal park where they enjoy a rural kind of quiet.

They like their living situation well enough to endure what can easily be a 30-minute commute daily across the Missouri River.

To save gas, Donna and Eric frequently commute together. He works downtown and she works at KCUR in Midtown.

Kansas Bioscience Authority

Facing additional funding cuts from the state, the Kansas Bioscience Authority has laid off seven of its 13 full-time staff members and altered the primary focus of its mission – to invest in bioscience startups in the state.

The KBA also will stop making any new investments in its portfolio of companies.

The recent downsizing was unavoidable, KBA President and CEO Duane Cantrell told The Wichita Eagle

Alyson Raletz / KCUR

Cara Smith didn't move to Parkville, Missouri, for the Missouri River.

But that's why she stayed.

Ray Tsang / Flickr--CC

Excessive heat warnings hit the Kansas City area on Monday and Tuesday.

And forecasters predict dangerously high temperatures  at least through mid- week.

The elderly, infants and young children, those with dementia or other cognitive impairments, and those who work outside are among the most vulnerable to heat-related illness.

Maria Carter / KCUR

 This story was updated on June 17 at 4:32 p.m. 

A federal judge has thrown out a race discrimination suit against Cordish Companies Inc., operator of the Power & Light District in Kansas City.

U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith ruled earlier this week that the case brought by Dante A. R. Combs and Adam S. Williams was not supported by the evidence.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

After years of environmental and safety reviews, Congress approved final funding for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas this year.  And last week, a who's who of the power elite gathered for a ceremonial groundbreaking. Two cabinet secretaries, most of the Kansas Congressional delegation, military personnel and several state lawmakers joined the Kansas Lt. Governor and Gov. Sam Brownback, who had been wooing NBAF for more than a decade.

"NBAF is finally here!" Brownback shouted to the cheers of an ecstatic crowd.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Most of the Kansas Congressional delegation, state and local officials as well as the Secretaries of both Agriculture and Homeland Security smiled, shook hands, even hugged as they came together for the latest in a series of ceremonial groundbreakings for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF.

The Manhattan, Kansas facility has been in the works for 16 years, said Sen. Pat Roberts, the grandfather of the project, who first pushed for greater food and agriculture safety with Kansas State University officials in 1999.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

A newly appointed official with the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, said Thursday the facility’s main laboratory will be under construction within a month at the site in Manhattan, Kansas.

Marty Vanier told the Agriculture Business Council of Kansas City the release of several million dollars in funds from Washington finalized the federal government’s commitment, allowing The Department of Homeland Security to move forward with the lab.

The state of Kansas has committed more than $300 million in state funds.

Earthworm / Flickr--CC

As a nation we have been talking about race a lot lately. And with Mother's Day just ahead we thought we would pair two unlikely subjects.

"How did your mother talk with you about race?" we asked.

What you told us ran the gamut from “my mother didn’t talk to me about race,” to “she let us know her feelings, but indirectly,” to “she told us exactly what she thought and what she wanted us to know.”

Connecting for Good

Connecting for Good, a Kansas City-area non-profit that’s working to provide digital literacy and computer access across the metro, established a computer lab last year across from the Juniper Gardens Housing Project in Kansas City, Kansas. The organization recently added 25 computers, because the lab became so popular.

KCUR

We’re linking two slightly unlikely topics this week for our Tell KCUR question.

As we consider the unrest in Baltimore, Ferguson, and other places around the country and as Mother’s Day approaches, we thought it was a good opportunity to ask about race — and your mother.

Tell KCUR: How did your mother talk to you about race?

Did she talk to you about it at all, and if so, was it direct, coded, comfortable or uncomfortable?

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

With a towering physical stature and soft spoken, solicitous style, Archbishop Joseph Naumann knows he has a difficult task before him as he takes over the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph on an interim basis after the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn.

He's encouraging the grieving and still angry parishioners to reach toward their faith.

"I think we need to ask the Lord to help each of us to heal. There are people who have experienced wounds on both sides," Naumann said in an interview Monday at the Diocese headquarters in downtown Kansas City. 

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