Dara Kennedy

Host/Producer

Dara Kennedy is host/producer of NEPM's And Another Thing. Dara is a broadcast journalist who recently spent over five years working abroad as an anchor, producer, and speaker. She has been on Emmy-winning production teams and as a host and reporter has covered news and politics to sports and business. Dara has delivered breaking news and top stories and has interviewed top names for TV networks in America, London, and the Middle East. She has also served as a foreign correspondent covering Africa and the Americas. Her education and training include the London School of Economics, Peking University in China, the Big Ten and CNN international as an intern.

Ways to Connect

There are over 600 athletes representing the United States in the 2020 Tokyo Games. More than 30 have ties to New England. Besides the current medal count, two major stories have surfaced in the competition's first week - outbreaks of COVID and athlete mental health.

Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will take a deep dive into these stories with local experts. Learn how athletes prepare mentally, the connection between training and vaccination and how one New England state is preparing for the return of their olympians. Guest include:

  • Kathleen Mellano - Assistant Professor of Sport Psychology, Springfield College
  • Dr. Sheela Shenoi - Assistant Professor of Medicine and Infectious Disease, Yale University
  • Dr. Eric Carson - Team Doctor, USA Rowing
  • Kelly Dougherty - Deputy Commissioner, Vermont Public Health

Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics released updated COVID-19 guidelines for the 2021-22 school year recommending that anyone over the age of two wear masks inside schools regardless of vaccination status.

On Tuesday, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention reversed its earlier guidance and now suggests that some who are fully-vaccinated also wear masks indoors. This has caused confusion heading into the school year.

Recently, Massachusetts senator Becca Rausch and many of her colleagues signed an open letter to Governor Charlie Baker urging him to require masks in elementary schools and day care centers come Fall. The Governor responded Wednesday afternoon in a press conference stating, "Massachusetts is in a much better position than the vast majority of the states in this country with respect to how it deals with and is prepared to deal with COVID."

Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will dissect what all this information means for parents, teachers, and child care providers. Guests include:

  • Massachusetts senator Becca Rausch
  • Bevan Brunelle - Theatre teacher, Holyoke Public Schools
  • Merlandie Pierre - Senior at Holyoke High School

Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder continue the discussion following Tuesday's January 6 committee hearing where four Capitol officers recounted their experiences with emotional testinmonies describing the attacks. The show will explore the term insurrection, the ongoing turmoil between lawmakers, a look into the behaviors of those that took part and whether this type of extremism is prevalent in our region. Guests include:

  • Austin Sarat - William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, Amherst College
  • Laura Hansen - Sociologist and Professor Emerita of Criminal Justice. Western New England University
  • Robert Trestan - Director, Anti-Defamation League of New England

Last summer, the Tanglewood Music Festival closed for the first time since 1943. It meant the cancellation of nearly 150 concerts due to the coronavirus outbreak. Now, the Berkshires are back in business and the Boston Pops are ready to return to Friday-festival performances.

Maestro Keith Lockhart has been leading the Boston Pops since 1995 and in his conversation with Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder, he discusses his personal difficulties during the show's hiatus, the current and future state of classical music and if a new album is on the horizon.

In the United States, only mortgage borrowing tops consumer debt ahead of student loans. So if you're a parent or a student worried about your future finances after college, you are not alone.

State Representative Natalie Higgins and Senator Eric Lesser authored The Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights. Implemented in July after six years of pushing for the reform, the program aims to address the state's student debt crisis. It’s not about eliminating the debt, but more about consumer protection. Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder's guests include:

If you're someone who is just learning about conservatorships because of the Britney Spears case, you should know that these types of arrangements are far too common. Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will talk with experts to break down for us the difference between conservatorship and guardianship plus how these laws in Massachusetts work. You'll also hear about a bipartisan federal bill that's been introduced, that would make it easier for a person to replace the guardian they are living under if that guardian becomes abusive. Guests include:

  • Robert Fleischner - A Northampton lawyer serving in disabilities, civil rights, and guardianship cases.
  • Patricia Keane Martin - Elder law attorney, Seegal Lipshutz Lo & Martin
  • Rick Black - Executive Director and Co-founder, Center for Estate Administration Reform

One day it's hot, the next day it's raining. What is going on with the weather in July?
Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will talk rain, storms, farms and floods with local experts on how this weather trend may impact you. Guest include:

  • Mike Rawlins - Associate Director, Climate System Research Center at UMass Amherst.
  • Leslie Harris - Farm Manager, Quonquont Farm in Whatley, MA
  • David Wisseman from Warner Farm in Sunderland, MA
  • CT Meteorologist Matt Scott
  • Dan Thompson - National Weather Service
  • Mark Samperi - Vice President, New England Flood Insurance

Massachusetts state senator Adam Gomez wants you to know that he is just like you. In this full version conversation, you'll hear how the proud afro-latino came from humble beginnings - experiencing homelessness to being arrested - and the moment he decided to get his life back on track. Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will dive into his policies of supporting the millionaire's tax, infrastructure and how to get folks back to work.

As cities and states address the multitude of challenges on the downside of the pandemic, lawmakers and political hopefuls are devising universal child care plans for working familes. Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito recently announced that the state would be prioritizing a new set of child care initiatives based on Governor Baker administration's "Future or Work" report. Meanwhile, democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Downing launched his "Downing Child Care Plan". Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will dissect what universal child care will mean for your family in the region. Our guests include:

Our "Monday Conversation" is with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Downing. Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will talk with the 5-time state senator from Pittsfield on his background and why he decided to run for Massachusetts governor after taking time away from politics. Downing will also breakdown his recently released child care and infrastructure plans.

Pittsfield native Ben Downing is one of a handful of candidates who has announced their run for Massachusetts governor. Ben served five terms as state senator representing what would become the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden district, before deciding not to run for re-election in 2016 and joining a renewable energy company. 

This is the full conversation with Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder from the Monday's show. Ben Downing explains why he's getting back into politics after time away and his plans for housing, child care, transportation and more if elected governor.

Connecticut's Baby Bonds bill is a program that directly addresses the racial-wealth gap. In short, any Connecticut child born from poverty will receive $3200 in a state savings investment. When that child reaches 18 years of age and is still in the state, that initial investment is expected to grow to nearly $11,000. That money can only be used to either pay for higher education, purchase a home in the state, start a business in the state, or place into a retirement fund. 

Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will talk with Connecticut State Treasurer Shawn T. Wooden to break down the bill and its financial impact. 

Bruce Adams, President and CEO of Credit Union League of CT, explains why the Baby Bonds bill was the right thing for legislators to do for the future of Connecticut's disadvantaged youth.

Hear from an expectant mother, who only has $100 in savings, about what the Baby Bonds program could mean for her future child.

To hear the full interview with CT State Treasurer Shawn T. Wooden, click here.

Connecticut State Treasurer Shawn T. Wooden talks with Dara Kennedy about the state's new Baby Bonds Bill, an initiative to help address the racial-wealth gap. You'll learn about the bill's inspiration, Treasurer Wooden's background and his pledge to reduce systemic inequality. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of the coronavirus Delta variant has been reported in all 50 states. Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will talk with Dr. Matilde Castiel, Commissioner of Health and Human Services for the city of Worcester about the variant gaining momentum in Massachusetts.

On June 23, Massachusetts senator Sonia Chang-Diaz announced her bid to join the gubernatorial race. Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will talk with the senator about her background as a school teacher, lessons learned from her immigrant father and how these experiences sets her apart from the handful of candidates vying for the position.

This Fourth of July holiday is seeing some form of normalcy returning in terms of in-person celebration.

Stephen Pelkey, CEO of New Hampshire based Atlas PyroVision and Entertainment, talks with Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder on how his professional fireworks display and retail business acclimated to the challenges stemming from a pandemic year.

Massachusetts Fire Marshall Peter Ostroskey will discuss the crackdown on illegal fireworks crossing into the state and the safest way to celebrate.

The yearly citizen naturalization ceremony returns at Old Sturbridge Village. Rhys Simmons - Director of Interpretation, explains how the museum is pulling out all the stops for the in-person celebration.

In Hartford, Taneisha Duggan explains how this year's new Hartford Bonanza, will be more vibrant than past celebrations.

Ranked choice voting is a voting process that allows registered citizens to rank candidates by their choice. Last year, this initiative was defeated on the Massachusetts state level, however in Amherst, more than three quarters of its residents voted in favor. Now, Amherst is pushing to approve ranked choice voting in time for November elections. Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will explore the pros and cons of ranked choice voting. 

Tanya Leise, a professor of mathematics at Amherst College and former chair of the Ranked Choice Voting Committee, explains in detail what ranked choice voting is and how the town could implement it.

Anthony Amore, former 2018 Secretary of State candidate, discusses the pitfalls ranked choice voting presents.

Amherst City Councilor-at-large Mandi Jo Hanneke will talk about the impending deadline for the town to adopt ranked choice voting for elections this fall.

As of this show date, nurses at Saint Vincent Hospital have been on strike for 113 days - the second longest nurses strike in Massachusetts history. Of the 800 nurses registered there, 700 are bargaining for safer staffing to ensure safer patient care. The hospital has announced that they would begin hiring replacements.

Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will talk with multiple sides including Marie Ritacco, a Saint Vincent registered nurse and Vice President of the Massachusetts Nurses Association. She explains the working conditions inside the hospital that led to the strike.

Saint Vincent Hospital CEO Carolyn Jackson gives us an update on the latest offer to the Massachusetts Nurses Association. 

Marlena Pellegrino is one of the Saint Vincent nurses on strike and is co-chair of the local bargaining unit for the Massachusetts Nurses Association. She explains how far apart the two sides are.

Finally, we'll hear from a non-striking worker who gives us a first account of what's happening inside the hospital during the strike.

Our "Monday Conversation" is with Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill. Some of the topics Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will discuss with the politician include the challenges her team faced in planning the 2020 election and advice for women who plan to enter into politics. One of the biggest questions Denise Merrill will answer is why she made the decision to step away after she completes her third term in office. 

States across the country are proposing bills and passing laws that will make it harder to vote. Vermont, on the other hand, has taken an extraordinary step: over the veto of Governor Phil Scott, they have now passed two bills that will allow legal non-citizens of two Vermont towns to vote in local elections. Representative Hal Colston of Winooski is one of the sponsors of the bill that passed, and he discusses whether this would set a precedent for the rest of the state. 

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are chemicals that are just about everywhere. They are usually sprayed as a finish on consumer products or are included in packaging. Evidence suggests that PFAS are not only dangerous for your health, but that they are also very hard to get rid of. A new  bill in the Massachusetts state senate could be one of the most sweeping bans on PFAS in the nation. 

College sports are big business. According to the fiscal year annual report by the NCAA, the total revenues among all Division I athletic departments in 2019 was $18.9 billion. However, the NCAA has long faced scrutiny over how much of that revenue goes towards athletes. 

Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder go behind the recent Supreme Court ruling that found the NCAA violated antitrust laws by limiting educational-related gifts to student athletes. 

 

 

Andrew Zimbalist, an economist and Smith College professor who is cited in the court’s ruling, explains the depths of this long-running dispute. 

Dr. Donna Lopiano, a former Division I athletic director, discusses what she thinks the future holds if the NCAA doesn’t manage to “right the ship.”

Dr. Danielle Allen, a Harvard professor and highly regarded political theorist, recently announced that she is running for governor in 2022. As the first Black woman to run for this office in Massachusetts, her campaign is already making history. 

Dr. Allen has a stunning academic career, but she has never held elected office before.

 

Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder sit down with Dr. Allen to talk about her inspiration to run, her policy positions and what Massachusetts needs to know about her.

 

Correction: This episode incorrectly implied that, if elected, Democratic candidate Danielle Allen would be the first Black governor of Massachusetts. She would be the first Black female governor of Massachusetts. The episode also incorrectly stated that Allen would be the first woman to hold the office of Massachusetts governor. She would be the first woman elected to the position.

The United States federal government has recognized June 19th, or Juneteenth, as a holiday commemorating the day in 1865 when the very last slaves living in Texas received word that they had been freed two and a half years earlier from President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth has been celebrated in the Black community for generations, but is now gaining awareness across the nation.

In light of Connecticut recently passing sports betting legislation, Massachusetts remains one of the last states in the reigon to jump on board. A joint committee is meeting to discuss 19 bills associated with sports betting. State Senator Eric Lesser, author of one of the bills, talks with Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder on why he's leading the push for legalization. 

If Massachusetts does end up on the sports betting bandwagon, who will benefit from the revenues? State Representative Orlando Ramos explains why social equity should be a factor.

As Connecticut looks to pass cannabis legislation, Massachusetts is working to evolve theirs to be more socially equitable. Segun Idowu, CEO of Black Economic Council of Massachusetts (BECMA) talks with Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder about his testimony in a hearing on how lawmakers need to be fair on who receives funding in this booming business.

Lawmakers in Massachusetts are pondering a redistricting bill that would allow legislators to reconfigure state and federal political boundaries before local governments. This, a reversal from traditional state practice, could affect where you vote and whom you can vote for.

Representative Shawn Dooley explains why he opposes the bill, while Representative Alice Peisch gives her perspective on why Massachusetts needs this bill passed now.

Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder examine healthcare and sports surrounding the transgender community that is estimated at 1.4 million people in the United States according to the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School. 

Transhealth Northampton is a groundbreaking, independent, and comprehensive trans healthcare center. CEO Dallas Ducar talks about the clinic's importance.

Wednesday afternoon Massachusetts House and Senate legislators voted 159-41 to let voters decide in 2022 whether to allow a 4 percent surtax on annual household incomes greater than $1 million. According to The Boston Globe, this will be the seventh time since the 1960’s that similar proposed laws have been on the ballot. Each time before, it’s been struck down. So what will make the seventh attempt different?

The Springfield chapter of the Massachusetts Senior Action Council is calling for the resignation of the city's police commissioner Cheryl Clapprood over "dismissive" remarks about race. Springfield City Councilor Justin Hurst and Senior Action Council member Bernice Ezell talk about the strained relationship between community and police. And Another Thing did reach out to the Springfield Police Department, but were not available for comment.

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