Jill Kaufman

Reporter/Producer/Host

Jill has been reporting, producing features and commentaries, and hosting shows at NEPR since 2005. Before that she spent almost 10 years at WBUR in Boston, five of them producing PRI’s “The Connection”  with Christopher Lydon. In the months leading up to the 2000 primary in New Hampshire, Jill hosted NHPR’s daily talk show, and subsequently hosted NPR’s All Things Considered during the South Carolina Primary weekend. Right before coming to NEPR, Jill was an editor at PRI's The World, working with station based reporters on the international stories in their own domestic backyards. Getting people to tell her their stories, she says, never gets old.

About 15 years ago, Zee Johnson opened what is one of only a few Black-owned bookstores in Massachusetts. She still does outreach work in the city for Springfield's Department of Elder Affairs.
Jill Kaufman / NEPM

Walking into Olive Tree Books-n-Voices on Hancock Street in Springfield, Massachusetts, is like walking into someone’s home. It's one of only a few Black-owned bookstores in the state.

For their daughters and themselves, Mustafa and BeckyJean Thompson said they're relieved there's now more structure to the West Springfield, Mass., online school day.
Jill Kaufman / NEPM

Most Massachusetts public schools began classes this week after a delay due to the coronavirus. Districts,  independently of one another, developed their plans and many schools are teaching remotely. That means parents and caregivers are again juggling their work schedules while also acting as teacher helpers.

A children's book by Shirley Jackson Whitaker focuses on building confidence in girls who are Black.
Shirley Jackson Whitaker / Courtesy bornblackandlucky.com

Shirley Jackson Whitaker says her recent children's book, "I Did Not Ask To Be Born Black. I Just Got Lucky," is a way to help little girls who are Black have positive self-images. And it's a way to celebrate their beauty. 

N95 masks and nitrile gloves.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

A new survey from the MassINC details the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Latinos in Massachusetts, and finds Latinos living in the western and central parts of the state may have more of a buffer.

A "Welcome Back Students" sign hangs outside an Amherst, Mass., store August 6, 2020. It was the same day UMass told thousands of students because of COVID-19 developments, they would not be able to live on campus as planned.
Jill Kaufman / NEPM

Hundreds of resident assistants at UMass Amherst were expected to move into dorms this week. But UMass revised its COVID-19 policy late last week. It allows only a fraction of students to live on campus this fall, including far fewer paid RAs. 

The Mtali Banda Oneness Project was the opening band at the Makaya McCraven concert at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke on June 4, 2019.
Ed Cohen / MassLive / masslive.com/photosMassMass

It’s been five months since live music venues and DJ clubs shut their doors to dancing crowds, and in Massachusetts they won’t be able to open in full until a COVID-19 vaccine or a proven treatment is available. If they make it that long.

Community organizers "Real Recognize Fake" held a Black Wall Street Protest July 7 on Court Square in Springfield, Massachusetts. Events like this the city says it will not allow to take place without permits.
Courtesy realrecognizefake413.org

Officials in Springfield, Massachusetts, say they've learned through social media that several unauthorized group events are being promoted on city properties and they have issued a warning.

The words "BLACK LIVES MATTER" were painted Sunday in Springfield's Court Square. Mayor Domenic Sarno wants the mural removed this weekend. Another city-sanctioned BLM mural will be painted in September.
Douglas Hook / MassLive / masslive.com/photos

The organizers behind a mural painted Sunday in Springfield's historic Court Square are asking Mayor Domenic Sarno to let it stay there. He’s announced he plans to have it removed this weekend.

Eric Giroux, whose novel "Ring On Deli" is about a grocery store in an old Massachusetts mill town. Decades earlier, it had a pig farm, and now feral boars occasionally appear downtown.
Courtesy Eric Giroux

For his first novel, “Ring On Deli,” Eric Giroux used a bit of his own teen experience working at the local Market Basket, a family-owned New England grocery chain. 

The UMass Amherst campus in a file photo.
UMass Amherst / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

New England professors are among about 30,000 academics from around the U.S. to sign an open letter condemning a new federal policy regarding international college students. The Trump administration is barring those students from staying in the U.S. if they only take online classes this fall.

After being closed for the first four months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Baker Administration has given Massachusetts museums the green light to reopen.
Courtesy MASS MoCA

Three major Berkshire County museums say they plan to reopen next weekend after shutting down for nearly four months. 

Two Black firefighters have named the past and current Springfield Fire Department commissioners in a federal discrimination lawsuit.
City of Springfield, Massachusetts

A federal discrimination lawsuit filed by two Black firefighters against the city of Springfield, Massachusetts, now specifically names the current and former fire commissioners.

The Big E, a 104-year-old New England agricultural fair, is canceled for 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Courtesy Eastern States Exposition

The Big E — the giant annual agricultural fair in West Springfield, Massachusetts — is canceled this year, Eastern States Exposition officials announced Monday. In recent years, more than a million people have come to the area during the fair's two-week run. 

In 2019, the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts, attracted more than a million visitors. Tickets for the September 2020 fair are available for purchase.
Courtesy of The Big E

Tickets are being sold for the Eastern States Exposition — or The Big E — in West Springfield, Massachusetts, known for livestock competitions, rides and fried food. The website even has a countdown to a supposed opening day, September 18. 

Nicole M. Young in Northampton, Mass.
Courtesy of Nicole M. Young / Samm Smith Design & Photography

Black Writers Read, live and online June 19th, is the brainchild of several western Massachusetts writers. The event began as a response to a Trump campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, originally scheduled for the same day. June 19 is Juneteenth, a day that marks the end of slavery in the U.S. 

Young@Heart, in a recent rehearsal, from their homes in western Massachusetts.
Screen Shot / Jill Kaufman / NEPR

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Young@Heart, the western Massachusetts chorus whose youngest member is 75 years old and oldest is 90, was forced to cancel in-person rehearsals. They started meeting online and making "quarantine videos."

Astronomer Stephen Schneider stands in the middle of the UMass Amherst sunwheel, explaining how a solstice actually lasts more than one day.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

Concerned that as many as 100 people could show up on the first day of summer at at its mini-Stonehenge during the pandemic, UMass Amherst has canceled a ritual pre-dawn solstice talk. Skywatchers need not worry about missing out, as the astronomical occurrence takes place over several days.

"Say Their Names" is a new mural in Springfield, Mass., led by artist Wane One.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

Public murals went up around Springfield, Mass., last year as a form of community building. This week, amid widespread protests of police brutality and racism, a group of cultural institutions including Art for the Soul Gallery and Common Wealth Murals is supporting a new mural in Springfield.

Shamari "Shamrok" Stampp, at a public piano in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

In downtown Springfield, Massachusetts, inside an atrium near the corner of Main and Harrison, is a public piano. Shamari Stampp comes to it at least once a week. 

Timna Tarr, a quilt artist in Holyoke, Massachusetts, finds needed exercise behind her sewing machine during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

A fabric artist in Holyoke, Massachusetts, has been sewing pieces of quilts together almost daily during the COVID-19 pandemic. With no specific project in mind, Timna Tarr said it's needed exercise to sit behind her machine and just sew.

Springfield Bishop Mitchell Rozanski issued a directive that closed, until further notice as of March 17, all diocesan churches and chapels in response to COVID-19.
Anne-Gerard Flynn / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Governor Charlie Baker has unveiled his administration's multipart plan to restart the Massachusetts economy. Included in the first phase, along with manufacturing and construction projects, are houses of worship. They are now allowed to reopen within certain guidelines, but not all are planning to do so. 

Usually attracting tens of thousands of visitors, the Brimfield Antique Flea Markets in May 2020 were canceled because of COVID-19.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / File photo / The Republican / MassLive.com/photos

Like so many events this spring in Massachusetts and around New England, the Brimfield Antique Flea Markets were canceled for May because of the pandemic. For the businesses that make the more than 50-year-old show come to life, it's a deep hit, and some dealers are salvaging what they can. 

In the play "This Is Your Captain," an airplane wing catches fire and elicits strong feelings among the passengers. It's being rehearsed and performed online.
ruifo / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/ruimc

Actors and directors are finding ways to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic by producing theater online. Among the plays in rehearsal in western Massachusetts is a 10-minute piece, "This Is Your Captain."

Graduates from UMass Amherst in 2019 line up for commencement exercises. Most May 2020 commencement events in the U.S. were canceled or postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Office of News and Media Relations / UMass Amherst

Updated at 3:05 p.m. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, college students all over the country were sent home to finish up the school year and it soon became clear that graduation ceremonies would be canceled. 

Art hangs in a window at Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield, Massachusetts.
Paul Franz / Greenfield Recorder / recorder.com

A new survey indicates Massachusetts cultural businesses have lost more than $250,000,000 in revenue since mid-March. 

 At the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Madame Tricot (Dominique Kaehler Schweizer)'s "A Selection of Vegetables 2019." The hand-knitted wool art is part of the exhibit "Savor," now only online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Toni Hafkenscheid

Like so many places where people gather, museums are closed in the COVID-19 pandemic and people have lost their jobs. Around New England, the big museums are taking a variety of approaches to engage would-be visitors and donors as they try to envision the future. 

In western Massachusetts, North Hadley Congregational Church, like other houses of worship, is trying to keep people connected.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

As people of Jewish faith observe Passover this week on Zoom, for Christians it is Holy Week, ending with Easter Sunday. Music is at the core of many religious rituals.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, congregants at one western Massachusetts church haven’t been singing in the same room over the past few weeks. But their voices are still being heard in unison.

Concerned about the safety of staff and visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mass Audubon is among the nature and land conservation groups to close their properties to the public.
Courtesy Mass Audubon

New England governors are urging people to stay home as much as possible to avoid the spread of COVID-19, while keeping open state trails, forests and some beaches so there are places to exercise. Among the caveats to playing outside, social distancing is a must — and it's not always happening.

John Samek of Hardwick Winery delivers wine to Piyush Patel of Northampton Liquors and Wine. Samek has had to close his weekend venue where he serves wine, but can still sell by the bottle. Patel has fewer customers, but they're buying more.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

Massachusetts, Connecticut and other states have designated the retail sale of alcoholic beverages as "essential business” during the coronavirus pandemic, meaning packages stores are allowed to stay open. 

Days before Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker ordered all non-essential businesses in the state to close, some already had.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has ordered non-essential businesses in the state to shut their doors because of the coronavirus pandemic. But what is considered “essential” by the state could change.

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