Lauren Hodges

Lauren Hodges is an associate producer for All Things Considered. She joined the show in 2018 after seven years in the NPR newsroom as a producer and editor. She doesn't mind that you used her pens, she just likes them a certain way and asks that you put them back the way you found them, thanks. Despite years working on interviews with notable politicians, public figures, and celebrities for NPR, Hodges completely lost her cool when she heard RuPaul's voice and was told to sit quietly in a corner during the rest of the interview. She promises to do better next time.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

It's the first day of 2021. But looking back at 2020, you can measure the year in a series of losses - economic, educational, emotional. And of course, there are the lives we have lost to this pandemic. The people who have died of COVID-19 have left empty spaces in families.

When Dana Tamim made the difficult decision to cancel her wedding in August, she was crushed.

"Honestly, I don't think that I'm ever going to get over it," she says.

The 24-year-old lives in Montreal and is Muslim. In her religion, she says, "you can't really live with someone unless you're married."

But Tamim and her fiancé had already signed the lease for a new apartment. They ended up having a quick ceremony to make things legal, so they could move in together.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The holidays usually serve as opportunities to gather with loved ones, mark the end of the year and celebrate the possibility of a fresh one. But during a pandemic, coming together just isn't safe.

For American families and their children, school is more than just a building. It's a social life and a community, an athletic center and a place to get meals that aren't available at home. The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted — and continues to disrupt — the lives of U.S. students in profound ways.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

By the end of last year, the door to a dream had begun to crack open for Lilli Rayne.

She'd spent about five years building her dog-walking and pet-sitting business into a profitable venture in Asheville, N.C.

"My whole life had been entirely where I wanted it to be at that point," she recalls.

As she built her business, Rayne also left behind her history of less-than-stellar credit.

"For the first time in my life, I had a credit score that I could have finally bought a home with," she says, a dream she'd had her entire adult life.

Note: An updated version of the letter, with additional signatures, was published Sept. 13.

"We blew it."

That was Forbes editor Randall Lane's assessment on Twitter after his publication released a list of America's 100 most innovative leaders that included only a single woman.

A major oil storage terminal on Grand Bahama Island was damaged by Hurricane Dorian and has leaked oil into the surrounding environment, raising concern that the oil could damage local reefs and wildlife.

The South Riding Point facility sits on the shore of the island's eastern side and is home to 10 giant storage tanks capable of holding up to 6.75 million barrels of crude, according to Equinor, the company that runs the facility.

Lt. Col. Bree "B" Fram left a doctor's office on April 2. Presenting that day as Bryan, the name given to them at birth, B should have been relieved.

"Overall, it's a good thing," said B. "It just didn't feel great to have to do it on someone else's timeline other than my own."

"It" was an official diagnosis of gender dysphoria. As a transgender member of the military, B had to secure the diagnosis by April 12 in order to continue serving openly.

It was just a month ago that a leaked video of Donald Trump boasting about grabbing women's genitals without their consent led House Speaker Paul Ryan to say he would not defend the Republican presidential nominee or campaign with him.

In the closing weeks of the election, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had all but disappeared from public view, saying at one point last month, "I don't have any observations to make" about the presidential race.

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