Maureen Foertsch McKinney

News Editor

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is the NPR Illinois News Editor and a lead editor of Illinois Issues' feature articles, working with freelance writers,  and is curator of the Equity blog. Maureen joined the staff in 1998 as projects editor. Previously, she worked at three Illinois daily newspapers, most recently the suburban Chicago-based Daily Herald, where she served stints as an education reporter and copy editor. She graduated in 1985 with a bachelor's in journalism. She also has a master's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Photograph by Alex Wroblewski

The shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri has brought to national attention the obstacles that many young black males face - including racial profiling and a world where media portrayals of their peers are often less-than-flattering. Maureen McKinney took a look at the topic in Illinois. She joined Rachel Otwell for this interview: 

Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources (IDNR)

A little over a decade ago, cougars and wolves started showing up in Illinois for the first time since the late 1800s. In August, Governor Pat Quinn signed a measure that aims to protect and manage the animals. Maureen McKinney reported on the topic for Illinois Issues magazine. She spoke with us about it for this interview:

Marilyn Escoe and her children — Kayla, Kyla and Kyle Escoe and Kaleyah Wesley — were homeless until November.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

For Kaleyah Wesley, thoughts of her family’s life in a Chicago homeless shelter made it difficult to focus on school, particularly in math, the subject she found hardest.

The then-sixth-grader woke at 5 a.m. on weekdays to take a pair of trains from the north side Rogers Park shelter to her school in the North Lawndale neighborhood, which is on the west side. She says she had a negative attitude that rubbed off on her three younger siblings.

Don Fullerton
WUIS/Illinois Issues

 Don Fullerton, a finance professor at the University of Illinois and a former deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department, served as co-author of a chapter of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's fifth assessment report, which was released this spring.

Maureen Foertsch McKinney headshot
mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS - Illinois Issues

 Illinois is in a funk. It’s clear.

Last month, a Gallup survey found by a wide margin Illinoisans are less trusting of their state government than residents of any other place in the nation. 

Maureen Foertsch McKinney headshot
mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS - Illinois Issues

Odds are, if a child doesn’t experience good parenting, schooling in early development programs and care for mental illness or other health care needs, he or she will face arrest for a violent crime.

A tragedy for the child and the victim or victims. But the long-range consequences of the child’s situation touch the rest of society. Those costs are tangible and will grow exponentially. 

 After years of inaction on changes to the state's employee pension systems, legislative leaders say they have hammered out a deal that could be presented to lawmakers December 3.

 

Richard Calica, executive director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Richard Calica’s Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is beset with problems. One Chicago Tribune investigation this spring found that investigators into suspected cases of abuse are spread too thin, putting the agency in violation of a 1991 federal consent decree that resulted from a series of lawsuits. Later, another of the newspaper’s probes showed that more than half of the day-care operations in the state weren’t inspected within a three-year licensing period.

The Illinois Artisan Program
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The way former Gov. James R. Thompson tells it, the idea for the Illinois Artisans Program came to him on a trip out east.

“We went through Vermont, and Vermont had these artisan shops at their rest stops — a couple of them anyway — in which they exhibited and sold crafts and art done by Vermont artists and folk artists. It was a very impressive display, and I thought, ‘You know what, I’ll bet Illinois has artists and artisans as good as those in Vermont. Why aren’t we promoting Illinois arts and crafts?’”

Jim Nutt, Bump, 2008. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art,  Kansas City, MO
Jim Nutt / David Nolan Gallery, New York

Jim Nutt can take more than a year producing his paintings of women’s heads.

The Art Institute of Chicago. North View of Michigan Avenue Facade, courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Hours cut. Salaries trimmed. Pay frozen. Staff reduced. An exhibition canceled in part because of budget woes. Sharply reduced endowments have forced Illinois museums into distasteful decisions over the past year.

“I’m not trying to put any icing on this. It’s been a difficult time. The most difficult time in my 30-year career in museums,’’ says Jim Richerson, president and CEO of the Lakeview Museum of Arts & Sciences in Peoria.

Jerry Stermer and Governor Pat Quinn
WUIS/Illinois Issues

After 22 years as the state’s top advocate for children, Jerry Stermer became the chief administrator in Illinois government. So instead of advocating for the expansion of child care, he was explaining why such services were in danger of being cut. As his son Dan tells it, “You’re fighting against the man, and then you get a job where you are the man, and it’s like, wait, what are you going to do?”

Well, you can’t fight against the man — not when, as Gov. Pat Quinn’s chief of staff, you’ve become the voice for the man. 

Haki Madhubuti
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Poet. Publisher. Professor. Editor. Essayist. Activist. All these titles fit Haki Madhubuti, who is about to celebrate his 25th anniversary at Chicago State University, where he is a distinguished professor and the director emeritus of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing.

Chicago/Chicago sorrows 
they/All 
ways/So blue. Empty pockets/Every day/Friday
the rent is/Due. Chicago/Chicago. 
Big Shoulders/Bronzeville 
Got/No 
where/Lay my spirit. Lord/Knows
 . . .

 

from Eighteen
in Velvet BeBop Kente Cloth
 
by Sterling Plumpp

The nation’s first federally designated tallgrass prairie preserve, located in Illinois, recently opened its first trails for bicyclists, hikers and equestrians.

Bioethicist Arthur Caplan likens legislating stem-cell research to setting foreign policy according to the script of a Steven Segall movie. 

His theory is that most of what lawmakers know about cloning comes right out of pop culture, be it the Jurassic Park movies or the headlines generated by the outlandish claims of a cult-run company.

Telephone poles, train tracks and thick clumps of trees are the first signs that Old Route 66 is about to wind north into Lincoln. Once the highway crosses Salt Creek, clusters of roadside signs break the view. They announce that this central Illinois town of 15,400 is home to several high school athletic champions, the Lions and Kiwanis clubs and a host of churches. Others proclaim that, in state economic development lingo, Lincoln is not merely an Illinois Certified City, but a Main Street Community and an enterprise zone.

Jon Randolph

The suburbs to the southwest of Chicago have never been known for eagerness to embrace diversity. Nevertheless, diversity is beginning to embrace them. 

The sprawling community of Oak Lawn and the smaller nearby towns of Bridgeview, Burbank, Hometown, Chicago Ridge and Palos Heights mushroomed in the '50s and '60s as white ethnics fled the South and Southwest sides of the changing city of Chicago.

American Federation of Teachers

Kara Schlink says she can't remember wanting to do anything but teach. So it was natural to enter the teacher education program at Illinois State University in Normal, which is just a few miles north of Hudson, the small west central Illinois town where she was raised.

Last January, right after graduation, Schlink became a teacher - in San Antonio, Texas, where she says she was lured by better weather and a beginning teacher salary that topped Illinois' average by more than $3,000.

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