Cheryl Corley

Based in NPR's Chicago Bureau, Cheryl Corley travels throughout the Midwest covering issues and events from Ohio to South Dakota as a National Desk reporter.

In recent years, Corley has reported on the political turmoil of Illinois state government surrounding the impeachment and trial of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, the campaign and election of President Barack Obama, the battle over the Senate seat he once held and Chicago's losing effort to land the 2016 Olympics. She reported on the housing boom and bust, on efforts to revamp public housing and a new approach to home building — miniaturization. Her story about designer living in extraordinarily tiny homes on wheels became one of NPR's top emailed stories.

In 2005, Corley was among the group of NPR reporters covering the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as they tore through the Gulf Coast. Five years later she returned to the area and joined the reporting team covering the impact of the BP oil spill. Corley also has served as a fill-in host for NPR shows, Tell Me More, the weekend edition of All Things Considered and Morning Edition.

Prior to joining NPR, Corley was the news director at Chicago's public radio station, WBEZ, where she supervised an award-winning team of reporters. She also has been a frequent panelist on television news-affairs programs in Chicago.

Corley has received awards for her work from a number of organizations including the National Association of Black Journalists, the Associated Press, the Public Radio News Directors Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. She earned the Community Media Workshop's Studs Terkel Award for excellence in reporting on Chicago's diverse communities and a Herman Kogan Award for reporting on immigration issues.

A Chicago native, Corley graduated cum laude from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, with a Bachelor of Arts degree and is now a Bradley University trustee. While in Peoria, Corley worked as a reporter and news director for public radio station WCBU and as a television director for the NBC affiliate, WEEK-TV. She also serves on the board as Acting President of the Association for Women Journalists in Chicago.

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Tiny homes, which can be as little as 50 to 300 square feet, are growing in popularity as a solution for the homeless. In Chicago, advocates want to build tiny houses to serve a specific marginalized group — homeless youth, especially those who identify as LGBTQ.

Chicago's North Broadway Street is always bustling, but in the past few weeks, it has been noisier than ever. There is water flowing from an open fire hydrant, and as traffic inches by, a cement truck backs up and pours concrete down into a big hole in the street.

"Well, we always say there's two seasons: either winter and construction," says Maureen Martino, the executive director of the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce. This water main upgrade is only the beginning; Martino says the city has plenty more scheduled for the area this year.

It was a controversial move when Madison, Wis., decided to replace all its lead pipes in 2001. But that decision put the city ahead of the curve — allowing it to avoid the lead water contamination that is plaguing cities like Flint, Mich., now.

Madison started using copper instead of lead water pipes in the late 1920s. The bulk of the lead lines were located in the older part of the city, which is downtown near Wisconsin's state Capitol.

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The once routine practice of getting a glass of water before a restaurant meal in Flint, Mich., is now fraught with apprehension, since lead pipes started leaching into the drinking water after officials switched to the highly corrosive Flint River as the city's water supply.

More than a year ago, 18-year-old Michael Brown's death in a police shooting roiled the small town of Ferguson, Mo., and sparked nationwide protests. Recovery and negotiations have been going on since then, but residents have different ideas about how the city should move forward.

Next week, a negotiated settlement between the city and the Justice Department overhauling the department's practices will come up for a city council vote.

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In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been fending off increasing calls for his resignation. There's also an effort underway to develop a recall law that would allow voters to replace Emanuel before the next election.

"On the defensive" was not a phrase often associated with Emanuel, but that has changed since the city released a video of the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

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After months of negotiations, the battle over locker room access for a transgender student in Illinois ended late last night when Township High School District 211 — about 30 miles northwest of Chicago — approved a deal with the Department of Education.

For nearly three hours, the board met in a closed session — ultimately voting yes on the agreement which allows the transgender student to use private areas within the locker room.

For high school students looking to choose a college, grade-point averages and test scores may weigh heavily on their minds. But campus atmosphere may not be far behind given recent demonstrations on college campuses across the country.

Students at the University of Missouri's flagship campus in Columbia were the forefront of a wave of protests over racist incidents and the reaction of school officials. For some high school students, those protests make racial relations factor highly in their college search.

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Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have become an everyday part of life for many young people — and increasingly, the way some, including rival gang members, threaten each other.

The practice is called "cyber banging," and it's often led to fights and even death.

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Many chefs dream of opening their own restaurant. But Laura Martinez faced an obstacle that many people thought would make that dream impossible to fulfill: The 31-year-old chef is blind.

It took two years for Martinez to open La Diosa, her tiny restaurant in Chicago, this past January. In addition to her white chef's jacket, Martinez wears dark sunglasses when she works.

How can you tell if a city has come back from a tragedy as devastating as Hurricane Katrina?

Ten years after the levees failed in New Orleans, and the waters of Lake Pontchartrain, whipped up by Hurricane Katrina, flooded most of the city, New Orleans residents say there's been much progress since then.

A new NPR/Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that a majority surveyed — 54 percent — says New Orleans has mostly recovered, measured by returning population, new housing, jobs, infrastructure and quality of life.

Editor's Note: This story contains strong language that some may find offensive.

The smell of blood hung in the air where 17-year-old Gerald Morgan was shot, as firefighters began washing down the sidewalk around the front door of a home in New Orleans East last month.

Police say at least two gunmen jumped out of a car, opened fire, ran near a two-story house and kept shooting, also hitting a 4-year-old boy inside. The teenager died at the hospital. The boy was listed in stable condition. Police have not offered a theory for the cause of the shooting.

No one is certain exactly how the protest chant "hands up, don't shoot" got started, though Tory Russell says he has a good idea. Russell is co-founder of Hands Up United, an activist group which formed after the death of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old black man who was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., last August.

"It came after Dorian Johnson, the guy that was with Mike Brown, and others said that Mike Brown had his hands up," Russell says.

Businesses in Ferguson, Mo., are bracing as the city prepares for peaceful protests marking the first anniversary since it was embroiled in violence following the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Brown was unarmed when he was shot by a police officer on Aug. 9. In November, many businesses were looted, vandalized and set on fire after a grand jury decided to not indict Wilson. Since then businesses have been working to rebuild.

You wouldn't expect to pay a local tax when you stream a movie on Netflix, but Chicago has decided that such cloud-based services should be taxed just like tickets for live entertainment.

There was no debate or public hearing over the city's "cloud tax" — a 9 percent tax on streaming entertainment like Netflix and Spotify.

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Can racism cause post-traumatic stress? That's one big question psychologists are trying to answer, particularly in the aftermath of the shooting at the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., and the recent incidents involving police where race was a factor.

What's clear is that many black Americans experience what psychologists call "race-based trauma," says Monnica Williams, director of the Center for Mental Health Disparities at the University of Louisville.

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It's in details from South Carolina that you sense a community insisting on its humanity in the face of awful news. The news was the killing of nine people in a Charleston church.

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