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Archive of Essays - (Listed Alphabetically)


Ariel Ben-Amos

October 8, 2010

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It might seem obvious, but a big part of being an urban planner is to really love a city and its people. Ariel Ben-Amos is a Philadelphian through and trough. Born in Mount Airy, and educated at the University of Pennsylvania, he likes to brag that the only time he left the city for a long period of time, was to serve in the Peace Corps in Albania. Ben-Amos passion for all things urban started, he says in his early adolescence.

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Joe Banner

September 24, 2010

The most immediate expectation of an essay by Joe Banner is that he will be sharing some of his thoughts on sports management, team dynamics, the state of the NFL and so on. As the president of the Philadelphia Eagles he has plenty to say about that, but Banner has also made a career of being unpredictable and versatile. In the past he's gone from being a sports broadcaster and a businessman to heading City Year, a national organization that promotes volunteerism and community service for youth. It's in that spirit, that Joe Banner reveals a more metaphysical side.

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Kimberly Camp

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November 11, 2009

Before heading the Barnes Foundation for 8 years, Kimberly Camp had established herself as a painter and doll maker. Throughout her career she has continued to live the double life of an artist and museum director from Washington DC to Washington State, where she now works. In her paintings, Camp likes to depict the many life experiences of her ample family, grandmothers, aunts and uncles, friends and story tellers. Her dolls conjure the tradition of African American doll-makers, a mix of whimsy and magic. Curiosity and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, Kimberly Camp says, is at the root of her achievements. Camp is the CEO of the Handford Reach Interpretive Center in Washington State.

Photo Credit: Felicia Hunt-Taylor

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Art Caplan

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September 4, 2009

For the past two decades or so, Art Caplan has been the go-to person in all questions of bioethics: stem cell research, organ transplantation and trafficking, gene therapy, living wills... you name it. He's become known to many in TV and cable news programs for his straightforward approach to complicated issues. Caplan has authored and edited more than 29 books and heads the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics. But in this essay, Caplan traces his passion for science and inquiry, and his sense of compassion and justice, to a childhood misfortune.

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Joan Carter

May 13, 2011

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There are two milestones in the history of women and the Philadelphia Union League. In 1986 it accepted its first woman member and last year it named its first female president. The two groundbreaking changes were personified by the same woman, Joan Carter. Carter is a prosperous and respected entrepreneur who, with her husband, started a series of very profitable businesses. She explains how it all began with an idea and an influential book.


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Lorene Cary

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April 10, 2009

Lorene Cary's presence in Philadelphia, in any city for that matters, has been likened to that of a cultural whirlwind. Not only is she a celebrated writer and educator, but as the founder of The Art Sanctuary she has made the city a point of convergence for African American culture and social activism. In her writing Cary brings together a combination of personal experience, historic relevance, compassion and her own brand of dry humor. Today she explores how all this comes together.

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Lt. Col. John Church

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August 27, 2010

As a Marine officer and educator, Lt. Col. John Church has seen the best and the worst of life in war zones. He's witnessed individual and collective acts of bravery among soldiers and civilians; as well as the devastating toll of armed conflict, on people and their land. So he decided to tell that story on This I Believe, while stationed in Afghanistan; his latest tour of duty. Upon his recent return he was named President of the Valley Forge Military College. His essay was recorded in Helmand Province in Afghanistan by NPR reporter Corey Flintoff.

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Colleen Clemens

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August 13, 2010

Colleen Clemens teaches English at Kutztown University and she has students, who like her, were the first in their families to go to college. She's not too far from Allentown where she grew up in the shadow of the Steel mills and where many of the men in her family worked, until they started closing the factories. Her story, she says, is written with the grit and sweat of her elders and with her discovery of the beauty of language and literature, all wrapped up in a mantle of gratitude.

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Cathering Colonia

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August 6, 2010

Thirteen years ago, when Cathering Colonia's father came to visit his brothers in the United States, he had a tragic accident that forced the family to migrate from Colombia. So, at 18, Colonia had to finish high school here, learn a new language and discover another culture. She later married her high school boyfriend, had a child, worked as a nurse, opened a spa and discovered the common denominator among young working women: where's the time to do everything? In this essay, Cathering Colonia explores how she learned to navigate her daily work load.

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Mary Seton Corboy

February 13, 2009

Mary Seton Corboy founded the Greensgrow Farm in 1998. She and her team of gardeners have become a national model of perseverance and commitment to urban farming. Corboy transformed a superfund site into a thriving garden that is still in full swing. In her essay she explores her belief in the power of physical labor.

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Helen Cunningham

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October 16, 2009

At first glance, Helen Cunningham is — in essence — an educator. A second look reveals her commitment to teach and listen, to serve a community, to mediate conflict and to encourage individual and collective creativity. As the recipient of the 2009 Philadelphia Human Rights Award and as head of the Fels Fund, Cunnigham casts a wide philanthropic footprint in the region. It's all rooted, she says, in her universe of family and friends.

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Bernard Dagenais

February 27, 2009

As a journalist, Bernard Dagenais has covered everything from agriculture and farming in his native Vermont to criminal court cases, state house debates and the economy. He likes to credit his work ethic and values to growing up on a farm with hard working parents and siblings. Those experiences, plus the investigative spirit most journalists cherish, have taken him from a Washington DC newspaper to Philadelphia where he is the editor of the weekly Philadelphia Business Journal. Dagenais also believes in the time honored tradition of being at the right place at the right time.

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Elise Dorr-Dorynek

January 21, 2011

Elise Dorr-Dorynek grew up in a household where reaching a goal, usually in the realm of medicine and community service, was prized above all. She credits her grandmother's compassion and commitment to helping others, for pointing the way to discovering her true vocation. Elise Dorr- is a nurse at Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia and a member of the Medical Reserve Corp.

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Liz Dow

April 3, 2009

Liz Dow, President and CEO of Leadership Philadelphia, has always been intrigued and amazed at what drives people to public service and social commitment. As she tells it, her quest took her to the White House where, thanks to a public policy fellowship, she served in the Carter Administration. Dow says the experience opened doors to explore "the art of the possible" and left her with an appetite for creating coalitions of people and causes.

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Kristin Dunning

March 18, 2011

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For the past fifteen years, teaching has been a constant in Kristin Dunning's life. She has travelled all over the country as an educator, only to end up working at the school district she once attended. She lives in Delaware County , not far from where she was born. Family and in laws are a few miles away. As a writer she's explored the rewards and set backs of working mothers, parenthood, community life, schools and daily creativity. Lately, Kristin Dunning has also found an antidote to suburban isolation.

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Barbara Earle

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March 26, 2010

Barbara Earle has always been a no-nonsense woman. Hard working and witty. She lives surrounded by books and music, family, husband, children, grandchildren, friends and good food. Earle likes to say that every seven years she seems to have changed careers; one of them as a professional map-maker. In 1989, she and her husband Jim started island hopping in the Caribbean and then explored Mexico to create visitors maps. But, for this essay, Barbara Earle decided to talk about her concentric circles of friendship and support. Barbara Earle died April 7th, 2011 surrounded by family and friends.

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Maddie Ecker

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March 19, 2010

In more than one way, Maddie Ecker lives the life of many teenagers, school, friends, sports (tennis in her case), family. But at an early age she was swayed by the beauty of language and as she grew up, she saw herself as a word weaver and storyteller. Encouraged by her mother who's a Rabbi and her high school english teacher, 16 year old Maddie Ecker wrote this essay on what she's passionate about.

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Bishop David Evans

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April 24, 2009

Bishop David G. Evans became a baptist minister in the late seventies. Since then he has become a sort of religious super star by combining his spiritual calling with an acute understanding of the dynamics of leadership, entrepreneurship and media presence. His Bethany Baptist Church in Lindenwold, NJ has about 27.000 members and he counts more than a hundred churches as part of his international ministry. Today, Bishop Evans explores life as a balancing act.

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Peggy Fagan

October 22, 2010

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Most of the time Peggy Fagan describes herself as a pie-maker, a chef at a health food market, a woman who enjoys cooking. But that would be only a half baked approach to the varied experiences of this New Jersey writer, blogger, photographer, breast cancer survivor and story teller. Fagan lives in Upper Bucks County, has three dogs and tries to live a "life free of regrets."

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Varsovia Fernandez

May 8, 2009

Varsovia Fernandez cut her teeth as a community activist by working in the corporate world. At one point she decided to dedicate her knowledge and experience to helping the Latino business community and she hasn't stopped. Fernandez moves easily from winning a dance competition to raise money for a cause to pitching new ventures to an international corporate board. As the head of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Fernandez says all she does is rooted in her parents tradition of social activism.

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Abbe Fletman

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January 16, 2009

In her career as a trial lawyer Abbe Fletman has taken on and represented big corporations. She's helped protect voting rights and made her name as a tough litigator. She has defended cases that range from securities fraud to faulty pesticide labels. Fletman is a Philadelphia trial lawyer and litigation attorney at the Flaster/Greenberg law firm. Professional awards and accolades follow her where she goes. But for this essay Fletman chose to talk about a more personal achievement.

Caption: Ted Fletman, Jane Hinkle, Abbe Fletman and Elizabeth Fletman

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Frank Fitzpatrick

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September 10, 2010

Behind every article and book Frank Fitzpatrick writes, lies the soul of a passionate story teller. He shares with many other writers an uncanny attention to details, a good ear for the cadence of dialogue and a keen awareness of human complexities. It's all connected, Fitzpatrick says, to a deeply rooted sense of place in a city populated by his ample family. Frank Fitzpatrick is a writer and editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer. A Pulitzer prize finalist, he's also the author of three books on sports.

Caption: Ted Fletman, Jane Hinkle, Abbe Fletman and Elizabeth Fletman

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Carol Fixman

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February 5, 2010

Carol Fixman is in essence a bridge builder. Her passion is to find ways to connect and to close gaps between aspirations and achievements. Education is her tool box. Even before she became Executive Director of the Philadelphia Education Fund, her focus, as a social activist and concerned citizen, was to create models that bring knowledge and quality education to as many people as possible. Today, Carol Fixman talks about how this lifelong commitment is rooted in her family.

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Lou Gambaccini

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June 12, 2009

There's something quite fascinating about a large computer map showing an intricate grid of subways and trains crisscrossing the city and region. Running a large transportation system is infinitely more complicated than that and for years Lou Gambaccini has been recognized as one of the most prominent transportation general managers throughout the North East. After overseeing the New York and New Jersey Port Authorities for 30 years and SEPTA for almost nine years, Lou Gambaccini likes to remember how his commitment to public service started at an early age.

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Kenny Gamble

September 3, 2010

Kenny Gamble doesn't live too far from the South Philadelphia house where he was born in 1943. But that short distance is no measure of his professional and personal achievements. As the co-founder, with Leon Huff, of Philadelphia International Records he has transformed American popular music. Gamble and Huff created an artful mix of R&B and soul rhythms with lyrics that spoke of love, dignity and empowerment. As a community activist and entrepreneur, Kenny Gamble has set out to change the social landscape of African American life in the city. In this essay and conversation, he speaks of what he sees as the key to a brighter future for all.

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Jane Golden

January 30, 2009

For the past 20 years the presence of large scale murals has changed the city's urban landscape. One artist and community organizer is behind the effort of transforming more that 2,700 walls into murals and that's Jane Golden. This is her story for WHYY's This I Believe series.

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James Harris

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October 1, 2010

Running a university in an urban setting takes a rare combination of skills, ranging from the managerial to the visionary. Add to that a keen interest in student participation in all aspects of governance and community involvement, and you get a picture of Jim Harris, the president of Widener University. It wouldn't be too farfetched to say that Harris learned his skills as a tough strategist in the boxing ring, and his commitment to public service at his grandmother's house.

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Patrice Heller

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April 30, 2010

At some point or another, we have all met someone who finds the time to do everything they're interested in, from work to volunteerism, from being in countless committees and advisory boards to taking care of family and causes. Or maybe you are that person. Patrice Heller definitely fits the profile. A restless soul, she has packed up as many achievements as she can fit. So she decided to write about it. Patrice Heller is a rabbi, a psychologist, a dancer and a professor at Temple University, among other things.

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Frank Hoeber

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October 2, 2009

Frank Hoeber describes himself as a dedicated public servant. His long career as a government officer is deeply rooted in his family history and his own activism on issues of social justice. Hoeber is also an historian, who among other things, has translated from German, his grandfather's personal papers. At a time in which even the word government is charged with controversy, Hoeber talks with passion about its importance in his life.

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Charles Howard

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April 8, 2011

One act of compassion can often become the crossroads between a life of neglect and pain and a life of personal and professional achievements. Reverend Charles Howard knows exactly the moment that made a difference for him. Today on This I Believe Howard explores how as a Chaplain he tries to use his experiences to guide others. Reverend Charles Howard is the University Chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania, his alma mater.

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Frederica Massiah Jackson

March 13, 2009

Frederica Massiah-Jackson has always been described as a quick learner and she has earned that title. She graduated high school at age 16 and received her law degree at the University of Pennsylvania at 23. Since then she has gone from clerking for Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Robert N.C. Nix to being nominated as a U.S. district judge by President Clinton. Today, Court of Common Pleas judge Massiah-Jackson explores how her belief in the jury system has shaped her personal views and opinions.

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Nancy Kolb

March 6, 2009

Nancy Kolb doesn't need statistics or long studies to convince her of the importance of recess at school or of playing freely at home, on the streets and in parks. As president and CEO of The Please Touch Museum, Kolb is recognized as a relentless advocate for everyone's rights adult and child alike to explore, create and play. Here she talks about her childhood and the games that shaped her life.

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Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer

December 10, 2010

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"Building bridges" is not just a cliche to Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer, it's what she does every day. Kreimer is recognized internationally as an authority in multifaith studies, particularly when it comes to Jewish-Muslim dialogues and the intersections of faith, science and social justice. Today she tells the story of how it all started with a book. Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer is the director of the Departments of Multi-faith Studies and Initiatives at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

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Alexis Landis

June 3, 2010

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Alexis Landis doesn't live too far from where she grew up outside of Philadelphia. Her parents, city folks, followed a familiar pattern at the time, and looked at suburbia as the best place to raise their only daughter. The product of her mother's dedication to teaching and social activism, and her father's creativity, Landis decided to return to the city to work in media. Today she explores the bonds that tie families together and her unbreakable love for her mother. Alexis Landis is video and audio producer at WHYY. She and her husband live in Media, PA.

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Claire Lamberth

September 17, 2010

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There are some lives that seem to follow a script destined for Hollywood. Claire Lamberth, a Philadelphia born jeweler and artist has travelled the world to teach and to learn. She taught English in Germany and Croatia and following her husband and sons, lived in Toronto, Sarajevo, Paris and Milan. She returned to Pennsylvania and became a psychiatric nurse and later an artist. Lamberth still credits her high school teachers for feeding her hunger for knowledge and her endless curiosity.

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Charisse Lillie

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April 17, 2009

Respect for the law has always been the driving principle behind everything Charisse Lillie has achieved as an attorney, educator and entrepreneur. She was born to a family of educators in a home where conversations about culture, music and equality were the norm. So it's no surprise that Lillie, who helped integrate her Catholic schools in Houston in the nineteen Sixties, sees the law as a powerful tool for social change at all levels: from workplace equity to election reform. Lillie is now an executive at Comcast and a VP for its philanthropic foundation.

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Nathan Long

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January 15, 2010

As a writer, Nathan Long tends to see the world as a series of stories interweaving to paint a rich emotional tapestry. His narratives and essays are familiar to readers of journals and literary websites. Time to do his work has been fueled by prestigious fellowships and grants. Long also commutes from Philadelphia to Pomona, NJ to teach at Richard Stockton College. For this edition of This I Believe, Long sent us a touching essay about friendship and the power of stories.

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Brett Mandel

February 6, 2009

Today on WHYY's This I Believe Brett Mandel founder and Executive Director of Philadelphia Forward speaks of his sense of place. He's best know as a citizen's advocate for sound governance and fiscal accountability. He focuses mainly on city finances and tax reform. Mandel is also an avid sportsman who has written two books about baseball.

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Charles McNeil

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June 25, 2010

Life has never been easy for Charles McNeil, yet his is a story of achievements. In his journey, he has transformed considerable adversity and challenge into a life where creativity is the vehicle to build a more just and equal society. In this essay, Reverend Charles McNeil takes a look at where it all began. He is associate Pastor at the historic Shiloh Baptist Church in Philadelphia and Executive Director for Church Partnerships at Eastern University.

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Pulitzer Prize writer James Michener's 1950's essay for the original This I Believe

November 13, 2009

The original This I Believe series was born in Philadelphia in the 1950's. It was as a series of personal statemens about life, work, family and country. We continue in that tradition, but today we've decided to bring back some of the local and regional essays from that era. We start with a This I Believe essay by writer and Doylestown native James Michener as introduced by Edward R. Murrow. Michener was born in 1907 and died in Austin, Texas in 1997. In this essay, he tells how the people he met during World War II gave him a belief in the brotherhood of mankind. Michener says tolerance and kindness can overcome differences in race, culture and language.


For James Michener's text and more on the 1950's This I Believe essays go to www.thisibelieve.org

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Carmen Febo San Miguel

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Octoer 9, 2009

Healer is the word that best describes Carmen Febo San Miguel. As a physician, she concentrated for years in serving predominantly poor Puerto Rican and African American families in Philadelphia. As a cultural healer, she has put her knowledge and energy in creating a place where Puerto Rican and Latino cultures thrive. Febo started volunteering at the Taller Puertorriqueno in the late Seventies, eventually becoming its Executive Director. Her commitment to the city and its people, Febo says, is rooted in the cultural and social activism she learned at home.

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Leslie Ann Miller

March 27, 2009

Perhaps the best way of describing Leslie Ann Miller is as a one person hub where the law, civil rights, cultural advancement and activism for equality, intersect. One of her many awards recognizes her as a "woman making history" and there's not much you can add to that, to encompass her many achievements. In this essay, Miller explores a more personal passion for the welfare of "all creatures great and small."

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Mark Mobley

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July 30, 2010

If playing drums in the 5th grade and wearing a dorky "Stravinsky Freak" T-shirt in high school, are any indication, life as a musician is almost innevitable. Mark Mobley is a percussionist, a producer of classical music programs, a writer and music critic. He lives in Wilmington, Delaware where he worked, until recently, with the Delaware Symphony Orchestra. Today, Mobley explores how his lifelong passion for music is re-ignited every time he enters a concert hall.

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Mayor Michael Nutter

January 9, 2009

Today on WHYY's This I Believe Mayor Michael Nutter talks about the childhood experiences that shaped his character.


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Julie Odell

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September 25, 2009

As family lore has it, Julie Odell, was born with a book (a soft one) in her hands. Not really, but reading has always been an integral part of this writer's life; as solace, inspiration and life anchor. Odell is working on a second novel and her stories are regularly published in literary magazines. In this essay, she talks about how her passion for literature and language is most vividly evident in the classroom.

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Brian Peterson

February 19, 2010

Brian Peterson has been leading a double life for quite some time. By day he's the chief curator at The James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, the rest of the time he dedicates to his own art as a photographer and writer. He's written comprehensive catalogues around the major exhibitions he's curated, including a memorable book on Pensylvania Impressionism; and his photos are part of museum collections. But, this time he decided to write about his soul and how creativity takes hold of the life of an artist. Titled The Smile at the Heart of Things, it's a personal, poignat, and somewhat humorous account of his life's ups and downs. So today, Brian Peterson's This I Believe is more the result of a conversation, than a written essay.

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Jacqueline Poppalardo

November 19, 2010

In a world where celebrities, real or invented, seem to populate everything, it could be easy to miss the stories of people who go about their lives doing the meaningful things they're passionate about. For Jacqueline Poppalardo it starts with being a good, attentive mother. But she also describes her 28 years as a teacher, as "a more noble, more gratifying and more humbling profession than anyone else can imagine" Jacqueline Poppalardo is the mother of three, a world traveler and a soon to be retired teacher.

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Penelope Reed

May 15, 2009

In the history of theater there's always a story about an actor or director who, as a kid, spent time building sets and imagining scenarios with elaborate plots. It's no different for Penelope Reed, who heads the Hedgerow Theater. Tucked in a winding road outside Media, Hedgerow was once described as "The Mother of All Philadelphia Theaters". Today, Reed continues the tradition of this 83 year old cultural institution. In this essay she explores the roots of her own passion for seeing the world as a big stage.

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Ken Rodgers

April 29, 2011

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Film producer Ken Rodgers likes to tell behind the scenes stories. Just mention TV programs such as Inside the NFL; America's Game and the more recent Hard Knocks and you see his handy work as a Senior producer of NFL Films. He's a man that likes to translate ideas into action packed images and Emmy winning programs. Rodgers says his inspiration often comes from the most unusual places. Ken Rodgers is senior producer of NFL films and an EMMY Award winner. He lives and works in New Jersey.


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Robert Rodini

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November 20, 2009

Robert Rodini is literally immersed in mathematics. He not only studies it, he lives it. So, although he's quite respected as a problem solving software engineer, he's now returned to university, 40 years after getting his bachelor's degree in math. He's looking at a second career as a mathematician and is particularly passionate about number theory and abstract algebra. While most people, with many exceptions, struggle with math, Rodini says he agrees with Karl Gauss, the 19th century German mathematician, who said that "number theory is the queen of mathematics." Of course!

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Allyson Schwartz

January 23, 2009

Today on WHYY's This I Believe, PA Thirteenth District Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz pays homage to her mother's legacy of strength, honesty and resilience.


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Sister Mary Scullion

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July 9, 2010

There are some people whose names are synonymous with their mission. So, you can't mention the word homeless without thinks of Sister Mary Scullion. and Project Home the organization she co-founded more than two decades ago. Scullion, a nun with The Sisters of Mercy is a woman of beauty and character; and her compassion mirrors her determination and political savvy. Sister Mary is a problem solver and she's know internationally for the systems she has designed to help the homeless. In This I Believe essay, she tells us how it all started.

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Darlene Sistrunk

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February 25, 2011

Darlene Sistrunk has a sharp ear for the humor in ordinary life. In a way she belongs to the school of "Funny as a way of being serious", honed in by African American stand up comedians. She's also a writer, poet, community activist, wife, mother and grandmother. In her more corporate job, she deals with the trials and tribulations of people who are struggling with their mortgages. But it's as a mother that she confronted one of her most difficult moments.

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Vicki Solot

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November 5, 2010

Chances are that you've been hearing and telling stories since you were a child. "Tell me a story", let's talk, let's get together, water cooler conversations, public gatherings around a tree or a square or a kitchen table are all expressions of daily storytelling. Vicki Solot has made the sharing of experiences, anecdotes, personal observations and fun - impromptu talking moments, into a commitment to create a festival of first person narratives. Here's how it all started for her. Vicki Solot is a teacher, writer and artist. She is the founder and director of the yearly citywide festival First Person Arts.

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Karina Sotnik

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June 4, 2010

When it comes to answering relatively simple questions about identity, many find it unrealistic or somewhat uncomfortable to reduce their experiences to a few words. It's not uncommon, since the world has always had people who move across borders, languages, customs and tradition. So how to explain who you are? That's what Karina Sotnik explores today on This I Believe. Karina Sotnik is a software engineer, a business woman, a mother and much more.

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David St Clair

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June 19, 2009

As a businessman, David St Clair has done all the things that define a sucessful entrepreneur : risk taking, pioneering a service approach to a growing industry and a keen understanding of market dynamics and opportunities. At the root of it all, says St Clair, are lessons learned at sea. From navigation and self reliance, to trust, ingenuity and a bit of luck. As he tells it, smart parents and a sense of adventure didn't hurt either.

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Ed Tettemer

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May 1, 2009

Writer Ed Tettemer is a cultural and gastronomic explorer. He has crisscrossed Pennsylvania to map fun places and local eateries outside of the Turnpike corridor, and the restaurant chains. It's all in his book and blog The Shunpiker's Guide. Tettemer is also an advertising and marketing strategist, but today he tells the story of his unending love for food.


Ed's Beach Bean Soup recipe

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David Thornburgh

May 22, 2009

It's never easy to grow up in the shadow of a prominent father, but David Thornburgh has conquered most obstacles by finding a balance between admiration and respect for the former Pennsylvania governor, and his own distinct brand of leadership. His expertise in regional economic development, public policy and community entrepreneurship have culminated in his position as executive director of the University of Pennsylvania Fels Institute of Government. All this has led David Thornburgh to explore the difference between a job and a true calling.

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John Timpane

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September 11, 2009

John Timpane moves easily from poetry to science, from writing editorials on education and politics to voicing radio essays on the meaning of Lent or the beauty of language. He's been an editor, columnist and reporter at The Philadelphia Inquirer since 1997 and his books on reading and understanding poetry and architecture are still making the rounds on Amazon. In this essay, John Timpane shows once again how he's able to translate real experiences into metaphysical musings.

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Nicholas Torres

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April 9, 2010

Nick Torres is a quintessential community leader; his success is based on finding a balance between being practical while remaining an idealist. As the president of the Congreso de Latinos Unidos, the Congress of United Latinos, he has expanded the scope of social services to the growing Hispanic community in the city. Access to education is at the core of his beliefs and he can track that commitment to his own upbringing.

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Sozi Tulante

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July 17, 2009

Sozi Tulante's story is as painfully familiar and individually unique as the journey of many political refugees. His childhood memories of the persecution that forced his family out of Africa have fueled his work as a lawyer and human rights activist. In this essay, Tulante pays respect to his father who worked as a taxi driver for 25 years, in order to send him and his siblings to college. Now as a new father himself, Tulante has another reason to tell his family's story of conquering hardship and settling in a welcoming city.

Caption: Sozi Tulante and his son Kiese

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Pamela Varkony

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February 11, 2011

Writer and columnist Pamela Varkony will travel the world to get a good story, especially if the story brings together the journalist and the entrepreneur in her. She was in Afghanistan in 2006 and 07 on a fact finding tour and she also taught management and business techniques to Afghan women. Women empowerment here and abroad, she says, is her beat and her commitment. But, for the past years Varkony has been travelling to a place closer to her home and her heart. Pamela Varkony is a writer living in Allentown. Her latest book "Our Lost Tohickon Valley" was co-authored by Marjorie Goldhorp Fulp.

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Wendy Warren

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July 10, 2009

You could assume that Wendy Warren thinks, talks, and dreams about news twenty four-seven. After all she has spent most of her professional life as a journalist first in South Carolina, then Allentown, and now in Philadelphia where she's the editor of Philly.com. But as a mother, a wife, and a citizen concerned about the city's future, Warren found inspiration for this essay in a poem she read a while back.

Read Rosalie Grayer's poem "Altar Smoke"

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Bill Wedo

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September 18, 2009

Bill Wedo likes to describe himself as the all around journalist. In his three decades as a writer, he's covered crimes and trials, celebrity interviews and arts reviews. He's been an online reporter for Philly.com for about 10 years and is now the publicist for Studio Incamminatti arts school in Philadelphia. But he says none of that compares to mastering the infinitely complicated art of being a father. In this essay Bill Wedo follows what's closest to his heart.

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Melissa Weiler-Gerber

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June 26, 2009

Melissa Weiler Gerber could talk for hours about the issues she's passionate about: human rights, homelessness, economic disparity (particularly among women), and social activism. She's been Executive Director of the advocacy and funding organization Women's Way since 1999, and she jokingly recalls that she has always aspired to "save the world." Being organized, focused and somewhat obsessive about how things work, Weiler-Gerber says, is a big help in her work and her life.

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Judy Wicks

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May 29, 2009

In Philadelphia, the White Dog Cafe is more than a restaurant, it's literally an institution centered not only on food but on a philosophy of food. It's housed in a whimsical space decorated with plenty of drawings and paintings of ... what else?... dogs. Since she founded the White Dog Cafe 26 years ago, Wicks has been at the forefront of the movement to use local foods to support a sustainable business model. It all started to come together in her mind, Wicks says after spending some time in a remote Alaskan village.

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Seth Williams

July 23, 2010

Every story of achievement has common traits: hard work, resilience to adversity, the ability to seize opportunities wherever they exist and a keen sense of confidence. But each success story is also intensely personal. After he was abandoned by his mother, Seth Williams was adopted out of foster care by a family who believed in education, commitment to community service and a healthy outrage against injustice. Today Seth Williams is Philadelphia's District Attorney. He tells his story in a conversation for This I Believe.

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Lynn Yeakel

February 20, 2009

It would take some time to go over Lynn Yeakel's list of professional and personal achievements, but perhaps one one way of describing her is as a restless activist for women's rights. As she tells it, Yeakel grew up in a household where politics was the main course at the dinner table, with heated discussions the soundtrack and commitment to social causes the expected course of action. She explores those roots in her essay.

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