From Ukraine to Highland Park, twin sisters Ellie and Natanya Sterling have taken their parents on the ride of a lifetime.
Stories by Brandis Friedman
After Months of Worry, ‘Big Little Miracles’ Born Via Ukrainian Surrogate Finally Arrive Home in Highland Park
Dec 1, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
After an ALS Diagnosis, a Local Couple Turned Their Organizing Skills Toward Finding a Cure
Nov 17, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
Brian Wallach and his wife, Sandra Abrevaya, founded I AM ALS to find a cure for the disease and to advocate for those who have the progressive neurodegenerative disease.
Permanent Punishment: In Illinois, People with Criminal Records Can Still Vote. Advocates Are Working to Make Them Aware.
Oct 27, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
When people are incarcerated in Illinois prisons, they cannot vote until they are released and re-registered to vote.
Former Prosecutor, Judge Says People With Convictions Need Ability to Provide for Themselves
Oct 10, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
One of the legal system’s goals should be finding ways to reintegrate people back into society after they have completed their sentences, says Patrick O’Brien.
Permanent Punishment, Part 4: Sealed Records, Expungement and Clemency Involve Complicated Mix of Paperwork and Expenses
Oct 6, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
Though there are about 1,300 permanent punishments on the books in Illinois — and countless more that aren’t — there are only a handful of ways to get around them. They often involve a complicated mix of paperwork and expenses. The records sealing or expungement process, for example, involves filing a petition in court, costing around $157 per charge.
Permanent Punishment, Part 3: Barriers to Employment Are Frequent, Plentiful for Those With Records
Oct 5, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
Many people who’ve been impacted by the criminal legal system say they frequently face problems finding employment. Some local organizations are helping people build new skills, while others are aiming to address laws and licensing requirements.
Permanent Punishment, Part 2: Women, Caregivers Face Specific Challenges in Legal System
Oct 4, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
The reasons women commit crimes are different, and often overlooked, researchers say. And since 58% of incarcerated women are mothers to children under 18, the permanent punishments they face affect not only them, but their entire families.
Permanent Punishment, Part 1: Nearly 1,300 State Laws Prevent People with Criminal Records from Moving On After Serving Their Sentences
Oct 3, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
In Illinois, an estimated 3.3 million people have criminal records, which can include everything from an arrest to years spent in prison. But even once their criminal case has run its course, the punishment continues. Those who know the system best are working to make change for those looking to rebuild their lives.
Permanent Punishment: Guide to Resources and Organizations
Oct 3, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
A list of resources for formally incarcarated people and the organizations working to support them.
Through Unique Program, Men in Prison Overcome Challenges to Earn Degrees from Northwestern University
Aug 17, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
While many schools will offer classes for credit to prison inmates, Northwestern University says its the only top 10 school that grants degrees to prisoners. And next spring, students at Stateville Correctional Center, a maximum-security prison in Will County, will be the first to receive their bachelor's degrees from Northwestern while in prison.
After Highland Park Couple’s Surrogate Escaped Ukraine, They Now Wait to Bring Their Premature Twins Home
May 25, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
A suburban couple’s Ukrainian surrogate — who had been moved to the Czech Republic — delivered their twin babies by emergency C-section at just 27 weeks. The early news was just the latest nerve-wracking development in what has been months of tense waiting.
Chicago’s Top Doc on COVID-19 Increase and ‘Medium Risk’ Designation
May 9, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
Chicago, Cook County and several surrounding counties have all recently been designated as being at “medium risk” of their residents contracting COVID-19.
Highland Park Couple Anxiously Awaits Twins Born Via Surrogate From War-Torn Ukraine
Mar 24, 2022 | Brandis Friedman
In the last five years, Ukraine has emerged as the second-most popular destination for surrogacy, only behind the United States, in part because some nations outlawed surrogacy.
Fashion Fair Cosmetics Receives Makeover, Returns to Stores
Dec 4, 2021 | Brandis Friedman
Many Black women may be familiar with the cosmetics brand Fashion Fair — founded in 1973 by Eunice Johnson, wife of John Johnson, the Black publishing magnate behind Ebony and Jet magazines.
In-Person Learning Resumes at Chicago Public Schools
Aug 30, 2021 | Brandis Friedman
For the first time in 17 months, Chicago Public Schools students returned to the classroom for full-time, in-person learning Monday. At some schools, the mayor was there to welcome them back.
‘It Could Happen to Anyone’: Chicago Mother Shares Story of Stepson’s Murder
Aug 8, 2021 | Brandis Friedman
As journalists, we often work to avoid becoming part of the stories we cover. But sometimes, the story is part of us. Last month, my friend Sonya Anderson’s stepson was shot and killed, just two days before his 19th birthday. We sit down for an intimate conversation about gun violence.
Cemetery Tour Traces 155 Years of History Since the First Juneteenth
Jun 20, 2021 | Brandis Friedman
From the Civil War to the civil rights movement and everything in between, the lives of these prominent Black Chicagoans are educating others. We visit Oak Woods Cemetery for a lesson.
Cook County Program Helps Recovering Drug Addicts Find a New Lease on Life
Jun 9, 2021 | Brandis Friedman
Breaking the cycle of drug and alcohol addiction is a challenge made even tougher once the criminal justice system gets involved. A new program is helping those recovering find refuge in their own homes.
CPS, CTU Announce Tentative Agreement to Reopen High Schools
Apr 16, 2021 | Brandis Friedman
Chicago Public Schools high school students will return to the classroom on Monday if teachers agree to the framework announced Thursday by the district and the Chicago Teachers Union.
Community Groups Offer Remote Learning Support to Families in Need
Dec 8, 2020 | Brandis Friedman
How neighbors in some Chicago communities are stepping up to help students with remote learning when their parents can’t work from home.
CPS to Bring Back Some Students for In-Person Learning As Soon As Jan. 11
Nov 17, 2020 | Brandis Friedman
Though Illinois will soon see increased restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, some Chicago Public Schools students and teachers are set to head back to the classroom. The head of CPS and Mayor Lightfoot discuss the plan.
Amid COVID-19 Surge, CPS Timeline for In-Person Learning Unclear
Nov 9, 2020 | Brandis Friedman
The second quarter for Chicago Public Schools students is underway, and it’s still not clear when teachers and students could return to their physical classrooms. But in some other districts, schools have reopened.
Dr. Anthony Fauci on Current COVID-19 Situation, Vaccine Prospects
Oct 29, 2020 | Brandis Friedman
Brandis Friedman sits down with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to talk about where things stand now with the pandemic and where they’re headed.
Parents React to CPS Plan to Reopen Schools to Some Students Next Month
Oct 19, 2020 | Brandis Friedman
Chicago Public School parents are having mixed reactions to the district’s new plan to bring some students back into the classroom before the end of the calendar year, just as COVID-19 cases in the city begin to increase again.
CPS To Bring Back Pre-K, Some Special Education Students For In-Person Learning: Sources
Oct 15, 2020 | Brandis Friedman
Under the district’s plan, pre-K and cluster program students would return for full-day learning, five days a week beginning next quarter.
How Students in Waukegan Juggle High School with Corporate Jobs
Jul 20, 2020 | Brandis Friedman
The pandemic has upended how we work and how our children attend school. For one school network, Cristo Rey schools, the students attend school and work. Here’s a look at their model — and how it’s changing.