Vanessa Romo

Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.

Before her stint on the News Desk, Romo spent the early months of the Trump Administration on the Washington Desk covering stories about culture and politics – the voting habits of the post-millennial generation, the rise of Maxine Waters as a septuagenarian pop culture icon and DACA quinceañeras as Trump protests.

In 2016, she was at the core of the team that launched and produced The New York Times' first political podcast, The Run-Up with Michael Barbaro. Prior to that, Romo was a Spencer Education Fellow at Columbia University's School of Journalism where she began working on a radio documentary about a pilot program in Los Angeles teaching black and Latino students to code switch.

Romo has also traveled extensively through the Member station world in California and Washington. As the education reporter at Southern California Public Radio, she covered the region's K-12 school districts and higher education institutions and won the Education Writers Association first place award as well as a Regional Edward R. Murrow for Hard News Reporting.

Before that, she covered business and labor for Member station KNKX, keeping an eye on global companies including Amazon, Boeing, Starbucks and Microsoft.

A Los Angeles native, she is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University, where she received a degree in history. She also earned a master's degree in Journalism from NYU. She loves all things camaron-based.

Updated June 21, 2021 at 10:06 PM ET

Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib came out in a personal Instagram post on Monday, saying he has "agonized over this moment for the last 15 years."

"I just want to take a quick moment to say that I'm gay," Nassib said in an Instagram video he posted on his verified Instagram account. "I've been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest."

Updated June 17, 2021 at 4:23 PM ET

Opal Lee is 94, and she's doing a holy dance.

It's a dance she said she and her ancestors have been waiting 155 years, 11 months and 28 days to do.

Ever since Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, to spread the news of the Emancipation Proclamation outlawing slavery in Confederate states. President Abraham Lincoln had signed it more than two years earlier.

Jennifer Rocha wanted to hear the rustle of her black graduation gown against the bell pepper bushes in the California farm fields. She wanted to see the hem float above the dirt paths that she and her parents have spent years walking as a family while plucking heavy gallons of perfectly ripe fruits and vegetables that end up in America's grocery stores.

That's why she decided to take her college graduation photos in the same hot vegetable fields in Coachella, Calif., where she has worked with her parents since she was in high school.

As temperatures rise in California and people in search of respite head for the beach, there's a new concern beyond damaging sun rays and strong undercurrents: disease-carrying ticks that appear to be spreading all along the Golden State's coast.

Updated June 10, 2021 at 1:31 PM ET

Emma Coronel Aispuro, the wife of Mexico's most notorious drug kingpin, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán, pleaded guilty Thursday to helping him run the powerful Sinaloa cartel.

Coronel was captured and arrested by U.S. officials as she arrived at Dulles International Airport in Virginia in February.

The Department of Justice on Monday touted the recovery of $2.3 million — about half — of the ransom that was collected by hackers in the Colonial Pipeline attack last month. Experts say it was a surprising outcome to an increasingly frequent and severe crime.

Updated June 7, 2021 at 4:27 PM ET

The government has recovered a "majority" of the millions of dollars paid in ransom to hackers behind the cyberattack that prompted last month's shutdown of Colonial Pipeline, officials announced Monday.

"The Department of Justice has found and recaptured the majority of the ransom Colonial paid to the DarkSide network in the wake of last month's ransomware attack," Lisa Monaco, U.S. deputy attorney general, said during a press conference.

Updated June 4, 2021 at 6:57 AM ET

It's National Donut Day. And shops across the country are celebrating by giving away deliciously fluffy, airy, sugary goodies. But we're concerned with the more pressing issue: Does anyone actually still spell it D-O-U-G-H-N-U-T?

Mary McCoy, senior librarian in the arts, music and recreation department at the Los Angeles Central Library, says that is her preferred spelling, though she admits "the O-U-G-H version is definitely unwieldy."

A 17-year-old Southern California girl got in a shoving match with a bear to protect her dogs and walked away nearly unscathed.

Hailey Morinico and her mother were gardening in their backyard in Bradbury, Calif., on Monday afternoon when a bear and her cubs began walking atop a cinder block wall at one end of the garden.

Millions of Americans are grabbing a quick getaway this Memorial Day weekend, now that COVID-19 cases are down and vaccination rates are up.

And while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says those who are vaccinated can go ahead and embrace those #shotgirlsummer vibes, there are some things you should keep in mind as you hit the road — including the fact that the seven-day average of new U.S. COVID-19 cases is still hovering around 24,000 infections per day, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, and 50% of the population hasn't been vaccinated.

Workplace mass shootings are rare, but the killing of nine people by a fellow employee at a Northern California rail yard on Wednesday marks the third such rampage in under two months.

That could foreshadow a rise in this type of violence after the nationwide shutdown of businesses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, says Jaclyn Schildkraut, associate professor of criminal justice at the State University of New York at Oswego.

However, Schildkraut stresses that while such shootings "are increasing incrementally in frequency, they're still extremely statistically rare."

The brazen arrest of journalist Roman Protasevich by the Belarusian government, in which it forced the plane he was aboard to land in Minsk, has sent a chill down the spine of the international community.

Protasevich, the former editor and founder of Nexta, an anti-regime blog and social media channel, has been instrumental in leading protests against authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Twitter announced on Thursday it has started accepting applications for its coveted blue check under a newly rolled out set of guidelines.

The company stopped giving the badges after approving the account of white nationalist Jason Kessler, the lead organizer of the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally held in Charlottesville, Va. Public outrage over Kessler's verified status prompted the company to temporarily stop issuing the checks while it came up with a new set of rules.

Financially strapped American families are now eligible for an emergency discount on their internet service under a COVID-19 relief program that went into effect on Wednesday.

After weeks of legal maneuvers, Andrew Brown Jr.'s family finally had the opportunity on Tuesday to see more of the last moments of the 42-year-old's life before he was shot and killed by sheriff's deputies in Elizabeth City, N.C., last month.

Brazil, one of the worst-hit countries in the world by the pandemic, is directing more than $1 billion toward the production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the country's far-right president announced Monday, Reuters reported.

President Jair Bolsonaro, who has criticized lockdown measures and has told Brazilians to "stop whining" about the deadly virus, said about $1.05 billion will be spent on the inoculation effort.

NBC has said "no, thanks" to the Golden Globes next year, telling the Hollywood Foreign Press Association it needs to get its act together on lack of diversity and other problems recently uncovered.

The network is the latest company to distance itself from the press group which has been accused of self-dealing, corruption and conflicts of interest.

Residents living on the West Coast don't know when the next earthquake will hit. But a new expansion of the U.S. earthquake early warning system gives 50 million people in California, Oregon — and now Washington — seconds to quickly get to safety whenever the next one hits.

Updated May 4, 2021 at 10:01 PM ET

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin who was convicted last month of murdering George Floyd filed court documents for a new trial on Tuesday.

His attorney, Eric Nelson, petitioned the court, alleging that Chauvin's constitutional rights were violated when Judge Peter Cahill refused to change the venue of the trial, and that the pretrial publicity deprived the officer of a fair trial.

Updated May 3, 2021 at 6:53 PM ET

Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda Gates, announced on Monday that they are splitting after 27 years of marriage.

"After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage," the couple wrote in a joint statement posted on Twitter.

The California State University and University of California systems announced on Thursday that all 33 campuses will require students and staff returning for in-person instruction this fall to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

More than 1,700 protesters were arrested in Russia on Wednesday as tens of thousands of Alexei Navalny supporters marched in demonstrations across the country.

OVD-info, the Russian human rights monitoring project, has been tracking the apprehensions, which started before the protests demanding that the Kremlin release the jailed opposition leader even began.

Minutes after the three guilty verdicts against former officer Derek Chauvin were read aloud in court Tuesday, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison thanked the public, saying he was grateful to have been given the space to pursue justice "wherever it led."

He said the guilty verdicts against Chauvin for killing George Floyd last May were the culmination of "long, hard, painstaking work." But he said Tuesday's outcome, after three weeks of testimony, should not be called justice.

Updated April 20, 2021 at 5:44 PM ET

George Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd, was in the courtroom Tuesday afternoon when Judge Peter Cahill read the three guilty verdicts against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Updated April 19, 2021 at 5:40 PM ET

The prosecution and defense, in closing arguments, accused each other of misleading the jury in the trial of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd.

Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell had the last word, telling jurors, "the largest departure from the truth" was that "Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big."

Updated April 15, 2021 at 8:30 PM ET

Chicago has released video footage showing the fatal police shooting of Adam Toledo, more than two weeks after the 13-year-old was killed during a foot chase in the Little Village neighborhood.

A graphic and disturbing video captures what police have described as an alleyway confrontation between Toledo and an officer identified as Eric Stillman in the early morning of March 29.

Updated April 13, 2021 at 7:09 PM ET

A use-of-force witness gave a new point of view to former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial on charges of murder and manslaughter. The defense witness said Tuesday that Chauvin and three other officers' actions were justified during the arrest that ended in George Floyd's death and that they used an appropriate amount of force.

Updated April 9, 2021 at 5:32 PM ET

A volcano on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent has experienced an "explosive eruption," according to officials there, hours after increased activity at the mountain triggered a mandatory evacuation of nearby residents.

Senior Special Agent James Reyerson of Minnesota's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is testifying in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, in last May's death of George Floyd.

The BCA routinely investigates police use-of-force incidents in Minnesota. Chauvin is facing charges of second- and third-degree murder as well as manslaughter. Video footage from the scene showed Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd's neck area for more than nine minutes.

The San Francisco Board of Education will ultimately keep the names of dozens of public schools in a case of high-stakes second thoughts.

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