— a public media initiative to address the drop out crisis,
supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
The modern world is awash in news. Every day, we can turn on our computers, flick on the TV or tap on our phones to get the latest updates from locales both far-flung and close to home.
And yet there are still important stories left untold, voices that never enter the media mainstream. WAMU 88.5 in Washington, D.C. is proud to produce Breaking Ground with Kavitha Cardoza, a documentary series dedicated to those voices, to making the invisible visible by uncovering the stories you won’t hear anywhere else. Stories about adults learning how to read and write for the very first time, stories about military children, and stories about students who struggle to graduate from high school.
In all these stories, Kavitha Cardoza brings a dogged commitment to rigorously reported journalism, as well as a compassion that encourages interviewees to open up. She believes in letting people tell their own stories, and through those stories, challenge our assumptions about the world around us.
Breaking Ground is intelligent, compassionate, and vibrant. It is through respect for each member of our community that Cardoza introduces us to people who need our understanding, and at times, our help.
Let’s start a conversation.
An experienced journalist, Kavitha Cardoza blends her own storytelling style with amazing stories of resilience and ingenuity. Cardoza’s authentic interest in highlighting the challenges of the poor brings us people who might otherwise be invisible.
Born in Liverpool, England, Kavitha and her family moved back to their native India when she was 7. Cardoza’s father, an eye surgeon, split his time between treating paying patients and treating the poor. Cardoza and her sisters assisted their mother with cooking meals for poor patients, and Cardoza would travel with her mother to pharmacies, negotiating discounted and free prescriptions.
When she first came to the U.S., Cardoza remembers her surprise at the physical separation between the poor and the rest of society, and the inequality this causes. “In India, the people are blended together. Poor and privileged live side by side.” Cardoza recalls.
She saw this as an opportunity, and Breaking Ground was born. “After a story airs highlighting the needs of a person, family, or community, I get calls from listeners asking ‘how can I help? People have such open hearts and want to make a difference,” Cardoza notes.
Cardoza began her career in 2002 at WUIS-WIPA Public Radio, University of Illinois at Springfield. There she reported and produced features for the Illinois Public Radio network’s 11 member stations.
Since 2008, Cardoza has been producing series and documentaries for WAMU on a variety of topics, with an emphasis on education and poverty. Considered an expert on education, she frequently participates on panels and other speaking engagements around the country.
Cardoza is a contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition Saturday, Tell Me More, Latino USA, BBC World News America, Marketplace, Voice of America, PBS NewsHour, The World, The Kitchen Sisters and Radio Slovak.
Cardoza earned master’s degrees in broadcast journalism from the University of Illinois and in communication from the Manipal Institute of Communication in India. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics, English literature and psychology from Mount Carmel College in India. She lives in Washington, D.C. and has earned more than 25 awards for her work.
Kristen Taylor Sorensen is the producer and project manager for Breaking Ground with Kavitha Cardoza.
Kristen joined WAMU in 2011. She started reporting for the weekly program Metro Connection in 2012 and took over development of the weekly magazine show Political Junkie with Ken Rudin in 2013. She continued to manage and produce for Political Junkie until 2015. Kristen first started working with Kavitha in 2014 as producer on her annual Beating The Odds series. Before becoming a journalist, Kristen was the development director for a non-profit law firm that provided aid to victims of domestic violence, and a program coordinator and advocate for homeless youth.
Kristen has a master’s degree in interactive journalism from American University and a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from the University of Utah. Raised in Utah, she has been a supporter of public radio station KUER since the age of three.
Deborah George is a journalist based in Takoma Park, Maryland. Since 1996, she’s been the editor of the Radio Diaries series on All Things Considered (NPR News). Over the course of her career she’s worked in the U.S. and in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, covering stories ranging from the Rwandan genocide to the Los Angeles riots. From 2000-2005, she was Senior Editor of American RadioWorks, a documentary and investigative production company. As a staff member of NPR News, she’s produced Weekend Edition Sunday and has worked on NPR’s National, Cultural, and Foreign Desk as well as producing special series for the network. Her journalism awards include: the George Foster Peabody Award (2009 and 2013), the Robert F. Kennedy Award, the Casey Medal for Excellence in Children’s Reporting, the Edward R. Murrow (RTNDA) award, and the Investigative Reporters and Editors award. She’s a five-time recipient of the duPont-Columbia Silver Baton and has shared in one Gold Baton.
Tara Boyle is the Acting Managing Editor, News for WAMU 88.5 News. She brings nearly two decades of reporting, editing and producing experience to Breaking Ground.
Tara began her career as a reporter for The Boston Globe, where she covered crime, education and state politics. She joined the Morning Edition team at WBUR in Boston in 2001, and became a producer for The Kojo Nnamdi Show at WAMU in 2005. She joined the WAMU news team in 2011, and produces the weekly programs Metro Connection and Coastal Connection as well as Breaking Ground.
Tara has a master’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University and graduated summa cum laude with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and French from Boston University.
Breaking Ground’s host and producers would like to thank Chris Chester and Chris Baronovski from the WAMU digital team. Also, JJ Yore, Lettie Holman, Karen Munson, Paul Mozzocci, Nathan Smoot, Jacob Fenston, Katie Davis, Nanci Guis, Berta Najera, Liam Sullivan, Dagim Seifu, Tobey Schreiner, Red Getter, Jesse Johnson, Harris Handwerker, Tish Few, Sarah Cumbie, Laren Gulley, Chris Lewis, Kathleen Allenbaugh, Kara Merrigan, Benae Mosby, Natalie Yuravlivker, Wendy Ponvert, Susan Thomas, Joe Warminsky, Aaron Levine and Rachel Lawrence.
Our theme music was composed by Greg Smith.
Special thanks to Noel Gunther and Kenneth Turrell as well as Kathy Merritt, Vidal Guzman, Ben Cook, Sean Nesbitt and the rest of the PRI team. This production is distributed by PRI, Public Radio International, at pri.org.
Support for this project was provided by The Equity Reporting Project: Restoring the Promise of Education, which was developed by Renaissance Journalism with funding from the Ford Foundation.