Lauren Chooljian

Reporter, Politics & Policy

Credit Lucy Hewett / lucyhewett.com

Lauren is NHPR’s Politics and Policy reporter for the State of Democracy project.

Before joining NHPR in 2017, Lauren spent nearly six years as a reporter, producer and fill-in host for WBEZ in Chicago. Most recently, she covered City Hall and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration.

Her reporting has earned her awards from the Associated Press and a regional Murrow Award. In 2014, her voice was featured on a best-of list in the Chicago Tribune culture section for its “unpretentious, Peppermint Patty scratchiness,” which her family especially appreciated.

Lauren graduated with a BA in History from Saint Anselm College and has a Master of Science in Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where she was also an adjunct lecturer. Her work as been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here and Now, and in The Washington Post, among others.

Lauren is a proud New Hampshire native, born and raised in Hampstead.   

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Lauren Chooljian / NHPR

  The field of candidates trying to replace retiring Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter is crowded, to say the least. There are over a dozen people running for the 1st Congressional seat, and this district is notorious for swinging back and forth between the two parties.

NHPR’s Lauren Chooljian spent some time this week watching the three main Republican candidates to see how they’re trying to distinguish themselves from one another. She spoke with NHPR's All Things Considered host Peter Biello.

Lauren Chooljian for NHPR

Allegations that New Hampshire Republican state Senator Andy Sanborn made inappropriate comments at the State House are following him on the campaign trail for Congress.

Sanborn is among a handful of Republicans running to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter in the 1st Congressional District. 

Courtesy of St. Paul's School's Website

St. Paul’s School in Concord is extending its resources for sexual abuse victims to alumni of its prestigious summer program. NHPR's Lauren Chooljian reports.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

One of Senator Maggie Hassan's interns has become a flashpoint in the national discussion this week over civility in politics, and both of New Hampshire's major political parties are pointing fingers. 

NHPR File Photo

St. Paul’s School will now offer an independent therapy fund that former students who were sexually abused by faculty members can access confidentially. 

In a letter to the St. Paul’s community Tuesday, school administrators also announced that claims made by alumni for general compensation would now be handled by an independent arbitrator, and the school’s Alumni Association has established a new initiative focused on healing within the community. 

In a phone interview, Board President Archibald Cox, Jr. said these steps should have been taken sooner.

NHPR File Photo

St. Paul’s School in Concord has agreed to settle with a former student who was sexually abused in the 1970s, though it continues to face lawsuits from other alumni.

The settlement, which remains confidential, was finalized in May and was shared with NHPR by the victim, William Foley, who said he was sexually abused by two teachers while attending St. Paul’s School in the early 1970s. In a statement, the school said it was “pleased" to reach a resolution with Foley and apologized for the abuse he suffered.

NHPR File Photo

  St. Paul's School in Concord said Wednesday it plans to create an independent therapy fund for alumni who were sexually abused by faculty. The school’s announcement comes just hours after NHPR reported St. Paul’s is an outlier among boarding schools that have grappled with similar issues.

File photo

Over a year ago, St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire published an investigation that revealed decades of sexual abuse allegations. The school is currently being sued by two alumni over faculty sex abuse allegations.

And yet they haven’t established a therapy fund for alumni who were abused, something academics, attorneys and victims believe is essential for healing.

By John Phelan - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54844484

A graduate of Bishop Guertin High School is suing the Nashua Catholic school for not protecting her from sexual abuse by a faculty member she alleges she suffered in 1995.

The faculty member in question, Brother Shawn McEnany, was convicted as a sex offender in Maine in 1988, yet was hired as a teacher by Bishop Guertin a few years later. McEnany died in 2017.

Lauren Chooljian for NHPR

Senator Maggie Hassan said Tuesday she believes student activism will be what tips the scales in the gun debate and pushes Congress to pass gun control legislation. 

NAMI New Hampshire

When we think about gun deaths in the United States, we usually think about mass shootings, like the one last week in Santa Fe, Texas -- tragedies that have deeply divided the country.

But in New Hampshire, most gun deaths are suicides.

NHPR File Photo

 

The head of St. Paul's School in Concord has announced that he will resign next month - a year earlier than planned.

Rector Michael Hirschfeld was going to step down at the end of next school year, in June 2019.

St. Paul's School

 

A former St. Paul’s student has filed a federal lawsuit against her alma mater, alleging the Concord private school did not protect her from sexual assault and harassment from male students in 2013-2014.

The former student, who enrolled at St. Paul’s in 2012, is not named in the lawsuit, instead referred to as Jane Doe.

Chester Irons' relationship with St. Paul’s School didn’t always feel so complicated.

He’s in his 60s now, yet he can still remember the exhilarating feeling of being dropped off at the Concord boarding school for the first time.

"I stepped out of the car with my parents and said goodbye to them and ran off with a bunch of friends I met literally 20 minutes earlier. It was a new beginning, a new adventure and I was very excited," he recalled in a recent phone interview.

St. Paul's School

Two alumni are suing St. Paul’s School for not protecting them from sexual abuse by faculty members in the 1960s and 70s, and their lawsuit calls the Concord prep school a “haven for sexual predators” that has failed to protect children for decades.  

Naomi Andrews

 

Retiring New Hampshire U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter’s chief of staff is throwing her hat in the ring for her boss’ congressional seat. Democrat Naomi Andrews joins eight Democrats and three Republicans in the September primary. 

 

Andrews, who is from Epping, said in a campaign video (scroll down to watch it) that her experience working for Shea Porter has taught her how to win in this tough swing district. 

 

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St. Paul’s School is now required to report any allegations of sexual assault to the Concord Police Department, according to an updated agreement between the college prep school and local police.

via bruce2018.com

Another Republican is joining the crowded race for New Hampshire’s First Congressional District seat.

Hampton Falls businessman Bruce Crochetiere is selling himself to voters as a candidate who is “not even close” to being a politician.

“We don’t need to just promote another politician. We need a fresh voice from an outsider, a completely different kind of leadership,” Crochetiere says in a campaign video.

Sara Plourde

After years of having to choose between the same two candidates, voters in New Hampshire's 1st Congressional district are now faced with a flood of candidates who want to fill retiring Rep. Carol Shea-Porter's seat. 

As of April 23rd, there are eight Democrats and two Republicans in the race. And with the September primary months away, there's always time for more to join. 

Valentina Tabatchikova for NHPR

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Presidential Advisor Ivanka Trump will spend part of Tax Day in New Hampshire. The two White House officials will host a town hall discussion on taxes Tuesday afternoon at the Derry Opera House to highlight passage of the recent tax overhaul.

The event kicks off at 1 pm and will be moderated by former Governor John H. Sununu.

NHPR Staff

Ahead of another student walk out to protest gun violence, around 200 gun rights advocates had their say outside the New Hampshire statehouse Saturday.

The National Constitutional Coalition of Patriotic Americans organized similar events outside statehouses across the country. Despite biting cold weather, gun owners and second amendment advocates from across New Hampshire showed up to hear a range of speakers and to show opposition to any further firearm restrictions.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan is backing Executive Councilor Chris Pappas in the crowded 1st Congressional District race.

It’s pretty early for a big endorsement like this -- the primary election isn’t until September. But Hassan, a Democrat, told a crowd of people inside Water Street Books in Exeter that people keep asking her who she’s voting for and she decided it’s best to tell them now.

Lauren Chooljian / NHPR

  And just like that, it was primary season again in New Hampshire on Tuesday.

But does it really ever end?

Two past (and potentially present) presidential hopefuls, Martin O’Malley and John Kasich, made their way through the first-in-the-nation primary state Tuesday.

Lauren Chooljian / NHPR

  New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu beamed as he looked out upon a room packed with 60 round tables, each one full of supporters.

“A little daunting once you finally get up here. I’m absolutely humbled, absolutely humbled at the turnout,” he said to the crowd.   

It may have been Sununu’s party at the Manchester Downtown Hotel Thursday night, but it was Vice President Mike Pence who got top billing.

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As Dave Carney tells it, September of 1982 was a rough time for John H. Sununu’s campaign for governor.

“We we were broke,” Carney, a longtime political strategist, recalled recently. “We had no money, we couldn’t pay staff. Not that he paid very much anyways…”

 


Allegra Boverman for NHPR

  Governor Chris Sununu said Wednesday he wants his hand-picked school safety task force to research the effectiveness of arming school employees and if stronger background checks could help prevent gun violence.

The first-term Republican's School Safety Preparedness Task Force met for the first time Wednesday, the same day students across the state walked out of the classroom to honor the 17 people killed in the mass shooting at a school in Parkland, Fla.

It may not be every New Hampshire reveler’s go-to drink order, but Hennessy cognac was the top selling spirit by volume at state-run liquor stores in 2017, accounting for nearly 5 percent of total sales that year.

 

Hennessy also happens to be the liquor at the center of bootlegging allegations made last month by Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky, who is calling for an investigation into how the New Hampshire Liquor Commission handles large all-cash sales made by out-of-state residents.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Social studies teacher Rob Nadeau’s journey to the New Hampshire State House began last fall in his Hopkinton Middle High School classroom. While teaching an Intro to Law class, he said he noticed his students were shocked to learn that in New Hampshire, permitted gun owners were allowed to bring their firearms into a school building. 

It’s not often that a political candidate announces his or her platform, and then is immediately challenged by passionate opponents.

But last week, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Marchand stood on the steps of the Lebanon City Hall taking questions - not from reporters, but passionate gun rights advocates.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

We’ve heard a lot of stories this election cycle about political newcomers who have been inspired to run for office. But there are often many obstacles between making that big personal decision and actually running a campaign.

A Boston-based group called New Politics is trying to help veterans and other public servants break into politics. This election cycle, they’re working with Maura Sullivan, a New Hampshire congressional candidate and a Marine veteran.

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