Pam Fessler Pam Fessler is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, where she covers poverty and philanthropy.
Pam Fessler at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., March 19, 2019. (photo by Allison Shelley)
Stories By

Pam Fessler

Allison Shelley/NPR
Pam Fessler at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., March 19, 2019. (photo by Allison Shelley)
Allison Shelley/NPR

Pam Fessler

Correspondent, National Desk

Pam Fessler is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, where she covers poverty, philanthropy, and voting issues.

In her reporting at NPR, Fessler does stories on homelessness, hunger, affordable housing, and income inequality. She reports on what non-profit groups, the government, and others are doing to reduce poverty and how those efforts are working. Her poverty reporting was recognized with a 2011 First Place National Headliner Award.

Fessler also covers elections and voting, including efforts to make voting more accessible, accurate, and secure. She has done countless stories on everything from the debate over state voter identification laws to Russian hacking attempts and long lines at the polls.

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Fessler became NPR's first Homeland Security correspondent. For seven years, she reported on efforts to tighten security at ports, airports, and borders, and the debate over the impact on privacy and civil rights. She also reported on the government's response to Hurricane Katrina, The 9/11 Commission Report, Social Security, and the Census. Fessler was one of NPR's White House reporters during the Clinton and Bush administrations.

Before becoming a correspondent, Fessler was the acting senior editor on the Washington Desk and NPR's chief election editor. She coordinated all network coverage of the presidential, congressional, and state elections in 1996 and 1998. In her more than 25 years at NPR, Fessler has also been deputy Washington Desk editor and Midwest National Desk editor.

Earlier in her career, she was a senior writer at Congressional Quarterly magazine. Fessler worked there for 13 years as both a reporter and editor, covering tax, budget, and other news. She also worked as a budget specialist at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, and was a reporter at The Record newspaper in Hackensack, New Jersey.

Fessler has a master's of public administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and a bachelor's degree from Douglass College in New Jersey.

[+] read more[-] less

Story Archive

Former Pennsylvania Gov. and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge lamented President Trump's denigration of voting by mail because Ridge says it may wind up hurting Republicans. Haraz N. Ghanbari/Associated Press hide caption

toggle caption
Haraz N. Ghanbari/Associated Press

Voter registration efforts have been disrupted by the pandemic and engagement by black and Latino voters has come into focus amid the national discussion about race and law enforcement. Charlie Riedel/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Charlie Riedel/AP

There's little consensus on what needs to be done by November. Democrats would like to send every voter a mail-in ballot and extend deadlines for getting them in. Republicans insist that would lead to fraud and undermine the integrity of the election. Brynn Anderson/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Brynn Anderson/AP

Chaos In Primary Elections Raises Fears For November

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/876474124/876962182" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Voters stand in line as they wait to cast their ballots during primary voting in Braddock, Pa., on Tuesday. Problems with absentee ballots and a smaller number of polling places led to long lines in several states as primary elections that were delayed by the coronavirus resumed. Gene J. Puskar/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Gene J. Puskar/AP

8 States And D.C. Hold Primary Elections Amid Pandemic And Civil Unrest

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/868209640/868209641" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

An election worker in Renton, Wash., begins processing mail-in ballots during that state's presidential primary in March. Varying state-by-state requirements around signatures and other rules have become the focus of legal fights as absentee voting expands due to the pandemic. Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images

The Legal Fight Over Mail-In And Absentee Voting Intensifies During The Pandemic

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/863422759/863422762" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

A voter registration volunteer in Philadelphia in 2018. New registrations had surged going into 2020 but have dropped off dramatically as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Dominick Reuter/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Dominick Reuter/AFP via Getty Images

Pandemic Puts A Crimp On Voter Registration, Potentially Altering Electorate

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/860458708/861992412" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Trump Threatens To Cut Off Funding To States That Plan To Expand Absentee Voting

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/859713678/859713679" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Ohio voters drop off their ballots last month in Dayton. The state's Republican secretary of state has gotten pushback from within his own party for wanting to expand absentee voting during the pandemic. Megan Jelinger/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Megan Jelinger/AFP via Getty Images

Republicans Disagree On Voter Fraud Risk For Mail-In Voting

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/855855742/855855743" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Why States Might Have A Hard Time Preparing For Mail-In Voting

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/850195214/850195215" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Runbeck Election Services oversees production of tens of millions of mail-in ballots for elections nationwide in Phoenix, Ariz. With many states expected to expand mail-in voting for November, experts warn that existing ballot printing services could quickly become overwhelmed. Ash Ponders for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Ash Ponders for NPR

An Ohio voter drops off her ballot at the Board of Elections in Dayton earlier this week. Legal fights around mail-in voting are heating up as states turn to the practice amid the coronavirus pandemic. Megan Jelinger/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Megan Jelinger/AFP via Getty Images