talia herman


Uber is a mess — the “bad boy” ethos shattered, a nervous breakdown in its place. This week, the CEO announced he is taking a sudden leave of absence. A former U.S. attorney general released a brutal audit of the startup’s culture. It’s a terrifying moment for many investors who want that $70 billion unicorn to make them rich or richer — not implode.

But there is one Uber investor who stands out for how she decided to speak up. It was not very Silicon Valley-like of her, but Freada Kapor Klein wanted to turn the crisis into a teachable moment. And while this week’s events could lead her to say “I told you so,” she has a different takeaway.

Let’s rewind a few months. Kapor Klein decided to write an open letter to Uber — which she published with her husband — after a young woman shared an explosive account of sexual harassment at Uber headquarters.

Kapor Klein is a venture capitalist, or a VC. That means she makes money by betting on technology startups. Uber is one of those startups. She has committed to “impact investment” — businesses that can turn a profit while also making the world a better place. For too many years, she says, critics would question her on Uber, and she stayed silent. She tried to influence the company from the inside, though she didn’t see a real will among leadership to change. While “Silicon Valley prides itself on pattern recognition,” the letter said, Uber had “toxic patterns” that needed to stop.

Kapor Klein thought she was just saying what insiders knew: This is not a one-off. Turns out, her peers didn’t like that and wanted her to pay for it.

The Investor Who Took On Uber, And Silicon Valley

Photos: Talia Herman for NPR


When Pope Francis travels to the U.S. later this month, he’ll give 18th-century Spanish priest Junipero Serra the Catholic Church’s highest honor: sainthood. But for many Native Americans in California, sainthood for Father Serra isn’t a slam dunk.

In the late 1700s, Serra helped Spain colonize California by converting tens of thousands of Native Americans to Catholicism. For many of their descendants, he’s the man responsible for destroying their ancestors’ traditional way of life.

“People were enslaved in the missions,” says Vincent Medina, 28, assistant museum director at San Francisco’s famed Mission Dolores. “They were whipped if they spoke their language. If they tried to escape, they were forcibly brought back, flogged and punished, and kept in stocks. People were getting diseases. They were horrible places to be.”

Medina is a descendant of Mission Indians from Mission San Jose in Fremont, as is his boss, Andrew Galvan, museum director at Mission Dolores. They’re distant cousins who didn’t know one another until six years ago when their work around Mission Indian cultural restoration brought them together.

Medina and Galvan are also both practicing Catholics. Despite the way their ancestors were introduced to this religion, both feel it is an inextricable part of who they are today. They say they’re just like millions of other Catholics whose history with the church is colored by colonialism. But unlike Medina, Galvan takes it a step further: He has an unwavering belief that Junipero Serra loved the Mission Indians and wanted the best for them, which, at that time, meant accepting the Gospel. He’s been fighting for Serra’s sainthood for as long as Medina has been alive.

Savior Or Villain? The Complicated Story Of Pope Francis’ Next American Saint

Photos: Talia Herman for NPR


According to surveys by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are more than 35,000 back and other injuries among nursing employees every year, severe enough that they have to miss work.

Nursing assistants and orderlies each suffer roughly three times the rate of back and other musculoskeletal injuries as construction laborers.

In terms of sheer number of these injuries, BLS data show that nursing assistants are injured more than any other occupation, followed by warehouse workers, truckers, stock clerks and registered nurses.

The number one reason why nursing employees get these injuries is by doing their everyday jobs of moving and lifting patients.

Hospitals Fail To Protect Nursing Staff From Becoming Patients

Photo credit: Talia Herman for NPR, (x-ray) Daniel Zwerdling/NPR


Faiza Ayesh giggles with delight as she describes her brand-new two-bedroom apartment in Oakland, Calif. She shares her home with her husband and three little girls, ages 3, 2 and 5 months. Ayesh, 30, says she just loves being a stay-at-home mom. “It’s the best job in the world.”

But Ayesh wasn’t always this happy. A little over a year ago she was living in a cramped one-bedroom apartment with her family. It was in just terrible shape, she says, “paint chipping all over apartment, no heat, roaches, the windows were terrible, some held up by rope on a wheel, really bad conditions.

Dust from outside seeped in and her oldest daughter’s asthma got worse fast, she says. "She’s had a mild case of asthma since she was a baby, but when we lived there it went full blown. We didn’t know why. She had to take albuterol every day to control her asthma, every day.”

Improving Housing Can Pay Dividends In Better Health

Photo credits: (top/bottom) Talia Herman for NPR // (middle) Courtesy of Keith Baker