Leighton Rowell

On Second Thought Producer

Leighton Rowell is a producer for On Second Thought.

Prior to joining GPB, Leighton lived in Brazil, teaching English through a Fulbright Award and eating far too much pão de queijo.

Leighton's previous reporting has appeared on TIME.com, The Trace and in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; she also interned for NBC Sports during the Rio 2016 Olympics. For her work on investigations at the AJC and WSB-TV, Leighton was honored with two Larry Peterson Memorial Awards in 2016.

An Atlanta native, Leighton attended the University of Georgia, where she was a Foundation Fellow and managing editor of The Red & Black student newspaper. She also began her public radio career in Athens as an intern for WUGA's classical music program Afternoon Concert.

Leighton graduated from UGA summa cum laude with bachelor's degrees in history and Romance languages. She speaks Portuguese and French. 

Friday, March 8, is International Women's Day. To mark the occasion, "On Second Thought" host Virginia Prescott is moderating a panel of powerful women at GPB


Women's educational opportunities in the 19th Century were few and far between. Finishing schools focused on women's socialization and skills like art, music and French, rather than a rigorous academic curriculum.

The Lucy Cobb Institute in Athens aimed to change that. It opened in 1859 and taught women finishing school skills alongside math and science classes. The institute cemented Athens as a place for women's education in the South.

 


Last week, the governing body of the United Methodist Church voted to uphold a ban on same-sex marriage and openly gay clergy.  The “Traditional Plan” won by a narrow margin at the annual meeting of the General Conference.  It defeated the “One Church Plan,” which would have allowed local congregations to make their own decisions on LGBT issues.

Dean of the Emory’s Candler School of Theology, Jan Love, was at the conference.  The school is one of thirteen Methodist seminaries in the country. During “On Second Thought,” Dean Love explored the implications of the vote here in Georgia.

 


(AP Photo/Sid Hastings)

Last week, the governing body of the United Methodist Church voted to uphold a ban on same-sex marriage and openly gay clergy.  The “Traditional Plan” won by a narrow margin at the annual meeting of the General Conference.  It defeated the “One Church Plan,” which would have allowed local congregations to make their own decisions on LGBT issues.

Jan Love, dean of Emory University's Candler School of Theology, was at the conference. The school is one of 13 Methodist seminaries in the country. During “On Second Thought,” Love explored the implications of the vote here in Georgia.


A tornado whipped through Southeast Alabama Sunday evening along the Georgia border, causing injuries and property damage through both states. Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency in Grady, Harris and Talbot counties on Monday due to storm damage. The Lee County sheriff said 23 people have died thus far in the Alabama county where the tornado touched down.

GPB's Grant Blankenship joined "On Second Thought" to discuss his reporting on the storm's impact in Georgia. He said affected areas in Georgia are some of the same ones still recovering from Hurricane Michael.

 


This week in Georgia politics involved the ongoing discussion over House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) and calls for his resignation, Gov. Kemp's Medicaid waiver plan and possible state control of Atlanta's airport.

GPB reporter Stephen Fowler joined "On Second Thought" to discuss the Georgia legislature and Crossover Day, the last day bills have to pass out of one chamber or the other in order to be considered during the session.

 


President Donald Trump's longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen blasted his former employer in front of the house oversight and reform committee this week.

While pundits and social media chew over the content of his testimony -- and how it's affecting the White House -- "On Second Thought" talk about how it looked and what that means with Patti Wood. Based in Atlanta, Wood consults for companies all over the world as a top nonverbal communication and human behavior expert. 


Courtesy The Brinsons

He's been called the South's best-dressed man. She was a fashion editor at Condé Nast. Together, they're Sid and Ann Mashburn, the husband-and-wife design duo behind the eponymous fashion and lifestyle brand Mashburn.

The Mississippi and Midwest-born, New York-bred couple opened their flagship store on Atlanta's Westside in 2007 following careers at Vogue, Glamour, Ralph Lauren and J.Crew, among other big names in fashion. Today, with a booming online business and five brick and mortar shops across the country, the Mashburn name has become synonymous with style


Hip-hop has evolved from the streets of New York in the '70s to become the most popular music genre today, but it hasn't always been "evolved" in representing women. It's often singled out as being harmful or degrading to women. 

A recent study from Georgia State University looked at political rap music's influence on black feminist attitudes. The results may surprise you.


The folk-pop duo Lily & Madeleine are touring the country with their fourth album, "Canterbury Girls." They're a family duo, too – Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz are sisters – and they performed Tuesday at Eddie's Attic in Decatur.

Before continuing on their tour to Louisville, KY, the singer-songwriters stopped by "On Second Thought" for a conversation about finding their sound, leaving home and taking care of themselves – and one other – as they move up through the world and the music industry. 


Southern accents are inexplicably linked to a sense of culture, identity and community. They can also summon stereotypes about intelligence and education, something writer Laura Relyea found when her family moved from Charlotte to Chicago when she was young.

Relyea explored her relationship to her own North Carolina drawl on a recent episode of "The Bitter Southerner Podcast." Her story of losing and finding her way back to her accent resonated with listeners all over Georgia. She joined "On Second Thought" to discuss how accents form a pillar of Southern identity.

 


Georgia is one of five states without a hate crimes law on the books; however, legislation proposed last week could change that.  Sponsored by State Rep. Chuck Efstration, a Gwinnett Republican, House Bill 426 would introduce enhanced penalties for hate crimes if signed into law. According to the most recent data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 27 such crimes were reported in 2017. 

 A similar bill didn’t make it out of committee last year, despite wide support from law enforcement. We spoke with that bill's sponsor, former State Rep. Meagan Hanson, about why that legislation was a priority for her. Rachel Glickhouse, partner manager for ProPublica's Documenting Hate project, also joined the conversation. 


Georgia is one of five states without a hate crimes law on the books; however, legislation proposed last week could change that.  Sponsored by State Rep. Chuck Efstration, a Gwinnett Republican, House Bill 426 would introduce enhanced penalties for hate crimes if signed into law. According to the most recent data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 27 such crimes were reported in 2017. 


This week in Georgia politics was all about the state's voting system. Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem) filed a bill that proposed changing the voting machines from touchscreens to a new ballot-marking device. The bill also suggests changes to absentee ballots and voter registration.

GPB's Stephen Fowler stopped by "On Second Thought" to discuss the voting changes.

 


Dr. Curtis L. Jones Jr. is the second superintendent from Georgia since 2015 to win the national honor. He spoke with "On Second Thought" about the honor and reflected on how, in a relatively short time, he has rebuilt trust with the community, improved student success and created a positive culture for teachers and staff.

He also shared his priorities for the future of education in Georgia.

 


Courtesy Bibb County School District

Dr. Curtis L. Jones Jr. was met with a standing ovation when he walked into work after the Presidents Day holiday. Over the weekend, the Bibb County School District superintendent was named National Superintendent of the Year.

Jones is the second superintendent from Georgia since 2015 to win the national honor. 


In 1832, playwright and peformer Thomas Dartmouth Rice used theatrical make-up to create a supposedly black character. The character's name was Jim Crow. That name later came to represent a system of extra-judicial terror and racial segregation laws that ended in 1965, but the recent political crisis in Virginia shows dressing up in blackface did not.

A poll published by "The Washington Post" has Virginians split over whether Gov. Ralph Northam should resign after a photo from his 1984 Medical School yearbook surfaced. It shows a character in blackface next to a person wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood. Last week, a Pew Research Center poll found about 34 percent of all Americans say, "Dressing up in blackface is always or sometimes acceptable for a Halloween costume." 

 


Creative Commons / MaxPixel

Without Atlanta legend John Portman, you might never walk into a hotel lobby with a cavernous atrium, an office tower with stacked balconies or a shopping center with transparent elevators whizzing up and down.

Portman revolutionized architecture, turning buildings inward to jaw-dropping effect. To quote his close friend, Ambassador Andrew Young, "Everybody became a country bumpkin when they walked into the Hyatt. You had to say, 'Oh my god, what is this?'"


Millions of Americans are teetering on the brink of poverty, according to a new report from Prosperity Now that says 40 percent of all U.S. households – and 57 percent of households of color – could be knocked over the edge by one unexpected medical expense, lost paycheck or job loss.

That financial instability is mirrored in housing insecurity, and, while homelessness in Atlanta is on the decline, Fulton County remains by far the highest among the national benchmark counties, according to the Department for Housing and Urban Development. 

 


Georgia Department of Community Affairs

Millions of Americans are teetering on the brink of poverty, according to a new report from Prosperity Now that says 40 percent of all U.S. households – and 57 percent of households of color – could be knocked over the edge by one unexpected medical expense, lost paycheck or job loss.

That financial instability is mirrored in housing insecurity, and, while homelessness in Atlanta is on the decline, Fulton County remains by far the highest among the national benchmark counties, according to the Department for Housing and Urban Development. 


"On Second Thought" is on the road this weekend for the Savannah Book Festival.

Host Virginia Prescott will introduce keynote speaker Chris Stirewalt, Fox News channel’s politics editor, at the festival's opening Friday evening.

Ahead of the festival, "On Second Thought" sat down with "Friday Black" author Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah and "Birth of Loud" author Ian Port at the GPB Savannah studios. 


Courtesy Jonathan Blanc

Whether celebrated joyfully or begrudgingly, Valentine's Day is the holiday when the varieties of love – or the absence of love – come sharply into focus.

"On Second Thought" marks the day with "An American Marriage" author and Atlanta native Tayari Jones. The story of an Atlanta couple bound together – and torn apart – by a skewed criminal justice system, "An American Marriage" reminds us that no love exists in a vacuum.


Auto company General Motors recently announced it is shutting down production at five plants across North America, leaving thousands of workers without jobs. These real-world events are mirrored in the Atlanta production of "Skeleton Crew." The play follows a tight-knit group of workers at the only auto stamping plant left in Detroit at the height of the Great Recession.

Director of "Skeleton Crew" Jamil Jude visited "On Second Thought" to discuss the play. He's also the new artistic director for Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company. Jude shared how the play's themes around unionizing, sacrifice and job insecurity resonate with audiences today.

 


The Georgia coast is a central calving spot for North Atlantic right whales; however, last year, no new calves were spotted there, and that caused great concern about the species. Only about 400 right whales are left in the entire world.

Things are looking up this year: four, possibly five, calves have been spotted along the Florida and Georgia coasts so far this season. 


Everyone knows what a magazine looks like on the coffee table or nightstand, but have you ever seen one performed on a stage? Monday night a group of artists and journalists performs Pop-Up Magazine at Atlanta's Variety Playhouse.

The event is described as a combination of a podcast, documentary film, concert, play, comedy show and more. Aaron Edwards, senior story producer and co-host of Pop-Up Magazine, joined "On Second Thought" to explain what the audience can expect to see and how it all came together. We also hear from Atlanta native Josie Duffy Rice, senior reporter for "The Appeal," who is a contributor for the onstage performance.

 


Offshore drilling and budget negotiations are taking top priority with state lawmakers this week. GPB politics reporter Stephen Fowler reflected on the last few days at the Georgia State Capitol. 

A new radio documentary will highlight the roots of gospel music during Black History Month. The four-part documentary is called "Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul," and Grammy Award-winning gospel musician, Cece Winans will host the program. Bob Marovich is a historian and founder of the Journal of Gospel Music. He spoke with "On Second Thought" host Virginia Prescott about his contributions to the project. 

 


Courtesy Georgia Thespian Conference

Columbus takes center stage for the annual Georgia Thespian Conference this weekend. Thousands of high school theater students with gather there for performances workshops and fundraising.

State Thespian Officer and Gainesville High School senior John Bush joined "On Second Thought" on the line from Columbus with reflections on the conference, which will be his last before heading off to college in the fall.

  

INA-DENIA / Wikimedia Commons

Speaking more than one language benefits academic achievement, cognitive abilities and cultural awareness. Multilingual candidates also stand out to employers, whose demand for bilingual workers more than doubled between 2010-2015. Still, the United States lags behind other countries when it comes to world language education. Nationwide, just 20 percent of students are enrolled in language classes.

In the Southeast, however, Georgia leads the region with 22 percent of students studying another language in school. That's according to the American Councils for International Education.


Today's show highlighted the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, the upcoming Savannah Book Festival and the importance of foreign language education for Georgia students.

GPB reporter Stephen Fowler stopped by "On Second Thought" to discuss the State of the Union and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams' Democratic response. We also heard from Patrick Wallace, program specialist for world languages and global workforce initiatives at the Georgia Department of Education, and Jacques Marcotte with the French-American Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta. They discussed Georgia students' readiness for the global workforce through language learning.

Today's show featured stories on Georgia artists Lee Moses and Grammy-nominee David Harris, who worked with artist H.E.R. on her self-titled album. Peter Sagal also previewed "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me" visiting the Savannah Civic Center this week.

Peter Sagal, host of "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me," is the author of a new book on the impact of running on his life. "The Incomplete Book of Running" captures Sagal's meditations on joy, hardship and returning to the Boston Marathon after the bombing in 2013. He stopped by "On Second Thought" to discuss the book and the live taping of "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me" at the Savannah Civic Center on Thursday, Feb. 7.

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