Jen Chien

Managing Editor, Crosscurrents/KALW News

Jen Chien is Managing Editor for Crosscurrents and KALW News. She has been a contributor to All Things Considered, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, BBC/PRI’s The World, Making Contact, SF Public Press, East Bay Express, New America Media, and KPFA in Berkeley, where she took part in the First Voice Apprenticeship Program. She is the recipient of the 2013 Outstanding Emerging Journalist Award from the Society of Professional Journalists of Northern California. She holds a BA in American Studies from Smith College, and an MA in Interdisciplinary Performance from New College of California. Before entering the field of journalism, she has had a successful career as a professional dance and theater artist, teacher, and massage therapist.

Ways To Connect

Under CC license from Flickr user Franco Folini

Documentary filmmaker Mo Morris has a background in immigration law and social justice activism. Her first feature film focuses on an activist who does her work through art: painter and muralist Edythe Boone.

Flyaway Productions

Choreographer Jo Kreiter is the artistic director of Flyaway Productions, an aerial dance company that's performed on a chandelier on fire, an umbrella, and a construction site. Their latest performance tackles the issue of wage security for women in the garment industry.

Ben Trefny

  San Francisco-based artist Marcus Shelby holds many titles. He’s a composer, a bassist and a educator - just to name a few. His latest composition, Beyond the Blues: A Prison Oratorio, centers on the prison industrial complex. He spoke with KALW's Jen Chien about his work, and how he uses the blues as both a form and a concept.


If I was a plumber, I would be doing social justice work . . . I'm a musician and so it’s an extension of that.

ODC Performance/Robbie Sweeny

 Amara Tabor-Smith is a choreographer, performer, and an initiate in the Yoruba Orisha tradition. Over the years, she’s been infusing her performance work more and more with her spiritual practice. Her new show EarthBodyHOME continues that trajectory with a multi-media dance theater performance. It's inspired by the Cuban American artist Ana Mendieta. Mendieta was active in the 70s and 80s, before falling to her death from a 34th story window in 1985, under mysterious circumstances.

We've come a long way since the first diagnosis of HIV in 1981, but the epidemic is not over. San Francisco is indelibly marked by the epidemic, which reached its height in 80's and 90's, but what is going on now? Dr. Susan Buchbinder is director of Bridge HIV, a San Francisco Department of Public Health HIV prevention research program, and she’s on the steering committee for Getting to Zero San Francisco, an initiative that aims to reduce deaths, new infections, and stigma.



Chris Hambrick

Rupa Marya is the composer, guitarist and lead singer for the band Rupa and The April Fishes. She sat down with KALW's Jen Chien to talk about the influences behind her new album Oval and how music can inspire social change. 

MARYA: You need all of these things to create a city, you don’t need just one group of people. You don’t just need apps.

These days, new robotic technologies are being rolled out in fields as diverse as healthcare, transportation, and retail. Though these wonders bring with them convenience and efficiency, they all bring about new concerns for society to consider.

City of Oakland

More than three months after Oakland implemented a higher minimum wage, the city is working to enforce the new law. Yet, job postings have been placed on Craigslist advertising positions that pay below the legal minimum wage of $12.25 per hour, some receiving dozens of applications. How is the city responding to this kind of confusion?

Simron Gill


When it comes to locking up young people, the US leads the industrialized world. And though youth incarceration rates have been declining for the last two decades, adult prisons still contain many inmates who entered the system as juveniles with life sentences. These prisoners have grown up and lived their entire adult lives behind bars.


It’s early evening, and Anna Halprin is leading one of her weekly dance and improvisation classes at her Marin County studio. She guides the dancers across the wood floor, gracefully demonstrating movement after movement. Her voice fills the room as she encourages students to dig deeper.

Jen Chien

California leads the nation in its population of senior citizens. The ratio of working-age adults to those over 65 is projected to plunge in the next few decades. Meanwhile, the need for financial and social support for this growing number of older adults presents new challenges for our society and our economy. One of the most pressing issues facing seniors is isolation.

Andy Mogg

San Francisco is a city known for a lot of things: cable cars, political activism, a vibrant arts scene. One annual event has been bringing these things together for 11 years now.

Every October, the free outdoor dance festival known as San Francisco Trolley Dances takes audiences on guided tours on public transit with live performance. It’s two days long, with six tours a day. On each tour, audiences ride the streetcars with a guide who brings them to various locations near MUNI stops.


Bryan Parker is a healthcare and tech executive with degrees from University of California Berkeley and NYU. Though he has never held elected office, he is a former chair of Oakland’s Workforce Investment Board and he is currently serving as a Commissioner for the Port of Oakland. He was appointed to that position by current Mayor Jean Quan. He made news earlier this year with a very successful crowdfunding campaign, and is a supporter of the alternative internet currency Bitcoin.