Meet the Team: Program Director Lynette Clemetson, a.k.a. “Sky Collins”

Becky Lettenberger / NPR

Welcome Lynette, our new program director!

The team here at NPR is so excited to start off 2012 with a new program director, Lynette Clemetson. She was most recently the edi­to­r­ial direc­tor of the Pew Cen­ter on the States where she worked on a new digital strategy for its site, Stateline.org. But like much of the rest of your DC-based team, she’s a reporter at heart. Lynette was a longtime Asia correspondent for Newsweek (she speaks Mandarin Chinese, I can attest) and a domestic correspondent for The New York Times before she was lured into managerial roles, like helping launch The Root, a culture and politics site geared to an African-American audience.

To help you get to know her, she kindly participated in my getting-to-know-you questionnaire.

I would love to be able to cook. I mean really cook, like Top Chef cook, so that I could break out of my “six quick meals I can make in 30 minutes after work” funk.

My grandmother was a hero for me. She was born in Alabama, and she had to get a notarized birth certificate to come to my wedding in Hong Kong, because they didn’t give black people birth certificates in Alabama when she was born. She saw a lot of changes in her life and had amazing strength and grace. And she totally rocked the trip to Hong Kong!

My favorite journey was probably my first flight into Hong Kong’s old Kai Tak airport, flying in so tight between buildings, seeing people’s laundry on the lines.

My favorite big story: Covering the 1997 Hong Kong handover for 72 hours straight.

Favorite interview: Probably “Broken Tooth” Koi, the notorious former leader of the 14K Triad in Macau. I still marvel that I didn’t end up dead and scattered around the island.

I love reading great journalists who are also beautiful, creative long-form writers. One of my favorites of the past few years is Rebecca Skloot, who wrote “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” From my current perch working in a fast-pased digital world, the notion of spending 10 years reporting and writing a single story blows my mind. Same for Isabel Wilkerson’s “The Warmth of Other Suns,” which I am reading now.

Word I overuse most at work: strategy. Phrase that I overuse most at home: “Because I said so!”

Readers might be surprised to learn that I hosted a Saturday night rap show on WAMO in Pittsburgh while I was in grad school. “Sky Collins and DJ Melly Mel on Club 106.” Yeah, my DJ name was Sky Collins. Don’t hate. We were number one in the time slot, and I got to hang with LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, and MC Lyte!

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