Reimagine has been hosting candlelight vigils throughout the pandemic in order to break down taboos and hold space for all that we've lost. At this special gathering, author and Peabody Award-winning podcast/radio personality Diane Rehm will explore the issue of medical aid in dying, share ways in which she reconstructed a life without her late husband, and how she finds healing through conversation, writing, and reflection. Additional guests include Rev. Madison Shockley and Dr. Jeannie Blaustein.
Diane Rehm is a native Washingtonian who began her radio career in 1973 as a volunteer for WAMU 88.5, the NPR member station in Washington, D.C. She was hired as an assistant producer and later became the host and producer of two health-oriented programs.
In 1979, she began hosting WAMU’s local morning talk show, Kaleidoscope, which was renamed The Diane Rehm Show in 1984. The Diane Rehm Show grew from a local program to one with international reach and a weekly on-air audience of more than 2.8 million.
Diane now brings her unique mix of curiosity, honesty, intimacy and nearly 40 years as host of WAMU and NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show to the podcast world. Listen weekly to On My Mind for Diane’s conversations with newsmakers, writers, artists and thinkers on the issues she cares about most: what’s going on in Washington, ideas that inform, and the latest on living well as we live longer. You can hear the podcast through her website www.dianerehm.org or iTunes.
You can also listen to archived interviews from The Diane Rehm Show (on air from 2001-2016) at https://dianerehm.org/shows. Topics range from the U.S. economy and foreign affairs to literature, science and the arts. Many of the nation’s prominent newsmakers, journalists, and authors have appeared on her program, including then-Sen. Barack Obama, former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former secretaries of State Colin Powell and Hillary Clinton, retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Nobel Laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison.
In 2014, President Barack Obama presented Rehm with the National Humanities Medal. “In probing interviews with everyone from pundits to poets to Presidents, Ms. Rehm’s keen insights and boundless curiosity have deepened our understanding of our culture and ourselves,” the White House said.
Newsweek magazine named The Diane Rehm Show one of the most interesting talk shows in the country. National Journal says Rehm is “the class act of the talk radio world.” In fall 2013, the program was identified as one of the most powerful programs in public radio based on its ability to draw listeners to public radio stations.
In 2010, Diane Rehm won a Personal Peabody Award, considered among the most prestigious and selective prizes in electronic media, for her more than 30 years in public broadcasting. Rehm has been also named “Washingtonian of the Year,” and one of the “150 Most Influential People in Washington” by Washingtonian magazine. She’s been included several times on the magazine’s list of the “100 Most Powerful Women,” most recently in 2013. The daughter of Arab immigrants who settled in Washington in the early 20th century, Rehm was selected as Arab American of the Year by ACCESS in 2013 in celebration of her rich heritage.
Rehm has received many other honors and awards in her three-decade career, including: the inaugural Urbino (Italy) Press Award; the International Matrix Award from the Association for Women in Communications; and named a Fellow by the Society of Professional Journalists, the highest honor the society bestows on a journalist, for extraordinary contributions to the profession. In 2011, she received the Excellence in Journalism Award from the American News Women’s Club.
In 1998, Rehm’s career nearly ended because of spasmodic dysphonia, a neurological voice disorder that causes strained, difficult speech. Rehm sought treatment, returned to the show, and called attention to the condition. The National Council on Communicative Disorders recognized her work with a Communication Award, and ABC’s Nightline devoted an entire program to a conversation with Rehm about her disorder. In 2011, Rehm was awarded the Voice Education Research Awareness (VERA) Award from The Voice Foundation for her sustained contributions to the field of voice communication.
Rehm is the author of four best-selling autobiographical books: Finding My Voice (Knopf, 1999), in which she describes her childhood, marriage, career and voice disorder; Toward Commitment: A Dialogue about Marriage (Knopf, 2002), a deeply personal book co-authored with her husband, John; Life with Maxie (Gibbs Smith, 2010), a lighthearted story about her dog; and her most recent book, On My Own (Knopf, 2016), a moving story about the death of her husband of over 54 years and her struggle to reconstruct her life without him.
Rehm’s loyal connection to WAMU 88.5 and American University was recognized in 2007 when she was invited to receive an honorary degree and deliver the College of Arts and Sciences commencement speech. “I feel fortunate to have spent so many years in public broadcasting under the aegis of this fine University,” she told the graduates. “Our goals have been one and the same: to expand horizons, and to promote a deeper understanding of the world around us.” She has also been awarded honorary degrees from Virginia Theological Seminary, Washington College, McDaniel College, and Shepherd University.
Rehm is a director emerita of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation and a trustee emerita of McDaniel College in Westminster, Md.
Diane Rehm lives in Washington D.C. She was married to her beloved late husband, John Rehm, for 54 years. In 2017, she married John Hagedorn, a retired Lutheran Minister. She has two children and two grandchildren.
The Rev. Madison T. Shockley II is the pastor of the Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad, CA. He brings to Pilgrim Church a wealth of experience from his work in the religious, political, non-profit, and media environments. Madison was called to Pilgrim Church in 2004. Along with performing his pastoral duties with Pilgrim, Madison serves on the board of directors of American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of San Diego and Imperial Counties and the board of directors of Compassion and Choices. He also writes commentary for various online and print outlets. To read some of Madison’s articles, click here. He holds the Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York City and has done advanced graduate work at Claremont Graduate University in New Testament Studies. He is married to Gayle P. Shockley née Welch, and they are the parents of four adult children.
Dr. Jeannie Blaustein is the founding board chair of Reimagine End of Life. Jeannie has spent her professional career as a psychologist, pastoral counselor, educator, and community leader supporting people in the work of having difficult conversations about love, loss, and conflict. Over the last 15 years, Jeannie’s work has gravitated toward the field of end of life, and in particular, the work of palliative care and advanced care planning, perhaps the most difficult conversation we must each have with our loved ones, yet by far one of the most important.
Jeannie has served as a hospice volunteer and trained at The Open Center NY to become a doula to accompany the dying. She has taught the Psychology of Death and Dying as Adjunct Faculty in the Pace University Psychology Department, and currently serves on the Steering Committee of “What Matters: Caring Conversations About End of Life”, a community-based initiative in NY’s Jewish Community dedicated to bringing a spiritually-grounded approach to Advance Care Planning, where she is also a certified What Matters Facilitator, Instructor and Supervisor. She has been privileged to work as a chaplaincy intern on the Geriatric and Palliative Care service at Mt. Sinai hospital in NYC.Jeannie is a licensed clinical psychologist, and holds a Doctor of Ministry degree. She has completed the early stages of chaplaincy training. Jeannie graduated from Brown University and holds an M.A. from New York University (both in History).
In addition to her role as Reimagine’s current board chair, Jeannie currently serves on the boards of Auburn Theological Seminary, Plaza Jewish Community Chapel, Jonas Nursing and Veterans Healthcare, The Lilian and Benjamin Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute, and the Morton K. and Jane Blaustein Foundation, where she serves as board president. Past board service includes the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, and Congregation B’nai Jeshurun where she served as chair and president.