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This Kansas City TV anchor left news to work with kids. Here’s why.

Two women and a man stand with masks on to protect against COVID-19.
Jackson County CASA
Gabriella Pagan (left), Shamarr Fonville (center) and Angie Blumel (right) are all involved with CASA. According to Blumel, CASA's president and CEO, the organization advocates for over 1,100 Jackson County children removed from their homes because of abuse and neglect.

Local KSHB-TV anchor and reporter Gabriella Pagan suddenly disappeared from television last year. She told Up To Date she had to leave her career in journalism to confront childhood trauma and abuse in her past. That’s how she became an advocate for kids in Jackson County’s Family Court system.

Note: Sensitive topics are discussed in this segment, including child abuse and abandonment. 

If you live in Kansas City, the name Gabriella Pagan may be familiar. She was a news anchor and reporter for KSHB-TV from 2019 to 2022.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, Pagan was forced to reconsider her priorities. She was covering school closures and kids’ mental health and started to see herself in the stories she was reporting.

“School was my safety," she said on Up To Date on Thursday. "Every time I went into a building, regardless of how many times I moved, school was something I could count on. It was a place where I could get food. It was a place where I could forget about life. It was a place where I could learn about a future.”

Pagan is a survivor of childhood abuse. Her parents abandoned her at the age of 17, taking her siblings with them. She hasn’t seen or heard from them since.

After stepping away from her media career, Pagan discovered Johnson County CASA, short for Court Appointed Special Advocates.

CASA recruits and trains volunteers to advocate for children who are in the Jackson County Family Court system.

“You don’t have to keep your story a secret as an adult. That’s what CASA gave me,” Pagan said.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
As a producer for Up To Date, I create sound-rich talk show segments about the individuals and communities that call Kansas City home. Whether it’s a poet, a business owner or a local lawmaker, I seek out diverse voices to help break down the biggest stories of the day. After listening to the show, I want Up To Date listeners to feel informed and empowered to make decisions in their daily lives. You can reach me at claudiab@kcur.org
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