Gillian Ferris

Managing Editor

Gillian came to KNAU in 2001 as a freelance reporter. Her first story won an Arizona Associated Press Award. Since then, Gillian has won more than a dozen Edward R. Murrow Awards for feature reporting, writing and documentary work. She served as the local anchor for NPR’s Morning Edition for 8 years before moving into a full time reporting position in 2012. Gillian covers everything from environmental issues to sports, with a penchant for human interest stories of all kinds. When she’s not working, Gillian revels in the natural world and is an avid hiker, skier, swimmer, river runner and surfer. She also enjoys making fancy cakes and reorganizing her collection of fabulous shoes… 70 pairs and counting.

Ways to Connect

Navajo Nation Government

Navajo Nation officials in Utah have declared a state of emergency following a string of recent suicides among young people.

The House of Representatives has passed a bill that paves the way for thousands of seasonal federal employees to be considered for full-time merit-based jobs. As Arizona Public Radio's Gillian Ferris reports, the measure applies to land management workers, including wildland firefighters.

Navajo Nation EPA

The U.S. and Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agencies have entered into an historic agreement aimed at reducing pollution at a tribal wastewater treatment facility. As Arizona Public Radio's Gillian Ferris reports, the settlement marks the first time a tribally-owned entity has paid a penalty for violating the Navajo Nation Clean Water Act.

Sierra Club/Brune Family

This summer, millions of Americans are packing up their cars and heading out on road trips to visit national parks and monuments. Michael Brune is one of them. Brune is the Executive Director of the Sierra Club, one of the world's first large-scale environmental preservation groups. He told Arizona Public Radio's Gillian Ferris that while the trip is - first and foremost - about showing his children the beauty of the land he works to protect, Brune is also meeting with Veterans along the way to talk about the healing power of nature.

Cornell University Library

In a couple of weeks, the country will celebrate Independence Day - the commemoration of freedom from British rule. Today, however, marks the worldwide celebration of another Independence Day, "Juneteenth". It commemorates the Emancipation Proclamation of 1862 and the nearly 3 year delayed notification to many former slaves that they were, in fact, free. It was a time when rebellious slave holders relocated their operations to more remote parts of the country, including the Southwest, so they could continue to practice slavery illegally. Tomorrow, a group of students and faculty at Northern Arizona University will host a Juneteenth celebration, and in this audio postcard they share with us what freedom means to them.

Arizona Highways

Every day this week, we've been hearing from some of the people closest to last year's Slide Fire in Oak Creek Canyon. We've checked in with investigators, evacuees, emergency responders and firefighters. And today, we hear from two fire scientists about the ecological recovery of the burn area. We start with Rory Steinke, Watershed Manager for the Coconino National Forest and leader of the Burn Area Emergency Response Team.


This week marks one year since the Slide Fire broke out in Oak Creek Canyon. It burned more than 33 square miles and forced the evacuation of nearly 300 residents and visitors. It now stands as the largest wildfire in the history of the Coconino National Forest. Each day this week, KNAU will revisit the Slide Fire: checking in with evacuees, taking a look at how flora and fauna are doing, hearing from local officials about lessons learned in firefighting and community preparedness. KNAU's Aaron Granillo starts our series with an update on the investigation into the human-caused blaze.

Two more public schools in Flagstaff were put on lockdown today after receiving threatening phone calls. The calls were made to Mount Elden Middle School and Marshall Elementary shortly before normal release time this afternoon. They were immediately put on lockdown. At least 3 other nearby schools were put on "lockout" status, including Puente de Hozho, Flagstaff High School and Thomas Elementary. "Lockout" status means that regular activities are conducted, but no one is allowed to leave or enter the building.

NAU Highlanders

The hit movie "Pitch Perfect" and the soon-to-be-released sequel "Pitch Perfect 2" are helping revive the popularity of A cappella music. The setting for the films is the International Championship of Collegiate A cappella, or ICCA. It's a real event, happening this weekend in Tempe. And this year, all 3 A cappella groups at Northern Arizona University qualified for the first round of competition. Though collegiate A cappella went out of fashion for a few decades, Arizona Public Radio's Gillian Ferris reports, it's reinvented itself to emerge as a creative mish-mash of musical styles.

The Mueller Family / NPR

Islamic State militants claim that an aid worker from northern Arizona, held hostage by the group, has been killed in a Jordanian airstrike in Syria. As Arizona Public Radio's Gillian Ferris reports, ISIS released a statement today claiming the victim is 26 year old Kayla Mueller, a Prescott native and graduate of Northern Arizona University.