Jul 28, 2012

On The Record: Meet Soledad O'Brien

Broadcast journalist María de la Soledad Teresa O'Brien is anchor of CNN's morning news program Starting Point which premiered on January 2, 2012 . O'Brien co-anchored American Morning from July 2003 to April 2007, with Miles O'Brien. Their common surname is coincidental. After leaving the morning anchoring position, O'Brien worked with the "In America" documentary unit on CNN.

Meet the Family
I blinked my eyes as I learned about the O’Brien Family. O'Brien's parents, both immigrants, met at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland  in 1958.

“My parents were both immigrants—my mother from Cuba, my father from Australia. Both attended daily Mass at the church near campus. Every day my father would offer my mother a ride. Every day, she declined. Finally she said yes. One year later, the day after Christmas, the two of them were married.”

 At the time, interracial marriage in Maryland was illegal, so O'Brien's parents married in Washington, D.C. where marriage laws were less restrictive. Her father Edward, an Australian of Irish descent, was a mechanical engineering professor.  Her mother, Estella, who is Afro-Cuban, was a French and English teacher. Despite her Hispanic heritage, O'Brien does not speak Spanish fluently.

O'Brien is the fifth of six children. Her siblings are law professor Maria (born 1961); corporate lawyer Cecilia (born 1962), businessman Tony (born 1963) – who heads a documents company; eye surgeon Estela (born 1964); and anesthesiologist Orestes (born 1967). O'Brien attended Harvard from 1984 to 1988, but did not obtain a degree until she returned in 2000. Wow- six kids...who all graduated from Harvard College. Amazing!

Since 1995, O'Brien has been married to Bradley Raymond, co-head of investment banking at Thomas Weisel Partners. Together they have two daughters and twin sons.


O'Brien anchored a CNN special, Black in America, in July 2007. The program documented the successes, struggles and complex issues faced by black men, women and families forty years after the death of Martin Luther King Jr. In the first installment, O'Brien investigated how James Earl Ray, an armed robber and escaped convict, had already spent a year on the run just a month before his path collided with Dr. King in Memphis, Tennessee. In "The Black Woman & Family," O'Brien explored the varied experiences of black women and families and investigated the disturbing statistics of single parenthood, racial disparities between students and the devastating toll of HIV/AIDS.

O'Brien has recently completed a documentary entitled Latino In America documenting the lives of Latinos living in America.

O'Brien's work has been honored several times, including a local Emmy for her work co-hosting the Discovery Channel's The Know Zone. In 2007, O'Brien was awarded the NAACP President's Award.
She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, which named her the Journalist of the Year 2010 and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

During a panel discussion for the 50th National Convention for Delta Sigma Theta sorority in New Orleans, LA, O'Brien announced that she would be inducted as an honorary member of the sorority in February 2011. She was inducted on February 7, 2011 during the Sorority's 22nd Annual Delta Days in the Nation’s Capital.

Wife and Mother

When Soledad isn't jetting off to report the latest news, she's home strategizing life for her family, just like any other buzy wife and mother.

The hardest part of being a working mom is "the logistics-getting kids to school, having the right thins in their backpack on the right day, play dates and homework. My job requires a lot of travel...matching up those logistics is hard."

What's on your life's to-do list? "Learning how to cook was on my list, but I've given up. it's not going to happen, and that's OK."

Do you stay in touch with your girlfriends? "I e-mail or phone my best girlfriend daily. having people that know you well helps you stay grounded and gives you perspective to whatever drama you're going through."

Three words that describe you as a mom? "Enthusiastic", "fun", and sometimes "overwhelmed".

What's on your night stand? " Books, my alarm clock, my BlackBerry, a little fish dish that holds knickknacks, a hair scrunchie."

Any favorite family rituals? "On Sunday night, my husband makes a five-course family dinner."

What's the best part of your day?  "Coming home, when everybody says, "Mom! Mom's home!" almost with a look like they thought maybe you weren't coming back."



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