Megan Mack

Connections Executive Producer

Megan Mack is the executive producer of "Connections with Evan Dawson" and live/televised engagement programming. She joined the WXXI News team from WHEC-TV, where she produced newscasts and "The Olympic Zone," and from the University of Rochester, where she served as an assistant director of public relations. Her background extends to television sports and entertainment, and to communications and social media management for non-profits.

Megan earned her B.S. in Television-Radio-Film from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, and her B.A. in Italian Language, Literature, and Culture from the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University. She is also a graduate of The Second City’s Conservatory program.

Ways to Connect

Back in March at the outset of the pandemic, we heard predictions that this crisis would change the way Americans view climate action. Months later, we're getting some real research into whether that's true. The Nature Conservancy wanted to find out what New Yorkers think about making parks and open space more accessible and permanent. They wanted to know what New Yorkers think about how we travel, what we build, and how many resources we use.

On Connections, they reveal what they've found, and what it means for climate action. Our guest:

Last week, Mayor Lovely Warren banned public gatherings of five or more people between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. in the City of Rochester. The move, made in coordination with RPD, is aimed at curbing recent violence. Protesters took to the streets Wednesday night; organizers say the curfew is anti-Black and discriminatory.

This hour, our guests debate the curfew and discuss their ideas for how to address violence in Rochester. Our guests:

WXXI photo

First hour: Debating Rochester's curfew and how to address recent violence in the city

Second hour: Has the pandemic changed the way Americans view climate action?

Brighton graduate Toby Merrill was named to Time Magazine's list of the "100 Next." That's because Merrill has been a leader in the fight against predatory for-profit colleges and institutions. As student debt piled past one trillion dollars, Merrill launched a plan to combat what she calls the "worst-of-the-worst student debt." Merrill is the founder and director of Harvard Law School's Project on Predatory Student Lending. Her team represents thousands of former students who have been fleeced and lied to, often ending up with piles of debt and worthless degrees. One of her most recent cases named Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as a defendant.

We discuss the plight of student loan debt, the worst offenders, and why the industry is still so profitable. Our guest:

So you're fatigued with the pandemic. How tired do you think Dr. Michael Mendoza is? The Monroe County Public Health Commissioner has become a leading voice in the effort to reduce cases and increase safety.

Dr. Mendoza joins us to discuss how we can cope with pandemic fatigue while still making good decisions. We look ahead to the fall and beyond, and we discuss what the public needs to do to keep local numbers among the soundest in the country. Our guest:

First hour: Dr. Michael Mendoza on coping with pandemic fatigue 

Second hour: Toby Merrill on the plight of student loan debt and predatory lending

Wednesday on Connections, Congressman Joe Morelle made some strong remarks in favor of a universal basic income, or UBI. This was a significant change for the Congressman, who has previously been lukewarm about UBI.

Congress returns later this month to work on the next round of help for struggling Americans during the pandemic. Is this the time for a national UBI program? Our guests discuss the possible impact of, well, just giving people cash and letting them decide what to do with it. Our guests:

  • Pete Nabozny, director of policy for The Children's Agenda
  • Alex Turner, community resource services program director at Catholic Family Center, and eviction prevention representative to the Homeless Services Network

Most police officers do not live in the cities they serve. That's not necessarily the case in smaller towns, but it's true in cities like Rochester and most larger cities. Is there a harm in allowing police officers to live outside the city they serve?

Now, with the national focus on improving policing, there is growing momentum for new requirements on where police live. What are the benefits to this change? Is it fair? Our guests discuss it:

  • Simeon Banister, vice president of community programs at the Rochester Area Community Foundation
  • Danielle Ponder, diversity and inclusion officer for the Monroe County Public Defender's Office
  • Kellie McNair, co-lead of the Pathstone Foundation's antiracism curriculum project
  • Shane Wiegand, co-lead of the Pathstone Foundation's antiracism curriculum project

First hour: Should police live in the cities they serve?

Second hour: Is this the time for a national UBI program? 

Can the coronavirus be the source of comedy? Should comedians joke about it? Some comedians say we need levity now more than ever, and comedy can be a way to cope with the uncertainty and fear that may come with the pandemic.

This hour, we hear from comedians about their perspectives on comedy in the time of COVID-19. Our guests: