Kassidy Arena


Kassidy is a reporter based in Des Moines, but she isn’t afraid to do some state travel. She covers the Latino and Spanish-speaking community and is Iowa Public Radio's Report for America corps member. Kassidy worked at the public radio station, KBIA, in Columbia, Missouri where she recently graduated from the University of Missouri, Columbia School of Journalism. Kassidy’s work earned her a position as a finalist for the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence award.

Kassidy grew up right in Iowa’s backyard: Omaha, Nebraska. Her favorite public radio program is As It Happens.

Two women pose in front of a door with a welcome sign next to them.
Kassidy Arena / IPR


The year 2020 has been notable for several reasons. There’s a pandemic, a racial justice movement and it’s an election year. And for a central Iowa woman, it was her first Independence Day as a citizen. 

Karla Rangel celebrated her first 4th of July as a naturalized citizen with her family in Grimes. They watched fireworks, lit sparklers and spent time enjoying the warm weather.

“I'm an immigrant and now it feels different just because I feel like I'm a part of it now I'm definitely fully part of this country," Rangel said.

But this celebration was different.

Police in brown uniforms surround protesters as people take their photos.
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

As protests for racial justice continue across Iowa, some protesters have been arrested and released on bail. A partnership project is helping some cover the cost of bail.

Vanessa Marcano-Kelly / Spanish Interpreter/Translator

COVID-19 has disproportionately affected those in the Black and Latino communities. For Latinos, this may be due in part to the information available in their native language. Some of the Spanish-speaking population in Iowa is staying up to date, thanks to two people.

Follow the latest Iowa news in our Daily Digest, a newsblog where you can catch up on all the headlines you'll hear about in our on-air newscasts.  

Four people stand in front of their cars holding up their right hand. A woman stands in front of the camera so you see the back of her head. She also holds her right hand up.
Kassidy Arena / Iowa Public Radio

The rain in Des Moines allowed just enough of a break for 100 people to become U.S. citizens Friday morning. Due to social distancing guidelines and the risk of COVID-19, their in-person ceremonies were postponed. They instead participated in a drive-thru naturalization ceremony.

Two people look away from the camera wearing face masks. On person holds a homemade sign that says "Protect 800,000 Dreams #AlientoAZ #EDUCATEDAF #InStatetuition
Ross D. Franklin / AP Photo

With the Supreme Court upholding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA), DREAMers can now renew their two-year permit for deferred action.

It costs $495 to renew a DACA application and during a time of job loss and a global pandemic, that amount seems increasingly more difficult to pay. The Ames Sanctuary Interfaith Partnership (ASIP) launched a social media campaign for their GoFundMe to help DREAMers pay the fees.

Eight commissioners pose for a picture in front of a blue bike sculpture.
Caleb Knutson / Iowa Commission of Latino Affairs

The Iowa Commission of Latino Affairs has started a collaboration with Hola Iowa, a bilingual news outlet focused on Latino communities in Iowa and western Illinois. They loosely named the project “Latinos You Should Know.” The entire issue of the Hola Iowa publication will be devoted to highlighting the work of 20 Latinos of 2020.

Banners in from of the Supreme Court building say "Homeish" and "Here to stay." There are people with masks holding up the signs.
Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP Photo

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against the Trump administration and upheld Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or more commonly known as DACA. The recipients are known as DREAMers, and those in Iowa and throughout the United States can now stay in the country without fear of deportation.

The decision was close, but by a ruling of 5-4, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to allow DACA recipients to stay in the country without fear of deportation. According to the American Immigration Council website, there are about 2,500 DACA recipients in Iowa and more than 600,000 in the U.S.

A small rainbow flag is raised above heads. The people are facing away from the camera.
Mark Boss / Unsplash

A buzzword in today’s society is intersectionality. It describes how one person is made up of multiple identities. It includes things like race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender, among other things. All of those aspects make up a person.

A rainbow flag hangs vertically in front of a building.
Toni Reed / Unsplash

Iowan LGBTQ individuals celebrated a Supreme Court decision Monday that prohibits workplace discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender employees. About one in five Iowans identify within the LGBTQ community. The decision comes halfway through June, which is annual Pride Month.

In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court added sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimation on the basis of sex in the workplace.