Writer, PBS host Kelly Corrigan to advocate for personal relationships at life’s center

Podcaster. Author. Researcher. Wife. Mother. These are all names Kelly Corrigan, New York Times best-selling author, goes by. She takes her perspective from all of these roles to go beyond superficial concepts, and plans to do the same at Chautauqua.

She will give her lecture, titled “Homes: Places that Come to Inhabit Us,” at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9 in the Hall of Philosophy as part of the Week Seven Interfaith Lecture Series theme “Home: A Place for Human Thriving.”

“A thing I’m curious about is the context of our intellectual property and the context of our emotional life,” Corrigan said. “The thing I’m thinking about is how your environment influences your emotional (and) intellectual conclusions.”

Her podcast, “Kelly Corrigan Wonders,” was created while working on her unfinished manuscript. New episodes are released every Tuesday and Friday, and she said the current series features “teenagers doing crazy cool, super smart things to change the story on climate.”

She said all five of the featured teens are “pretty daring and effective,” but one of them stood out to her: Rahul Durai, a 15-year-old from Indiana.

“He wrote a 78-page piece of legislation that he got four Republicans and four Democrats to sign off on to consider the climate situation (as) a crisis,” Corrigan said.

She also launched a PBS interview show in October 2020, called “Tell Me More with Kelly Corrigan.” Both of these outlets allow her to have conversations about broad issues like religion, death and love, with guests ranging from experts to well-known personalities.

“(Our team) realized pretty quickly that the best thing to do would be to stand shoulder to shoulder with each guest and look at the world together,” Corrigan told Diablo Magazine. “They gave us three pilot episodes. … I loved the way the shows turned out. We got an avalanche of positive energy and responses.”

She has interviewed countless notable figures, such as Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, founder of the Los Angeles gang rehabilitation center Homeboy Industries and frequent Chautauqua presence — including a week of preaching earlier this summer. Even with these different facets of her successful career, she said she constantly worries about her personal life and her family, but tries to see a better angle. 

In her mid-40s, she and her dad had cancer at the same time, which led her to write the memoir The Middle Place, which centers on being both a mother and a daughter, as she moves through her and her father’s cancer diagnoses. 

When everything in someone’s life is stripped away, Corrigan said people recognize over and over their personal relationships have been the center of joy in their lives.

“I believe worry is the backside of gratitude,” Corrigan said. “When I get anxious, I am actually acutely feeling my good fortune, and clinging to it with both hands.”

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The author Kaitlyn Finchler

Kaitlyn Finchler is a journalism and public relations graduate from Kent State University as of May. This will be her second summer at Chautauqua where she will cover literary arts, serving previously as the Interfaith Lecture Series preview reporter. In her free time, you can find her reading, cooking or flipping between “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Gossip Girl.” She’s most excited to see how many times she can slip the word “plethora” into her stories before Sara makes her stop again.