Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Lisa Napoli moved to southern California in 2004 to work on the public radio show, Marketplace. She was inspired to write this book by a sculpture of a nuclear mushroom cloud made by the late Pulitzer-prize winning editorial illustrator, Paul Conrad. On assignment for the public radio station KCRW, Lisa learned that the 26-foot tall work called Chain Reaction faced demolition if the city of Santa Monica couldn’t raise the funds to restore it. Local activist Jerry Rubin whispered to Lisa that the sculpture had been funded by the late Joan Kroc, known in part for her massive gift to NPR, announced posthumously in 2003.
Intrigued, Lisa set about finding out why the heiress to the McDonald’s fortune, about whom so little was known, would fund such a project. Over the next five years, scouring archives, sleuthing out sources all over the country, and traveling to meet them, she unearthed and pieced together the story of this amazing woman. To tell her story, it seemed essential to tell that of Ray and how he made the McDonald’s fortune, too.
Lisa’s first book, Radio Shangri-La (Crown, 2011) chronicles the dawn of democratic rule in the mysterious Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, where she was invited to help start a youth-oriented radio station.
A journalist for over thirty years, she was among the pioneering team of journalists at the New York Times who covered the early days of the dot-com era. A graduate of Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, Lisa leads a group of friends in an award-winning volunteer cooking group at the Downtown Women’s Center on Skid Row in Los Angeles. She’s also the founding board chair of the Bhutan Media Service, an all-volunteer news outlet created by Bhutanese refugees in diaspora. Earlier this year, she began producing and hosting a podcast about growing old called Gracefully.