Profile: Lucy Noland
The Fox 29 anchor isn’t afraid to use her voice
By Anna Lockhart

Lucy Noland and her cat Henry appear in a print campaign for the Show Your Soft Side international anti-cruelty campaign Photo: Leo Howard Lubow

It’s a Wednesday night, and Lucy Noland is on the move. 

“I’m trying to save lives in three minutes,” Noland says.  

The first belongs to the cat that’s stuck in a tree at 2nd and Market, just down the street from the Fox 29 studios where Noland is anchoring the news. Noland has demonstrated an unconditional love of animals – even appearing in a print campaign with her cat Henry for the Show Your Soft Side international anti-cruelty campaign. But this cat is getting some unusual attention – the park service, the city’s tree service department, the Museum of the American Revolution and former governor Ed Rendell have been trying to get him down for days.  

Willingly caught in the middle of the frenzy is Noland, tweeting and Instagramming updates on the cat (named Ben and given the hashtag #treecat) and making calls to get him to a vet and then a local animal shelter. Noland often uses her social media accounts to draw attention to animal rescue, including featuring animals who are on “death row” at local shelters. Once adopted, she posts updates on the animals in their forever homes. 

“None of this is part of my job,” says Noland, “but it’s part of my life.”   

Noland’s life has a unique beginning. She was born in Saigon, Vietnam, when her mother and father met and fell in love while he was working for the C.I.A. at the U.S. Embassy there. Noland’s father had to choose between his family and his security clearance, so he left the C.I.A. and the family moved to Oregon.  

“My father went from buying Brooks Brothers suits to living in federal housing,” Noland says.  

“We had very little money. I had one pair of shoes each year, and we would buy my Girl Scouts uniform at a thrift store. I spent the first dozen years of my life sleeping on the couch in our living/dining room, which was a couple of feet from the kitchen.”    

But Noland has fond memories of her childhood, even of times when she was faced with questions about her heritage.  

“Growing up, I was always asked, ‘What are you?’ I was an ethnically diverse kid when no one knew what that term meant. I was never offended. It was a great conversation starter, but I always started that conversation with, ‘I’m an American.’ And I cannot tell you how utterly, completely thrilled I am to call Philadelphia home.”   

Noland joined Fox 29 in 2014, after working at news stations throughout the country, including Alaska, where she buzzed Mt. McKinley in a C-130 and refueled an A-10 “Warthog” from a KC-135 Stratotanker – a gas-station in the sky. Her in-depth reporting has taken her in the darkness of night through sewage-drenched mudflats between Tijuana and San Diego to cover immigration, and she has been invited by NASA to test its prototype Mars rover in a crater on Mt. Spurr.   

But earlier this year, Noland stepped up to cover what she says was one of her most difficult stories, when she reported on the opioid epidemic from Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood. 

“Within minutes we saw people shooting up and an overdose. We saw the paramedics roll up and people stumbling on the street,” she says.  

“These people didn’t start under the El. They started in Moorestown. They started in Cherry Hill and Wilmington. When you see it with your own eyes, you see how horrible it is, but you also see hope. This is a problem we can solve if we join together.” 

The issue later hit home for Noland when she met a young man in the stairwell of the parking garage after wrapping up her 10 pm newscast last winter. The man was cold, homeless and struggling with a heroin addiction. With the help of some friends, Noland got him and his mother a hotel room for the night, after which he disappeared. Last month, she bumped into him again in Old City and convinced him to go into treatment. 

“At this point in my life, I can look more around me vs. directly next to me. My children are older. I don’t have to focus on them. They’re good,” Noland says of her kids, who are 18, 25 and 27. “I can look at what’s in the universe and how I can help. At this point in my life, do I buy a nice purse, or do I use that money to help make a difference in people’s lives? I don’t need any more purses.” 

Judging by her schedule, it’s evident that Noland is laser-focused on making a difference. Each day includes a 2:30 pm editorial meeting at Fox 29, after which Noland hurries to put together the 5 and 6 pm newscasts. Once she’s done with those, she writes and plans the 10 pm segment before finally heading home around midnight. 

“There’s no relaxation – I run non-stop,” she says. “If I have any spare time, I’m doing things like saving a cat, meeting with people at City Hall to set up our homelessness nonprofit or taking my own cat Persi to her chemotherapy treatment for cancer.” 

Noland says the local community has also inspired her to take action and make a difference. 

“The area is just phenomenal. The people here have a grit to them, but they also have a tremendous amount of heart and compassion. I just love that,” she says. “It’s why, if I post on Facebook about a homeless family on the street corner, people will come out and help them. They might say, ‘I don’t have any money to give, but I’m a hairstylist and can come do their hair, right there at 30th Street Station.’ I’ve just been blown away.”

Hear Fox 29’s Lucy Noland share her own stories during our Women’s Empowerment Panel “What Happens When You’re Unstoppable” on Wednesday, Sept. 12 at The Westin in Mount Laurel. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

September 2018
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