Children and youth Reporter
Elizabeth Aguilera is an award-winning multi-media journalist who covers health and social services for CalMatters. She joined CalMatters from Southern California Public Radio/KPCC 89.3 where she produced stories about community health. Her reporting there revealed lead-tainted soil on school campuses near a former lead battery recycling plant that spurred district action. Previously Aguilera covered immigration and demographics at the San Diego Union-Tribune, where she won a “Best of the West” award for coverage of sex trafficking between Mexico and the United States. At the Denver Post, where Aguilera wrote about urban affairs and business, she was named a Livingston Award finalist for her reporting on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Aguilera has also worked at the Orange County Register. She is a Marshall Memorial Fellow and an International Center for Journalists alum. She is also a lifetime member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. The L.A. native is a graduate of Pepperdine University and the University of Southern California. She lives in Los Angeles.
FULL STACK WEB DEVELOPER
Avriana is an engineer at CalMatters. She is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, with a double major in Journalism and Statistics. Previously, she has worked for The Texas Tribune as an engineering fellow.
Denise Smith Amos leads our statewide California Divide team. Before joining CalMatters she was the editor of the watchdog and accountability team at the Union-Tribune in San Diego. She has been a reporter, columnist and editor at newspapers in Orlando, Tampa Bay, Detroit, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Jacksonville. Denise is a Philadelphia native who earned her B.A. in journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
Rachel Becker is a reporter with a background in scientific research. After studying the links between the brain and the immune system, Rachel left the lab bench with her master’s degree to become a journalist via the MIT Graduate Program in Science Writing. For nearly three years, Rachel was a staff science reporter at The Verge, where she wrote stories and hosted videos covering a range of beats including climate change, nicotine, and nuclear technology. Her byline has also appeared in NOVA Next, National Geographic News, Smithsonian, Slate, Nature, Nature Medicine, bioGraphic, and Hakai Magazine, as well as the PBS Digital Studios video series Gross Science and the YouTube show MinuteEarth. Rachel now covers California’s complex water challenges and water policy issues for CalMatters. In 2021 she won first place for Outstanding Beat Reporting from the Society of Environmental Journalists.
Julie Cart joined CalMatters as a projects and environment reporter in 2016 after a long career at the Los Angeles Times, where she held many positions: sportswriter, national correspondent and environment reporter. In 2009 she and colleague Bettina Boxall won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for their series on wildfires in the West.
Chief Executive officer
Neil Chase was formerly Executive Editor at The Mercury News and the East Bay Times, where his team won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting for its coverage of the tragic Ghost Ship fire in Oakland. He has worked as an editor at the San Francisco Examiner, Arizona Republic, CBS MarketWatch and The New York Times and as a consultant to publishing and marketing organizations.
Ben covers California politics and elections. Prior to that, he was a contributing writer for CalMatters reporting on the state’s economy and budget. Based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, he has written for San Francisco magazine, California magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Priceonomics. Ben also has a past life as an aspiring beancounter: He has worked as a summer associate at the Congressional Budget Office and has a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley.
Marla Cone is a deputy editor at CalMatters. Previously she was a senior editor for Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, where she created and led a new initiative investigating Trump administration policies related to science. Cone also was senior editor/environment at National Geographic magazine and an environmental reporter at the Los Angeles Times for 18 years. She has won two national environmental reporting awards, and her book “Silent Snow: The Slow Poisoning of the Arctic” was a finalist for a National Academies Communications Award. She taught at the University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she was the first Hewlett Foundation fellow for environmental journalism.
Data and Interactives Editor
John Osborn D’Agostino is an award-winning web developer, data journalist and game designer. Previously, he’s worked with The Hechinger Report, EdSource, the East Bay Express, Berkeleyside, and the North Coast Journal. He graduated from U.C. Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Rui is a video intern at CalMatters. She is a recent graduate of Columbia Journalism School, with a focus on in-depth reporting and visual storytelling. For her master’s project, she spent four months covering illegal basement apartments in New York City.
CAlifornia Divide Reporter
Nigel Duara joined CalMatters in 2020 as a Los Angeles-based reporter covering poverty and inequality issues for our California Divide collaboration and then moved to our justice team. Previously, he served as a national and climate correspondent on the HBO show VICE News Tonight. Before that, he was the border correspondent at the Los Angeles Times based in Phoenix, deployed to stories across the country. He is a longtime contributor to Portland Monthly magazine and graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
Trevor Eischen is a product manager at CalMatters. He previously worked in Washington, D.C., as the social media editor at POLITICO, where he strategized digital promotion efforts during the tumultuous 2016 election and the first year of the Trump administration. He started in the POLITICO newsroom as a web producer in 2013. A graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, Eischen is originally from Sleepy Hollow, Illinois, where every Halloween a person dressed up as the Headless Horseman rides around a giant bonfire. In his spare time, he enjoys going on impromptu road trips, seeing the nation’s statehouses and being a Luxembourger.
Grace covers California’s economy for CalMatters. Previously, she was an editor at the Washington Monthly. She is a graduate of Pomona College.
Miguel Gutierrez is a Photo Editor at CalMatters. Previously Miguel was The Texas Tribune’s photographer and photo editor, where he raised the bar for telling visually rich stories about government and politics. An Illinois native who is fluent in Spanish, Miguel previously worked in New York as a multimedia producer for the state attorney general’s office. He has two master’s degrees from the University of Texas at Austin in journalism and Latin American studies and a bachelor’s degree in Latin American and Latino studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has also worked as a multimedia producer at KUT Radio, Austin’s NPR station, and was a video production fellow at Brave New Films in Los Angeles.
Vicki Haddock came to CalMatters as its managing editor in 2016. A veteran of Bay Area journalism, she had been senior writer for the San Francisco Chronicle’s Insight analysis section, Sunday editor of the San Francisco Examiner, political editor at the Oakland Tribune, and founding editor of California Magazine’s online news site. She holds a degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a certificate in digital media from UC Berkeley’s Advanced Media Institute.
Emily Hoeven writes the daily WhatMatters newsletter for CalMatters. Her reporting, essays, and opinion columns have been published in San Francisco Weekly, the Deseret News, the San Francisco Business Times, the Flathead Beacon, the Daily Pennsylvanian, and the Mercury News. Emily graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in English and French and studied English at the University of Cambridge, England as a Thouron Summer Prize fellow. She speaks French fluently and spent a year teaching English in Châteauroux, France.
K-12 education Reporter
Joe is the K-12 education reporter for CalMatters. His stories use data to highlight inequities in California’s public schools. Before joining CalMatters in June 2021, he was the education reporter at KPBS, the public media station in San Diego. Previously, he covered the schools in the Coachella Valley for The Desert Sun, a daily newspaper in Palm Springs. He has a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature from the University of California, Irvine and a master’s degree from Columbia Journalism School.
Kristen is an award-winning filmmaker and journalist with a passion for humanizing data-driven stories. Her work examines stories at the intersection of public health and social justice through compelling and diverse characters. She graduated from UC Berkeley in 2020 with a dual master’s degree in journalism and public health. Her film “When They’re Gone” examines humanity’s fragile dependence on nature, casting a spotlight on industrial agriculture’s reliance on honey bees for hire.
Ana is a Sacramento-based health reporter. She joined CalMatters in 2020 after four years at Kaiser Health News, where she covered California health care and policy. She started her reporting career at McClatchy’s Merced Sun-Star. Her work has also appeared in The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today and many other state and national news outlets. She is a 2015 fellow of the Center for Health Journalism at USC Annenberg and a Cal Poly Pomona graduate.
CALIFORNIA DIVIDE REPORTER
Lil’s reporting, from Myanmar to the deserts of southern California, has appeared in the Guardian, LAist, Bitch Media, ARTnews, and other outlets. Before joining CalMatters, they were a fellow at Mother Jones. Lil is based in Los Angeles.
Sameea Kamal is a reporter/production assistant at CalMatters covering the state Capitol and California politics. She joined CalMatters in June 2021 from the Los Angeles Times, where she was a News Desk editor. Sameea was one of three 2020 IRE Journalist of Color fellows, and previously worked for the Center for Public Integrity. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia Journalism School. Sameea was born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California and is one of the Maynard Institute’s M200 fellows.
Jeremia is a data journalist who uses code and data to make policy and politicians easier to understand. He was previously a graphics editor at the COVID Tracking Project and a data journalist at NBC News covering elections and national politics. He is a California native who is excited to be back home after an extended time as a New Yorker and when he isn’t on the computer you can find him out in the garden or on a bicycle.
Alexei has covered California’s Capitol for the San Francisco Chronicle and The Sacramento Bee, covering stories ranging from international recruiting by the University of California to a ride service for state senators too drunk to drive to an infamous dinner at The French Laundry in Napa. Alexei is a Bay Area native and attended Stanford University. He speaks fluent Spanish.
CALIFORNIA DIVIDE Reporter
Jeanne returned home to California to join CalMatters after covering Missouri government and politics for The Kansas City Star. She previously covered local and state government at The News Journal in Wilmington, Delaware, and reported on criminal justice issues in Illinois. She is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
CALIFORNIA DIVIDE REPORTER
Alejandro joined CalMatters from The Wall Street Journal, where he covered the West Coast for eight years. He previously wrote about housing and real estate for the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post. He’s a native of Modesto who attended the University of San Francisco and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
DIGITAL MEDIA INTERN
Chelsea is an Orange County native attending Villanova University in Philadelphia and a staff writer at The Villanovan. She has completed internships with the Urban Justice Center and Comfort Eats. She has experience across news, social media engagement and nonprofit development. She joins CalMatters this summer as part of the Dow Jones News Fund program and is specializing in work across engagement and membership.
DATA & INTERACTIVES INTERN
Agnes is a data and interactive intern at CalMatters. She is a recent graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and psychology. She previously interned at the San Francisco Chronicle, PBS, and New England Public Media.
Co-Founder David Lesher is a veteran California journalist and state policy expert. He co-founded CalMatters in 2015 and led the organization as Editor/CEO until December 2018, when he continued to serve as Editor-in-Chief. Previously, he was Director of Government Affairs at the Public Policy Institute of California, a non-partisan think tank focused on state policy issues. Lesher has more than 25 years of journalism experience, largely at the Los Angeles Times where he was a political writer, state Capitol reporter and assistant national editor for the White House campaign. He also has served as Editor of California Journal magazine and as California Director for the New America Foundation.
Robert Lewis focuses on investigations and accountability reporting. Before joining CalMatters he worked at print and public radio outlets across the country including WNYC-New York Public Radio, Newsday and The Sacramento Bee. His investigative reporting has garnered some of the industry’s highest honors including a George Polk Award, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award and Sigma Delta Chi Awards.
CHIEF DEVELOPMENT OFFICER
Kate puts her passion for democracy to work by cultivating the support that enables our work. She came to CalMatters from a similar role at the Center for Investigative Reporting – Reveal, and before that she spent a decade in development work at the Sierra Club. She previously led Planned Parenthood in her native South Dakota and was a candidate there for secretary of state. When she’s not working with donors and funders, you’ll find Kate creating meals to enjoy with family and friends, reading, working out, or playing with her two standard poodles.
Nadia Lopez covers environmental policy issues. Before joining CalMatters she covered Latino communities in the San Joaquin Valley for The Fresno Bee and reported from city hall for San José Spotlight. She’s a native of Chula Vista and a graduate of San Francisco State University.
Marjie Lundstrom works with reporters covering criminal justice and mental health, and oversees the watchdog/accountability team. She has been a senior editor, investigative reporter, national correspondent and columnist at multiple outlets, including The Denver Post, The Sacramento Bee and, most recently, FairWarning in Southern California. In 1991, she and colleague Rochelle Sharpe of Gannett News Service were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for stories revealing flawed death investigations of children. The former writing coach for McClatchy, she also was a visiting faculty member at the Poynter Institute in Florida, teaching journalism ethics and news writing. She was honored in 2008 by the California Newspaper Publishers Association for her “lifelong commitment to the public’s right to know.”
justice Reporter/Video journalist
Byrhonda Lyons is on our justice team and creates compelling multimedia stories about how California policies affect people’s everyday lives. From the state’s mental health crisis to an investigation into shady state contractors, her work aims to hold politicians accountable and educate Californians about the ins and outs of their state government. Byrhonda’s work has appeared on the PBS NewsHour, KPBS, KVIE-PBS, and local television stations throughout California. She’s won a National Headliner Award for her work during the 2018 elections. She has also received several awards from the California News Publishers Association. Prior to joining CalMatters, she was a freelance video producer and worked as a digital media specialist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service. She was also an editor for the San Quentin News, an inmate-run newspaper in California. Byrhonda is a graduate of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. When she’s not working, you can catch her searching archives for trailblazing black women who have been left out of history books.
Full Stack Web DEVELOPER
Prior to joining CalMatters, Kevin worked as the IT manager and web developer for the California Lawyers Association. He has also worked as a support engineer at Automattic. Before jumping into the world of technology, Kevin spent more than ten years working in government finance. He has a degree in economics from the U.S. Air Force Academy.
College Journalism Network Editor
Felicia Mello edits CalMatters’ College Journalism Network, a collaboration with student journalists across California to cover higher education from the ground up. Her reporting on affordability, equity and innovation at California colleges and universities has earned awards from the California News Publishers Association and the Society for Professional Journalists Northern California chapter. She was a finalist for the Education Writers Association’s beat reporting prize in 2018. Felicia came to CalMatters from Las Vegas, where she built the digital team at Vegas Seven magazine and served as the Nevada reporter for the Center for Public Integrity’s nationwide investigation of transparency in state governments. She has also contributed stories to The Washington Post, The Nation, NPR and CNN’s Parts Unknown, among others. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from UC Berkeley.
Liliana is a Producer at CalMatters. She previously worked at The Associated Press and Miami Herald, as well as Peru’s El Comercio. Originally from Lima, Peru, she graduated from UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism in 2018.
Martin do Nascimento
ASsistant photo editor
Martin is a Brazilian-American documentary photographer and filmmaker based in Oakland. A trilingual (English, Spanish, Portuguese) Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Martin holds MA degrees in Journalism and Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.
Shyla Nott is the analytics manager for CalMatters, based in San Diego. Previously, she was the digital content manager for inewsource and a producer for All Sides with Ann Fisher, the live public affairs talk show on WOSU Public Radio in Columbus, Ohio. In 2014, she produced the testimonies of second-generation Holocaust survivors as part of an international oral history project, which is archived in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s online collection. Originally from the Midwest, Shyla has bachelor’s degrees in journalism and international studies from the University of Iowa and her master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
Director of Development and Institutional Partnerships
Lanita Pace-Hinton is the Director of Development and Institutional Partnerships for CalMatters. She works with the development team in executing their fundraising strategy. She previously worked as the deputy director for EdSource, an Oakland-based nonprofit education media organization. She was the founding director of the Knight Digital Media Center at the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
Richard Procter is an assistant editor at CalMatters, leading coverage of housing, education and technology. Prior to joining CalMatters, he was the editor-in-chief of SF Weekly and the special projects editor at the San Francisco Business Times. His work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, Forbes, and Polygon, and won multiple California News Publishers Association awards. He is a graduate of UC Davis and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Sonya builds bridges between the community and CalMatters as membership manager. Previously she managed engagement, fundraising, marketing, digital storytelling and UX at Voice of OC, a nonprofit news agency in Orange County, Calif. where she grew dramatically grew reader engagement and revenue. She is also an adjunct professor of digital journalism at Chapman University. Previously she worked for a decade at the Orange County Register as an editor and reporter across a variety of innovation areas including mobile, social media, web development, disaster coverage, infographics, technology and community news. She has been awarded infographics, news website design, news article design and social media engagement in reporting.
Program Manager, College Journalism nETWORK
Matthew Reagan is the Program Manager for CalMatters College Journalism Network, a collaboration between CalMatters and student journalists from across the state to produce highquality, student centered coverage of higher education in California. Reagan was a CJN Fellow and higher education intern for CalMatters. He covered the pandemic’s impact on higher education policy and the 2021 California recall election. Reagan is a graduate of Occidental College where he studied Politics and History. Previously, Reagan worked at The Occidental as Editor-In-Chief as well as the founding editor of the Northeast LA Neighborhood Reporting Partnership with the Boulevard Sentinel.
Deputy managing editor
Foon Rhee is deputy editor for CalMatters who works with reporters covering the state Capitol and housing. After graduating from Duke University, he covered local and state government for The Charlotte Observer before becoming a local and political editor at The News & Observer. At the Boston Globe, he was city editor and then deputy national political editor for the 2008 presidential campaign. In 2010, he came to California as an editorial writer and columnist at The Sacramento Bee. In late 2018, he became editor at the Sacramento News & Review before joining CalMatters in March 2021. He was a Freedom Forum fellow in Asian studies and a Poynter Institute ethics fellow.
Sapna Satagopan is a product manager at CalMatters, where she works across teams to grow and engage users with our news products.
Sapna believes in democratizing access to the news and in building impactful news products. She most recently co-founded Xyza: News for Kids, a subscription news platform for young readers. Her professional career began in technology consulting, followed by roles in strategy, research, and consumer insights at digital and branding agencies. Originally from India, Sapna has an MBA from UC Davis along with degrees in Physics and Linguistics. She serves on the board of the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.
COLLEGE JOURNALISM NETWORK INTERN
Mallika is wrapping up four years at UC Berkeley and The Daily Californian, where she served as a reporter, news editor and managing editor. She majored in political science and global studies. Mallika is from Escondido and was part of the High School Insider journalism program at the Los Angeles Times.
Director of Donor Engagement
Priyanka is responsible for major gifts at CalMatters. Previously, she ran the Tech Content Marketing Studio at Informa, a multinational publishing and events corporation, consulting with clients from Fortune 500 companies. A long time tech reporter and editor, Priyanka used to run her own Silicon Valley content, marketing and strategy consulting business. She served as Regional Editor of AOL Patch’s 12 Silicon Valley and Santa Cruz news sites. She also co-founded an award-winning city magazine and website covering Oakland, The OakBook, which was one of the first truly local news sites in California, garnering the attention of news observers locally and nationally. Priyanka is an alumna of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.
JR. PRODUCT DESIGNER
Vasuki joined CalMatters after working as an analyst at Accenture and as a freelance UI/UX design consultant. She graduated from the University of California San Diego in Cognitive Science with a specialization in Human-Computer Interaction. She lives in Cupertino and enjoys film photography, creating digital art and reading.
Manuela’s stories focus on the political dynamics and economic and racial inequities that contribute to the housing crisis in California and its potential solutions. Manuela previously covered income inequality and survival at The Fresno Bee for the California Divide. She is a former staff writer for PolitiFact and has interned at Politico Magazine, New York Magazine and The New Yorker. Originally from Buenos Aires, she has lived in Latin America, Europe and across the United States. She has a B.A. in comparative literature from Georgetown University.
Larry is based in Kerman, in California’s Central Valley. A passion for documentary filmmaking led him into videography and photography on campus publications at Fresno City College and Fresno State University. He went on to become a writer and photojournalist for the Fresno Bee and joined CalMatters in 2022 as a CatchLight Local Fellow.
Dan Walters has been a journalist for nearly 60 years, spending all but a few of those years working for California newspapers. He began his professional career in 1960, at age 16, at the Humboldt Times in Eureka, while still attending high school, and turned down a National Merit scholarship to continue working as a journalist. At one point in his career, at age 22, he was the nation’s youngest daily newspaper editor. The Hanford Sentinel was the first of three newspaper editor positions before joining the Sacramento Union’s Capitol bureau in 1975, just as Jerry Brown began his governorship. Walters later became the Union’s Capitol bureau chief, and in 1981 began writing the state’s only daily newspaper column devoted to California political, economic and social events. In 1984, he and the column moved to The Sacramento Bee. He has written more than 9,000 columns about California and its politics and his column has appeared in many other California newspapers. Walters has written about California and its politics for a number of other publications, including The Wall Street Journal and the Christian Science Monitor. In 1986, his book, “The New California: Facing the 21st Century,” was published in its first edition. He is also the founding editor of the “California Political Almanac,” the co-author of a book on lobbying entitled “The Third House: Lobbyists, Money and Power in Sacramento,” and contributed chapters to two other books, “Remaking California” and “The New Political Geography of California. He also has been a frequent guest on national television news shows, commenting on California politics.
Mental Health Reporter
Jocelyn Wiener writes about health and mental health for CalMatters, exploring the intersection between government policies and people’s lives. She has worked as a reporter in her native California for close to two decades. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, Kaiser Health News, the San Francisco Chronicle and many other state and national publications. After graduating from Stanford University, she received a Fulbright Scholarship to spend a year and a half working with young people living on the streets of El Salvador. She earned a master’s degree at Columbia University’s School of Journalism, and reported on poverty and homelessness for The Sacramento Bee. She has worked as a freelance journalist in Central and South America and India, as well as in California.
Evan is a rising senior at Dartmouth College studying government and public policy. He’s passionate about advancing democratic engagement and reforming institutions to produce more equitable outcomes for society. Prior to joining CalMatters, Evan worked in policy analysis, academic research, political campaigns, and nonprofit initiatives including a nationwide youth-voter turnout initiative and civic engagement programs on multiple college campuses.
Erica is the data reporter at CalMatters helping develop data-driven graphics. As a California native, she is excited to contribute to important coverage of state issues through engaging projects. She is a recent graduate of Northeastern University, where she majored in journalism and information science. Erica previously interned at the San Francisco Chronicle, CNBC, and Boston.com.
Denise is a Deputy Editor at CalMatters, leading our coverage on several beats. She was previously senior editor at EdSource. As associate editor for The Center for Investigative Reporting, Denise was part of one team that won a George Polk Award and another that was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. She began her journalism career at The Bakersfield Californian, where she covered several topics, including higher education, and later became an editor. She also worked as an editor at the Union-Tribune in San Diego. Denise is a Bay Area native and a graduate of Santa Clara University.
Higher Education Reporter
Mikhail Zinshteyn has been a higher education reporter since 2015. As a freelancer, he contributed to The Atlantic, The Hechinger Report, Inside Higher Ed and The 74. Previously, he was a reporter at EdSource and before that a program manager at the Education Writers Association. Mikhail was born in the Soviet Union and has a master’s degree in comparative politics from the London School of Economics. He is based in Los Angeles. Pell grants and work-study helped pay for his undergraduate degree at Union College.