CalMatters team
The CalMatters team in early 2020.
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Elizabeth Aguilera

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 was a staff writer at the San Diego Union-Tribune, where she covered immigration and demographics. At the U-T, she won a “Best of the West” award for her 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.

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Avriana Allen

Junior Product Engineer

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.


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Rachel Becker

Environment Reporter

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 is now an environment reporter for CalMatters, where she covers climate change and California’s environmental policies.

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Jesse Bedayn

California Divide Reporter

Jesse Bedayn reports on economic inequality for The Mercury News in San Jose and CalMatters as part of The California Divide project. Before becoming a Report for America corps member, Bedayn studied investigative reporting and narrative writing at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he wrote about health care and aging in California and investigated the fraught world of for-profit nursing homes for the Investigative Reporting Program. Bedayn has worked as a stringer for The New York Times and as a research and data assistant at KQED public radio where he plumbed through police use-of-force cases. Bedayn holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kent in England. As editor of the student paper InQuire, he won local awards and shared the paper’s first national U.K. award since the paper’s inception in 1965. Bedayn grew up in the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada, and spends his free time rambling in the mountains.


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Vanessa Bonilla

Development Associate

Vanessa Bonilla is a community maven and cultural connector recognized for increasing profitable strategies within the nonprofit realm. Vanessa joined CalMatters in April 2021 bringing over 6 years of experience curating high growth in community development and partnerships with stakeholders. 

Outside of the office you can catch Vanessa teaching free yoga and meditation or cookin’ up a storm while jammin’ out to The Indications and some disco funk! 


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Jackie Botts

Economic Inequality Reporter

Jackie covers income inequity and economic survival for the The California Divide collaboration. She has reported for the Data and Enterprise desk for Reuters News and for her hometown paper, The Santa Barbara Independent. Her reporting on immigration, the environment, and justice has appeared in Reuters, Pacific Standard, Public Radio International’s “The World,” and The Philadelphia Inquirer, among other publications. A graduate of Stanford University’s master’s program in journalism, she received the James S. Robinson student journalism award for a multimedia series that documented the impacts of wildfires on immigrant communities in Northern California in 2017. Jackie is a Report for America corps member.

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Aldrin Brown

Vice President, Partnerships

Aldrin Brown is Vice President of Partnerships. He manages an urgent effort designed to help California’s ethnic media operations in partnership with Media in Color, a collaboration of California ethnic and community publishers. He also manages and broadens CalMatters’ relationships with the more than 200 media partners across the state that publish our work. MaAldrin is the former Editor in Chief at the business-to-business publication MSP Mentor, has his own digital-strategy consultancy, and served as Desert Bureau Chief for City News Service, Regional Editor for Patch.com, and Metro Editor for The Sun in San Bernardino. He has also worked as a reporter and editor at The Orange County Register and The Tennessean in Nashville and most recently covered antitrust and regulatory issues for Acuris Global’s publications. Aldrin is based in Riverside County.

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Julie Cart

Environment Reporter

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.

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Mark Casillas

Development fellow

Mark is the Development Fellow at CalMatters assisting the revenue team’s fundraising and prospect research efforts. In his young career, Mark has gained a vast amount of knowledge and skill in relation to development work. He currently sits on his alma mater’s young alumni council, the ‘Burgians Of the Last Decade (BOLD) Council on the development committee. In the last year and a half, Mark has also done volunteer work with LIFT – Los Angeles on its development team and most recently completed a one-year outreach, marketing & fundraising coordination fellowship with AmeriCorps. He graduated from Gettysburg College in 2019 with a B.A. in History and a double minor in Political Science and Peace & Justice Studies.


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Neil Chase

CEO

Neil Chase is the Chief Executive Officer of CalMatters. He 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. Neil 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.

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Genesis Chavez-Caro

California divide reporter

Genesis Chavez-Caro covers poverty and opportunity in the Inland Empire, an area encompassing Riverside and San Bernardino counties east of Los Angeles, for the California Divide project, a statewide media collaboration on this topic. She is a former editor and columnist for Spanish-language publication El Aviso Magazine, where she focused on topics regarding Latino millennial trends and interests. Previously, she was a reporter for the nonprofit organization Gladeo, where her reporting provided low-income high school students the resources they need to make informed career choices. Chavez-Caro was also a reporter for bilingual newspaper El Tecolote, covering San Francisco’s historic Mission District and its ever-changing cultural climate. She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism with a minor in Race and Resistance Studies from San Francisco State University. Her hometown is Huntington Park, California.


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Ben Christopher

Political Reporter

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.

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Kate Cimini

Salinas Californian CA Divide Reporter

Kate Cimini is a reporter with the Salinas Californian and CalMatters’ California Divide project. She covers economic inequality, agriculture, and housing. Previously, she covered national security, natural disasters, and sports. Her work has appeared in the Houston Chronicle, USA Today, VICE, The Athletic, Sports Illustrated online, and others.

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Marla Cone

Deputy Editor

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.

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John Osborn D’Agostino

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.

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Nigel Duara

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. 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.

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Trevor Eischen

Membership Director

Trevor Eischen is the membership director 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 drinking beer, going on impromptu road trips, seeing the nation’s statehouses and being a Luxembourger.

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Barbara Feder Ostrov

Contributing Writer

Barbara Feder Ostrov, Contributing Writer for CalMatters, has reported on medicine and health policy for more than 15 years. She most recently covered California and national health issues for Kaiser Health News. She covered the medical beat for the San Jose Mercury News for eight years and edited the website of the Center for Health Journalism at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism. She also worked at The Palm Beach Post and the Miami Herald. Her work has been published in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Atlantic.com, Salon, Scientific American, PBS NewsHour, NPR, CNN.com, Ms. Magazine and Women’s Day among other media outlets. She has won awards from the Society for Women’s Health Research, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and the Florida Press Club.

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Courtney Fong

Marketing Coordinator

Courtney is the marketing coordinator at CalMatters, where she focuses on developing audience relationships. She was an Editor-in-Chief at Cosumnes River College’s student newspaper before transferring to and graduating from Sacramento State University with a degree in communication studies. Courtney joined CalMatters as an intern from the Emma Bowen Foundation.

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Kim Fox

Vice President, Product Strategy

Kim Fox is Vice President of Product Strategy, with responsibility for managing and improving the ways Californians consume our work. She was previously at The Philadelphia Inquirer, where she served as Managing Editor, Audience and Innovation, and as Product Director during a period of tremendous change. She has held editorial and product roles at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBS and Bloomberg, been part of several startups, and early in her career was a producer at Second City in Toronto. Kim recently earned two degrees from the Fox School of Business at Temple University: An MBA focused on strategic management and digital transformation, and a master’s degree in innovation management and entrepreneurship. She’s also a graduate of the Online News Association’s Women’s Digital Leadership Accelerator.

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Jacqueline Garcia

La Opinion CA Divide Reporter

Jacqueline Garcia is a reporter covering poverty and inequality issues for our California Divide collaboration. She is based at La Opinión in Los Angeles, where she has covered issues ranging from immigration and politics to health and education. Previously, she reported for Hispanic Link News Service in Washington D.C., Noticias 62 [KRCA Estrella TV] and Eastern Group Publications [EGP News] in Los Angeles. Garcia is originally from Puebla, Mexico and until 2017—when she gained her legal residency—she was a participant in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. She graduated from Cal State Northridge with a B.A. in broadcast journalism and a minor in Spanish language journalism.

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Marissa Garcia

editorial Intern

Marissa Garcia is an Editorial Intern for CalMatters via the Dow Jones News Fund, reporting on science and environmental policy for her home state. She recently graduated from Harvard University, where she earned an A.B. degree with Highest Honors in Integrative Biology and a secondary in Environmental Science & Public Policy. While at Harvard, Marissa was the Editor-in-Chief and Podcast Editor of the Harvard Independent, the oldest weekly newspaper at any American university. She has also written for NOAA Sanctuaries. She begins her Ph.D. studies in Natural Resources at Cornell University in the fall.


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Vicki Haddock

Managing Editor

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.

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Emma Hall

CalMatters college journalism network intern

Emma Hall is an intern for the CalMatters College Journalism Network. Currently, at Sacramento State, she is studying journalism with a minor in ethnic studies. Hall’s background is in diversity and inclusion, race and ethnicity, and higher education. Her work has been featured on KQED, The Pleasanton Weekly, The State Hornet, The Advocate at Contra Costa College, and The Inquirer at Diablo Valley College. She is also a proud community college graduate.


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Emily Hoeven

Newsletter Editor

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.

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Joe Hong

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.


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Ana B. Ibarra

Health Reporter

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.

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Sameea Kamal

Reporter/Production Assistant

Sameea Kamal is a reporter/production assistant at CalMatters. 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.


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Jeremia Kimelman

Data Reporter

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.


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Danise Kuang

Editorial Intern

Danise is currently an Editorial Intern at CalMatters through Emerson Collective’s First Generation program. She is also majoring in English Literature with a minor in Theatre at Cal Poly Pomona. Danise has written for the Empowerment Collective and has several of her poetry pieces published in Cal Poly Pomona’s Harvest zine along with the Pomona Valley Review.


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David Lesher

Editor

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.

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Robert Lewis

Justice reporter

Robert Lewis covers justice issues. 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.


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Judy Lin

Assistant Editor, CALIFORNIA DIVIDE

Judy oversees economy and workforce coverage for CalMatters. She serves as hub editor of the second year of the California Divide project, a five-newsroom collaboration reporting on inequality. Prior to editing, she reported on state finances, workforce and economic issues for CalMatters. Her motto: Accounting for California, one tax dollar at a time. She brings more than a decade of government reporting experience from The Associated Press, The Sacramento Bee and The Detroit News. She’s a member of the Asian American Journalists Association. She serves as CalMatters’ internship coordinator.

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Marjie Lundstrom

Deputy Editor

Marjie Lundstrom works with reporters covering health, children and youth, and the state Capitol. 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.

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Byrhonda Lyons

justice Reporter/Video journalist

Byrhonda Lyons 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 (CNPA).
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 U.C. 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.

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Felicia Mello

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.

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Liliana Michelena

Producer

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.

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Margarita Noriega

vice president, Engagement

Margarita Noriega is CalMatters Vice President, Engagement, where she builds our audience by bringing new readers to our site and deepening our engagement initiatives. She studied International Affairs at the George Washington University and was previously Executive Digital Editor at Newsweek, Short Form Editor at Vox, Director of Social Media and Storytelling at Fusion, and the Editor in Charge for Live News at Reuters. A graduating fellow of the Media Transformation Challenge at the Poynter Institute in 2020, Margarita is based in Los Angeles.

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Shyla Nott

Analytics Manager

Shyla Nott is the analytics manager for CalMatters. 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.


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Lanita Pace-Hinton

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.

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Prathithi Parasuram

Engagement intern

Prathithi Parasuram is a rising junior at the University of Missouri, where she is in the journalism school. She has interned with Pack Health, where she advanced her social media management abilities and wrote blog articles. She joined CalMatters as an intern through a program supported by the Institute for Nonprofit News.


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Marcia Parker

Publisher/COO

As Publisher and COO Marcia oversees the CalMatters revenue team. Before she joined CalMatters in 2017, Marcia was Editorial Director for Patch’s West Coast local news sites, CIR’s California Watch site launch manager, and Assistant Dean at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. She serves on the board of the Institute for Nonprofit News and the advisory board of the Emma Bowen Foundation. Marcia is also on the Stanford Knight Journalism Fellowships selection committee, and teaches at Northwestern University’s SF campus. She has a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

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Erika Paz

California Divide intern

Erika recently graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a B.A. in journalism. During her time at CSULB, she worked as the senior print editor and writer for the school magazine, DIG MAG. Prior to graduating, Erika spent almost 9 years working in the banking industry. As a first-generation California native, she aims to use her experience to report on underrepresented communities throughout the state. Erika currently resides in Long Beach, California. 


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Richard Procter

Assistant Editor

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.

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Frida Qi

Data Intern

Frida Qi is a data intern at CalMatters. She has passion in data-driven stories, investigative stories, mental health reporting and cryptocurrency reporting. She previously interned or worked part-time at SupChina, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Columbia Missourian, Reuters and some newsrooms in China. She got her master’s degree in journalism at the University of Missouri. Please feel free to reach her at [email protected] for tips, feedback or advice.


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Matthew Reagan

Higher education intern

Matthew Reagan — Matthew Reagan is higher education reporter for CalMatters. Over the past year he covered the pandemic’s impact on higher education as a fellow with CalMatters’ College Journalism Network. Reagan is a recent 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.


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Gary Reed

Commentary Editor

Gary Reed is the Commentary Editor at CalMatters. His journalism experience ranges from reporter in Virginia, to assistant managing editor in Pasadena, to editorial board member of The Sacramento Bee. He has won awards for sports column writing, and for editing a series on AIDS as a local issue and for an investigative series on abuses at a California funeral home.

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Foon Rhee

DEputy 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.


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Laurel Rosenhall

Political Reporter

Laurel covers California politics for CalMatters, with a focus on power and personalities in the statehouse. Her stories explain political dynamics in the Capitol and examine how money, advocacy and relationships shape the decisions that affect Californians. Laurel also hosts the Force Of Law podcast, which follows California’s attempt to reduce police shootings. She joined CalMatters in 2015 after more than a dozen years as a reporter for the Sacramento Bee, where she covered state politics and education. Laurel is a native Californian and holds a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Sapna Satagopan

Product Manager

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.


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Gabe Schneider

assistant editor for Calmatters’ College Journalism Network

Gabe Schneider is an Assistant Editor at CalMatters. His work has been published in outlets like The Associated Press, MinnPost, Texas Tribune, and Los Angeles Magazine. He grew up in Los Angeles and went to UC San Diego, where he co-founded The Triton, a digital-first, independent, student-run newspaper.


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Priyanka Sharma-Sindhar

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.

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Zayna Syed

Tech Reporting Intern

Zayna Syed is a tech reporter for CalMatters. She recently graduated from the University of Michigan, where she studied public policy, history and Arabic. Previously, she worked as the Investigations Editor for The Michigan Daily and interned at The Dallas Morning News as an enterprise reporter. 



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Joyce Terhaar

Contributing Editor

Joyce Terhaar, the former executive editor of The Sacramento Bee, brings more than three decades of experience as a California journalist to her role at CalMatters. Terhaar served in the top two editing roles at The Bee for two decades, encouraging investigative and data journalism that held to account powerful people – particularly the politicians making decisions for all Californians. She also wrote a bi-monthly column focused on government transparency and media issues. Early in her career, Terhaar reported for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota, The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, Calif., and The Bee. She is a graduate of the University of St. Thomas.

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Manuela Tobias

Housing Reporter

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.

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Pablo Unzueta

Photography intern

Pablo is a full-time journalism student at Long Beach State and documentary photographer. He’s a first generation Chilean-American born and raised in the Los Angeles area. His work is focused on cultural narratives, social and environmental issues. 


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Dan Walters

Opinion Columnist

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.

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Jocelyn Wiener

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.

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Anne Wernikoff

Photo Editor

Anne is a photographer and multimedia journalist. She previously held positions at The Hill, National Geographic and KQED before joining CalMatters in the fall of 2019. Her work has appeared in The Information, Outside Online and Public Radio International’s “The World,” among other publications. She recently graduated from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism where she focused on New Media storytelling.

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Charlotte West

Reporting Coach and Training Coordinator, COLLEGE JOURNALISM NETWORK

Charlotte West’s work on education, justice and politics has appeared in national publications such as The Hechinger Report, The Washington Post, Teen Vogue, PBS Newshour and KQED’s Mindshift. She has received reporting grants and fellowships from the Kiplinger Program at Ohio University, the Solutions Journalism Network, the Education Writers Association and the Institute for Citizens & Scholars. Charlotte was a Fulbright scholar to Sweden, where she earned her master’s degree in politics from Stockholm University.


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Erica Yee

Data REPorter

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.

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Mikhail Zinshteyn

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.


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Meg Zukin

Engagement Editor

Meg Zukin is the engagement editor for CalMatters. Previously, she oversaw all social publishing and social content for Variety in addition to writing for the magazine. Her work there was nominated for and won Webby Awards, Los Angeles Press Club National Arts and Entertainment Journalism awards, and Los Angeles Press Club SoCal Journalism awards. Before Variety, she worked at E! News and interned at The Hollywood Reporter, adult swim, and The Gersh Agency. She has a B.A. in media studies/film theory from Pitzer College and currently lives in San Francisco.