Inside CALmatters

CALmatters is pleased to announce three new additions to our Sacramento-based team, starting in January. Since our launch in 2015, the new positions will grow CALmatters’ total staff to 18 full time members. The jobs — for social media, videography and higher education coverage — will expand CALmatters’ coverage and improve our ability to explain important state issues through new storytelling formats.

“This is a big boost for CALmatters to attract top-level talent with the cutting-edge expertise it takes to communicate in today’s rapidly changing media landscape,” said David Lesher, editor, CEO and co-founder of CALmatters. “We are grateful to the donors who make this work possible and who support our non-profit mission to increase awareness, accountability and transparency about the major issues in California.”

Meet the new team members:

Byrhonda Lyons will produce video journalism at CALmatters. She developed social media strategies and video content that significantly increased traffic for environmental government agencies in California and Montana. She is the creator and host of a podcast on American history and former morning drive host on public radio in Montana. She was a writer and editor for publications in Oakland and in San Quentin state prison. She has a masters degree in journalism from UC Berkeley.

Felicia Mello will cover higher education for CALmatters. She is an award-winning, multimedia journalist with experience producing stories online, in newspaper and magazine print publications and on radio. She was an editor at and director of an online publication in Las Vegas. Her freelance work has appeared in the Washington Post, the LA Times Magazine and National Public Radio. She has a masters degree in journalism from UC Berkeley and she speaks fluent Spanish. CALmatters thanks the College Futures Foundation for supporting this position.

Trevor Eischen is the social media editor for CALmatters. He was the Social Media Editor at Politico in Washington, DC. where his work and strategies have increased Facebook and Twitter traffic more than 200% in 2.5 years. Trevor was responsible for training a 200-person newsroom and distributing multimedia political news on a range of online platforms. Earlier, as the Senior Web Producer at Politico, he worked with developers to optimize the user experience. Trevor has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and history from the University of Missouri.

The additions in January follow recent CALmatters announcements about the hiring of Priyanka Sharma-Sindhar to a new position as Director of Revenue and the election of Richard Koci Hernandez to the Board of Directors. Priyanka, a former marketing director at Informa and entrepreneur who launched one of the first hyper-local news sites in California, will lead CALmatters work in developing earned revenue. Koci, as he is known, is an internationally recognized innovator in multimedia and an associate professor at UC Berkeley. He is working with CALmatters and Byrhonda, a former student of his, to develop CALmatters video strategies.

CALmatters, an independent and non-profit organization, is now the largest news media covering state policy issues in California. Its work is shared with more than 130 online, print and broadcast media partners statewide. Its reporters cover all of the major issues in California including education, the environment, healthcare, poverty, politics and fiscal issues. It has ongoing and major collaborative projects with the Los Angeles Times and with leading radio stations under a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. For more more information, go to where we encourage you to sign up for our newsletter and to support our work by becoming a member of CALmatters.

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Veteran Editorial Editor and Writer, Political Affairs Columnist  Joins Nonprofit Nonpartisan Public Interest Journalism Venture

Dan Morain, editorial page editor and political affairs columnist at The Sacramento Bee, is bringing his decades of experience and institutional knowledge to CALmatters, a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters.

“I am proud to be joining CALmatters and excited about its collaborative model,” Morain said. “I cannot wait to work with CALmatters’ great staff and its partner news organizations to help tell the ever-changing California story.”

Morain, who has focused on state government and politics for much of his career, will take on a new role of building an expanded commentary and perspectives section of smart and diverse voices to share their insights about California’s biggest issues and challenges. He’ll also produce a daily newsletter starting in April featuring must-read content from across the state to keep readers in the know, and contribute his own insightful columns.

CALmatters will share Morain’s work with a network of more than 130 print, radio and online publications that it has developed since its launch as a nonprofit in 2015. Morain’s addition at this juncture reflects the spotlight CALmatters will shine this year on the vitally important 2018 gubernatorial and state legislative races, which will define California’s future.

“Dan knows the issues, the people, the process and where the secrets are hidden. His work will give readers a smart and simple understanding about what is happening and why,” said David Lesher, editor and CEO of CALmatters.

Morain has been The Sacramento Bee’s editorial page editor since 2013 and a columnist and editorial writer at The Bee since 2010. Morain spent 27 years at the Los Angeles Times, covering the California Supreme Court when Rose Bird was chief justice, the Legislature when Willie Brown was speaker and the Governor’s Office during Gray Davis’ tenure. His final assignment for The Times was to be part of the team that covered the 2008 presidential campaign. After nine months working in public relations for Consumer Attorneys of California, he joined The Bee’s editorial board. Morain is a California native. He and his wife, Claudia Morain, have three grown children. Morain will be working with his former colleague from The Bee, Dan Walters, who joined CALmatters last year as its first columnist.

The expanded commentary and perspectives will complement the news coverage CALmatters has provided from its team of 20 based in Sacramento and Los Angeles. Our experienced journalists provide coverage of major state issues in education, environment, healthcare, poverty, fiscal issues and politics. Their work is shared through in-depth explanatory projects, timely news stories, weekly news analysis and commentary, radio appearances, original data-driven stories, a subscription newsletter, public events and innovative social media.

“At a time when civil discourse often seems at risk, CALmatters is committed to creating a statewide forum for thought provoking ideas and insights to help all Californians become better informed about public policy issues,” said Publisher and COO Marcia Parker.

Readers can sign up for the CALmatters newsletter here. Visit CALmatters’ website,, as well as the nonprofit’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Follow Dan on Twitter @DanielMorain.

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Marcia Parker, the publisher and COO of CALmatters, was honored this month at the 140th Annual Winter Meeting of the California Press Foundation with the Jack Bates award. Named after the executive director of the California News Publishers Association, this award is given to “an individual for distinguished service to the California Press through effective leadership in addressing newspaper challenges and assisting journalism education.” Previous award winners include Richard Cameron, a journalism professor at Cerritos College, and Karlene Goller when she was the deputy general counsel at the Los Angeles Times..

Marcia Parker, COO and Publisher of CALmatters

Marcia Parker, COO and Publisher of CALmatters.

Marcia joined CALmatters in February to help our nonprofit news organization build a sustainable business model. When she’s not raising money, she’s working with our 137 media partners, doing community outreach across the state and much more. Marcia recently also accepted an invitation to join the board of the Institute for Nonprofit News.

Despite our crazy schedules at CALmatters, Marcia manages to find time to mentor journalists, advise media startups through the Matter accelerator, lecture on innovation ot Northwestern University’s San Francisco campus and be actively involved with the Online News Association.

After a long career in newspapers in many decision-making roles, including as managing editor of the Contra Costa Times, she taught at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism for several years and ran summer professional development programs for California newspapers and training programs for high school journalism teachers. She later managed AOL’s Patch hyperlocal news sites on the West Coast.

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