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 patch.com 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 calmatters.org where we encourage you to sign up for our newsletter and to support our work by becoming a member of CALmatters.
CALmatters welcomes Donna Lucas, President and CEO of Lucas Public Affairs, and Christy Remey Chin, a Venture Partner at the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, on to the CALmatters Advisory Board
“We are thrilled to have these two very talented and accomplished women join our advisory board,” said CALmatters Publisher Marcia Parker. “They have a broad range of experience, skills and networks.”
Chin, an advocate of social entrepreneurship and high-impact philanthropy, has been instrumental in growing the Foundation’s pipeline, portfolio support, and stewardship of its donor partners over the past decade. Chin has served on the boards of Accountability Counsel, Adventure Scientists, Blue Engine, CareMessage, Green City Force, Jacaranda Health, Students for Education Reform, Urban Teachers and Watsi. Her career includes impressive achievements at the Skoll Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Bedrock Capital Partners and Norwest Venture Capital and at a venture-backed company, The Frontier Group
She also chairs the board of Benetech, serves on the National Venture Capital Association board and is on the advisory board of Ashoka U. Chin received her MBA from the Harvard Business School and holds a BA in History from Colgate University.
Donna Lucas is often referred to as one of the most influential people in Sacramento. The Founder, CEO and President of Lucas Public Affairs has had a 30-year-career in which she has worked in senior executive positions both in public and private sectors. She was the deputy chief of staff for strategic planning and initiatives for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and chief of staff to First Lady Maria Shriver. She was the deputy press secretary for Gov. George Deukmejian, deputy treasurer for state Treasurer Tom Hayes, and California press secretary for the 1988 presidential campaign of George H.W. Bush.
Lucas serves on several boards including the Crocker Art Museum, John Burton Advocates for Youth, College Futures Foundation, All About Sacramento, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Maria Shriver’s Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement. She is on the Executive Committee on the California Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and is Chair-Emeritus of the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)
They join advisory board members: Mekahlo Medina, Emmy Award-winning co-anchor, technology and social media reporter for NBC4 Los Angeles; Douglas McGray, Editor-in-Chief of The California Sunday Magazine; John Thornton, Founder of the Texas Tribune; Richard Tofel, President of Propublica, and; Ernest Wilson, professor of communication and political science, and founder and director of the USC Center for Third Space Thinking at USC’s Annenberg School of Communications.
Launched in 2015, CALmatters is a nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters. Environmental regulation, education, health care, criminal justice, economic inequality – the debates on these issues and others have a profound impact on the lives of 38 million Californians and beyond. Our team of 20 + experienced journalists, with the time and resources to dig deep, is committed to meaningfully informing Californians about the players, politics, and interests that shape the issues that affect their lives. To ensure we reach many Californians, we work with more than 140 media organizations throughout the state that have long, deep relationships with their local audiences.
Media outlets interested in becoming CALmatters media partners should contact Editor-in-Chief Dave Lesher at email@example.com
We at CALmatters are excited to share that Health and Welfare Reporter Elizabeth Aguilera has been selected by the California Latino Journalists News Media Association (CCNMA) as one of the 15 Most Influential Latina Journalists of the Year.
“In this time of division and misunderstanding, it’s more important than ever that we recognize voices who bring context and knowledge to their beats. We are honored to join with Hispanicize as we shine a light on L.A. Latina journalists who are working hard to uncover stories that might otherwise go untold and who bring nuance and perspective to ongoing news stories,” said CCNMA president Laurie Ochoa.
CCNMA said that the criteria for choosing the 15 honorees was the work they’ve completed in the past year, the impact of that work and each honoree’s reach and influence in the communities they cover. They will be honored Oct. 12 at a breakfast at the Intercontinental Hotel in Century City, CA., during Hispanicize LA, an annual conference for Latinx professionals in content creation, journalism, marketing & entertainment.
“We’re very proud that Elizabeth has been recognized by CCNMA for her work,” said Dave Lesher, CALmatters co-founder and Editor in Chief. “Her coverage of topics including health care, immigration, and inequity here is extremely important in California.”
We’re very pleased that Ricardo Cano is joining our CALmatters team next month to cover K-12 Education in California.
Cano joins CALmatters, the state news nonprofit dedicated to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters, from the Arizona Republic, where he spent three years as the education reporter. There he covered breaking news and produced enterprise reporting, explanatory videos and data-driven features. Cano has been a finalist for three awards, a Livingston Award for Young Journalists honoring outstanding achievement by professionals under the age of 35, an Education Writers Association award for data journalism and two consecutive Arizona Press Club awards for public service journalism.
“We are excited that Ricardo will be joining the team,” said David Lesher, CEO, editor in chief and co-founder of CALmatters. “He is a solid journalist who has demonstrated data and multimedia skills as well as a passion for education issues.”
Cano’s stories at the Arizona Republic included a data-driven report on how Arizona has been hiring unqualified teachers and another data series uncovering an alarming percentage of unsafe school buses. He juggled those projects with multi-media reporting and responsibility for regular coverage and analysis of all education news, including that state’s turbulent teachers’ strike. When voters in key Arizona neighborhoods faced outrageous lines at the polls, Cano went to his local polling spot and hung out past midnight to interview the last person to cast a ballot—an immigrant from Guatemala who had languished in line more than five hours. “Cano is a relentless reporter and a quick study with terrific instincts,” said CALmatters Managing Editor Vicki Haddock.
A bilingual journalist, Cano will be returning to California. Madera is his hometown and his journalism degree is from Fresno State. He will start at CALmatters on Sept. 10.