Elizabeth Aguilera is an award winning multi-media journalist who will cover health and social services for CALmatters. She joins CALmatters from Southern California Public Radio/KPCC 89.3 where she produced stories about community health. Her recent reporting 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. There, 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 earned an MA in Specialized Journalism from the University of Southern California. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two dogs.
Jessica comes to CALmatters from The Mercury News, where she worked as a one-woman Sacramento bureau covering politics and state government. She also investigated a Wall Street-traded online schools company that’s reaping millions in state funding while failing thousands of California students. That work got the attention of California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who recently reached a $168.5 million settlement with the company over claims it manipulated attendance records and overstated its students’ success.
Before moving to California three years ago to follow Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Legislature, Jessica lived in her native New Jersey and wrote about state education policy and the Newark schools for The Star-Ledger. There she covered New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s war with the powerful teachers union, Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million gift to the Newark schools and a fiery community activist with political pull whose charter school used millions in public money to bolster a real estate fiefdom she controlled.
Julie Cart is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who has worked as an environmental reporter, sportswriter and national correspondent during her three decades with the Los Angeles Times. Her experience also includes serving as the newspaper’s bureau chief in Denver, Colorado, where she covered stories that made national headlines including school shootings at Columbine High School and the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. In 2009, Julie was part of a reporter duo that won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for a series of stories about wildfires across the Western United States.
Ben Christopher is a contributing writer for CALmatters where he covers California’s economy and the 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.
John Osborn D’Agostino is an award-winning Davis-based web developer, data journalist and game designer. He’s passionate about using games to tell stories, building interactive projects for the web, working in the open government space and generally trying out new things. He’s worked with CalMatters, The Hechinger Report, EdSource and Open Oakland. He graduated from U.C. Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Vicki Haddock’s three decades of journalism include stints as political reporter/editor of the Oakland Tribune, state issues writer and Sunday editor of the San Francisco Examiner, and senior writer for the Insight analysis section of the San Francisco Chronicle—winning awards including “Best of the West.” She was founding editor of California Magazine Online, and holds a certificate in digital media from UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism’s Advanced Media Institute.
Co-Founder David Lesher 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.
Matt Levin is the data dude for CALmatters. His work entails distilling complex policy topics into easily digestible charts and graphs, finding and writing original stories from data, running correlations for no reason, and yelling at his computer for something he did wrong in his code. Matt is a former research associate for the Public Policy Institute of California, where he specialized in poverty and social policy. He has reported for KQED’s The California Report, PBS Frontline, and Private Equity International Magazine. He has a Master’s in Public Policy from UCLA and an MS in Journalism from USC, but he’ll always consider himself a Cal bear. Although he hates the phrase “wonk out”, he will happily talk about your regression model with you.
Judy Lin is a staff reporter for CALmatters, covering education, pensions and finance. Her piece on “The Price of Education” revealed how fragile school funding is in California, particularly as teacher retirement costs rise amid economic uncertainty. She’s interested in what’s happening in classrooms and following the flow of public funds. A veteran of the Sacramento press corps, she joined CALmatters in late 2015 from the Associated Press, where she worked for eight years covering California state policy issues, including budget and health care. Before that, she was with The Sacramento Bee and The Detroit News. Judy has been recognized for her reporting on government accountability and investigative stories. A graduate of the University of Southern California, Judy is a longtime active member of the Asian American Journalists Association.
Seán McMahon joins CALmatters as our Director of Product and Technology. He comes from The Sacramento Bee where he was the Digital Director leading strategy and development. With a small team of developers and executive support, he led the effort to create, integrate and deploy data services to improve journalism, build reader relationships, and search for new revenue opportunities. His prior experience includes web development, marketing, advertising, sales, product management, and production.
Before joining CALmatters, Marcia was Executive Director for Content for Penton Technology, overseeing a dozen news sites serving millions of business professionals and a thriving content marketing studio. She has consulted on content strategy for a variety of digital media companies and startups and serves as a mentor to several Silicon Valley start-ups and media start-ups at the Matter accelerator in San Francisco. She is also an adjunct lecturer on innovation at Northwestern University’s San Francisco campus, and is an active member of the Online News Association. Marcia is also on the selection committee for the Stanford Knight Journalism Fellows.
A veteran digital journalist, Parker previously held leadership roles as Editorial Director for State, a global opinion network in London; West Coast Editorial Director for Patch, managing more than 150 California and Washington news sites for the AOL-owned network; Programming Director for AOL Small Business, and launch director for the Center for Investigative Reporting’s California Watch state investigative unit. Parker also taught at and served for several years as Assistant Dean of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and for nearly a decade served on the adjunct faculty at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. She has a master’s degree from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy. Recently, Marcia received the 2017 Jack Bates Distinguished Service to the California Press Award from the California Press Foundation.
Her sideline passions are mentoring, traveling and gardening.
Linda Rogers has extensive experience in handling news, analysis and investigations, emphasizing accountability in public policy and politics. In 22 years at the Los Angeles Times, much of it as California Political Editor, she oversaw the Sacramento bureau, ran state campaign coverage and managed public opinion polls conducted with USC. Linda has also directed and edited coverage of nonpolitical California news and international affairs. Before coming to California she was Editor of World Press Review magazine in New York City. She has a Master’s degree in journalism from the University of Michigan.
Laurel covers California politics for CALmatters, with a focus on power and personalities in the statehouse. Her weekly news analyses explain political dynamics in the Capitol and examine how money, advocacy and relationships shape the decisions that affect Californians. She joined CALmatters after more than a dozen years as a reporter for the Sacramento Bee, where she covered the influence of lobbyists on state government. Previously, she covered education for the Sacramento Bee, winning awards for stories that exposed unintended consequences of standardized testing and revealed abuses in the teacher pension system. Laurel is a native Californian and holds a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.
Nazneen has seven years of experience in administration, client relations, government affairs and program & project management. Most recently, Nazneen was Director of Operations for Kimberly Ellis for California, where she managed communications, project management, administration and finances, outreach, events and more. Prior to that job she was the State Program Manager for Emerge California, with responsibility for program coordination and event management, communications and administration. Naz has a University of California, Irvine, Extension Certification in Project Management and she graduated from San Jose State University with a B.A. in Political Science.
Priyanka is a veteran journalist and editorial content strategist. Before joining CALmatters as Director of Revenue, she ran the Tech Content Marketing Studio at Informa, serving technology clients interested in reaching B2B technology professionals. A long time tech reporter and editor, Priyanka previously ran her own Silicon Valley content marketing and strategy consulting business. She also served as Regional Editor of AOL Patch’s Silicon Valley local news sites. She and a colleague conceived and launched an award-winning city magazine and website covering Oakland. The OakBook was one of the first hyper-local news sites in California, and was covered and discussed in the media. Priyanka is an alumna of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Dan Walters has been a journalist for nearly 57 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.
Samantha Young is a veteran political journalist who has covered local, state and national politics from Arkansas to Washington, D.C., and California. As a former reporter for The Associated Press, Samantha spent five years covering the state Assembly and statewide political campaigns, including Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2010 gubernatorial bid. She developed expertise in California’s groundbreaking environmental regulations and challenging water landscape. Samantha has been recognized for both her explanatory and watchdog reporting of complex policy issues. She is graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia journalism school.