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.
Pamela is an award-winning network strategist experienced in using a wide range of strategies across multiple platforms to inform and interact with broad networks of stakeholders. As part of our leadership team Pamela draws on a broad range of professional experience to shape CALmatters communications, engagement and audience development strategy to help extend the reach and impact of our investigations. Pamela brings 25 years of experience in communications and editorial. Over the past eight years she has used technology and data to foster transparency and accountability in government at the state and national level and has led her teams to win several journalism awards including a James Madison Freedom of Information Award and a Distinguished Service to Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists of Northern California. Pamela received an environmental science degree from U.C. Berkeley and completed a High Impact Leadership Program at the Walter A. Haas School of Business. She is the Vice President of the Board of Directors for the U.C. Berkeley College of Natural Resources Alumni Association and in her spare time coaches Special Olympics basketball and soccer.
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.
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.
Mary Honer studied at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts before transferring and graduating from San Francisco State University. With an extensive background in design and organization, she was an Executive Assistant during the launch of a small design start-up in San Francisco before spending a year in Portland, Oregon working in Human Resources and running an office for a branch of a national distribution company. Shortly after making her way to Sacramento she started at CALmatters as one of its first employees as Office Manager.
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. Her sideline passions are mentoring, travel and gardens.
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.