In summary

CalMatters continues to hire the best and brightest people to deliver more nonpartisan California news you can depend on.

Thanks to the support of funders, donors, and individual members, CalMatters has a burst of new people hired to bring readers more California news you can trust.


Denise Zapata is our new deputy news editor.  Previously she was a senior editor at EdSource for eight years. As associate editor for The Center for Investigative Reporting, Denise was part of one team that won a George Polk Award and another that was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. She began her journalism career at The Bakersfield Californian, where she covered several topics, including higher education, and later became an editor. She also worked as an editor at the Union-Tribune in San Diego.

Denise Smith Amos is our new California Divide editor. Previously she was the Watchdog and Accountability Team editor at the San Diego Union-Tribune, where she managed nine reporters. She brings nearly 35 years of editing and reporting experience to CalMatters as well as a passion for accountability journalism and a perspective on Divide stories that she credits to her personal background. She has worked as an education reporter at the Florida Times Union and the Cincinnati Enquirer; editor in chief of the Kentucky Enquirer and Assistant Metro Editor at the St Louis Post Dispatch. She graduated from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism.


Lil Kalish is our new California Divide reporter based in Los Angeles. As a senior fellow at Mother Jones magazine, they produced investigative features with a fresh and lively writing style and fact-checked enterprise stories. Lil has also freelanced for The Guardian and LAist and worked at the Bail Project writing a history of U.S. bail funds for the UCLA Law Review. Lil earned a degree in political science and Chinese language at Vassar as well as a masters in postcolonial studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. After undergrad, they worked for a year as a reporter at The Myanmar Times through a government crackdown in Burma.

Nadia Lopez, our new environment reporter, was previously the Latino Communities reporter at the Fresno Bee, where she wrote in English and Spanish. She also co-launched a Latino issues newsletter and appears regularly on a national Spanish-language talk show. Previously, she was the city hall reporter at San Jose Spotlight. Nadia graduated from San Francisco State with a degree in professional writing and rhetoric. 

And Jeanne Kuang is our new Sacramento-based California Divide reporter. Previously, she was the Missouri statehouse correspondent for The Kansas City Star. She is a San Gabriel Valley native who left California for a journalism degree at Northwestern University, then reported on criminal justice in Chicago and government, housing, gun violence and poverty in Wilmington, Delaware.

Revenue Team

Sonya Quick joined us as membership manager after previously working at Voice of OC, a nonprofit and investigative news organization in Orange County, Calif. There she spent nearly six years growing reader revenue, increasing engagement around news stories and polishing presences across web, social and app channels. Quick describes herself as “fiercely committed to better serving communities, particularly people who have been marginalized, underserved, and who are most at-risk.” Earlier in her career, she was a reporter, web editor, mobile editor and graphics reporter at the Orange County Register. She was also an adjunct professor at Chapman University for nine semesters teaching courses in digital media with an emphasis on marketing and engagement. Quick is a former SPJ regional director and current member of the Orange County Press Club’s board.

Kellie Mackey is our new development associate supporting the team’s work on growing reader support to build a sustainable business model. Mackey has worked with various non-profit organizations including The California State Library and The Sacramento County Library.  Kellie honed her skills as a development associate while working at Friends of the River, where she put on the inaugural Sustainable Water Solutions Expo on the State Capitol grounds.

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Sonya builds bridges between the community and CalMatters as director of membership and engagement. Previously she managed engagement, fundraising, marketing, digital storytelling and UX at Voice of OC,...