In summary

Our latest key hires bring an amazing range of skills and experience to our team.

We’re proud to share that we’ve added six extraordinary people to the CalMatters team, thanks to support from institutional donors, individual members and sponsors.


Adam Ashton joins as deputy news editor, working with reporters covering criminal justice, housing and homelessness. He previously worked at The Sacramento Bee, where he covered state government as a senior writer and led coverage of politics and policy as Capitol bureau chief. Adam has worked as a reporter and editor at the Merced Sun-Star, The Modesto Bee and The News Tribune of Tacoma. Adam reported from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on several assignments for McClatchy’s Washington Bureau.

Lynn La is our WhatMatters newsletter writer. Prior to joining CalMatters, she wrote for an education technology company and was a senior editor at CNET. She also covered public health at The Sacramento Bee as a Kaiser media fellow and was an intern at Capitol Weekly. She’s a graduate of UC Davis and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Heather Tirado Gilligan joins as newsroom coordinator. She’s a journalist who has written for outlets including Slate, The Nation, CNN, the Washington Post and USA Today. Previously, she was executive editor of the California Health Report, a news nonprofit covering disparities in health and access to health care. She’s a graduate of UC Berkeley’s school of journalism and lives in Oakland.

Lauren Hepler joins CalMatters as an investigative reporter. She has covered issues including breakdowns in pandemic unemployment programs and shifting state demographics. Lauren was previously a staff housing reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, and her past stories on everything from wildfires to professional sports have been published by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Silicon Valley Business Journal and others. Lauren grew up in Columbus, Ohio, studied history at George Washington University and holds a master’s degree from UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Alejandra Reyes-Velarde is a California Divide reporter writing about inequality in Los Angeles. She previously covered breaking news, the pandemic and Latino communities for the Los Angeles Times. She earned her bachelor’s degree from UCLA and is pursuing a master’s degree in legal studies at the university’s law school.


Louise Yokoi is director of foundation relations, building and expanding CalMatters’ relationships with foundation partners. Prior to joining CalMatters, she worked as Director of Development at EdSource. Previously, she worked as a consultant with a diversity of education, arts, environmental, and social justice organizations in the Bay Area. Before working in the nonprofit field, Louise was an educator in California public schools. Louise, a Bay Area native, has MBA and MA degrees from John F. Kennedy University and BA from University of California, Irvine.

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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,...