EdSource Staff


Abraham Aldrete, Director of Operations. Abraham joined EdSource as a human resources and operations consultant in January 2019, becoming the Director of Operations in June 2019. For the past 15 years, Abraham has built the financial, administrative and human resources functions at a number of mission-driven, social service organizations around the Bay Area, working in the areas of mental health, social justice, youth empowerment and patient advocacy. His interests include organizational development, coaching, facilitation and building systems that grow organizational capacity. Abraham earned his Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and Sociology (with an emphasis in social change) from San Diego State University. Contact Abraham Aldrete.

Justin Allen, Web Designer and Developer. Justin leads ongoing development of the EdSource website and digital media projects, contributes to reporting and collaborates with journalists and editors. Prior to joining EdSource, Justin did a range of full-stack web development and design work at Citizen Engagement Lab for leading advocacy organizations. Before that, he worked as an independent contractor in the U.S. and abroad for organizations including the San Francisco Symphony and Performing Arts Workshop. Justin received a B.A. in English from San Francisco State University. Contact Justin Allen.

Michael Burke, Reporter. Prior to joining EdSource, Michael was a political reporter at The Hill in Washington, D.C.. He received a B.A. in journalism from Syracuse University. He won first place nationally in the in-depth reporting category of the Society of Professional Journalists 2018 Mark of Excellence awards for his series on corporate influence at Syracuse University, published in The Daily Orange. Contact Michael Burke.

Rose Ciotta, Associate Editor. Rose is a Pulitzer Prize winning editor from The Philadelphia Inquirer where she co-edited “Assault on Learning,” an investigation into violence in Philadelphia schools that won the 2012 Gold Medal for Public Service. Rose joined The Inquirer as a reporter and data specialist and did award-winning stories into drunken driving and police brutality. She supervised education coverage as the education editor and deputy city editor and directed production of an annual school report card. Rose previously worked as a reporter and editor at The Buffalo News. Most recently, Rose worked in television as an investigative producer at WIVB-TV, the CBS affiliate in Buffalo where her team won Edward R. Murrow and Associated Press awards on multi-media investigations into restaurant inspections and food safety. She has a B.S. from Syracuse University in newspaper journalism and political science. She attended Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow and served on the board of Investigative Reporters & Editors, the world’s largest training group for journalists. Contact Rose Ciotta.

Karen DSouza

Karen D’Souza, Senior Reporter. Karen covers issues of student wellness and school climate. She is an award-winning writer who comes to EdSource after covering lifestyle, parenting, health, housing, education and the arts for the San Jose Mercury News. She is a four-time Pulitzer juror and her writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, San Francisco Chronicle and Seattle Times. She has an MA in journalism and a BA in political science and dramatic art from UC Berkeley. Reach out to her on Twitter at @KarenDSouza4 or email Karen D’Souza.

John Fensterwald, Editor-At-Large. John joined EdSource in 2012. For three years before that, he was founder and editor of the “The Educated Guess” website, a source of California education policy reporting, sponsored by the Silicon Valley Education Foundation. For the preceding 11 years, John wrote editorials for the Mercury News in San Jose, with a focus on education. He worked as a reporter, news editor and opinion editor for three newspapers in New Hampshire before receiving a Knight Fellowship at Stanford University in 1997. His wife is a retired teacher, and their daughter is a neurology resident at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine.  Contact John Fensterwald.

Louis Freedberg

Louis Freedberg, Executive Director. Louis joined EdSource as executive director in July 2011. For more than two decades, Freedberg has analyzed and reported on local, state, and national education policy issues. Before coming to EdSource, Freedberg was the founding director and senior education reporter at California Watch, a pioneering nonprofit journalism venture. He was also a founder of the California Media Collaborative, based at the Commonwealth Club of California. Prior to that, he spent more than a decade at the San Francisco Chronicle, where he was an award-winning education reporter, Washington correspondent, columnist, and member of the editorial board. He has served as an executive director of several nonprofit organizations, including Youth News in Oakland. He also directed youth programs at Pacific News Service/New America Media. A South African by birth, he founded and directed the Institute for a New South Africa. Freedberg has been a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University, a Visiting Fellow at the Urban Institute in Washington D.C., and a Fellow at the Institute for Justice and Journalism at the University of Southern California. He has a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from UC Berkeley and a B.A. in developmental psychology from Yale University. Contact Louis Freedberg or view his author archive.

Larry Gordon, Senior Correspondent. Larry Gordon was a higher education writer at the Los Angeles Times, where he covered colleges and universities in California and nationwide. He won the first place award for education reporting in 2014 from the California Newspaper Publishers Association. Larry previously was a reporter and editor at the Bergen Record in his home state New Jersey. He was a mid-career Fulbright Fellow, teaching journalism at the American University in Bulgaria. He earned an M.A. at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and a B.A. at Georgetown University. He is co-author of the hiking guide “Stairway Walks in Los Angeles.” He is based in Los Angeles. Contact Larry Gordon.


Theresa Harrington, Reporter. Theresa is covering the Common Core in Northern California. She came to EdSource from the Contra Costa Times/Bay Area News Group, where she covered regional, statewide and national education issues. She is well known by state education leaders, and education experts at universities and in the non-profit sector and has been recognized with multiple awards for her education reporting by the California Newspaper Publishers Association, the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club and the California Teachers Association among others. She began her career as a producer managing children’s and other educational programming and print outreach for KQED. Theresa is an alumna of San Francisco State University where she received a B.A. degree in broadcast communications. Contact Theresa Harrington.

Sydney Johnson, Reporter. Sydney covers math and science instruction. Before joining EdSource, Sydney was an assistant editor at EdSurge where she covered higher education and technology. Her work has also appeared in Slate, The Huffington Post, the East Bay Express, San Francisco magazine and others. She has a B.A. and a B.S. from the University of California at Berkeley and is based in Oakland. You can find her on Twitter at @sydneyfjohnson, or email Sydney.

Carolyn Jones

Carolyn Jones, Senior Reporter. Carolyn is a senior reporter at EdSource. She worked for 17 years as a reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle, covering government, breaking news, the environment, and other topics. She started her career covering schools for the Sonora Union-Democrat in the Sierra foothills. A Bay Area native, she graduated from UC Berkeley and has written for numerous local publications, including the Oakland Tribune, Hayward Daily Review, Oakland magazine and San Francisco magazine. She lives in Oakland and has two kids in college. You can find her on Twitter at @carolynjones100, or email Carolyn.

Diana Lambert, Senior Education Reporter. Diana covers teachers and teaching. Before coming to EdSource, Diana was an education reporter for The Sacramento Bee for more than a decade. She has won numerous awards, including the 2017 James Madison Freedom of Information Award from the Society of Professional Journalism, and both a first-place honor for investigative reporting from The Inland Press Association and the McClatchy President’s Award in 2016. Before becoming an education reporter Diana was a bureau chief for the Sacramento Bee. She began her career at age 17 as a part-time proofreader for the Lodi News-Sentinel. Diana earned a B.A. from California State University, Sacramento. Contact Diana Lambert.

Celeste Llamido, Office Manager/Executive Assistant. Celeste is the Office Manager and executive assistant to the Executive Director. Prior to joining EdSource, Celeste has worked at State Street Bank for eight years as a Senior Admin Support Coordinator. She has experience working in human resources and has 14 years of experience in the financial sector. She received a B.S. in business administration from California State University, East Bay. Contact Celeste Llamido.

Betty Márquez Rosales, Journalism Resident. Before joining EdSource, Betty worked on reporting projects for Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting and the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley. Betty’s stories have appeared in The New York Times, Fusion, and local news publications across California. She has worked in education and communications, earned a Master’s degree in journalism from UC Berkeley, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in gender studies from UC Santa Barbara. Contact Betty Márquez Rosales.

Smita Patel, Director, Communications and Partnerships. Smita coordinated the design and launch of the very first real EdSource website in 2000-01. She now leads EdSource’s web and communications team as well as EdSource’s work on the Ed-Data website and other partnerships and collaborations. She also coordinates commentaries for EdSource. For the past five years, she has been volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) mentoring foster youth, through which she has gained a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing California’s young people. She co-founded the Mountain Children’s Foundation, a project to empower children in rural mountain communities in the Indian Himalaya. She holds a B.A. with honors in Journalism from San Jose State University. Contact Smita Patel.

Thomas Peele, Investigative Reporter. Thomas Peele is a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter. His journalism career began in 1983 at a small weekly newspaper. He has a B.A. in journalism from Long Island University and an MFA in writing from the University of San Francisco. In addition to his Pulitzer for stories on the tragic Ghost Ship fire in Oakland, he has won more that 70 journalism awards including the (Ralph) McGill Medal for Journalistic Courage, and the Tom Renner Award from Investigative Reporters and Editors for reporting on organized crime. He is also the author of Killing the Messenger, a book about the 2007 assassination of Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey. Prior to joining EdSource in 2020, he was an investigative reporter for the Bay Area News Group for 20 years. He is also a continuing lecturer at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Contact Thomas Peele.

Andrew ReedSocial Media and Audience Growth Manager. Andrew came to EdSource from Idaho Education News where he was a multimedia journalist. He covered best practices in teaching and learning. He was also responsible for growing website traffic and social media engagement. Andrew is an award-winning journalist. He was named Idaho Press Club Videographer of the Year in 2018 and he won a regional Edward R. Murrow Award for best social media. Andrew is a Southern California native and began his career in television news. Andrew graduated from California State University, Fullerton. Contact Andrew Reed.

Ashley A. Smith, Reporter. Ashley A. Smith covered community colleges, for-profit schools and non-traditional students for Inside Higher Ed. She joined the publication in 2015 after covering government and K-12 education for the Fort Myers News-Press in Florida for three years. Ashley also covered K-12 and higher education for three years at the Marshfield News-Herald in Wisconsin. She has interned with The Flint Journal, USA Today and the Detroit Free Press. Ashley grew up in Detroit and is a 2008 graduate of Michigan State University. She joined EdSource in July 2019 to cover community colleges. Contact Ashley Smith.

Zaidee Stavely

Zaidee Stavely, Immigration and Education Reporter. Zaidee Stavely is a bilingual print and radio reporter who has worked in Mexico and the U.S. She has covered education, immigration, environmental justice and traditional arts for KQED, Radio Bilingüe, and Public Radio International’s “The World,” among other outlets. Zaidee has won numerous awards for her journalism, including an Emmy, a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award, an Excellence in Journalism Award from SPJ Northern California, and the Rubén Salazar Award from CCCNMA: Latino Journalists of California. She grew up in rural Mendocino County, where both her parents taught in public one-room schoolhouses. She has a Master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a B.A. in Latin American and Latino Studies and Community Studies from UC Santa Cruz. She lives in Oakland with her husband and two children. Contact Zaidee Stavely.

Ali Tadayon, Journalism Resident. Ali Tadayon covered the cities of Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, Emeryville, El Cerrito and San Pablo for the Bay Area News Group prior to joining Edsource at the start of 2020. Tadayon cut his teeth as a crime reporter at the Press-Enterprise in Riverside, CA and the Post Register in Idaho Falls, Idaho. His work has earned several awards, including two John Swett Awards from the California Teachers Association for coverage of the Oakland Unified School District. He is a graduate of California public schools, and holds a journalism degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Contact Ali Tadayon.

Anne Vasquez, Director of Content and Strategic Initiatives. Anne Vasquez is Director of Content and Strategic Initiatives at EdSource. In that role, she helps shape editorial strategy, grow partnerships and expand the organization’s footprint throughout California. Prior to joining EdSource, Anne was an executive at Tribune Publishing, where she most recently served as Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Chief Digital Officer. She previously was the Managing Editor of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Anne began her career at The Miami Herald and the San Jose Mercury News, where she was an education reporter and later an editor. Contact Anne Vasquez.

Daniel J. Willis

Daniel J. Willis, Data Journalist. Daniel is a data analyst and database designer. He previously spent 10 years at the Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times, and San Jose Mercury News in a variety of roles. His work has been honored by the Education Writers of America, Northern California Society of Professional Journalists, California Newspaper Publishers Association, and White House Correspondents Association among others. He is an alumnus of the University of California at Santa Cruz where he studied economics. You can find him on Twitter at @BayAreaData or reach him by email, secure email via PGP, or by phone or Signal at 510-585-4944.


Yuxuan(Sunny) Xie, Data Visualization Specialist and Web Developer. Yuxuan received an M.A. in Fine Arts from Interactive Media Program of University of Miami and a BA in Journalism from Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in China. She designs graphics, interactive charts, maps and React apps from enormous education data. She creates elaborate data visualization pieces for project stories, like “Tainted Taps: Lead Puts California Children at Risk” team project, which won 2018 National Awards For Education Reporting in the category of Best Visual Storytelling. You can find her on Twitter at @SunnyMonkeyXie or email Yuxuan Xie.

Louise Yokoi, Development Manager. Louise brings extensive fundraising and capacity building experience to her role at EdSource. Prior to joining EdSource, she worked as a nonprofit consultant with a wide diversity of education, arts and culture, environmental, and social justice nonprofit organizations to achieve their fundraising, organizational, and strategic goals. She began her development career working at SFMOMA and other Bay Area museums. Prior to working in the nonprofit field, Louise was an elementary school educator for six years. Louise has a M.B.A. and M.A. Museum Studies degrees from John F. Kennedy University, a multiple subject teaching credential from California State University East Bay, and a B.A. from University of California, Irvine. Contact Louise Yokoi.

Denise Zapata, Senior Editor. Denise is senior editor at EdSource. Previously she was an associate editor for The Center for Investigative Reporting, where she was part of a project team that won a George Polk Award and another that was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Denise began her journalism career at The Bakersfield Californian, where she covered several topics, including higher education, and later became an editor. She then joined The San Diego Union-Tribune as an assistant metro editor. Her duties there included overseeing education coverage for south San Diego County. Denise is a Bay Area native and a graduate of Santa Clara University. Contact Denise Zapata.