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EdSource Staff

Management Team

Anne Vasquez, CEO. Anne Vasquez took the helm as EdSource’s chief executive in May 2021. Previously, she served as Director of Content and Strategic Initiatives at EdSource. In that role, she helped 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.

Adam Eisenberg, Managing Editor. Adam works closely with the CEO to oversee editorial content and standards. Previously, Adam served as Senior Editor of Community Engagement at Patch, leading the company’s efforts to drive participatory journalism among residents of the more than 1,200 local communities that Patch serves. In that position, he relied heavily on audience data to inform strategic decisions while working directly with more than 4,000 Patch contributors, including key local government officials and leaders across the country, as well as nearly 200 new partners. Prior to joining Patch, Adam spent two years as an assistant professor of journalism in the State University of New York system. Before moving into the classroom, Adam spent more than a decade at the South Florida Sun Sentinel, eventually leading the newsroom’s digital and audience development teams, along with a team of metro reporters, as Audience Development Editor. Adam lives in Carmichael, California with his wife and two daughters, ages 5 and 7. Contact Adam Eisenberg.

Rose Ciotta, Investigations and Projects 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.

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 Medical Center.  Contact John Fensterwald.

Dympna Ugwu-Oju, K-12 Editor. Dympna recently was the Senior Editor of Fresnoland, a nonprofit news organization focused on stories at the intersection of the environment, development, neighborhoods, and inequality in the central San Joaquin Valley. Before Fresnoland, Ugwu-Oju was the full-time instructor of journalism at Fresno City College where she ran and maintained the program, wrote the curriculum, recruited students, advised the college newspaper, coached and mentored hundreds of aspiring journalists. Ugwu-Oju’s widely anthologized writing has been published extensively in national newspapers and magazines, including Newsweek and the New York Times. Her first book, “What Will My Mother Say” (A Tribal African Girl Comes of Age in America) describes Ugwu-Oju’s childhood in the traditional Ibo culture of Nigeria and chronicles her war-torn childhood. She has presented numerous writing workshops and lectures on her writing, race and multicultural sensitivity and awareness. Contact Dympna Ugwu-Oju.

Thalia Henderson, Director of Development. Thalia Henderson is Director of Development for EdSource. Previously, she was Director of Development for the nonprofit media organization Fostering Media Connections, where she ensured coverage of foster youth, youth justice, and youth homelessness was well-supported. In that position, she kept close track of the impact made by strong journalism in order to grow funding from grants, individual donations, and corporations. She began her career in direct services, providing employment case management to transition age foster youth in South LA at The RightWay Foundation, where she also started fundraising. Thalia is a graduate of University of Southern California with B.A. degrees in Creative Writing and Social Sciences and lives in Los Angeles, California.  Contact Thalia Henderson.

Stephanie Nguyen, Director of Operations. Stephanie joined EdSource in July 2021. Previously, she served on the WestEd Finance team to drive strategic analysis, budgeting and forecasting for Early Childhood and Health and Justice programs. Stephanie has expertise managing budget-related relationships with state agencies and foundations. She co-founded the Comunidad Latina and Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Employee Resource Groups at WestEd. Prior to joining WestEd, Stephanie worked at the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) in various strategic and analytical capacities. Stephanie began her career in domestic and global investment research at MFS Investments and Putnam Investments, where she was a senior equity research associate. She is an advisor to the Massachusetts Youth Leadership Foundation and an Education Pioneers alumni. Contact Stephanie Nguyen.

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.


Makura Compton is the Strategic Operations Lead. Makura joined EdSource in Fall 2022 as an Education Pioneers Fellow. He works closely with the Director of Operations and the CEO to support EdSource’s strategy, operations, finance, and human resource functions. Before EdSource he worked in corporate strategy at Brunswick Corporation where he drove strategy execution and development initiatives across each of Brunswick’s most prominent subsidiary boat brands. His journey towards serving K-12 education first began as a junior at Gilman School in Baltimore, MD where he volunteered as a student advisor to underrepresented minority public school students through the Middle Grades Partnership. Makura received his MBA from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and his B.S. in Supply Chain Management from Lehigh University. His favorite pastimes are flag football and 5-on-5 pickup basketball. Contact Makura Compton.

Lingo Haile is the Office Manager and executive assistant to the CEO. Prior to joining EdSource, she worked at Mission Pets as a Sales Operations Associate for three and half years. She has professional experience in sales operations, project management, customer service and working in the nonprofit sector. She received a B.A. in Psychology from University of San Francisco in 2018. Contact Lingo Haile.

Staff Writers

Michael Burke covers higher education. 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.

Karen D'Souza

Karen D’Souza covers arts education, literacy, and early education. She is an award-winning writer who comes to EdSource after covering lifestyle, parenting, health, housing, travel 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, Seattle Times and American Theatre Magazine. She has an MA in journalism and a BA in political science and dramatic art from UC Berkeley. Connect on Twitter at @KarenDSouza4 or email Karen D’Souza.

Emma Gallegos covers equity in education and is based in the Central Valley. Emma has spent more than a decade in journalism, having worked at the Pasadena Star-News, LAist and Gothamist before returning to the Central Valley, where she grew up. Emma also spent a few valuable years in the classroom as a substitute teacher in the Bakersfield City School District. She also comes from a family of educators: her mom is a retired district administrator and her father was a superintendent and professor. Most recently, Emma worked at her hometown paper, The Bakersfield Californian, covering the Kern County education beat. She lives in Bakersfield. You can find her on Twitter at @emmagallegos or email Emma Gallegos.

Carolyn Jones

Carolyn Jones covers student wellness, mental health and special education. 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 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.

Betty Márquez Rosales, Reporter. Betty is based in the Bay Area and covers juvenile justice, youth homelessness and other education topics. Before joining EdSource, she 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.

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.

Mallika Seshadri is EdSource’s Los Angeles Journalism Resident. Previously, she interned with NPR’s “National Desk” and “All Things Considered” and covered higher education for the CalMatters College Beat. Her reporting has been published by The San Francisco Chronicle, ABC, CBS and NPR member stations throughout the country. Mallika graduated with distinction from UC Berkeley in 2022, where she spent all four years at The Daily Californian, eventually serving as the paper’s managing editor. Contact Mallika Seshadri.

Ashley A. Smith covers higher education and other student success reforms for EdSource. She joined the publication in July 2019 after covering community colleges, for-profit schools and non-traditional students for Inside Higher Ed, in Washington D.C. Her work has appeared in the Fort Myers News-Press, the Marshfield News-Herald, The Flint Journal, USA Today and the Detroit Free Press. Ashley grew up in Detroit and is a 2008 graduate of Michigan State University. Contact Ashley Smith.

Zaidee Stavely covers immigration and education for EdSource and hosts the weekly podcast, Education Beat. She 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, is part of EdSource’s K-12 team, with a focus on West Contra Costa Unified School District. Prior to joining Edsource at the start of 2020 as a journalism resident, he covered the cities of Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, Emeryville, El Cerrito and San Pablo for the Bay Area News Group. 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 holds a journalism degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Contact Ali Tadayon.

Lasherica Thornton is EdSource’s Central Valley journalism resident. She was most recently the Engagement Reporter for The Fresno Bee’s Education Lab in Fresno, CA where her reporting earned her a John Swett Award from the California Teachers Association. Previously, she was the Education & Features Reporter for The Jackson Sun, a USA Today Network paper, where she covered the educational systems for more than 13 counties. Her work garnered recognition with the Tennessee Press Association as well as local entities. A Mississippi native, Lasherica started her journalistic career in the eighth grade as a reporter and editor for her high school newspaper. In college, she reported for her college and community newspapers and interned in Pennsylvania, covering state government and writing for six publications, including The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Contact Lasherica Thornton.

Web, Data, Graphics & Audience Engagement

Andrew Reed is EdSource’s digital communication and community engagement manager. In this role, he manages the EdSource Community Network, social media, and collaborates with the special project reporting team. Andrew came to EdSource in 2019 from Idaho Education News. He has won multiple journalism awards, including a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award, California News Publishers Association and Idaho Press Club awards. Andrew is a Southern California native and began his career in television news. Andrew graduated from California State University, Fullerton. Contact Andrew Reed.

Shannon Tilton is EdSource’s web design manager. Shannon manages the website and content administration along with visual design and software production.  Prior to joining EdSource, Shannon was working as a front end web developer in the online education industry.  She has extensive project management experience and expertise in email marketing and responsive design.  She received a B.A. from San Jose State University.  Contact Shannon Tilton.

Daniel J. Willis

Daniel J. Willis is EdSource’s 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 is EdSource’s data visualization specialist. She designs graphics, interactive charts, maps and React apps from enormous education datasets. Her data visualization pieces for the EdSource special project, “Tainted Taps: Lead Puts California Children at Risk,” won 2018 National Awards For Education Reporting in the category of Best Visual Storytelling. 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. You can find her on Twitter at @SunnyMonkeyXie or email Yuxuan Xie.