EdSource Staff


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.

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.


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 digital advocacy organizations. Before that, he worked as a freelancer in the US and abroad for startups, arts and media organizations including Colorlines.com, the San Francisco Symphony and Niiu (now Newscase). Justin received a BA in English from San Francisco State University.
Contact Justin Allen.

Erin Brownfield, Strategic Communications Manager and Editor, Eyes on the Early Years Newsletter. Erin joined EdSource in 2010. She is editor of EdSource’s “Eyes on the Early Years”, a resource on early childhood education. She also assists with fund development and foundation relations. Prior to joining EdSource, Erin was a senior communications officer at The Wallace Foundation in New York where she managed major grants related to increasing awareness of the value of high-quality afterschool programs and other education initiatives. She received her Masters of Public Policy and Administration from NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service, and graduated from Miami University with honors in English. Contact Erin Brownfield.

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.

John Fensterwald

John Fensterwald, Editor-At-Large. John joined EdSource in 2012. Before joining EdSource he was editor and co-writer for the “The Educated Guess” website, a leading source of California education policy reporting and opinion, sponsored by the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, which he founded in 2009. For 11 years before that, 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 for two decades before receiving a Knight Fellowship at Stanford University in 1997 and heading West shortly thereafter. His wife is a retired elementary school teacher and his daughter attends the UC Davis School of Medicine. Contact John Fensterwald.

karin fischer

Karin Fischer, Correspondent. Karin is a longtime higher education reporter whose work has appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education, The New York Times, and Washington Monthly. She has been recognized by the Education Writers Association for her reporting on campus drinking, town-gown relations, higher-education policy, and the globalization of higher education. She is a recipient of the International Reporting Project fellowship, the East-West Center’s Jefferson fellowship for reporting in Asia, and the National Press Foundation’s Paul Miller Washington reporting fellowship. A graduate of Smith College and a native of Newfoundland, she is working on a book about Chinese students in America. Contact Karin Fischer.

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 a master’s degree at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and a bachelor’s 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.

Ashley Hopkinson, Reporter. Ashley Hopkinson is a digital journalist committed to excellent storytelling. Ashley began her career as a crime reporter for The Montgomery Advertiser in Alabama. Since then, she has covered health care, immigration, politics, arts and culture. Ashley earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism from Auburn University while writing for The Birmingham News and The Gadsden Times. Several years later, she earned a Master’s degree in Journalism from the University of California at Berkeley, where she was an instructor in the UC Berkeley Film and Media Department and a senior reporter and producer for Richmond Confidential, a hyperlocal news site in the Bay Area. Ashley has also worked for The Associated Press Bureau in Atlanta and The Times-Picayune in New Orleans. Prior to joining EdSource, Ashley was the Storytelling Editor for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs. Ashley Hopkinson was named the 2018 recipient of the Child 360 Uplift Award for Early Education Journalist of the Year in recognition of her reporting while at EdSource. Contact Ashley Hopkinson.

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 bachelor’s degree from California State University, Sacramento. Contact Diana Lambert.

Celeste Llamido, Office Manager. Celeste has been an interim office manager since April 2014 and has transitioned to the role as office manager at EdSource. She is also the assistant to the Executive and Deputy Directors. 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 her BS degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Personnel and Administration at California State University, East Bay. Contact Celeste Llamido.

Smita Patel, EdSource Director, Ed-Data Partnership. Smita is the EdSource Director, Ed-Data Partnership; Senior Web and Communications Manager. She coordinated the first redesign of EdSource Online in 2000 and the development of a content management system and e-commerce capability for the website in 2001. Since that time she has worked with EdSource on a variety of projects, including managing the survey recruitment and retrieval for EdSource’s Similar Students and Gaining Ground in the Middle Grades research projects and helping launch the California School Finance website. She is responsible for coordinating website projects and leads EdSource’s work on the Ed-Data partnership as well as providing outreach and communication support. She co-founded and volunteers actively for the Mountain Children’s Forum, a project to empower children in rural mountain communities. She holds a B.A. with honors in Journalism from San Jose State University. Contact Smita Patel.

Nico Savidge, Reporter. Nico covers higher education and K-12 topics. Before joining EdSource, he covered higher education for the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison, Wisconsin. A Bay Area native, he got his start in journalism at Youth Radio, a nonprofit media outlet based in Oakland. He has also covered crime, courts, law enforcement, protests, county fairs, zoo animals, Rose Bowls and Frozen Fours for the State Journal, The Janesville Gazette and The Daily Cardinal. His work has been recognized by the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, the Wisconsin Newspaper Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin. Contact Nico Savidge.

Zaidee Stavely

Zaidee Stavely, 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.

David Washburn, Reporter. David covers all things related to school climate and discipline for EdSource. Before joining EdSource, David edited Voice of OC, an Orange County-based nonprofit news site he helped start in 2009. He was also a reporter and editor for Voice of San Diego, a pioneer in the world of nonprofit journalism. Prior to his rebirth as a nonprofit journalist, David was an investigative reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune where he produced award-winning stories on corruption involving contractors in Iraq, San Diego’s high rate officer-involved shootings, and mismanagement at the local Red Cross. Early in his career, David worked as a reporter at the Allentown (Pa.) Morning Call and as a researcher for Dateline NBC. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Contact David Washburn.

Yuxuan(Sunny) Xie, Junior Web designer and developer. Yuxuan received a MA 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 and maps for EdSource news stories from big data. Contact Yuxuan Xie.

Mikhail Zinshteyn, Reporter. Mikhail is EdSource’s reporter on charter schools in California and is based at EdSource’s Los Angeles office. He previously worked as a program manager at Education Writers Association, helping to lead data and news-gathering trainings for reporters. He was also a contributing writer for The Atlantic and The Hechinger Report. Mikhail, whose name is pronounced “Michael,” was born in the Soviet Union. Mikhail earned a degree in Philosophy and Russian at Union College and a master’s in comparative politics at The London School of Economics. Pell grants helped cover the cost of his education.
Contact Mikhail Zinshteyn.