Becca Aaronson reports on health care and develops data interactives for The Texas Tribune. After an internship in fall 2010, she was hired by the Tribune. Becca is a native of Austin who graduated from Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., with a bachelor's degree in cultural theory.
Julián Aguilar covered the 81st legislative session for the Rio Grande Guardian. Previously, he reported from the border for the Laredo Morning Times. A native of El Paso, he has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Texas and a master's degree in journalism from the Frank W. Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism at the University of North Texas.
Aman Batheja worked for eight years at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, most of that time covering state and local politics. A native of Cedarhurst, New York, he has an undergraduate degree in journalism and psychology from New York University and a master's in economics from the University of Texas at Arlington.
Chris Chang is a developer at the Texas Tribune. Originally from Houston, he studied electrical engineering and solid state electronics at the University of Texas at Austin. Afterwards, he worked at Synthetic Pictures; specializing in post production, and wrote several web apps. After some time freelancing in Chicago, Chris moved back to Austin to join the Texas Tribune.
Assistant Director of Development
Natalie Choate has a long history in Texas politics. Choate started as Legislative Aide for her hometown State Representative and then served as the Government Relations Coordinator for Trinity Industries. After working her second Legislative Session as Legislative Director, she completed Annie's List Campaign School and worked as a Campaign Consultant eventually to be brought on staff as Deputy Campaign Manager. Subsequently, she accepted a position as Fund-Raising Coordinator with a prominent fundraising firm in Houston. In 2010, she served as Precinct Chair Coordinator focusing on grassroots politics. Natalie Choate is a graduate of the University of Texas with degrees in Government, Political Communication and Ethics and Leadership.
Natalia Ciolko works on the Tribune’s events team, which produces over 50 parties, panels and symposiums each year. Her previous post as publications manager at Sundance Film Festival is preceded by editorial and production roles with the San Antonio Current, The Guardian and The Daily Texan. Born and raised in San Antonio, she is a graduate of The University of Texas with a degree in journalism.
Bob Daemmrich started covering Texas politics back when Rick Perry was still a Democrat, and remains a vital member of the Capitol press corps 25 years later. Following staff photographer jobs at the Bryan Eagle and Austin American-Statesman, he opened his own studio in 1985. He has since photographed campaigns, elections, inaugurals, legislative sessions and other Texas and national news for a variety of clients, both editorial and commercial. A native of Stoughton, Wis., he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Justin Dehn is a multimedia producer at the Tribune whose focus is videography and television production. He's been shooting TV news for more than a decade, most recently as a staff photojournalist at Austin's KVUE-TV from 2006 to 2010. At the Tribune, Dehn has been behind the camera for Tribune franchises Stump Interrupted, Face-Off and all the TribLive conversations, as well the stories we've produced each week for our dozen TV partners around the state.
Director of the Texas Tribune Festival
Tanya Erlach spent the past eight years as the senior talent manager at The New Yorker, where she programmed and produced a variety of public events, including the annual New Yorker Festival. Previously, she held editorial positions at Nylon, Interview and Spin. Originally from California, she holds a degree in international business from San Diego State University and a graduate degree in publishing from New York University.
Kate Galbraith has covered energy and environment for the Tribune since 2010. Previously she reported on clean energy for The New York Times from 2008 to 2009, serving as the lead writer for the Times' Green blog. She began her career at The Economist in 2000 and spent 2005 to 2007 in Austin as the magazine's Southwest correspondent. A Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University from 2007 to 2008, she has an undergraduate degree in English from Harvard and a master's degree from the London School of Economics. She is co-author of The Great Texas Wind Rush, a book about how the oil and gas state won the race to wind power.
Chief Innovation Officer
Rodney Gibbs ensures The Texas Tribune leverages technology wisely and creatively across all aspects of the organization. He has started two digital media companies. The first, Fizz Factor, developed handheld games for Nintendo and Sony platforms. The second, Ricochet Labs, created social-mobile games for news and entertainment brands, including the BBC, Lollapalooza, and The Texas Tribune. Active in the digital media community, Rodney chairs the advisory board of the University of Texas' computer science game program, and he serves on the boards of KUT, Austin's NPR affiliate; the Austin Film Society; and KLRU, Austin's PBS affiliate.
Director of Development
Maggie Gilburg worked as a freelance grant writer and fundraising consultant for local nonprofits from 2007 to 2009, helping to raise money for operations, programming and capital projects in the Austin area. Before that, she worked for the Austin Museum of Art in major gifts and membership. Gilburg moved to Austin in 2002, after living in Hong Kong for four years with her family. Previously, she served as assistant to president Arthur R. Taylor at Muhlenberg College, earning the Chairman's Award for Outstanding Service in 1998. Gilburg also held development positions at the Allentown Art Museum and Los Angeles Arts Council. She has a bachelor's degree in English from Carleton College and master's degrees in arts administration and business administration from Southern Methodist University.
Brandi Grissom is The Texas Tribune's managing editor and joined the staff when the online publication launched in 2009. In addition to editing duties, Grissom leads the Tribune's coverage of criminal justice issues. During her tenure at the Tribune, she was chosen as a 2012 City University of New York Center on Media, Crime and Justice/H.F. Guggenheim Journalism Fellow and was a fellow at the 2012 Journalist Law School at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. Grissom, along with Tribune multimedia producer Justin Dehn, received a 2012 regional Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting for work on the case of Megan Winfrey, who was acquitted of murder in February 2013 after the Trib’s coverage brought statewide attention the case. Grissom joined the Tribune after four years at the El Paso Times, where she acted as a one-woman Capitol bureau. Grissom won the Associated Press Managing Editors First-Place Award in 2007 for using the Freedom of Information Act to report stories on a variety of government programs and entities, and the ACLU of Texas named her legislative reporter of the year in 2007 for her immigration reporting. She previously served as managing editor at The Daily Texan and has worked for the Alliance Times-Herald, the Taylor Daily Press, the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung and The Associated Press. A native of Alliance, Neb., she has a degree in history from the University of Texas.
Director of Finance
Kara Hamann is the Tribune's Director of Finance. She earned her undergraduate degree in Business/Accounting from the University of Pittsburgh. Kara obtained a CPA designation from the state of Virginia in 1999 and completed the requirements of the CMA certification in 2011. She has lived and worked in Austin for 13 years. During the last nine years she has been employed in the nonprofit sector. Kara serves on the Board of Directors of Mainspring Schools, and the Austin CPA Chapter Oversight Council.
Reeve Hamilton covers higher education and politics for The Texas Tribune and hosts the Tribune's weekly podcast. His writing has also appeared in Texas Monthly and The Texas Observer. Born in Houston and raised in Massachusetts, he has a bachelor's degree in English from Vanderbilt University.
Ben Hasson previously worked at RMM Online Advertising and interned at media company Super!Alright! He has also worked as a freelance designer for print and the web, mostly for the Austin independent music and film scene. He grew up in Tucson and graduated from the University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in design.
Jim Henson directs the Texas Politics project and teaches in the Department of Government at The University of Texas, where he also received a doctorate. He helped design public interest multimedia for the Benton Foundation in Washington, D.C., in the late 1990s and has written about politics in general-interest and academic publications. He also serves as associate director of the College of Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services unit at UT, where he has helped produce several award-winning instructional media projects. In 2008, he and Daron Shaw, a fellow UT government professor, established the first statewide, publicly available internet survey of public opinion in Texas using matched random sampling. He lives in Austin, where he also serves as a member of the City of Austin Ethics Review Commission.
Director of Business Development
April Hinkle spent more than 20 years at Texas Monthly, stepping down as publisher in May 2010. During her tenure, she positioned the publication as one of the top 10 monthly publications in the country based on total advertising pages and was also instrumental in the launch of texasmonthly.com and its ongoing development. Hinkle, who holds an advertising degree from the University of Texas, served on the national marketing board for the National Retail Federation and was the founding chairwoman of its Retail Advertising and Marketing Association Southwest Advisory Committee. She also served on the Austin Society Board-Philanthropy Chair, Club Corporation of America and is a founding board member of Lake Travis Young Life and past board member of Young Life Austin West. Recently, she received the Media Star Award from the Human Development and Consumer Sciences Department in the College of Technology at the University of Houston. She is married and has four children. As a family, they have been featured in marketing campaigns for Southwest Airlines and Chevrolet.
Photo and Topics Research
John Jordan works "under the hood" at The Texas Tribune, writing and editing Tribpedia entries, maintaining and updating the Tribune's Directory of elected officials and answering mail from involved readers, among other duties. Before coming to work at the Tribune, John spent several decades as a touring and recording musician. In 2005, he left the road to join a statewide political campaign. After that, John worked for an Austin-based nonprofit, then joined the Austin bureau of The Dallas Morning News, where he worked for four years before joining the staff at The Texas Tribune.
Assistant Managing Editor
Ayan Mittra joined the Tribune after working more than 10 years at The Dallas Morning News. He spent his first seven years there as a copy editor. In 2008, he moved to the political desk, supervising the daily presentations and working with reporters in the field. He then worked as a night city editor, supervising the coverage of late-breaking news. He was also on the editing team for the 2009 and 2011 legislative sessions. A native of Beaumont, Ayan graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin.
Ryan Murphy plays a role in developing the Tribune's collection of data interactives (with a focus on mapping), conducts data analysis and currently maintains and updates the government employee salary database. Ryan graduated in 2010 with a degree in multimedia journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, where he served as the web editor for The Daily Texan.
David Muto writes and copy-edits for the Tribune. While at the University of Texas, where he earned degrees in journalism and Spanish, he headed The Daily Texan's copy editing department for a year. A Richardson native, he has also interned for The Austin Chronicle.
Ben Philpott is a senior reporter for KUT-FM, Austin's National Public Radio affiliate. He has been covering state politics and dozens of other topics for the station since 2002, during which time he has been recognized for outstanding radio journalism by the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated, the Houston Press Club and the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters. Before moving to Texas, he worked in public radio in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Ala., and at several television stations in Alabama and Tennessee. Born in New York City and raised in Chattanooga, Tenn., Philpott graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in broadcast journalism.
Ross Ramsey is executive editor and co-founder of The Texas Tribune and continues as editor of Texas Weekly, the premier newsletter on government and politics in the Lone Star State, a role he's had since September 1998. Before joining Texas Weekly, Ramsey was associate deputy comptroller for policy with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, also working as the agency's director of communications. Prior to that 28-month stint in government, Ramsey spent 17 years in journalism, reporting for the Houston Chronicle from its Austin bureau and for the Dallas Times Herald, first on the business desk in Dallas and later as the paper's Austin bureau chief. Prior to that, as a Dallas-based freelance business writer, he wrote for regional and national magazines and newspapers. Ramsey got his start in journalism in broadcasting, working for almost seven years covering news for radio stations in Denton and Dallas.
Emily Ramshaw oversees the Trib's editorial operations, from daily coverage to major projects. Previously, she spent six years reporting for The Dallas Morning News, first in Dallas, then in Austin. In April 2009 she was named Star Reporter of the Year by the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors and the Headliners Foundation of Texas. Originally from the Washington, D.C. area, she received a bachelor's degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
Alana Rocha joined the Tribune staff as the multimedia reporter after working eight years in television and radio news. She's covered politics for stations in Florida, Kansas and most recently in Austin as YNN's lead political reporter. Her work at the cable news outlet took her around the country reporting from the presidential campaign trail. A native of Tampa, Florida, Alana received bachelor's degrees in Journalism and Spanish from the University of Florida.
Jay Root is a native of Liberty. He never knew any reporters growing up, and he has never taken a journalism class in his life. But somehow he got hooked on the news business. It all started when Root walked into the offices of The Daily Texan, his college newspaper, during his last year at the University of Texas in 1987. He couldn't resist the draw: it was the biggest collection of misfits ever assembled. After graduating, he took a job at a Houston chemical company and soon realized it wasn't for him. Root applied for an unpaid internship at the Houston Post in 1990, and it turned into a full-time job that same year. He has been a reporter ever since. Root has covered natural disasters, live music and Texas politics — not necessarily in that order. He was Austin bureau chief of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for a dozen years, most of them good. He also covered politics and the Legislature for The Associated Press before joining the staff of the Tribune.Root is the author of “Oops! A Diary From The 2012 Campaign Trail,” an insider’s account of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s dramatic collapse in the 2012 presidential race. The book was released in September, 2012.
Noah Seger writes web and news applications for the Tribune. In addition to his background in secure software development with the Denim Group he has worked at TexasFile.com making public records from across the state available online. Originally from Corpus Christi, he studied computer science and linguistics at Trinity University in San Antonio.
Daron Shaw is a government professor at the University of Texas. He has polled in mayoral, congressional, gubernatorial, and presidential elections and has written two books and numerous articles on public opinion, voting behavior and political campaigns.
Morgan Smith reports on politics and education for the Tribune, which she joined in November 2009. She writes about the effects of the state budget, school finance reform, accountability and testing in Texas public schools. Her political coverage has included congressional and legislative races, as well as Gov. Rick Perry's presidential campaign, which she followed to Iowa and New Hampshire. In 2013, she received a National Education Writers Association award for "Death of a District," a series on school closures. After earning a bachelor's degree in English from Wellesley College, she moved to Austin in 2008 to enter law school at the University of Texas. A San Antonio native, her work has also appeared in Slate, where she spent a year as an editorial intern in Washington D.C.
Evan Smith is the Editor in Chief and CEO of The Texas Tribune, a non-profit, non-partisan digital news organization based in Austin. The Tribune's deep coverage of Texas politics and public policy can found at its website, texastribune.org; in the pages of the New York Times; and in newspapers and on TV and radio stations across the state. In not quite three years in operation, the Tribune has won four Edward R. Murrow Awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association, a Sigma Delta Chi award for excellence in journalism from the Society of Professional Journalists, a general excellence award from the Online News Association and a Knight-Batten award for innovations in journalism. Before co-founding the Tribune, Evan spent nearly 18 years at Texas Monthly, including eight years as Editor and a year as President and Editor in Chief. On his watch, Texas Monthly twice won the National Magazine Award for General Excellence. For eight years, Evan hosted the Lone Star Emmy Award-winning weekly interview program Texas Monthly Talks, which aired on PBS stations statewide. He currently hosts Overheard with Evan Smith, airing on PBS stations nationally. A New York native, he has a bachelor's degree in public policy from Hamilton College and a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University.
Director of Technology
Travis Swicegood has spent nearly a decade and a half in the technology industry with a focus on the web. Originally from El Paso, he has worked for startups targeting everything from electronic medical records to customer relationship management to social networks. He came to the Tribune after a year and a half of running his own consulting company that focused on helping not-for-profits and political activists use technology to expand their reach. Before taking over as Director of Technology, he lead development efforts on the Texas Tribune's Armstrong Project, a Knight Foundation funded project to create an open source news platform.
John Thornton (chairman and founder) has been a software and media investor at Austin Ventures (AV) since 1990, and was the managing partner of the firm from 2005 to 2008. AV is the largest non-coastal venture capital firm in the U.S., with $4 billion under management. Prior to joining AV, John was with McKinsey & Co., where he served clients in the U.S. and Europe. He was a co-founder of the Austin Entrepreneur's Foundation; a former trustee of Ballet Austin, where he co-chaired a successful capital campaign; a former trustee of the Austin Museum of Art, where he chaired strategic planning; and a former trustee of Trinity University. John currently serves on the advisory boards of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas and the New American Foundation. He graduated first in his class from Trinity University, and received an MBA from Stanford.
Director of Events
Agnes Varnum joined the Tribune events team after five years in membership and marketing at the Austin Film Society. Before moving to Texas, Agnes held positions with Icarus Films, the Center for Social Media at American University and as a freelance writer for Indiewire.com and Documentary magazine. She has worked on the AFI Fest in LA, Independent Film Week in NYC, and she has served on programming committees for Silverdocs, Newport International Film Festival, AOL True Stories (now Snag Films) and SXSW.
Art & Multimedia Director
Jacob Villanueva was most recently the interactive director and media producer for the Austin-based media agency Super!Alright! He has previously served as creative director for Youth InterACTIVE, lead graphic designer and new media specialist for CoComm Creative, and art director for Feedback magazine. He has worked as a freelance designer of print, web, video and interactive work for his personal projects at Digital Purity. He has a bachelor's degree in studio art with an emphasis in digital media from the University of Texas.
Todd Wiseman previously worked at the Austin School of Film and Synthetic Pictures and interned for director Richard Linklater. At the Tribune, Todd has helped develop the Stump Interrupted series, which won a national Edward R. Murrow award in 2010. A Fort Worth native, he graduated from the University of Southern California with a dual degree in film and English.