JCal reporters are supported by journalism and civics professionals from all over California.

Kristen Go, Editor in Chief of CalMatters, speaks to JCal students at CalMatters in Sacramento on June 21, 2023. Photo by Semantha Norris, CalMatters.

I really enjoyed the networking event. It made me realize that they are not people we as youth should be intimidated by– professional journalists want to support other youth and they are open to telling their story. I appreciated their encouragement, guidance, and openness.
Clarissa Wing
San Mateo County


Headshot of Michael Lozano
Michael Lozano
Michael leads CalMatters’ Youth Journalism Initiative supporting scholastic media across California. He previously covered election administration for CalMatters and has written for the Long Beach Post, New America Media and more covering diversity, immigration and community health. In Long Beach, he led VoiceWaves, an award-winning news training program.
Headshot of Waliya Lari
Waliya Lari
Waliya is an award winning news producer who spent the last two decades as a leader in newsrooms of all sizes in various parts of the country. Most recently serving as the Director of Programs and Partnerships for the Asian American Journalists Association, she has a keen interest in developing strong journalists, improving newsroom norms and evolving news coverage to be more contextual, inclusive and accessible. All this is rooted in Waliya’s core belief that engaging journalism is the best way to empower and educate the public. She presents at conferences about how newsrooms and communities can work together to improve news coverage of marginalized people and issues. Waliya graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and is an alumna of numerous journalism programs including RIAS German/American Fellowship, Loyola’s Journalism Law School, AAJA’s Executive Leadership Program and the Poynter Institute. She lives in Austin with her husband and three children and documents her love of exploring, cooking, dining and enjoying life in general on Instagram @_WallysWorld.
Headshot of Yi-Shen loo
Yi-Shen loo
Yi-Shen Loo is currently the Programs and Special Initiatives Coordinator for the Asian American Journalists Association and a graduate from the University of California, Berkeley with majors in Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies and Ethnic Studies, as well as a minor in Japanese. In her time at Berkeley, she was the co-chief editor of the Asian American Research Journal and a member of the AAPI Community COVID Archival Project.
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halona leung
As Director of Operations, Halona Leung oversees the business and people operations at CalMatters. She has experience in research grant administration, business operations, budget management, and communications from her prior work at UC Davis. She brings a commitment to the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging within the workplace and in interactions with our greater community. Halona has a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of California, Davis.


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Jennifer Cortez
The Desert Sun
Jennifer Cortez, who covers education for The Desert Sun, is a former high school English and journalism teacher in the Coachella Valley with a passion for student journalism and mentorship. A product of the California public education system from primary to graduate school, she most recently earned a master’s degree in multimedia journalism from UC Berkeley. During her time in the Bay Area, she reported on K-12 education and student homelessness in San Francisco for Mission Local.
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Rosalie Chan
Business Insider
Rosalie is a senior reporter at Business Insider covering enterprise tech. She also founded and writes True Colors, a weekly newsletter that highlights reporting, essays, and multimedia work by women of color. Formerly, she worked as a software engineer in Silicon Valley and a freelance writer covering science, health, Asian American issues, and more. Born and raised in the Chicago area, she studied journalism and computer science at Northwestern University. She’s now based in San Francisco. In her free time, she enjoys reading, running, cooking, photography, sketching, and Muay Thai.
Headshot of Kevin Truong
Kevin Truong
The San Francisco Standard
Kevin Truong is a staff writer with The Standard focusing on business policy and the economic recovery. He was previously a reporter and editor at the San Francisco Business Times, where he covered commercial real estate, biotech and the innovation economy. His journalism has won recognition from the California News Publishers Association and the San Francisco Press Club. A proud graduate of the University of California Los Angeles, Kevin cut his teeth at the Daily Bruin student newspaper and news organizations like the Christian Science Monitor, NBC Los Angeles and Marketplace, before making his way north to the City by the Bay.
Headshot of Vanessa Arredondo
Vanessa Arredondo
Los Angeles Times
Vanessa Arredondo is a reporter and a member of the 2022-23 Los Angeles Times Fellowship class. She is a Chicana born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. Arredondo is a proud product of community college and has interned in various digital newsrooms across California, including CalMatters and NBCLA. Before joining The Times, she was a Hearst fellow at the San Francisco Chronicle. She is a fan of both the Dodgers and the Giants, which some may find strange.
Headshot of Srishti Prabha
Srishti Prabha
The Sacramento Observer
Srishti Prabha is an education reporter for The Observer, which serves the Black community in Sacramento, California, and for CapRadio, an NPR station in Sacramento. Before joining Report for America, Prabha was the managing editor of India Currents, a nonprofit magazine for the Bay Area community, covering the intersection of immigration, cultural identity, health and more in the South Asian community. Prabha’s first language is Hindi, and Prabha holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Northeastern University. Prabha came to journalism as a Public Allies Fellow working at East Palo Alto Today, addressing the effects of gentrification in East Palo Alto, California. Since then, Prabha has won awards from the San Francisco Press Club and the California News Publishers Association.
Headshot of Janelle Salanga
Janelle Salanga
Janelle is a reporter & editor from the Central Valley interested in place, labor, disability, education and community movements. They are currently the Sacramento Communities reporter and one of the writers for the SacramenKnow newsletter at NPR’s Sacramento member station, CapRadio. They are also the editorial director for media criticism site The Objective. Janelle is passionate about journalism as a tool for record-keeping and nuancing the narratives of communities made marginalized.
Headshot of Sona Patel
Sona Patel
The New York Times
Sona Patel currently works at The New York Times as the Program and Editorial Director of the Local Investigations Fellowship. She works with Dean Baquet, the former executive editor of The New York Times, and together started this new fellowship for investigative journalism focused on the state and local level. Prior to this, Sona was the Director of Community & User Generated Content at The New York Times where she oversaw The Times’s Community moderation team and worked on improving the ways readers can interact with each other — and Times journalists — on our platforms. Sona started her career as a beat reporter for The (San Luis Obispo) Tribune and later switched gears to become the social media editor at The Seattle Times. There she was part of the team that won the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting in 2010. Sona is a strong advocate for diversity in newsrooms. She was the Seattle chapter president of the Asian American Journalists Association and served as vice president of the New York chapter.
Headshot of Wendy Lee
Wendy Lee
Los Angeles Times
Wendy Lee is an entertainment business reporter for the Los Angeles Times, covering streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+. She also writes about podcasting services, digital media and talent agencies. Lee was part of a team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in breaking news reporting of the fatal shooting on the set of “Rust.” She previously covered tech for the San Francisco Chronicle and worked at KPCC-FM (89.3), the Star Tribune in Minnesota and the Tennessean. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley.
Headshot of Debbie Truong
Debbie Truong
Los Angeles Times
Debbie Truong is a higher education reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Previously, she covered PK-12 education for WAMU-FM (88.5), the NPR affiliate in Washington, D.C., and the Washington Post. She attended Syracuse University and received a master’s degree in journalism from American University. She grew up in the San Gabriel Valley.
Headshot of Diamond Naga Siu
Diamond Naga Siu
Business Insider
Diamond Naga Siu (first name is two words) is a senior reporter with Business Insider. She’s based in San Diego, California. At Insider, she was previously a senior tech reporter and wrote the daily 10 Things in Tech newsletter. Siu is an award-winning journalist who previously worked for Law360, the New York Post, The Boston Globe, NBC News and other publications. She was the Asian American Journalists Association New York chapter secretary for the 2020-2021 term.
Headshot of Melissa Mecija
Melissa Mecija
ABC 10News
Melissa Mecija is a reporter and anchor at ABC 10News in San Diego. She currently works with Team 10’s investigative unit and the weekend morning team as a weather and news anchor. Before moving to the investigative team, Melissa contributed to 10News This Morning as the morning traffic anchor and general assignment reporter. She came to San Diego from KCBS/KCAL in Los Angeles, where she worked in her hometown of Orange County as a video journalist and web reporter. Prior to that, Melissa was a reporter and fill-in anchor/weather forecaster for KSBY in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. She covered several major wildfires and numerous high-profile stories, including the conviction of Jesse James Hollywood and the death of pop star Michael Jackson. While in the Central Coast, Melissa was nominated for the Associated Press, Television and Radio Association’s Reporter of the Year.

Jcal mixer

Students networked with Sacramento-area journalists at a mixer in the CalMatters office in June 2023.

The networking event was something very out of my comfort zone and getting to JCal and being able to actually do it and successfully getting 3 peoples contacts, defiantly gave me a confidence boost for future events like this.
Abigail Ross
San Diego County
I would attribute my growth in confidence to the networking event. It was my first networking event, and I was really nervous to communicate with professionals. However, the positive conversations and the responses and engagement I received during and after the event affirmed me and helped me feel more confident in my journalism community.
Maia Pak
San Bernardino County
Since beginning JCal, I believe I have grown in my ability to communicate with others in interviews, networking, and speaking with other JCal-ers. It helped to have a mentor that gave me tips on how to conduct interviews and helped me to not feel so nervous when speaking to the legislator. Also, I really enjoyed the networking event. It made me realize that they are not people we as youth should be intimidated by– professional journalists want to support other youth and they are open to telling their story. I appreciated their encouragement, guidance, and openness.
Clarissa Wing
San Mateo County

JCal is a free program that immerses California high school students into the state’s news ecosystem. It is a collaboration between the Asian American Journalists Association and CalMatters.