2020 Statewide Youth Media Conference

Speakers and Bios

listed in order of appearance at conference

Elizabeth Campos (Keynote Address)

Growing up in Mexico and moving to Los Angeles as a young adult, Elizabeth realized people in both countries experienced a completely different life and she wanted to know why. She decided to embark on a career in journalism as a way to understand how the world around her works, and use writing as a tool to help others understand as well. Elizabeth’s career has taken her to places like The New York Times, VoiceWaves in Long Beach, NBCLA and she is now a Digital Editor at NBC and Telemundo in the Bay Area.

Andy Warner (Visual Stories: Graphic Journalism & Illustration)

Andy Warner is the NY Times Best Selling author of three books of nonfiction comics ranging from history to memoir. His comics journalism has been published by Slate, Fusion, American Public Media, popsci.com, KQED, The Center for Constitutional Rights and UNHCR. He is a contributing editor at The Nib and teaches cartooning at Stanford University and the Animation Workshop in Denmark. He was a recipient of the 2018 Berkeley Civic Arts Grant and the 2019 Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park Artist-in-Residency.  

Isaac Gonzalez (Short Form Video workshop)

Isaac is a life-long resident of the city of Sacramento and has worked in the community advocacy space since 2011. He’s worked with over 50 young people during that time, training them to become digital storytellers and strong advocates for their neighborhoods. In 2019, Isaac became a Senior Public Affairs Manager for RSE, Inc. handing multi-million dollar social change campaigns and government contracts. 

Christina Chomut, the Photography workshop

Christina has dedicated the past 10 years to working with youth and communities to advocate for individual and social change through The AjA Project. With a BA from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University, Christina combines her professional background in photography and journalism, with her passion for social justice in the nonprofit sector. Christina is the active Program Director for AjA’s international participatory photography program focused on human trafficking intervention in Ukraine and leads AjA’s San Diego-based leadership-level photojournalism program, Speak City Heights Youth Media. As the Director of Programs for The AjA Project, Christina is responsible for cultivating and managing partnerships, and overseeing all program implementation and delivery for the organization. Using photography as the primary medium to elevate community voices, Christina works diligently to build cultural and community-based connections, both in the United States and Ukraine.

Maria Madril Hernandez, CEO of the Tower of Youth, provides youth and young adults with tools and trainings in digital media arts and technology through educational, entrepreneurial and service programs throughout Central and Northern California. With over 20+ years of community organizing, education and media experience, Maria engages communities to harness the power of digital media and technology to inform, engage, and empower communities to advocate for social justice and improved economic, education and health outcomes.  In mid-2019, Maria joined the Access Sacramento, AccessLocal.TV team and looks forward to working with the youth journalist.

Delency Parham & Blake Simons – Hella Black Podcast

Hella Black Podcast is an Oakland based audio experience brought to you by Delency Parham and Blake Simons. With each episode we hope to educate and inform our listeners on all things related to Blackness. Our podcast is important because it uplifts the voices of Black radical organizers who are doing the work in the field. Often times our narratives are not told. Hella Black has been featured in Playboy, Eastbay Express, and The Daily Nexus. For more information, go to HellaBlackPod.com.

Annie Nguyen (Narrative workshop)

Annie Nguyen is a producer at Spooked by Snap Judgment. Previously, Annie reported on political loopholes with City Bureau. At Invisible Institute, she worked on stories about police accountability as an investigative journalism fellow. She freelanced for a hot minute in Chicago and prior to that, Annie interned at WBEZ where she worked on Making Oprah and Nerdette. She also interned at MPR and WGBH. In her spare time, Annie eats boba flavored ice cream and reads magical realism books in the park, sometimes at the same time. 

Erika Aguilar, Podcast Host/Reporter/Producer, KQED

Erika Aguilar is senior editor of housing affordability at KQED News, a public media organization in San Francisco. While at KQED, she helped launch the station’s local news and storytelling podcast called The Bay. Erika has spent more than ten years reporting. Her stories have varied from policing in Los Angeles to homelessness in Orange County to the environment and politics in Austin. Erika was the first in her family to graduate from college earning a journalism and history degree from Texas State University – San Marcos. She volunteers as an audio editor with the Online News Association and Next Generation Radio training program for aspiring journalists of color. Erika Aguilar is a proud Tejana from San Antonio. She believes in compromise, optimism and Selena.

Jeff Valenzuela (Keynote Speaker)

Jeff Valenzuela is an educator and activist, as well as, documentary photographer based in Tijuana, B.C., Mexico and San Diego, CA. His activism and advocacy work has taken him from leaving water in the desert in areas known to be migrant crossing routes along the U.S.-Mexico border to accompanying the Central American Exodus (or Migrant Caravan) which left the southern Mexico border in October 2018.

His photography work has focused on documenting the struggles and resilience of those he has organized and walked with. An example of this work was selected for the cover of Amnesty International’s July 2019 report “Saving lives is not a crime’: Politically motivated legal harassment of migrant human rights defenders by the USA” (in which Jeff was also interviewed and discussed his experiences of being repeatedly harassed and interrogated while crossing the border between Tijuana and San Diego).

Jeff is currently showcasing work in San Francisco, as well as in Tijuana and San Diego as part of Enero Zapatista, a month long event in solidarity with the E.Z.L.N. in southern Chiapas, Mexico. 

Martin G. Reynolds  (Investigative Reporting workshop)

Martin leads fundraising and external communications for the Institute. He also serves as the organization’s lead Fault Lines trainer. He is founder of Oakland Voices, a community storytelling project in Oakland, CA. He was named Digital First Media’s Innovator of the Year for his work on Oakland Voices. Over an 18-year career at Bay Area News Group he served in various roles, including senior editor for engagement and as editor-in-chief of The Oakland Tribune between 2005-2011. Reynolds was a lead editor on the Chauncey Bailey Project, formed in 2007 to investigate the slaying of the former Oakland Post editor and Tribune reporter. Reynolds also served as director of the Reveal Investigative Fellowships between 2016-2019.

Crystal Niebla (Social Media Workshop)

Crystal is a multimedia journalist and mentor for VoiceWaves, a youth-led media program now under Youth Leadership Institute. She first joined VoiceWaves as a Youth Reporter after graduating from Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) in 2016 and was soon hired as a staff member at the media hub. There, Crystal shares her journalism skills with Long Beach youth through workshops and mentorship. She also covers Long Beach issues for VoiceWaves, from housing crisis to local pollution, using nearly all mediums for reporting. Before VoiceWaves, Crystal freelanced for the Long Beach Post, interned for Random Lengths News, and served as the news editor for her college newspaper.

Kody Stoebig (Graphic Design 101: Canva Training workshop)
Kody Stoebig first joined The kNOw Youth Media as a youth mentor in 2014, creating content and mentoring younger reporters, and was then hired on as a part-time staff. In this role, she excelled in graphics and social media. Since then, she has become The kNOw’s Program Manager & Editor and leads The kNOw, now a program of Youth Leadership Institute, in providing young people with the tools they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities. With a passion for personal narratives and youth voice, Kody leads the youth reporters of The kNOw in creating passionate and crucial change throughout Fresno.

Kody graduated with a degree in Communication: Media and Film from Fresno Pacific University and was a part of the inaugural Fusion Rise Up: Be Heard fellowship program in 2016.

Jodi Ravel, Program Officer, CARESTAR Foundation

Jodi Ravel brings over 25 years of professional experience including leadership roles in grant making, non-profit management and communications. After three years as an independent philanthropy consultant working with non-profits who do media production (such as Radio Bilingue) as well as foundations undertaking strategy planning, grantmaking initiatives, and environmental scans, she recently joined the newly established CARESTAR Foundation as their first Program Officer.  Prior to that, she served as the Senior Manager of Community Benefit Programs in Northern California at Kaiser Permanente for over ten years. Through these experiences, Jodi has solicited, reviewed and managed hundreds of grants to organizations in Northern California, including grants funding media production and youth development/trauma-informed practice. 

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