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Staff

Joe Cutbirth, Editor

Joe Cutbirth, a native Texan with three decades of state, national and international experience in news, politics, and journalism education, is editor of the Observer. He is a former capital reporter and political writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a longtime contributor to the Huffington Post and a graduate and former professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. During the 2008 presidential campaign he was a recurring analyst for Politics Live with Sam Donaldson and Rick Klein on ABC News NOW. He was a contributor to the politics section of The Lonely Planet Phrase Book and a co-editor of Beaches, Bureaucrats and Big Oil: One Man’s Fight for Texas. His work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Education Weekly and Northwest Magazine. Cutbirth can quote the bill from any of the original Sondheim plays as easily as he can name the roster of Charlie Strong’s Texas Longhorns. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas, a master’s degree in communication, culture and technology Georgetown University, and a doctorate in communications from Columbia University.

Emily Williams, Publisher

A native of Fort Worth and a graduate of the University of Texas, Emily Williams has worked with government agencies, nonprofits, and political campaigns focusing on fund development before coming to the Observer in 2014. She has served as the Development Director for a statewide environmental organization, Finance Director on a nationally targeted congressional race, and as a consultant to a number of campaigns and organizations across the state.

Brad Tyer, Managing Editor

Houston native, 7th-generation Texan and Rice University graduate Brad Tyer has contributed to the Observer under five editors since the mid-1990s, including stints as freelance critic, contributing writer, interim editor, and two rounds as managing editor, from early 2008 to late 2009 and late 2012 to present. In the interim he’s served as the Observer‘s long-distance copy editor. A former staffer at the Houston Press, former editor of the Missoula, Montana Independent, and widely published freelance (High Country News, New York Times Book Review, Public NewsTexas Monthly, The Drake, Thora-Zine, etc.), Brad has been awarded a 2010 Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a 2011 Fishtrap Writing Residency, and a 2011 grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism to support research for his first book, Opportunity, Montana: Big Copper, Bad Water, and the Burial of an American Landscape, published by Beacon Press in 2013. Brad oversees the Observer‘s cultural coverage.

Jen Reel, Multimedia Editor

Jen Reel was an Observer intern before joining the staff in July 2010 as Web Editor. She received a Masters in Journalism with a concentration in Photojournalism from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was co-chair for the student chapter of the National Press Photographers Association.  She has worked in the non-profit sector for the Peruvian-American Medical Society and has been published in Utne Reader magazine, the Village Voice and Pitchfork Music.

Forrest Wilder, Associate Editor

Forrest Wilder joined the Observer as staff writer in April 2005 after working as an intern. Forrest graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in December 2003 with a major in Anthropology. While a student, he wrote music reviews, op-eds, and news stories for the Daily Texan and co-founded a student watchdog group. He has worked in the non-profit sector and has published in the Austin ChronicleSanta Barbara News-PressZNet, and the NACLA Report on the Americas.

Melissa del Bosque, Staff Writer

Melissa del Bosque is the investigative reporter for the Observer. Prior to working at the Observer, she spent five years in the Texas Senate as a policy analyst and communications director. She has a Master’s in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master’s in Public Health from Texas A&M School of Rural Public Health. Prior to the Texas Senate, she covered the environment and health beat along the Texas-Mexico border for the Monitor newspaper in McAllen, Texas, and worked as a freelance journalist. Her work has been published in Time magazine, the Dallas Morning News, the Austin Chronicle and the Utne Reader.

Patrick Michels, Staff Writer

Patrick Michels is a reporter for the Texas Observer and a former legislative intern. He has been a staff writer and web editor at the Dallas Observer, and a former editor of the Texas Independent. He has a bachelor’s in journalism from Northwestern University, a master’s in photojournalism from the University of Texas at Austin, and a healthy appreciation for competitive eating.

Emily DePrang, Staff Writer (Houston Office)

Emily DePrang freelanced for The Texas Observer for ten years before joining the staff as a reporter. A former nonfiction editor of the Sonora Review, her work has appeared in Black Book, FHM, and several publications that have since gone out of print. She has a bachelor’s in English from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Arizona. She is happy to be home.

Christopher Hooks, Politics Writer

Christopher Hooks joined the Observer in 2014. Previously, he was a freelance journalist in Austin, where he grew up. His work has appeared in Politico Magazine, Slate, and Texas Monthly, among others. He graduated from The New School in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in history.

Alexa Garcia-Ditta, Health Reporter

Alexa Garcia-Ditta is an Observer reporter (and former intern) covering women’s health, reproductive health and health care access across the Lone Star State. Before joining the Observer, she was a staff news writer at the San Antonio Current. She holds an MA in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and BA in journalism and Spanish from UT-Arlington, where she worked for three years on her college newspaper. After graduate school, she dipped her toe in public policy communications at the Center for Public Policy Priorities. When she’s not at work, she’s probably training for her next marathon.

Krissi Trumeter, Controller

Krissi Trumeter joined the Observer in July, 2011 and has over ten years accounting and administrative experience. When she is not obsessing over ways to save money for the Observer, Krissi spends her time doing pro-bono bookkeeping and volunteering with other local non-profits and grassroots organizations. Her favorite pastimes are riding her bicycle and dancing at The Broken Spoke.

Jacqueline Galvan, Membership Manager

Jacqueline joined The Texas Observer as membership manager in May 2014. Prior to joining the Observer, she worked in both the government and nonprofit sectors, focusing on social justice as a constituent services and field representative in the U.S. House of Representatives and assisting with administrative and development tasks at Creative Action, a youth development nonprofit based in Austin. Jacqueline graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in English and a minor in linguistics. Among her favorite things are spending time with her 60-pound lab/chow mix, reading Amazon product reviews and keeping up with the fake Twitter profiles of characters from The West Wing.

Michael Schrantz, Audience Development Manager

Michael Schrantz did stints at newspapers in Alaska and Colorado before joining The Texas Observer in 2015 as the audience development manager. He has bachelor’s degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Missouri at Columbia. In his free time, he dreams (and sometimes writes) about skiing as a way to beat the heat.

Naomi Shihab Nye, Poetry Editor

Naomi Shihab Nye is a poet, essayist, and novelist. She has received a Lannan Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and four Pushcart Prizes. Her collection 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East was a finalist for the National Book Award. She is the author of two acclaimed novels for teens, Habibi and Going Going. Although Naomi Shihab Nye describes herself as “a wandering poet,” she calls San Antonio, Texas, home.

David Duhr, Copy Editor

David Duhr is co-founder of WriteByNight, a writers’ service and writing center in Austin. He is also Fiction Editor at Fringe Magazine, and his writing has appeared in Publishing Perspectives, Gulf Coast, Iowa Review, and many others. After having lived in Milwaukee, D.C., Denver, Boston and Florida, he has found a home in Austin, where you will often see him walking down the street with his nose in a book. Which is very dangerous.

Chad Tomlinson, Art Director

Chad Tomlinson has designed for the Dallas Observer, Details, Real Simple, Saveur, Worth, T Magazine and the National Geographic Society.