Andrea Valdez, Editor
Andrea Valdez, a native Houstonian, worked at Texas Monthly for ten years, first as a fact checker, then as the editor of texasmonthly.com. She has written on a wide range of subjects, including more than forty columns on activities every Texan should be able to do, which provided the inspiration for her book, How to Be a Texan: The Manual. She was the editor of WIRED.com from 2017 to 2019, and is now the editor of the Texas Observer.
Abby Johnston, Executive Editor
Abby Johnston is the Observer‘s executive editor, primarily overseeing digital strategy and editorial. Previously, she was the digital editor for the PBS investigative documentary series FRONTLINE and held several roles at Texas Monthly, including the editor of the website and senior editor. She received two journalism degrees: a bachelor’s from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s from the University of Missouri. She also has a French degree, but who needs that in Texas? Contact her at [email protected].
Rose Cahalan, Managing Editor
Rose Cahalan is managing editor at the Observer and also edits the magazine’s arts and culture coverage. She was previously senior editor at the University of Texas at Austin alumni magazine, the Alcalde, where she wrote about everything from geology research in the Arctic to human rights in Iran. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Rice University, enjoys knitting and running, and is always planning her next trip to Big Bend. You can contact her at [email protected]
Megan Kimble, Senior Editor
Megan Kimble is senior editor at the Observer. Previously, she was the founding editor of Edible Baja Arizona, a bimonthly magazine covering Tucson and the borderlands. Megan is the author of Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food, and has written about housing and agriculture for CityLab, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post. She holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Arizona, loves hiking and camping, and always eats breakfast. You can contact her at [email protected].
Lise Olsen, Senior Editor and Reporter
Lise Olsen is a Houston-based senior reporter and editor at the Texas Observer. Lise has investigated many twisted Texas tales, including crooked judges, an unjust execution, massive environmental disasters, myriad cases of corporate and public corruption, and unsolved serial killings. Her reports in three states over 20 years contributed to the prosecutions of a former congressman and a federal judge, inspired laws and reforms, helped solve cold cases, restored names to unidentified murder victims, and freed dozens of wrongfully-held prisoners. Her work is featured in CNN’s “The Wrong Man” (2015) about the innocence claims of executed offender Ruben Cantu and the six-part A&E series on the victims of a 1970s serial killer, The Eleven, (2017). Her email is [email protected] and Twitter handle is @lisedigger.
Sunny Sone, Engagement Editor
Sunny Sone is the engagement editor. She holds a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin. You can contact her at [email protected].
Michael Barajas, Staff Writer
Michael Barajas is a staff writer covering civil rights for the Observer. Before joining the Observer, he was editor of the San Antonio Current and managing editor of the Houston Press. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. You can reach him on Twitter or at [email protected].
Gus Bova, Staff Writer
Gus Bova reports on immigration, the U.S.-Mexico border and grassroots movements for the Observer. He formerly worked at a shelter for asylum-seekers and refugees. You can contact him at [email protected].
Christopher Collins, Staff Writer
Christopher Collins is an investigative journalist based in Abilene. The Wichita Falls native graduated from Midwestern State University in 2012 with a degree in Mass Communication. He previously has worked as a reporter at the Abilene Reporter-News and the Wichita Falls Times Record News, along with running a freelance reporting business. At the Observer, he writes about rural Texas. He can be reached on Twitter or at col[email protected].
DaLyah Jones, Staff Writer
DaLyah Jones is a staff writer for Texas Observer covering environment. She’s former general assignments reporter and All Things Considered producer for Austin’s NPR Station, KUT 90.5, where she focused on rural and suburban stories outside of the Capital’s urban core. She can be reached at [email protected].
Justin Miller, Staff Writer
Justin Miller covers politics for the Observer. He was previously a writing fellow at The American Prospect magazine in Washington, D.C., where he covered the labor beat and wrote broadly about national politics and policy. He’s also written for The Intercept, The New Republic and In These Times. A Twin Cities native, he received a journalism degree from the University of Minnesota. You can follow him on Twitter and reach him at [email protected].
Sophie Novack, Staff Writer
Sophie Novack covers public health at the Observer. She was previously a staff correspondent at National Journal in Washington, D.C., where she reported on Congress, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, abortion legislation and more. Her work has also appeared in The Atlantic and CityLab, and been cited by The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, CNN, and the 2014 Supreme Court brief for the Hobby Lobby case. Originally from New York City, she has a bachelor’s degree in English from Dartmouth College. You can contact her at [email protected].
Mike Kanin, Publisher
Mike Kanin is the publisher of the Texas Observer. He has many years of media experience, including a role as the founding publisher of the nonprofit local daily the Austin Monitor. Before that, he spent some time on the other side of the wall, as both a freelancer and a staffer. His work has appeared in the Washington City Paper, the Washington Post’s Express, the Boston Herald, Boston’s Weekly Dig, the Austin Chronicle and the Texas Observer. He’s also served as the Washington City Paper’s City Lights Editor and as the co-founding editor of Unfit Times. You can contact him at [email protected].
Loren Lynch, Development Director
Loren A. Lynch is the development director at the Observer. Though she was born in Dallas, Loren has spent most of her life outside of the state, in Wisconsin and New York City. She is excited to return to Texas because of tacos, BBQ and mild winters. Previously, Loren was at The Nation, where she fundraised and oversaw special revenue programs and events. When not talking about the importance of independent, local journalism, she writes about science fiction, TV, films and comic books. She also enjoys swimming, leisurely walks around Austin’s endless parks, a good glass of scotch and taking too many pictures of her cats. You can contact her at [email protected].
Marisol Gomez, Office Manager
Marisol Gomez is the office manager for the Observer. A proud daughter of Mexican immigrants, Marisol was born and raised in Southern California. She holds a degree in fashion design from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. When not behind her sewing machine, she can be found outdoors hiking, camping or paddle-boarding.
Naomi Shihab Nye, Poetry Editor
Naomi Shihab Nye is a poet, essayist, and novelist, living in San Antonio. She has edited eight anthologies of poetry, including Is This Forever or What? Poems & Paintings from Texas. 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, and a recent novel for children, The Turtle of Oman.
Ben Sargent, Staff Cartoonist
Ben Sargent launched his career drawing editorial cartoons for the Austin American-Statesman in 1974. He was born in Amarillo into a newspaper family and learned the printing trade from age 12 and started working for the local daily as a proof runner at 14. He attended Amarillo College and received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin in 1970. Sargent won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning in 1982. He has also received awards from Women in Communications, Inc., Common Cause of Texas, and Cox Newspapers. He is the author of Texas Statehouse Blues (1980) and Big Brother Blues (1984).
Sargent is married to Diane Holloway, former television critic for the Austin American-Statesman.
David Duhr, Copy Editor
David Duhr is co-founder of WriteByNight, a writers’ service dedicated to helping authors achieve their goals. He lives in New York City and writes about books for The Dallas Morning News, Publishing Perspectives, and others.
Drue Wagner, Art Director
Drue Wagner is the art director at the Observer. Born in Dallas, she got her start in graphic design and illustration at Pentagram Design in Austin, then dove into the magazine world in New York, working at various magazines including GQ, Bon Appetit and Golf Digest. After a stint on the Off Duty section of the Wall Street Journal newspaper, she moved back to Austin and is happy to be close to all the Greenbelt swimming holes.