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Meet the team

Editors

Chris Cobler
Chris Cobler
Editor-in-Chief

"I try to treat each day as editor of the Advocate as a gift. I thank the newspaper's owners, my co-workers and my community for their faith in me to do a job I consider central to society. While embracing the exciting opportunities presented by new media, I believe newspapers' future, whether in print or online, rests with the old-fashioned values of serving your community, creating meaningful connections, and trying to make a difference in our readers' lives.

We're all family, after all. A newspaper should be that close friend who cheers your successes, cries over your losses, and prods you to be better than you ever thought possible."
Read more about Chris here


Becky Cooper
Managing Editor for Content

“I like working at the Advocate because every day is different. I like being able to tell the stories of our community from fun light-hearted stories to sad life-changing stories to hard hitting-investigative reports every day for our readers to enjoy.

In my 30 years with the Advocate, no two days have been the same, which keeps my interest in my work fresh. Working with the staff to develop the stories and try new ways of presenting the news in print and online also keeps the job fresh. I enjoy picking up the paper in the morning or clicking on the online paper and seeing the work our talented staff has done to educate and entertain our readers."
Read more about Becky here


Tony Balandran
Tony Balandran
City Editor

"For almost 170 years, generations of Victoria readers have trusted the Victoria Advocate to be their key source of information about the region. They have turned to the pages of the newspaper to learn about the world surrounding them during good times and bad. For that reason, the Advocate is part of the region's history, and I am honored to be a part of that long journalism tradition that began in 1846. I owe it to Crossroads readers and to my long line of newsroom predecessors to make sure that the stories we print in the Advocate are fair, accurate and timely."
Read more about Tony here


JR Ortega
JR Ortega
Copy Desk Chief

"I've worked in many capacities at the Victoria Advocate over the past almost six years, and I've enjoyed every minute of it. From being a reporter, to then being features editor and eventually delivery desk chief, the Advocate continues challenging me every day to be better than I believe I am. One of the best aspects of this job is hearing feedback from our community about how the newspaper is working in their lives - money can't buy that kind of feedback. Leading the delivery desk, which is made up of copy editors/designers, I've learned so much about copy editing and making writing tighter and better. As bad as it may sound, I enjoy finding errors prior to publication because it makes me feel like we're working that much harder and truly making the paper the best it can be."
Read more about JR here


Jennifer Preyss
Jennifer Preyss
Features Editor/GC Magazine Editor-in-Chief

"When I landed at the Advocate five years ago, I didn't expect to become so endeared to this paper. It's a newsroom like no other, one that allows journalists to freely pursue topics that interest them. We hear "Yes" around here more than we hear "No," which may be the reason a large number of reporters and editors, graphic designers and photographers from near and far want to work here -- there's freedom to explore the world and pen great stories. One of the most significant "Yes" moments I experienced here was in 2013, when my editors allowed me to travel to India for a month, so I could write about international religion and the blending of Western and Eastern cultures. But I've had the opportunity to accomplish many professional goals while working for the Advocate and I know I'm blessed to be part of this magical team. It truly is one of the best community newspapers in the nation.

I've always said that being a journalist is like having an all-access VIP badge to private details of people's lives. Somehow, being a member of the media allows us the rare gift of being able to ask the most intimate and personal questions to strangers and know there's an honest answer on the other end of the question. It's an honor and a privilege to be the person who gets to facilitate those special interviews and be trusted to write a story that makes a difference in the community. More recently, I've loved being part of the GC magazine team, overseeing many significant changes in its presentation and content as we push forward to a new era of GC. We are aiming to create a city magazine the Crossroads can be proud of, and dying to read each month. I believe are achieving that goal each month."
Read more about Jennifer here


Reporters

Carolina Astrain
Carolina Astrain
Education Reporter

"I like working at the Advocate because of the free coffee and diversity within the newsroom staff. My favorite parts of my job include visiting with students on campus and talking to parents and teachers about what they would like to see from their local school district and colleges."
Read more about Carolina here


Sky Chadde
Sky Chadde
Public safety reporter

"Why do I like reporting? Well, everyone, and everything, has a story. I like being the first to tell it. (If you have one for me, get in touch: 361-574-1224 or schadde@vicad.com.)"
Read more about Sky here


Rye Druzin
Rye Druzin
Reporter

Rye is a transient journalist from Palo Alto, California who previously reported in Silicon Valley, Israel, and Midland, Texas. His interests include international politics and news, the energy industry, and business. He is currently pursuing energy issues in the Eagle Ford with a focus on DeWitt and Lavaca counties. You'll probably find him in the field sweating in the humidity wearing a pair of muddy shoes. He also enjoys cold beers when off the clock and traveling around the Crossroads and our big-city neighbors. Rye is on Twitter @druzin_journo and Facebook.


Read more about Rye here


Laura Garcia
Nonprofits/Health Reporter

"I love meeting people and telling their stories. Just finding people who genuinely care about the community and are passionate about what they do is what makes the long, crazy hours worth it."
Read more about Laura here


Bianca Montes
Bianca Montes

"Victoria is a growing city with small town heart. Because of that, I get to work on a story about one of many beautiful characters of the Crossroads one day and a story that has effects both locally and nationally the next."
Read more about Bianca here


Jessica Priest
Jessica Priest
Courts Reporter/Watchdog Columnist

"I am fascinated by our judiciary and enjoy learning about and explaining its processes to our readers. I am passionate about holding those in public office accountable and giving a voice to marginalized people."
Read more about Jessica here


Sara Sneath
Sara Sneath
Environmental Reporter

"Unlike many of my peers in the business, I get to meet most of the people I talk to face-to-face on oyster boats, helicopters and muddy rice fields. But the most rewarding aspect of my job is that I get to go home every night knowing that my work benefits my community."
Read more about Sara here


Taylor Tompkins
Taylor Tompkins
Business/Agriculture Reporter

"I am excited to be working the business and agriculture beat at the Advocate because I love seeing what new and innovative ideas are brought to the area and how they influence residents."
Read more about Taylor here


Jon Wilcox
Jon Wilcox
Breaking News Reporter

"Whether I am on the scene of breaking news or at my desk in the newsroom, I love my job because I learn something new every day. Reporting in the Crossroads has given me a unique chance to get to know one of the most vibrant communities in Texas firsthand. As a newly-settled Victorian, I promise to give my best effort in serving the area with accurate and timely information."
Read more about Jon here


Sports

Alexandria Alejandro
Alexandria Alejandro
Sports Editor

"Why do I like my job? I watch sports for a living --- what other answer is there? As for working at the Advocate — There's plenty: The ping-pong table in the break room; cake days; Taylor Mitchell going at the punching bag on his desk; cool sports assignments; and most of all, working for and with people who care about our community.”
Read more about Alexandria here


Chris Derrett
Chris Derrett
Assistant Sports Editor

"I'm doing what I've wanted to do since I was 13 — watching sports, telling people's stories and making a living at it. ”
Read more about Chris here


Mike Forman
Mike Forman
Reporter

"I enjoy covering events and keeping our readers informed about what's going on in area sports."
Read more about Mike here


Tony Tsoukalas
Tony Tsoukalas
Reporter

"I have always been interested in sports, and being a sports writer is all I've ever wanted to do. I look forward to becoming a part of the local sports scene in Victoria and promise to provide the sporting community with the quality coverage it expects and deserves. ”
Read more about Tony here


Photographers

Frank Tilley
Frank Tilley
Staff Photographer

"For me photojournalism embodies the elements of visual story telling that draws on the unique experiences that we report on. As a photographer I'm personal witness to moments of human life that range from great joy to deep sadness which I in turn share with our readers with the hope that we can make this world a better place today than it was yesterday."
Read more about Frank here


Jaime Carrero
Jaime Carrero
Staff Photographer

"Being a photojournalist affords me an opportunity to being a witness to events as they unfold. It provides a chance to crystallize the moment and summarize what occurred in one frame. That image can then be later examined and analyzed for the information it provides.It becomes a document to a moment and an object. Photojournalism is the business of documenting the human condition. No assignment is mundane, superficial or unimportant. It requires gaining the subject’s trust and that is a very delicate currency. It is the photojournalist’s duty to be accurate and fair in a split second. It demands that the person wielding the camera show empathy, humanity and show above all, deep respect for both the subject and the craft. It provides for an opportunity to meet people you probably would not and who if you are lucky allow you into their lives. It is a very serious responsibility. It is a privilege."
Read more about Jaime here


Leslie Boorhem Stephenson
Leslie Boorhem Stephenson
Multimedia Intern

"As photojournalists we take things very precious to people: their likeness, their memories. It is paramount to make sure we are dedicated to honor that offering by revisiting them, their stories and understanding that nothing human is static. My nagging preoccupation with the nature of human emotion has prodded me since high school, fumbling in the fixer haze of the dark room, to make visual records that beautifully share a tiny particle of a person’s truth. I hope to bring my passion and love of people to my work in Victoria and I look forward to finding new ways to share the lives of the people of this community."
Read more about Leslie here


Ru Kaladyte
Rugile Kaladyte
Multimedia Intern

"The camera and need to tell stories have taken me to places that I couldn’t have even imagined and I have no intention of stopping now. I look forward to getting to know the culture and people of Victoria, all the while creating compelling photographs and video."
Read more about Rugile here


Copy Desk

Kimiko Fieg
Graphic Artist

Read more about Kimiko here


Meredith Cash
Senior Copy editor/Page Designer

"For me, having a hand in creating something that impacts people on a daily basis is what makes working at the Advocate so special."


Read more about Meredith here


Alexandria Rodriguez
Copy editor/Page Designer


Nicole Crapps
Copy editor/Page Designer

"My favorite part of my job is getting people interested in a story they might not otherwise have read because of an exciting, eye-catching design."


Read more about Nicole here
Sam Hankins
Copy editor/Page Designer

"I love being part of the team that brings people their news. Whether it's laying out a big story or thinking of the perfect headline, there's always something interesting to do."
Read more about Sam here


Web team


Administrative Staff

Kathleen Grones
Kathleen Grones
Administrative Assistant

"Being at the Advocate is rewarding and challenging -- something fresh and new every day. I enjoy being able to be of service to my community."
Read more about Kathleen here


Robbi Patterson
Librarian

"I like working at the Advocate because I like to know what is going on in the community and preserving its history."
Read more about Robbi here

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