Advertise with us

Meet the team


Chris Cobler
Chris Cobler

"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
Faith Editor

"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

JR Ortega
Carolina Astrain
Creative Editor

"I'm one of eight children. My first name is pronounced (care-oh-lean-uh), but if you call me (care-oh-line-ah) I won't be offended. I graduated from the University of Missouri with a bachelor's in broadcast journalism and a minor in film studies. My work has appeared on the Associated Press, Studio 360, This American Life and BBC Americana. Before coming to the Advocate I worked for Minnesota Public Radio and Culturemap Houston. Got a story tip? Drop me a line at 361-580-6578 or email me at"
Read more about Carolina here


Laura Garcia
Features Editor; 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

Jessica Priest
Senior/Environment Reporter

"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

Jon Wilcox
Jon Wilcox
Courts/Public Safety 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

Marina Riker
Marina Riker
City/County Reporter

I recently moved to Texas to cover local government from from Bend, Oregon, where I covered city government in one of the nation's fastest-growing metro areas. Prior to moving to Bend, I pitched and wrote stories for state and national audiences at the Associated Press’ Honolulu bureau as a temporary reporter. Before that, I wrote articles, produced multimedia and conducted data analysis as an intern at Honolulu Civil Beat, a watchdog news organization. I'm especially interesting in covering local politics, social issues and public health concerns. Please email me at with any story tips or suggestions.
Read more about Marina here

Kathryn Cargo
Business Reporter

"Reporting in the Crossroads is a new adventure each day, because I always learn something new about the community. I love being in one of the most unique places in Texas with so many people who have fascinating stories to tell. The best part is that I get to tell those stories. "
Read more about Kathryn here

Gabriella Canales
Education Reporter

"When I started my internship in April, I had no idea what to expect. I thought Clark Kent was going to turn the corner and people would be shouting deadline, deadline! I originally wanted to be a high school English teacher, however, I came to love what I was doing with my time at the Advocate. My passion for writing is why I am here. Gabriella Canales graduated from the University of Houston-Victoria with a B.A. in English in 2016. As the education reporter she will interested in covering all aspects and realms of education. Feel free to contact her with ideas because she is eager to tell stories."
Read more about Gabriella here


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; cool sports assignments; and most of all, working for and with people who care about our community.”
Read more about Alexandria here

Mike Forman
Mike Forman

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

Mike Forman
Rey Castillo
Sports Reporter

"Writing about sports has always been my passion. Now, I get to do it alongside the most talented journalists in Victoria. The best part about my job is interviewing athletes after a game and seeing the excitement on their faces."
Read more about Rey here

Marcus Gutierrez
Marcus Gutierrez
Sports Reporter

"I have always wanted to cover sports since I was a little kid, whether it was reading a newspaper, watching television, or listening to sports talk radio. My family is from Victoria, Texas and it feels good to be back home covering teams that I have known about my whole life. The best thing about South Texas is the hospitality you receive going to each small town. Everyone treats you as you were part of their family. It’s great to see how much the sports scene has grown in Victoria and in the Crossroads. I’m excited to tell sports stories in the Crossroads.”
Read more about Marcus here


Ana Ramirez
Ana Ramirez
Chief Photographer

"Being a photojournalist is more than just a job to me. It’s a passion, a way to tell people’s stories, to document history, and to capture a certain moment."
Read more about Ana here

Ana Ramirez
Angela Piazza
Staff Photographer

"Angela was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2012, she earned a BA at ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. After completing several multimedia internships she joined the Victoria Advocate team. Her hobbies include training dogs and roller skating. "
Read more about Angela 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

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

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

"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

Powered By AdvocateDigitalMedia