OUR MISSION

The San Antonio Express-News Diversity & Inclusion Committee formed in Summer 2020. It is made up of roughly 25 employees who work in the newsroom, marketing and other departments. We aim to create an inclusive workplace culture where all voices feel welcome and empowered, and diversity is reflected in all aspects of the company.  

 

Core Values:
 

Diversity |  Equity | Inclusivity | Transparency | Integrity

   

Vision:
 

  • Attract and retain employees from diverse backgrounds that reflect the community we serve. 
     

  • Help create an inclusive environment where all voices feel welcome and empowered to express their unique perspectives and drive conversations.
     

  • Encourage professional development and the advancement of all employees, especially those from underrepresented communities.
     

  • Expand newsroom coverage to be fully reflective of the diverse city we live in. 
     

  • Strengthen the newspaper’s ties with the community, especially those that are traditionally underserved. 
     

Committee Guidelines:
 

  1. Members will commit to upholding our stated values and mission.
     

  2. Members will not use any form of hate speech or inappropriate language and will respect the right of other members to speak openly.*
     

  3. All communications within the committee shall remain confidential and must not be shared with anyone outside of the committee unless given explicit permission. 
     

  4. All actions carried out by the committee must be approved by a majority vote.
     

  5. Committee members are responsible for notifying the committee and its co-leaders upon resignation in order to keep correspondence confidential. 

Any member that fails to meet these guidelines may be removed from the committee.

 

*Members that fail to meet this guideline may be reported to Human Resources if the committee feels that is appropriate. 

WHY DIVERSITY IS IMPORTANT

The benefits are obvious. Studies on diversity and inclusion in the workplace have found that a diverse workforce is associated with cost savings for the company -- in terms of reducing turnover and absenteeism -- in addition to improved creativity among employees, better leadership and enhanced morale. 

The demographic makeup of newsrooms also affects which stories are covered and how they are told. Studies show a diverse newsroom leads to a wider range of stories that are relevant to a broader audience. To attract more subscribers, journalists must produce stories relevant to all communities.

According to a 2019 survey by the American Society of News Editors, in partnership with the Google​ News Lab, only 28 percent of the newsroom at the San Antonio Express-News was Latino in a city that’s 63 percent Latino. And while 66 percent of its staff was white, the city’s population was 26 percent white at the time, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

 

The numbers for the whole company are better -- but they still aren't reflective of our community. Of about 240 Express-News employees companywide, about 44 percent are people of color, the company reports.  About 30 percent of the executive team is made up  of people of color. 

The inclusion of diverse employees is not simply something that is "nice to do." Rather, it is something that should be done -- and if done well -- brings with it advantages for the company and the community as a whole.

MEET THE COMMITTEE

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FELICIA BANEGAS

Marketing Manager, Strategic & Retail

Pronouns: She/Her

 

Felicia was born and raised on the far West Side of San Antonio. She’s a graduate of the University of the Incarnate Word, where she studied Communication Arts. She has been with the Express-News since the summer of 2016 and works on the Marketing Team in the Advertising Department. She’s an advocate for career growth and work-related education for marginalized groups. She is a proud mom to two young boys, an avid Twitter user, and enjoys a good food truck park. She serves as a co-leader of the Express-News Diversity & Inclusion Committee.

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VINCENT DAVIS

Reporter

Pronouns: He/Him

 

Vincent started at the San Antonio Express-News in 1999 as a part-time City Desk Editorial Assistant working nights and weekends while attending San Antonio College and working on the staff of the campus newspaper, The Ranger. He completed a 3-month fellowship from the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute at Vanderbilt University in 2003 and earned his bachelors degree in communication design from Texas State University in 2006.

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JESS ELIZARRARAS 

Executive Producer

Pronouns: She/Her

 

Jess first came to the San Antonio Express-News newsroom in 2008 writing for the trendy 210SA publication, a now-defunct publication housed under the Hearst umbrella that includes MySA.com and the print daily. From there, she evolved into an award-winning food critic and culture journalist, first as part of the Taste and Lifestyles teams at the Express-News from 2009 to 2013, and then as senior editor at the San Antonio Current. A proud native of Brownsville of Mexican descent, she rejoined the Express-News in 2021.

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MISTY HARRIS

News Researcher

Pronouns: She/Her

 

Misty has been a news researcher and archivist at the San Antonio Express-News since 2016. She graduated with a Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Texas and earned her Master's in Library Science from the University of North Texas. In 2017, she was voted by a group of her peers as "Researcher of the Year." Misty has previously worked at the library at Trinity University in San Antonio and has a reporter and editor at newspapers in Colorado, Nebraska, and Texas. She joined the D&I committee in the hopes of not only improving the Express-News, but also to better serve the greater San Antonio community.

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RICHARD MARINI

Features Reporter

Pronouns: He/Him

 

Richard has been with the Express-News for more than 20 years, mostly in the features department, coving health, fitness and medicine. He is currently a general assignment reporter covering, among other topics, architecture, design, scenic drives and runaway chickens. He has also been the Features Editor and a Columnist. In 2016, he was awarded first place for Best Food Column by the Association of Food Journalists. He is proud to be a member of the SAEN Diversity Committee.

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DANYA PÉREZ

Education Reporter

Pronouns: She/Her

 

Danya Perez joined the Express-News education team in January 2021. Before moving to San Antonio, she worked as digital producer focusing mostly on newsletters at the Houston Chronicle for two years, and as an education reporter at The Monitor in McAllen, Texas, for more than four years. Danya is originally from Mexico and was raised in the border city of El Paso, where she became the first in her family to graduate with a college degree from the University of Texas at El Paso. Before graduating, she began her journalism career as reporter and later city editor of Borderzine.com, and moved on to intern at the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, The New York Times and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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JOY MARIE SCOTT

Audience Engagement Analyst

Pronouns: She/Her
 
Joy's career in audience development and digital content strategy is rooted in serving under-represented communities. Before joining Hearst in 2014, she worked with filmmakers at ITVS, a leading funder of independent documentaries in the U.S. Her degrees are in women's studies and ethnic studies from U.C. Berkeley, plus a master's in media studies from The New School. She has two kids and is keenly sensitive to the negotiations pregnant women and new mothers face in the workplace.

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KATE WEBER

Chief Revenue Officer

Pronouns: She/Her

 

Kate is the chief revenue officer for the San Antonio Express-News. She serves as the executive sponsor of the Express-News' Diversity & Inclusion Committee.

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CARY CLACK

Editorial Writer & Columnist

Pronouns: He/Him

Cary is an Editorial Writer and Columnist. He first joined the Express-News as a columnist in 1995 before leaving tin 2011 to become communications Director for Joaquin Castro’s Congressional campaign and, after the election, Congressman Castro’s District Director. In 1998, Cary became the first African-American on the paper’s Editorial Board. Returning to the paper, in 2019, he became the second African-American on the paper’s editorial board. Cary serves as the co-chair of events and community outreach for the Express-News Diversity & Inclusion Committee.

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EMILIE EATON

Criminal Justice Reporter

Pronouns: She/Her

 

Emilie is a criminal justice reporter at the Express-News, where she has extensively covered family violence, police failures to properly investigate sex crimes and use of the death penalty. On multiple occasions, her work has led to changes at the San Antonio Police Department and Bexar County Sheriff's Office. A native of Northern California, Emilie graduated magna cum laude from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University. Her work has been honored by the Best of the West Journalism Competition and the Texas APME Awards, among others. She serves as a co-leader of the Express-News Diversity & Inclusion Committee.

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LAURA GARCIA

Healthcare Reporter

Pronouns: She/Her

 

Laura covers health care and insurance at the San Antonio Express-News. She also serves as  president of  the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists. Before she joined the Express-News, she was a features editor at the Victoria Advocate, where she also covered health care and nonprofits. She was part of an investigative reporting team on a series called “Understanding Harvey.” The coverage focused on a community recovering from Hurricane Harvey and won a national Society of Professional Journalists award for public service. Her work has been published in The Roanoke Times in Virginia, Corpus Christi Caller-Times and the Longview News-Journal. She graduated with journalism degrees from San Antonio College and Texas State University-San Marcos.

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MELISSA LEIJA

Customer Success Specialist

Pronouns: She/Her

 

Melissa was born and raised on the West Side of San Antonio, where she grew up playing baseball and softball. She went on to play at Concordia University Texas in Austin where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. She worked for non profit organizations in direct care before finding a career path at the San Antonio Express-News, where she has been since 2010. She loves her family, music and culture.  

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MADDY MENDOZA

Reporter

Pronouns: She/Her

 

Maddy is a reporter for mySA.com, where she covers all things "puro San Antonio." A proud native of the Alamo City, she was recently awarded a grant from the The Ira A. Lipman Center for Journalism and Civil and Human Rights at the Columbia Journalism School to report on economic segregation and redlining in San Antonio. She serves as secretary of the Express-News Diversity & Inclusion Committee. 

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TAYLOR PETTAWAY

Crime Reporter

Pronouns: She/Her

 

Taylor is crime reporter with the Express-News, where she writes about the breaking news around San Antonio. Before coming to the Express News, Taylor worked in similar roles in Carson City, NV and Boston, MA where she earned half a dozen awards for her work. Taylor was one of the founding members of the Diversity Committee and wanted to join to encourage more women and African-Americans to join the Express-News. She serves as the communications chair for the Express-News Diversity & Inclusion Committee.
 

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JORDAN STROIKE

Director of B2B Sales 

Pronouns: She/Her

 

Jordan is the director of B2B Sales for the San Antonio Express-News. 

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MELISSA WHITEHOUSE

Senior Marketing Director

Pronouns: She/Her

 

Melissa is an advertising sales leader who has led sales teams at companies including Wired, Monster, Urban One, and Advance Media before joining San Antonio Express News in 2020. She joined the Express-News Diversity Committee to support the efforts to recruit and retain diverse talent, as well as contribute toward the efforts to build a collaborative, equitable and inclusive environment within the organization. On the weekends, Melissa loves to watch English Premier League Soccer, check out the local farmer’s market, and plan adventures for when traveling resumes.

Get involved!