AAJA Member News: 2012 Roundup


Shirley Lew (AAJA-New York) has been recognized by Manalapan, N.J.’s mayor and its township committee for providing continuous emergency information and service updates to the city’s residents on the Manalapan Township Television Network, MTTN-TV, and Facebook webpage during Hurricane Sandy. She will receive a proclamation from the mayor in December.  Lew is outreach coordinator of the cancer services department at an area hospital, where she is web blog content manager for the hospital’s neuroscience department.  She previously worked at CBS-TV and served as a Parent Teacher Association vice president and president.


Heidi Chang (AAJA-Hawai’i) is honored to have her photo of “Kermit,” an endangered Hawaiian Monk seal, featured in the state of Hawai’i display at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, held in Jeju, South Korea.  She is a multimedia journalist producing stories about Hawai’i and the Pacific Rim for radio, television, print and the web.  Chang, a previous Hawai’i Chapter board member, has won numerous awards for her work from the Society of Professional Journalists Hawaii chapter and was the recipient of an AAJA 2000 National Award for her NPR profile of the late Hawaiian cultural icon Nona Beamer.

Victoria Lim (AAJA-Florida) has been nominated for an Emmy in the sports category for “After the Whistle: Athletes in Business.”  She previously covered professional and college sports for Bright House Sports Network, taught Convergence Journalism at the University of Missouri Journalism School and was the consumer investigative reporter for WFLA-TV, The Tampa Tribune and tbo.com. Lim, a graduate of Temple University, represents AAJA-Florida on the AAJA Advisory Board. Her service to the chapter earned her AAJA’s “President of the Year” award in 2008.


Michelle Li (AAJA-North Carolina) won the Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas’ award for “Anchor of the Year” and first place in Health reporting for her piece “A Hard Pill to Swallow.”  She is an evening anchor and multimedia journalist at WECT and WSFX in Wilmington, N.C.  Li was previously an evening anchor at KYTV and KSPR in Springfield, Missouri.  She was also honored earlier this year with a regional Edward R. Murrow award for writing.


Gabriel Roxas (AAJA-Sacramento) began reporting for Sacramento ABC affiliate KXTV News10 in October.  Roxas previously reported for KAPP in Yakima, WA, WPSD in Paducah, KY, and most recently WKYT in Lexington, KY, where he won an Emmy for Spot News and an Edward R. Murrow Award for Hard News.  He has been a member of both the Seattle and Chicago AAJA chapters.  Roxas graduated from the University of Southern California.


Doris Truong (AAJA-Washington,D.C.) has been elected Vice President of UNITY Journalists for a two-year term starting Jan. 1, 2013. Truong has been a member of the UNITY board since 2009. She is AAJA’s outgoing National President and a multiplatform editor at The Washington Post.  Before coming to The Washington Post, Truong worked at the Dallas Morning News. She is a graduate of AAJA’s Executive Leadership Program and an alumna of the Maynard Institute of Journalism Education’s Media Academy. She has a degree from the Missouri School of Journalism.


Edward Iwata (AAJA-San Francisco Bay Area) has independently published Fusion Entrepreneurs, a business e-book on cross-cultural executives and the mega-forces changing the global economy.  Iwata is a former business and general-news reporter at USA Today, the San Francisco Examiner and the Orange County Register among others.  His work has won numerous awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, The Associated Press News Executive Council, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and others.  Iwata was a co-founder, founding president and former board member of AAJA’s San Francisco Bay Area chapter.


Yvonne Leow (AAJA-Arizona) is a new video editor for the Digital First Media’s Project Thunderdome in New York City. Digital First Media launched Project Thunderdome to improve newsgathering, communication and collaboration across their newsrooms. She previously worked at The Associated Press as their West regional video producer.  Leow was the recipient of the Ford Foundation’s NewU Fellowship Program in 2011 and serves as a governing board member for AAJA.


Jessica Lum (AAJA-San Francisco Bay Area) is the award recipient of the Online News Association’s Online Journalism Award in the Feature – Student category for her work titled “Slab City Stories.”  Her multimedia project documents an unconventional community of squatters living on a decommissioned military base in the desert of Southeastern California.  She is a reporter and assistant editor for the community news site MissionLocal.org.  Lum graduated from the University of California Los Angeles.


Cary Chow (AAJA-San Diego) joins ESPN as a digital anchor, hosting and reporting segments for ESPN.com. He previously launched, hosted, and produced a weekly show for FOX Sports San Diego. Chow also worked at KGTV-TV, WALA-TV, KCWY-TV and KABC-TV. He is a recipient of a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Sports Reporting and graduated from the University of California-Santa Barbara.



Rene Astudillo (AAJA-San Francisco Bay Area) is debuting his first book, “My Bay Kitchen: Memories of My Homeland, Travels and More…” in October.  Astudillo’s book is a collection of his favorite recipes learned in his Filipino mother’s kitchen, picked up from his world travels and developed in association with other food enthusiasts.  He is the Executive Director of the Lupus Foundation of Northern California and serves as AAJA’s National Treasurer.


Howard Chen (AAJA-Michigan) is a new digital reporter for Comcast Sportsnet Houston, the new TV broadcast home of the Houston Rockets, Houston Astros and area college and high school sports teams.  Chen previously worked as Sports Director at WUPW-TV FOX in Toledo, Ohio.  He is a Co-Advisor of the Asian American Small Market Broadcast Journalists and serves as AAJA-Michigan’s Co-President.


Michael Yam (AAJA-New York) is the new studio host for the PAC-12 networks.  He is a regular presence on the Network, as the host of the pre, half and post game shows. Previously he was at ESPN, where he had been heavily involved in ESPN’s College Football & College Basketball coverage, NBA programming and served as a Sportscenter anchor.  Yam attended Fordham University where he was a recipient of the Marty Glickman Play-by-Play award.


Felicia Lowe (AAJA-San Francisco Bay Area) has launched a cyber fundraising campaign to finish her documentary, “Chinese Couplets,” examining the repercussions of her mother’s emigration during the exclusion era on four generations of women in her family.  She is an award winning independent television producer, director, and writer with more than 30 years of production experience.   She has taught at San Francisco State University and Stanford University and was recognized as a Pioneer Journalist at AAJA’s 2010 celebration in Los Angeles.

David Ono (AAJA-Los Angeles) received three statuettes at the Los Angeles Emmy Awards. He was honored for hard-news reporting and programming writing, and he shared an Emmy for arts and culture/history (“Witness: American Heroes”). Ono, part of the ABC7 Eyewitness News Team, is the Vice President of Broadcast for AAJA’s Los Angeles chapter and longtime emcee of the chapter’s Trivia Bowl.




Lori Matsukawa (AAJA-Seattle) has been recognized by the Seattle chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League with the National Convention Community Achievement Award “for her achievements with the JACL, the Nikkei community and overall exceptional community engagement.” Matsukawa, who is a co-anchor for KING 5, is a co-founder of AAJA’s Seattle chapter, and she conducted an onstage Q&A with 2012 AAJA keynote speaker Suvir Saran.



Emil Guillermo (AAJA-San Francisco Bay Area) is the recipient of the 2011/2012 New American Media Northern California and Central Valley Ethnic Media Award for Outstanding Commentary/Editorial Essay for English-Language Publications.  His work for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund blog is being honored.  Guillermo is a veteran award-winning journalist, radio-TV talk host/commentator, and humorist, whose social commentaries have appeared in many publications such as the San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today, Honolulu Advertiser, Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and in syndication throughout the country.


Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan (AAJA-New York) has been awarded a prestigious grant by the National Arts Council of Singapore in support of a Singaporean artist’s work of fiction. Tan, a former Wall Street Journal staff writer and author of “A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family,” is currently working on her second book, a novel.



 Liberty Zabala (AAJA-Los Angeles) is a new reporter for KCOY/KKFX, the CBS/FOX affiliate covering the California’s Central Coast.  She previously worked as a reporter for Channel 3 in Garden Grove, Calif.  She has held broadcast internships at Fox News Channel, Fox Sports Net, KABC and “NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams.”  She is a graduate of Cal State Northridge with a degree in journalism and collateral in political science and currently serves on the board of AAJA’s Los Angeles chapter.



Mariecar Mendoza (AAJA-Los Angeles) is joining the Los Angeles Daily News as a general assignment reporter. After nearly six years covering the Coachella Valley for the Desert Sun, she is leaving her post as the Palm Springs reporter. Prior to the Sun, Mendoza was a reporter for the Tribune in San Luis Obispo, Calif., where she attended Cal Poly. Mendoza joined AAJA in 2006 as a participant of Voices, the student news project at AAJA conventions.


Ben de la Cruz (AAJA-Washington, D.C.) is the new multimedia editor for the Science desk at National Public Radio.  He is leaving the Washington Post, where he spent 12 years as an award-winning documentary video producer, reporter and editor.  His work has been recognized with nearly every industry award, including a George Foster Peabody, national Emmy nominations and the Post’s first-ever Edward R. Murrow Award in 2004.


Lauren Kawana (AAJA-Hawaii) is pursuing her graduate studies in documentary film at UC Berkeley and will be joining the J-School’s Class of 2014 in August. She will step down from her posts as managing editor of the publishing firm Element Media and as president of AAJA’s Hawaii chapter in June. Kawana has managed the editorial and production aspects of Pacific Edge and Las Vegas Bound magazines since joining Element Media in 2008.



Aki Soga (AAJA-At-Large) was recognized as a 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist in Editorial Writing. He is editorial page editor for the Burlington (Vt.) Free Press. Soga has served as AAJA national vice president for print and UNITY vice president. He is a graduate of AAJA’s Executive Leadership Program.


Conner Jay (AAJA-San Francisco Bay Area) has won the San Francisco Bay Area Press Photographers Association’s Newspaper Photographer of the Year for his work in 2011.  He is staff photographer and multimedia journalist at the Daily Republic newspaper in Fairfield, Calif. His photojournalism work has led him to explore themes of violence with amateur cage-fighters and to witness the pervasive nature of gangs in small towns.



Maxine Park (AAJA-Washington, D.C.) was selected as an Official Honoree of the 16th Annual Webby Awards in the Sports category. Park is a video journalist for USA TODAY where she reports, shoots and edits her own video stories for usatoday.com. She is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism.


Lloyd LaCuesta (AAJA-San Francisco Bay Area) is retiring in June after 35 years of reporting for KTVU Channel 2 News.  He is the longest tenured reporter at KTVU and has held the title of South Bay Bureau Chief for decades. LaCuesta has been honored with awards including six Emmys and a national Edward R. Murrow Award for Newscast Excellence in 2004. He was the first elected national president of the AAJA and the first president of UNITY: Journalists of Color.


Archith Seshadri (AAJA-Atlanta) was promoted to weekend anchor/reporter in April 2012. Seshadri joined WJBF News Channel 6 in May 2010 as a digital journalist/reporter. He spent six years as an business consultant at Accenture before shifting gears to journalism. He graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s degree in industrial engineering.



Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan (AAJA-New York) has been offered an artist’s residency at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in Woodside, Calif. Tan, a former Wall Street Journal staff writer, will be working on her second book there in May and June. She will be giving a talk and signing her first book, “A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family,” at 3 p.m. May 20 at Omnivore Books in San Francisco.



Jack Chang (AAJA-Sacramento), has been awarded a Dinah Eng Leadership Fellowship.  He is the Latin American desk editor for the The Associated Press and is a native Californian working extensively in Latin America. His hobbies include running, learning Web design and exploring Mexico City. He aims to grow as a newsroom manager while he writes a book about Mexican history.



Ben Penserga (AAJA-Washington, D.C.), has been awarded a Dinah Eng Leadership Fellowship.  He is Business, Features and Go! Magazine Editor for The Daily Times (Salisbury, MD) and is a graduate student in the weekend interactive journalism program at the American University School of Communication.



Maria Sandoval (AAJA-New York), has been awarded a Dinah Eng Leadership Fellowship. She is a freelance video journalist, who produces, shoots, edits and reports for television and the web. Her work is available on NYPost.com, Brooklyn TV and EbruTV. She is AAJA-New York’s Chapter president.



Corky Lee (AAJA-New York), is being profiled in a film called “Photographic Justice:  The Corky Lee Story.” He is a freelance journalist, who for more than 35 years has used his camera to ensure that the faces of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and their experiences are included in American history. By documenting the civil rights struggle, he has retold these stories through a special lens. Learn more or support the film’s production.


Yul Kwon (AAJA-Washington, DC) is the new host of LinkAsia, Link TV’s weekly TV news magazine and blog about Asian business, politics, culture, democracy and technology. Kwon has worked as a special correspondent for CNN, as a co-host on the Discovery Channel, and is also the host of a new PBS series, “America Revealed.”



John de Dios (AAJA-Arizona),  is producing a documentary on big-cat conservation in southern Namibia.  He is a  graduate student for the University of Arizona and has worked on written, audio, video and photo stories for the last 10 years. De Dios is involved with diversity journalism organizations, mentoring for the UNITY 2008 convention in Chicago and again during UNITY 2012 in Las Vegas this year. De Dios is one of Josh Morgan’s journalism mentors.



Josh Morgan (AAJA-Arizona) is cinematographer for a documentary on big-cat conservation in southern Namibia, South Africa.  An award-winning photojournalist and videojournalist, he is an undergraduate at the University of Arizona studying journalism and digital media.  Morgan is working with John de Dios on this project.



Charles Dharapak (AAJA-Washington, D.C.), won 2012 Still Photographer of the Year in the White House News Photographers Association’s “Eyes of History” contest.  He is staff photojournalist for the The Associated Press  See Dharapak’s work and that of other winners.




Mei-Ling Hopgood (AAJA-At-Large) is now an associate professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Her second book, “How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm,” was published in February.



Yuki Kokubo (AAJA-New York) is working on her first feature-length documentary about her parents who are potters living in Kasama, Japan.  She is a video producer, photographer and filmmaker who has worked on numerous environmental projects. Support her Kickstarter campaign for her documentary here.


Chris Soriano (AAJA-San Diego), created a video that was shown on HLN’s “Showbiz Tonight.”  He is a reporter for CNN iReport and is a Communications major at San Diego State University.  He enjoys being on the hunt for news stories to enhance his demo reel. Soriano is an active member of the San Diego Chapter, participating in the Fundraising Committee.  Watch his clip.


Thuy Vu (AAJA-San Francisco Bay Area), has been recognized for her piece “Vietnam Revisited,” which has been included in a high school curriculum unit to teach news and creative writing.  She is host of “Eye on the Bay,” CBS5- KPIX.  Her work was also honored as the AAJA 2011 National Journalism Award winner for Asian American Pacific Islander Issues in Television.



To submit your own Member News, send a 30- to 40-word write-up with biography and photo (subject to editing) to the AAJA National Office.

See what our Members are up to in 2013