The Rivard Report staff is growing.

That’s possible only because individual and business member contributions and philanthropic support are both increasing. That financial support is underwriting a deeper journalistic report. There are now more than 1,200 members supporting our 501(c)(3) nonprofit news and information site.

The Rivard Report is a member of the Institute for Nonprofit News, the Washington, D.C.-based organization that serves as a network for more than 115 city- and state-based nonprofit news and information websites, many of which were started by journalists who left major newspapers or magazines to find new ways to deliver news and information.

Now in its sixth year of publication, the Rivard Report is currently led by Co-Founder and Director Robert Rivard, Managing Editor Iris Dimmick, and a seven-member board of directors. As a team, they reviewed applications from candidates near and far and began hiring new staff at the beginning of 2017.

In January, Wendy Lane Cook joined the Rivard Report team as an editor and writing coach. A print media veteran, Cook spent more than a decade with the Associated Press at bureaus in Texas and California, where she covered everything from state elections to natural disasters to the Olympic Games. From there she moved to The Washington Post, where she worked as a management-level editor.

After stepping away from full-time journalism to help raise her children, Cook returned to her hometown of San Antonio in 2014. When she left San Antonio to attend Duke University, the Pearl was still making beer, Kelly Air Force Base was a major employer, and there was little but ranch land outside of Loop 1604. She returned to find a downtown undergoing a major facelift, a sea of rooftops dotting the hills of Stone Oak, and a renewed Southtown full of alluring eateries that she is still in the process of exploring.

Katy Silva also joined the team in January as advertising and marketing manager. Originally from Claremont, Calif., she earned her bachelor’s degree in studio art and art history from Trinity University with a Baker Duncan Arts Scholarship.

Silva has worked in nonprofit marketing and development at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts and the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and also manages FLAX Studio, a gallery and workshop dedicated to emerging creative talent in San Antonio. An artist herself, Silva creates multidimensional paintings and prints. When she isn’t attending cultural arts events, she can be found practicing her Spanish or enjoying the Texas wildlife and nature.

Bonnie Arbittier joined the photography team in February as a full-time photojournalist. She received her first camera upon graduating from high school, and she then completed a Fine Arts degree at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where she concentrated on both graphic design and French.

During this time she worked in New York as an intern for photographer Annie Leibovitz, who influenced her fine arts approach to journalism. Through an assignment for the travel journal Roads & Kingdoms, Arbittier photographed dogs hunting rats as a form of pest control, helping develop her photography as a form of storytelling.

Arbittier moved to Texas in 2016 to become an intern at the Victoria Advocate. It was during her time there – as she photographed dove hunting, rodeo cowboys, car accidents, and the aftermath of youth suicides  that she more intimately developed her passion for connecting to the world through images.

Shari Biediger was a freelance reporter who has now joined the Rivard Report team to help cover business news throughout San Antonio. An Alabama native, Biediger came to San Antonio as a high school senior and completed a degree in communications at St. Mary’s University in 1986.

Biediger’s first job was with the former Recorder-Times. She also held positions with the San Antonio Bar Association and eventually USAA, where she worked in corporate communications and marketing for 12 years as both an employee and a contractor. She has earned recognition for her writing from the International Association of Business Communicators, the Educational Press Association, Public Relations Society of America, and AdFed.

Iris Gonzalez is another freelancer-turned-staff reporter. A docent at the San Antonio Museum of Art, Gonzalez came to the Rivard Report in late 2015 to cover the art scene. Soon after, she received a U.S. Office of Personnel Management letter stating her personal information had been compromised in a massive data breach. That prompted her first cybersecurity story, and she now covers technology, cybersecurity, bioscience, and military and veterans’ affairs.

Gonzalez prepared to be a Soviet military intelligence analyst for her first career, but after the Soviet Union’s dissolution, she instead became a defense research analyst. Researching Iraq’s nuclear weapons program for members of Congress just before Desert Storm led to more than 20 years of homeland security analyses at a federally funded research center, work that included deploying in the field alongside members of every military branch.

Roseanna Garza came on board at the end of May as the community public health reporter. She received bachelor’s degrees in English literature and composition and sociology from St. Mary’s University in 2008. From there she began work with area nonprofits and government organizations writing grants to rehouse homeless individuals and working to reduce recidivism by teaching job readiness skills and educational development to sex offenders in Travis County.

Garza received a master’s in clinical mental health counseling in 2013 from the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she went on to pursue clinical licensure as a licensed professional counselor. She has worked with organizations throughout San Antonio providing therapeutic services to individuals suffering from substance abuse and addiction, homelessness, trauma, eating disorders, and behavioral change for perpetrators and victims of domestic violence. Throughout, she continued grant and technical writing, with a focus on community public health awareness and trauma-informed care.

Emily Royall is a San Antonio native who is joining our team as data director. She is an urban planner and technologist with more than seven years experience integrating data-driven insights into public participation and planning processes focusing on “smart cities” and digital services.

Previously, Royall worked on open data and public records reform as a data analyst for the Massachusetts State Digital Services Office. Prior to that, she worked in Singapore to design metadata standards for GIS software environments in collaboration with Indonesian municipalities and City Form Lab for the City Planning Labs initiative.

Royall has published extensively on issues relating to culture, ethics, and technology and maintains a practice as an independent arts curator. She received a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience and Plan II from the University of Texas at Austin in 2011, and a master’s degree in city design and development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2016.

Jeffrey Sullivan is an editorial intern who covers topics in business, city government, and arts and culture. A recent Trinity graduate, he worked for the Trinitonian while completing his bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in English.

Daniel Conrad is our business and development intern who comes by way of Trinity’s Arts, Letters, and Enterprise (ALE) program, where he is pursuing an honors degree in philosophy. He was hired as the Trinitonian’s editor-in-chief for the 2017-2018 school year and worked previously as its opinion section editor and copy editor.

Danielle Muro is a high school intern from the Young Women’s Leadership Academy whose future aspirations include honing her writing skills to help improve the world around her through journalism.

We also are saying a heartfelt, appreciation-filled goodbye to our reporter of one-and-a-half years, Camille Garcia, who is heading to Mexico City to pursue freelance writing and perfect her Spanish. During her time with the Rivard Report, Garcia produced more than 400 stories in addition to her editing and social media work. She will be missed and leaves big shoes to fill.

With an office full of ambitious talent, we will continue our efforts of bringing trustworthy, community-centered news to the San Antonio public. Thank you to everyone who continues to support us.

If you aren’t already a member, please consider becoming one. Your financial contribution, however modest, allows for us to build a strong foundation of credible news and commentary for our city.

Every member counts.

Avatar photo

San Antonio Report Staff

This article was assembled by various members of the San Antonio Report staff.