Chief executive officer
Peter Bhatia is the chief executive officer of the Houston Landing. He is a media industry veteran who has overseen Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism and digital advances at news sites across the country. He was previously the editor and vice president of the Detroit Free Press where he started in 2017, after two years as editor and vice president of The Cincinnati Enquirer. Bhatia previously was director of the Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State's Cronkite School of Journalism. He joined the university in June 2014 as visiting professor in journalism ethics after a two-decade career at The Oregonian in Portland. He led newsrooms that won 10 Pulitzer Prizes, including six in Portland. He is a seven-time Pulitzer juror. He is the first journalist of South Asian descent to lead a major daily newspaper in the U.S., running The Oregonian from 2010 to 2014. Peter and his wife, Liz Dahl, have two grown children, who live in Portland and Los Angeles, and one grandchild.
Editor in chief
Mizanur Rahman is the founding editor in chief of the Houston Landing. He previously spent 15 years as a newsroom leader at the Houston Chronicle. He served as the newspaper’s Sunday editor and as senior editor over investigations. He also was the Chronicle’s metro editor, overseeing local news coverage in the Houston region. He previously worked as an assistant metro editor at The Dallas Morning News and served as an editor at The Virginian Pilot in Norfolk, Va. He grew up in Detroit where he started his career as a reporter. He is the father of two daughters.
Chief of strategy, engagement and revenue
Megan Finnerty is the Houston Landing’s chief of strategy, events and revenue. She is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and storytelling consultant who has created transformation for nonprofits, brands and communities. Megan was part of a team of journalists who won the 2018 Pulitzer for explanatory journalism. As founder and former director of the Storytellers Project, a nationwide series of live storytelling events from Gannett/The USA TODAY Network, Megan’s processes have helped more than 6,000 people tell stories in front of more than 100,000 audience members in more than 25 cities.She graduated from Purdue University, and was a features reporter at The Arizona Republic for 14 years.
Chief product officer
Mitesh Vashee is the chief product officer for the Houston Landing. He has two decades of leadership experience in consulting and venture capital. He grew up in Zambia and received his MBA from the University of Texas at Dallas. When he’s not building cutting-edge products, he can be found on a mountain somewhere in the world skiing or honing his mountaineering skills (he’d like to climb Mt. Everest someday). He and his wife have two young children, the younger of whom is the boss of the household.
Chief development officer
Kaneisha Lloyd is a philanthropy professional with over a decade of experience. She has secured pledges and donations for a capital campaign and helped major-gifts teams raise millions of dollars. Kaneisha prides herself in taking initiative to establish a wide range of tailored fundraising strategies to support mission-driven organizations. A fundraiser by trade and creative at heart, Kaneisha sees the potential in others and works to help them make a meaningful impact through the power of relationships. Kaneisha aspires to influence the next generation of leaders in underrepresented and multicultural communities. Kaneisha is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and public relations and an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Chief of staff
Kelly Avant joined the Houston Landing in October 2022 as the chief of staff. Kelly is passionate about startups and innovative financing for high-impact initiatives. Kelly has a degree in Gender Studies with a minor in Rhetoric from Fort Lewis College and an MBA from Rice University. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cambodia, solo through-hiked the John Muir Trail and directed a local production of the Vagina Monologues. You can find her art published in the 2022 Houston Zine Fest Official Zine!
John Tedesco is an investigative journalist with 25 years of experience digging up stories across Texas. Before coming to the Houston Landing, John was a reporter on the Houston Chronicle's Investigations Team. His past projects include "Unfair Burden," an investigation of unchecked economic incentives that shower billions of dollars on corporations. John was also part of the team that wrote "Abuse of Faith," a series that revealed how hundreds of Southern Baptist pastors, church employees and volunteers had been credibly accused of sexual abuse. The series sparked widespread calls for reform in the nation's second-largest faith group. The father of two children, John and his family live in Houston with a high-strung hound dog named Layla.
Director of finance
Konner Mackey is the director of finance for the Houston Landing. His career spans years of experience in financial management and budgeting. Konner served as a senior financial analyst with the city of Houston, where he played an integral role managing the city’s $5 billion operating budget, and he worked as a budget analyst for the Houston Independent School District. Konner graduated from the University of Houston and holds certifications in finance from Georgetown University. He is a lifelong Houstonian with strong ties to the community by way of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation, Texas Kidney Foundation and Higher Impact Ministries.
Marie D. De Jesús
Director of photography
Marie D. De Jesús is the director of photography for the Houston Landing. She was previously a staff photojournalist for the Houston Chronicle, where she concentrated on developing relationships with Houston's diverse immigrant and marginalized communities. Prior to the Chronicle, Marie worked for the Democrat and Chronicle located in Rochester, New York and the Victoria Advocate in Texas. In 2022, De Jesús became the first Latina president of the National Press Photographers Association.
Director of corporate development
Heather Houston is director of corporate development at the Houston Landing. A Texas native, Heather is passionate about connecting corporations to their community and has been a critical part of many successful startups. During her early career in New York, Heather worked in the sports and music industries building sponsorship programs for brands including Pepsi, Lipton Iced Tea, Jim Beam, Rolling Rock Beer and The North Face. After moving to Houston in 2005, Heather joined the Houston Texans organization to help launch the inaugural Texas Bowl. In 2017, Houston turned to the nonprofit world where she served as interim executive director for Urban Harvest and most recently the executive director of Scenic Houston. Houston lives in Montrose with her husband and two sons. When not at work or volunteering, you can find Heather cheering on the sidelines at her children’s sporting events or walking around Rice University.
Director of audience
Forrest Milburn is the director of audience at the Houston Landing, where he leads strategy around distribution, audience growth and reader engagement. Before coming to the Landing, Forrest was the senior audience growth and engagement producer at the Miami Herald in sunny South Florida. At the Herald, Forrest led the newsroom's strategy with reader callouts and steered its flagship accounts on Instagram, Reddit and Tiktok, while also having a hand in newsletters, alerts and story pitches to news aggregators. Before moving to Florida, Forrest was a lifelong Texan, having grown up in the North Dallas suburbs. He attended the University of Texas at Austin and interned at newspapers all across the Lonestar State (he's very happy to add Houston to the list). When he's not working, Forrest loves tending to his indoor plant collection and playing with his two cats, Artemis and Apollo.
Director of foundation relations
Kristina is a seasoned nonprofit management professional with a background in philanthropy. For over twenty-five years, Kristina has served Houston’s nonprofit sector in various roles from educator, administrator to fundraiser. Since 2008, her focus has been institutional fundraising, which has meant cultivating community engagement opportunities for stakeholders and the public. She sees great value in serving Houston’s distinctly diverse communities by connecting people to organizations and creating collaborations that provide new initiatives. Kristina believes how we define community engagement should welcome a dialogue of collaboration that benefits our diverse city. She moved to Houston in 1980 from Bangkok, Thailand, and considers Houston her home. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Houston, and remains an active supporter of the city’s cultural arts community.
Director of people
Susie Hermsen is the director of people at Houston Landing, where she manages all aspects of recruitment, retainment and human resources. In 2014, Susie graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, applied for an agency recruiting job on a whim, and realized her love of conversation could lead to a career. She enjoys the fast-paced nature of hiring to scale, connecting with candidates and employees, and creating collaborative working environments. Susie has been in the recruiting field for nine years, working at everything from corporations to startups. When she isn't on the phone with a job candidate, you can find her walking her dog, Pear; keeping up with her Goodreads reading goal; or planning a nice beach vacation with her husband.
Shannon Sims is a senior editor at the Houston Landing, where she leads a team of reporters and oversees narrative storytelling projects. Raised in Houston, she is a graduate of St. John's School and The University of Texas School of Law, where she served on the Texas Environmental Law Journal, the Texas International Law Journal, and co-founded the Pro Bono in January program along the Texas-Mexico border. She has written multiple front page stories for The New York Times, with bylines from Houston and beyond. Previously she served as Bloomberg's Economy and Government Editor for Latin America and helped produce Bloomberg's award-winning podcast, The Pay Check. A passionate proponent of multimedia journalism, her work has won a Lowell Thomas Award and been included in the Best American Travel Writing anthology. A former fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs, the International Women's Media Foundation and The Buffett-McCain Initiative to Combat Modern Slavery, she is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish, and loves Mardi Gras, queso and impromptu Galveston getaways.
Giselle Rodriguez Greenwood
Giselle Rodriguez Greenwood is lead editor of the Houston Landing. Previously, she served as editor-in-chief at the Houston Business Journal, the first Latina editor at the newspaper’s almost 40-year history, where she oversaw newsroom operations and strategy. Prior to that, she was managing editor at the paper, where she directly managed a newsroom of beat reporters. Giselle has been in business journalism for more than 20 years. She previously served as the Houston chapter president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. As the daughter of Colombian and Cuban immigrants, she strives to get more people of color into newsrooms. She was named female business executive of the year in 2019 by the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and also received the Breakthrough Woman of the Year award by the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce. Although she was born in New York, she grew up in Houston, and you can typically find her kickboxing, climbing mountains in Colorado or cheering her sons on at their lacrosse games.
Jacob Carpenter is a team leader for the Houston Landing, helping to guide news coverage and oversee reporters. Jacob has reported for multiple newsrooms over the years, most recently as a freelance newsletter writer for Fortune and previously as an education reporter for the Houston Chronicle from 2017 to 2021. His stories explored the fallout from HISD's fractured governing board; the district's efforts to help students outside the classroom; and the reasons behind long-standing inequities between schools. His work has been honored by the National Headliner Awards, Investigative Reporters & Editors Awards and Livingston Awards. Jacob is thrilled to return to Houston after spending the past 18 months in Boston with his wife. He's looking forward to basking in Houston's warm weather, sampling fantastic restaurants, and watching his lab mix, Cooper, splash around at the Buffalo Bayou dog park.
Matt Schwartz is a team leader at Houston Landing, overseeing reporters covering neighborhoods, local government and politics. A 1985 graduate of the University of Missouri, Matt has nearly four decades of journalism experience at newspapers in Pennsylvania, South Carolina and here in Houston, where he spent 26 years as a reporter and editor at the Houston Chronicle. Outside of work, Matt enjoys time with family and friends, taking walks, rockhounding and spending hours in the workshop cutting and polishing stones. He has a surprising number of photographs of dead trees on his phone.
Public safety reporter
Clare Amari covers public safety for the Houston Landing. Clare previously worked as an investigative reporter for The Greenville News in South Carolina, where she reported on police use of force, gender-based violence and sexual abuse allegations at a local cheerleading gym. A native of New York suburbs, Clare graduated with honors from Columbia Journalism School and the University of Oxford, and she has received journalism awards for her work in Ohio and South Carolina. In her free time, Clare enjoys watching Premier League soccer, trying new wines, and researching her roots in Sicily and Appalachian Ohio.
Audience engagement producer
Angelica Arinze is an audience engagement producer at the Houston Landing. She was previously the audience producer at Grist and served as the spring 2022 engagement fellow at the Texas Tribune. There, she cultivated her passion for audience engagement strategy and finding unique approaches to reach readers to promote a better-informed public. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Born and raised in Reno, Nevada, she moved to Houston at the age of 14. She is excited to return to the Bayou City and explore new things the city has to offer. When she’s not working, she loves trying out new food spots, sending her friends and siblings funny TikToks or diving into a good read.
Elena Bruess covers the environment for the Houston Landing. She comes to Houston after two years at the San Antonio Express-News, where she covered the environment, climate and water. Elena previously worked in the Midwest as a reporter for Circle of Blue, a nonprofit newsroom where she focused on water issues in the Great Lakes region. Before that, Elena covered health and inequity in Chicago as a Pulitzer Center reporting fellow. She is originally from Northeastern Iowa and holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University and a degree from University of Iowa's undergraduate writing program. When not on the beat, Elena will be reading a book in the sun or getting ultra-caffeinated at a coffee shop.
Civic engagement reporter
Tim Carlin is a civic engagement reporter for the Houston Landing. An Ohio native, Tim comes to Houston after spending a year in Greenville, South Carolina, covering Greenville County government for The Greenville News. There, he examined his beat through a resident-focused lens, highlighting concerns about Greenville County’s rapid growth and the censorship of LGBTQ+ materials in the county’s library system. Tim received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and American studies from Miami University of Ohio – Go Redhawks! When not at work, Tim enjoys watching too much reality TV, solving crossword puzzles and frequenting local coffee shops.
Paul Cobler covers politics for the Houston Landing. Paul returns to Texas after covering city hall for The Advocate in Baton Rouge. During two-and-a-half years at the newspaper, he spearheaded local accountability reporting about a variety of topics and local agencies. A University of Texas graduate from Victoria, Paul previously worked in Washington, D.C., for the Dallas Morning News as a post-graduate fellow. Paul's reporting on local and state politics has been published in newspapers across Texas. When he's not working, he can be found playing sand volleyball or petting his cat, Lil Bit.
Céilí Doyle covers the region's suburbs and rural communities for the Houston Landing. She comes to Texas by way of the Midwest, most recently working for The Columbus Dispatch in Ohio through the national service program Report for America. In Ohio, she covered rural issues across the state with a special focus on Appalachia and she earned the Ohio Associated Press Media Editors' Rising Star award — given to journalists with less than five years of professional experience. Doyle is a Chicago native who earned her B.A. in journalism and political science from Miami University of Ohio.
K-12 education reporter
Miranda Dunlap is a reporter covering K-12 schools across the eight-county Greater Houston region. A painfully Midwestern native to Michigan’s capital region, Miranda studied political science pre-law and journalism at Michigan State University. She served in various capacities at The State News, most recently as Culture Editor, where she oversaw a team of reporters covering climate, entertainment, lifestyle, and race and identity issues. She worked at Automotive News, where she covered all things automotive industry, and she’s a Michigan Press Association Foundation award winner.
Audience engagement producer
Sydney Fucci is an audience engagement producer at Houston Landing. She comes to the Landing with expertise in content strategy, SEO, social media content creation, demand generation, and web analytics. Sydney is a graduate of St. John's University's Peter J. Tobin College of Business with a bachelor’s in marketing minoring in international studies. As a native Houstonian, Sydney believes Houston has one of the best culinary scenes in the world. Outside of work hours, she enjoys exploring Houston’s music and art scene, scouting out a new restaurant, and playing tennis. She is also an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
General assignment reporter
Akhil Ganesh is a general assignment and breaking news reporter for the Houston Landing. He was previously a local government watchdog reporter in Staunton, Virginia, where he focused on providing community-centric coverage that focused on issues and actions rather than discourse and politics. As part of his work, he examined the history of voting policies, an affordable housing crisis, and the disappearance of a once-vibrant historic Black community. A first-generation immigrant from India, Akhil grew up around the Midwest cities of St. Louis and Detroit. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English and Political Science from the University of Michigan, and a Master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. When he isn’t working, Akhil enjoys studying football, playing video games, and watching anime. You can likely find him eating his way through Houston or trying to fix his horrific golf swing.
Public safety reporter
Eileen Grench covers public safety for the Houston Landing, where two of her primary areas of focus will be the Houston Police Department and Harris County Sheriff’s Office. She is returning to local news after a year as the national justice reporter at The Daily Beast. Eileen previously covered juvenile justice for a nonprofit newsroom, THE CITY, in New York as a Report for America Corps member. At THE CITY, she was a 2021 Livingston Award finalist for her coverage of inequities in child welfare, and won the Newswomen’s Club of New York Front Page Award in Local Investigative Reporting for her series on education in juvenile detention centers during the coronavirus pandemic. Eileen also worked as an investigative reporting fellow at the Global Migration Project at Columbia University, covering immigration issues for outlets such as The New Yorker, The Intercept, The Nation and Documented.
Maggie Gordon is a columnist who has worked at newspapers across the country, including the Stamford Advocate and the Houston Chronicle. She has covered everything from the hedge fund industry and education to craft beer and alligator hunting. No matter the topic, Maggie’s favorite stories combine quirky characters, adventure and humanity. Bonus points if she can find a love story. Maggie grew up on a cow farm in upstate New York, and graduated from nearby Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. These days you can find her at her home in Houston’s East End – or on Twitter.
K-12 education reporter
Asher Lehrer-Small is a K-12 education reporter for the Houston Landing. He previously spent three years covering schools for The 74 where he was recognized by the Education Writers Association as one of the top three education beat reporters in the nation working at a small newsroom. His work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Fast Company, The Guardian and others. He graduated from Brown University studying education policy and previously worked as a summer school math teacher in Providence, Rhode Island. Off the clock, you can find him tending to houseplants or frying up homemade donuts for a crowd.
Briah Lumpkins is a suburban reporter for the Houston Landing. She most recently spent a year in Charleston, South Carolina, working as an investigative reporting fellow at The Post and Courier via Frontline PBS’ Local Journalism Initiative. There she took on a variety of accountability stories, including the veiled use of public funds by Charleston’s tourism organization and the impacts of saltwater corrosion on condominiums along the South Carolina coast. Briah is originally from Toledo, Ohio. She received a bachelor's degree in journalism and sociology from Miami University of Ohio.
Harris County reporter
McKenna Oxenden is a reporter covering Harris County for the Houston Landing. She most recently had a yearlong fellowship at the New York Times on its breaking news team. A Baltimore native, she previously covered criminal justice and breaking news at the Baltimore Sun. Prior to working for her hometown paper, McKenna worked at the Tampa Bay Times in a variety of roles including, reporter, social media/homepage editor and podcast producer. Her work has also appeared in the Washington Post, USA Today and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. McKenna is a graduate of Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisc. with a degree in journalism, photography and digital media. She is a self-proclaimed “horse girl” who competes in three-day eventing. McKenna is also an avid ultimate frisbee player, firmly believes that being the cool aunt is a personality trait and is always looking for a new brewery to try.
Diverse communities reporter
Danya Pérez is a diverse communities reporter for the Houston Landing. She returned to Houston after leaving two years ago to work for the San Antonio Express-News, where she reported on K-12 and higher education. Prior to that, Danya was a digital producer at the Houston Chronicle, where she worked on community engagement efforts by developing and writing daily newsletters. She previously spent 4 ½ years covering education at the Monitor newspaper in the Rio Grande Valley. Danya lived most of her childhood in Mexico before migrating with her family to their second home in El Paso. She is a proud University of Texas at El Paso graduate (Picks up!). When she's not writing about our communities, she might be found taking her loyal travel companion, Wakko, a 16-year-old Schnauzer, for slow walks at his favorite spots along Buffalo Bayou.
Civic engagement reporter
Angelica Perez is a civic engagement reporter for the Houston Landing. A Houston native, she is excited to return to the city after interning at The Dallas Morning News as a breaking news intern in the summer of 2022. During her time there, she reported on a national tampon shortage, and faith-based family services taking on new responsibilities after the overturn of Roe v Wade. She graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington where she studied journalism. While at UTA she served as editor in chief of the student newspaper, The Shorthorn, where she managed a newsroom of about 50 people. Angelica also previously interned at KERA, the Dallas-area NPR and PBS member station. There, she reported her first radio story about Latino skateboarders who found a sense of belonging — on a skateboard. In her free time, Angelica can be found spending time with her family, traveling to new places, or reading a good book.
City hall reporter
Matt Sledge is the City Hall reporter for the Houston Landing. Before that, he worked in the same role for the Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate and as a national reporter for HuffPost. He's excited to take detours to the Best Stop Supermarket for pepper jack boudin balls on return trips to Louisiana. A native of Indianapolis, he graduated from Brown University.
Paula Solis is the newsletter editor for the Houston Landing. She studied journalism at Baylor University, and after graduation, she took a short drive (and ferry ride) up to Juneau, Alaska, where she covered crime and education. Returning to the lower 48, Paula wrote for Teach For America's One Day magazine, focusing on educational inequities across the country. She later joined the national communications team as a content development director. A lifelong Houstonian, Paula is thrilled to be part of a team dedicated to telling the stories of her beloved city and its people. In her free time, you can find Paula walking around her Montrose neighborhood with her dogs or catching an Astros game with her family.
Alex Stuckey is an investigative reporter for the Houston Landing. She is a 2017 Pulitzer Prize and 2022 Livingston Award winner. In 2022, she received the Charles E. Green Award for Star Reporter of the Year while working at the Houston Chronicle. Since graduating college in 2012, journalism has taken her to five different states, where she's covered a nuclear research facility, the Missouri Legislature, the mishandling of sexual assault reports at colleges and universities and even NASA. Her reporting throughout the years has put two people in prison, resulted in federal investigations at higher education institutions and overhauled broken policies at the state and local level. She loves falling down information rabbit holes, playing in spreadsheets and listening to Gilmore Girls on repeat at work. When she's off the clock, you can usually find her playing with her dogs, Waffle and Moby, curled up on the couch with a good book or on her yoga mat.
Annie Stuckey is the web designer for the Houston Landing. Before coming to the Landing, she worked at multiple local design agencies, designing brands for some of Houston’s largest companies. She was born and raised in Ohio where she received a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Communication Design from the University of Cincinnati. When she’s not working, she can be found hiking, traveling, teaching yoga, or cuddling with her fur babies.
Antranik Tavitian is a photojournalist at the Houston Landing. He previously worked at The Arizona Republic, where he covered the border, Arizona politics, Mezcal production in Oaxaca, Mexico, and Phoenix’s wide range of communities. A Los Angeles native, Antranik has lived in many parts of the country while interning at newspapers such as The Commercial-Dispatch in Mississippi, the Detroit Free Press and the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. In his free time, Antranik enjoys cooking his family's native Syrian and Armenian foods, watching soccer, and feeding disturbing amounts of ice cubes to his two-year-old mostly Labrador border rescue dog, Miko.
Public safety reporter
Monroe Trombly is a public safety reporter at Houston Landing. Monroe previously worked for the Columbus Dispatch, where he covered breaking and trending news. Before that, Monroe worked as a city hall and breaking news reporter at the Mansfield News Journal. A Cincinnati native, Monroe earned a degree in environmental studies from the University of Cincinnati. When not writing, you can find him at the movies or on the hiking trail.
Social media manager
Ambika is the social media manager for the Houston Landing. She brings more than a decade of experience in social media and public relations, and enjoys telling stories through any medium. Ambika has worked in both corporate and agency settings with a variety of clients, including food and beverage, fashion, beauty, lifestyle, entertainment and energy. Most recently, she led social media strategy at Sysco Corporation. When she’s not working, she’s pursuing portrait photography. Ambika’s love for photography started at Baylor University, where she studied journalism and worked as a photojournalist for the student newspaper. After graduating, she started her career in New York and studied strategic design and management at Parsons. Ambika lives in Houston with her husband, daughter, and their gentle, goofy Great Dane.
Diverse communities reporter
Monique Welch covers diverse communities for the Houston Landing. She was previously an engagement reporter for the Houston Chronicle, where she reported on trending news within the greater Houston region and across Texas, and occasionally contributed to the Chronicle's race and identity newsletter, HouWeAre. A native Baltimorean and previous Tampa resident, Monique joined the Chronicle in the summer of 2021 after nearly four years at the Tampa Bay Times, where she worked on all things digital, launched the newspaper's first race and identity newsletter, Regarding Race, and covered local news. Monique holds a bachelor's degree in Communications and Media Studies from Goucher College.