SPJ Northern California Board Members

Ben Trefny – President

Ben Trefny handles daily operations in the KALW news department, overseeing the editorial and sound engineering teams, producing the nightly news and culture show Crosscurrents, and managing the KALW Audio Academy training program. He earned a Master’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon in 2000 and got his start in public radio at NPR member station KLCC in Eugene. After freelancing for numerous magazines and working for various commercial and public radio programs, Ben joined KALW in 2004. He has helped the department win numerous regional and national awards for long- and short-form journalism. He has also helped train hundreds of audio producers, many of whom work with him at KALW, today. Ben lives with his wife and twin children in San Francisco’s Outer Sunset district, where Golden Gate Park meets Ocean Beach, and spends as much time as he can outside.

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez — Vice President

Born and raised in San Francisco, Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez is a politics and government reporter for KQED and enjoys reporting on his “dear, foggy city.” He formerly wrote the Examiner column, On Guard, covering City Hall slugfests and The City at large. As an SPJ member and chapter vice president, Joe is passionate about teaching the next generation of journalists, from City College of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, the Bay Area’s high schools and beyond.
As an SPJ member and now chapter vice president, Joe is passionate about teaching the next generation of journalists, from City College of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, the Bay Area’s high schools and beyond. He is also co-chair of SPJ NorCal’s Freedom of Information Committee, an arm of SPJ tasked with championing the public’s access to government records and defending press freedoms.

Liz Enochs – Treasurer

Liz Enochs is an award-winning economic, financial, and legal journalist with many years of experience at major outlets including Bloomberg News and Red Herring magazine. Her stories have appeared in The New York Times, The International Herald-Tribune, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Los Angeles Times, The Seattle Times, and The Boston Globe, among other publications. She’s a two-term past president of SPJ Northern California.

Michael Bott

Michael Bott is an investigative journalist at NBC Bay Area. He was born and raised in the Bay Area, and considers himself lucky to cover the same community he hails from. Michael’s work has changed laws across the state, from how police can deploy surveillance technology, to new policies protecting vulnerable Bay Area tenants from eviction. His work has been recognized with a variety of national and regional awards, including a Peabody Award, an Alfred I. dupont-Columbia Award, a National Edward R. Murrow Award, and an SPJ Sigma Delta Chi Award. Michael lives in the East Bay with his wife, daughter, and dog. He is currently working on a documentary film project, and also teaches a video journalism class through the Society of Professional Journalists at San Quentin State Prison.

Valerie Bush

Bush is the deputy director of Renaissance Journalism and is herself a former journalist with a BA from UC Berkeley and a master’s degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, sporting more than 15 years of experience in strategic communications, media relations, nonprofit administration and project management. Prior to joining Renaissance Journalism, she was the communications and marketing director at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She has also served as the executive director of the Asian American Journalists Association and worked as a reporter for the Marin Independent Journal, an assistant editor at The Village Voice, and as the editorial director for the Maynard Institute. Bush joined the SPJ NorCal board to help diversify the news industry, build journalism collaborations, support and mentor “next-gen” journalists, and work for social justice and equity.

Ramona Giwargis

Ramona Giwargis

Ramona is the co-founder and CEO of San José Spotlight, the city’s award-winning nonprofit newsroom dedicated to independent business and political reporting.

Ramona has covered politics and government for more than a decade, working in San Jose, Merced, Salinas, Eureka and most recently Las Vegas. A San Jose native, Ramona is passionate about investigative and watchdog journalism that searches for truth, exposes wrongdoing and sheds light on injustice. She is a graduate of San Jose State University and has won numerous journalism awards, including the McClatchy President’s Award, George F. Gruner Award and 1st Place awards from the CNPA. An Assyrian immigrant, Ramona cares deeply about telling the stories of minority, underserved and marginalized communities.

Ramona is thrilled to be home — where she can stock up on La Victoria’s orange sauce again — and to provide high-quality local news to her hometown. She lives with her husband and the organization’s co-founder, Josh Barousse, their young daughter and rescue dog.

L.A. Chung

L.A. Chung is an experienced journalist who has worked at the Hartford Courant, San Francisco Chronicle, and San Jose Mercury News. She currently serves as an aide in the office of California state Senator Jerry Hill.

Luis Felipe Godinez

Felipe Godinez is a journalist with 16 years of experience working in different markets, including San Francisco, Las Vegas, Denver, and Amarillo. He is currently News Director for Univision Sacramento. Previously, Felipe Godinez served as  Assistant News Director and Executive Producer for KDTV Univision 14 in San Francisco, overseeing the content of the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscast. He has produced various news series, breaking news coverage, sporting coverage and news specials. He also worked as Anchor/Producer for Noticias Univision Nevada in Las Vegas. He joined the SPJ NorCal board because he believes media is diverse, and Spanish media is a key part of informing the community.

Lila LaHood

Lila LaHood is the publisher of the San Francisco Public Press. She has worked as a nonprofit consultant, and as a freelance writer and editor. She was previously a business writer at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, where she covered retail and real estate. Lila has an M.S. from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and a B.A. in international relations from Stanford University.

Meaghan Mitchell

Mitchell has had success in building the trust of residents from the most vulnerable neighborhoods in San Francisco. Meaghan’s outreach work helped establish the legislated “African American Arts & Cultural District” of San Francisco, launched the first dock-less e-bike share system in SF JUMP Bikes, debuted Hoodline’s Bayview news coverage through journalism, and lead the “Play Streets For All” initiative while working for Livable City. Mitchell is passionate about telling uplifting stories about people of color and doing work to support underserved communities in San Francisco. She joined the SPJ NorCal board to support its ongoing racial equity work and grow that effort across Northern California.

Ida Mojadad

Ida is the San Francisco Examiner’s housing and education reporter and previously spent more than two years at SF Weekly covering transportation and cute animals. She previously covered education in southern Minnesota and interned at the Orange County Register and KQED’s flagship, call-in show Forum.
Ida is committed to ushering in the upcoming generations of journalists, particularly journalists of color, and bringing the public into the journalistic process to establish better transparency, trust, and media literacy for all ages. As a first-generation Iranian American, she is also focused on bringing guidance to newsrooms for a better understanding on topics like the Middle East.

Anita Varma

Varma is a publicly engaged journalism ethics educator and researcher at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, leading the Solidarity Journalism Initiative with support from Democracy Fund. Her academic research on how Bay Area journalists humanize marginalized communities was recently published in Journalism Studies and featured on Nieman Lab and Varma holds a Ph.D. in Communications from Stanford University. Varma is now a lecturer at UC Berkeley’s School of Journalism, where she teaches graduate-level Journalism Ethics. Varma joined the board with a mission to support journalists and foster vibrant journalism across the region.

Liz Wagner

Wagner is a journalist based in the Bay Area. She previously worked as an investigative reporter and producer at NBC Bay Area News where she won multiple regional Emmy awards and several national reporting awards. Liz has reported for television stations in New York City and Reno and also associate-produced a documentary about uranium contamination on the Navajo Nation. Wagner is currently a stay-at-home mom starting several independent reporting projects.

Troy Williams

Troy Williams is founder of the San Quentin Prison Report, a video and award-winning radio production program inside San Quentin State Prison. Williams co-founded San Quentin’s satellite chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and co-founded San Quentin’s financial literacy program entitled F.E.E.L. (financial empowerment emotional literacy).

Williams has worked as a Youth Program Development Specialist, Restorative Justice Facilitator, a cinematographer, and columnist for the Oakland Post. He is currently on the San Francisco District Attorney’s Formerly Incarcerated Advisory Counsel, Oakland City’s Safety and Services Oversight Commission, and on the Board of UnCommon Law. Williams is the founder and executive director of Restorative Media, a multimedia production and consulting company.