Our Model and Commitment
The mission of the tri-lingual Alhambra Source community news site is to enable civic engagement and immigrant integration, and to be a model for taking up the 21st Century challenge of revitalizing democracy through local media serving diverse communities. Fully half of Alhambra’s residents are immigrants, according to the last U.S. Census, and helping them become part of the fabric of Alhambra’s civic life is a core element in the Alhambra Source’s mission.
In this, the Alhambra Source seeks to be a leader in the national effort to reinvigorate local journalism, so essential for advancing democracy. With many threats to democracy, such as low voting rates in national and local elections, there is a national effort to support the creation of “old time local journalism” that used to encourage citizen participation in their communities.
Throughout American history, our political representatives have recognized the need for what they called the Fourth Estate – media that serve as a watchdog on government in order to ensure its smooth functioning and to prevent the loss of democracy. Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and the third president of the United States, wrote during the debate over our Constitution, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” His reasoning is found in another letter to those engaged in writing the Constitution: “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”
Of the 88 cities in Los Angeles County, many do not have a local journalism enterprise, and this has meant that these residents do not have the information they need to participate in the decisions that affect the quality of their and their families’ everyday lives. There is an emerging consensus, that democracy has to be rebuilt from the ground up — in the spaces and places of local communities. The Alhambra Source is part of that effort.
Of course, local journalism can shake things up when decision-makers are not used to the transparency that comes with responsible coverage of their decisions. Transparency is essential, if uncomfortable.
In this time, when journalism in general is attacked as being producers of “fake news,” it is hard for citizens to know what media to trust. All we can do as the co-founders of the Alhambra Source is to say that we are dedicated to independent and responsible journalism that serves the whole Alhambra community.
This does not mean that we will be perfect, nor does it mean that our editor’s stories along with opinion pieces written by our community contributors will not produce discomfort. It does mean that the inclusion of community voices is part and parcel of the democracy that we all treasure.
– Sandra J. Ball-Rokeach and Michael Parks, Co-Founders of the Alhambra Source
Phoenix Tso, Managing Editor
Phoenix Tso is the managing editor of the Alhambra Source. In her six years as a journalist, she’s been published in Reuters, GQ, Vice, Uproxx, the Global Post and Pacific Standard. She’s a graduate of the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.
Evelyn Moreno, Project Director
Evelyn is the Project Director for the Alhambra Source. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in Urban Applied Anthropology, a minor in Business Administration, and a masters degree in Public Administration at the USC Price School for Public Policy. With interest in civic engagement and social justice, she extends her role by being involved in her city government as a volunteer commissioner, and as an appointed commissioner in her local public school district. She lives in Monterey Park.
Dominic Tovar, Community Outreach Coordinator
Dominic Tovar is the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Alhambra Source. As a San Gabriel High School alumnus, he received his B.A. in Literature and Digital Media at UCSC. By stimulating local engagement and coordinating events, Dominic supports the Alhambra Source foster the diverse linguistic communities in the Alhambra-area.
Principal Investigator, Alhambra Project and Metamorphosis Project- As a veteran Professor in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Sandra has been a PI on numerous research grants, and brings decades of experience researching how communication flows sustain and transform the social fabrics of diverse urban communities in Los Angeles. Sandra has provided research leadership, managing a team of doctoral students, to ensure that Alhambra Source continues to be responsive to its mission and informed by the community’s communication needs.
Principal Investigator, Alhambra Project- A Professor of Journalism at USC Annenberg, Michael is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and former editor of the Los Angeles Times. Michael has brought his experience of global reporting and editing to his mentorship and management of Alhambra Source’s editorial team—as well as his local knowledge as a resident of the San Gabriel Valley.
Joyce Amaro grew up in the San Gabriel Valley and is a 26-year resident of Alhambra. She is a founding member of the Alhambra Preservation Group (APG) and currently serves as APG’s president. APG is a non-profit organization that works to educate residents about the need to preserve and protect Alhambra’s architectural resources. She also works for the City of Los Angeles, overseeing the City of Los Angeles Stormwater Public Education Program. She writes for blogs associated with both LA Stormwater and APG and administers the social media components of both programs as well. She is passionate about reading to children and volunteers at Monterey Highlands Elementary School, reading to Kindergarteners.
Jesse Chang is the Executive Director (Catalyst) for Kingdom Causes Alhambra-Monterey Park. He served in church ministry until 2006, and after working at a domestic violence shelter for three years, he started working for Kingdom Causes. Through Kindgom Causes, he dedicates himself to working to unify local churches in Alhambra and Monterey Park. He is a graduate of Messiah College in Pennsylvania, and Fuller Seminary in Pasadena where he got his MDiv. Jesse Chang is a former community contributor of Alhambra Source and previously a member of SGV New Generation Rotary.
A former Alhambra resident and community contributor, Neel is Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives and Institutional Philanthropy at Claremont McKenna College. Neel brings more than ten years of experience in the nonprofit sector in fields ranging from social services to museums to higher education. He is an experienced fundraiser who has successfully led the development of multiple seven figure grant proposals. He is a graduate of Pomona College and received his Master’s degree in Journalism from the University of Southern California.
Head of Content Innovation at KPCC Southern California Public Radio, Kristen oversees KPCC’s broadcast and digital content, innovation strategy, projects and processes. Before this, Kristen was Senior Managing Editor for News, and Senior Producer of Take Two and the Madeleine Brand Show. Kristen joined SCPR after spending more than a decade at CBS News, where she was a producer for the CBS Evening News and an associate producer at 60 Minutes II. Kristen Muller is a graduate of UC Berkeley and was led towards a journalism career by her “passion for current events and a deep curiosity”.
Prior to becoming Communication Director for Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Barbara worked for 15 years as the Strategic Communications Director for the Liberty Hill foundation, and as a strategy and leadership coach for numerous community organizations and philanthropic institutions. Barbara has followed the development of the Alhambra Source project as the teacher of a graduate seminar on community-engaged research at USC Annenberg, and brings her own experience as a former journalist whose work has appeared in numerous national and local outlets.
In addition to being an Alhambra resident, James is an urban planner, community activist and artist. His work examines U.S. Latino cultural influences on urban design and sustainability and is the founder of the Latino Urban Forum. Using his interactive public-engagement and community-visioning method, he has held over 400 workshops and been featured in exhibitions in universities and museums around the globe.
As a Professor of Professional Practice at USC Annenberg, Willa directs Annenberg Radio News and Intersections South LA, a reporting lab and community website for South Los Angeles. Willa brings decades of broadcast journalism experience and knowledge of community media collaborations and has been a supporter of Alhambra Source’s mission since its inception.
Eric Sunada works for the California Institute of Technology at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where he is an engineer. He is a former community contributor to Alhambra Source and founder of Grassroots Alhambra. Eric credits the Alhambra Source for serving as a focal point of information and for facilitating this informal network that led to the formation of Grassroots Alhambra. Today the group consists of over 500 members that aim to promote equitable development in the city and foster local government accountability.
Karin Wang, Esq.
Vice President of Programs and Communications at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, the nation’s largest legal and civil rights group focused on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. In that role, she has worked to significantly expand the organization’s use of communications to further its social justice mission. A graduate of the UC Berkeley School of Law, she has worked for 20 years on a number of civil rights and immigrant rights issues.
Alhambra Latino Association President and Public School Teacher for 37 Years. In her career as an educator she has taken on many roles including instructional aide, early childhood education aide, parent workshop presenter, curriculum writer, instructional specialist and bilingual teacher. Her passion lies in working with Latino students and parents. Teresa’s philosophy is “Si Se Puede” and she is a proponent of Alhambra Latino Association goals for academic achievement and cultural awareness in the community.
Over the years, more than 60 community members have contributed stories, photos, videos, and ideas. We recognize them and showcase a selection of their work here, and invite you to bring your ideas and perspectives to the table.