Publisher AND CEO
Chris Cobler is a longtime daily newspaper leader who started his career as a reporter in his hometown at the Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal and then worked at newspapers in Colorado, South Dakota and Texas. In Texas, he first served as managing editor of the Denton Record-Chronicle and later was editor and publisher of the Victoria Advocate.
As editor, he led two newspapers to recognition as the best in the nation for their size. His newspapers have earned hundreds of state and national honors, including the Robert G. McGruder Award for Diversity Leadership. Cobler was the first Donald W. Reynolds Nieman Fellow for community journalism at Harvard University, where he studied the digital future of news and how to promote a constructive community conversation about changing demographics.
He is a recipient of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association Editorial Achievement Award for courage and commitment to open government; the Texas Press Association Frank W. Mayborn Award for Community Leadership; and a current board member and past president of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.
Patricia Rodriguez Terrell
CHIEF DEVELOPMENT OFFICER
Trish Rodriguez Terrell has raised $5 million for nonprofits as a grant writer and development manager; created content marketing and thought leadership programs as a marketing director; and managed sales teams and account managers as a customer success director. But her first love is the newsroom, where she worked for nearly 20 years, and she is thrilled to come full circle by joining the Fort Worth Report as chief development officer. Her goal is to build a strong community of supporters and readers, who are invested in solutions-based journalism and want to participate in lively and meaningful conversations about Fort Worth.
Terrell began as a reporter for a regional Missouri newspaper, covering everything that moved in eight rural counties, and moved on to reporter roles in Cincinnati and Dallas before joining the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as a features writer. Later, as arts editor and then features editor, she led teams of writers and editors covering culture, arts, health, and human interest topics, and was invested in developing and mentoring new voices to tell the stories of our multifaceted community. She then moved on to a successful marketing and fundraising career, raising millions for clients including a regional food bank, an art museum, an academic medical center, and a youth development organization.
She has also owned a restaurant in Cozumel and lived in the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas, and can make both a mean margarita and a decent chicken souse. Her journalism degree is from the University of Missouri.
Thomas R. Martinez
Committed to strong community journalism, Thomas R. Martinez brings more than 25 years of experience as a writer and editor primarily at newspapers in his home state of Colorado and more recently in Texas. He believes strongly in the five core principles of journalism, as outlined by the Ethical Journalism Network: truth and accuracy; independence; fairness and impartiality; humanity; and accountability.
As an editor, Martinez helped lead coverage on several high impact journalism projects, including examining the exploding senior citizen population in one of Denver’s largest neighboring counties; explaining to readers the difficulties of living with disabilities through the eyes of a reporter and community members who were disabled; using the anniversary of 19 migrant deaths as a springboard to explore the complicated issues of the border and racial issues in south Texas; and examining, through the lens of solutions-based journalism, the socioeconomic disparities that Hurricane Harvey left it in its wake.
Martinez was named to the Dow Jones News Fund editing internship program and learned from the great Ed Trayes at Temple University, starting as a summer intern at the Daily Item in Sunbury, Pennsylvania. He later was named to the Newspaper Association of America Breakthrough Program, which placed up-and-coming young journalists with veteran industry leaders. Martinez was paired with then-longtime Seattle Times managing editor Alex MacLeod. Earlier in his career, he also worked as a sports editor in Colorado, where his sections were named the best in the nation and were consistently honored in Associated Press Sports Editors contests.
Martinez is an award-winning columnist who brings a personal touch to tough topics like suicide and mental health. A disabled Army veteran, he cares deeply about veterans’ rights and belongs to the Disabled American Veterans organization.
SENIOR REPORTER FOCUSED ON INVESTIGATIONS aND LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Jessica Priest will be Fort Worth Report’s government and accountability reporter. She most recently worked as an investigative reporter for USA TODAY based in Austin, Texas. In that role, she helped count COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes when the federal government was not doing so. She also broke the news that a Midland County, Texas, prosecutor had worked for judges on hundreds of criminal cases, including a death penalty case. She explained that this violated ethics rules and defendants’ constitutional rights.
Before USA TODAY, Priest earned dozens of awards for her work at the Victoria Advocate, first as a courts reporter and then as an environment and investigative reporter. Her stories about a lack of mental health care in the rural community spurred elected officials to start addressing the problem. She was part of a team that earned a national Sigma Chi Delta Award for public service from the Society of Professional Journalists for reporting on lessons learned after Hurricane Harvey. She also uncovered why a public port had hired a disgraced ex-congressman as its first lobbyist.
Jessica is a three-time winner of the Texas Gavel Award; the Star Investigative Report of the Year from the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors; and the Showcase Silver Award from the Headliners Foundation.
Jacob Sanchez strives to have his reporting reflect his community and needs of residents. He pursued journalism because he wanted to keep people informed. Sanchez — a West Texan who earned a political science degree from St. Edward’s University — cut his teeth at two nationally known Austin-based publications, The Texas Tribune and the Texas Observer, and his college newspaper, Hilltop Views, before joining the Temple Daily Telegram in 2016.
At the Telegram, Sanchez expanded the newspaper’s politics coverage by diving deeper into voting patterns, focusing on local issues and scoring interviews with state and national leaders, including former Texas House Speaker Joe Straus and Georgia politician Stacey Abrams. He brought underrepresented voices of Bell County to the forefront of his reporting.
His coverage of local government, education and politics earned multiple awards from the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors. Those honors include first place in business reporting, first place in deadline writing and Star Breaking News Report of the Year from the TAPME.
Neetish Basnet aims to rely on objective truth to help find common grounds for people in the community. He was born and raised in the foothills of The Himalayas but has called the flat lands of Texas home for almost a decade. Driven by curiosity and eagerness to learn, he has reported on issues impacting North Texans for several local media outlets, including the Dallas Business Journal, Irving Ramblers, Burleson Star and his college newspaper, The Shorthorn.
He graduated in 2018 from the University of Texas at Arlington with a degree in journalism. Basnet also was selected for a Dow Jones News Fund digital news reporting residency at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
More recently, Basnet honed his business reporting skills at Fort Worth Business Press. He delved deeper into stories to understand the intersectionality of business and social identities. He covered wide-ranging topics that included technology, small businesses and the fast-growing biotech and medical sector in Fort Worth.
2021 Summer Fellows
Behrndt, a senior at the University of Missouri. At Missouri, Behrndt has been an editor and reporter at the daily Columbia Missourian and KOMU, the university’s television station. She has also worked as an editorial assistant at D Magazine. She started May 17 at Fort Worth Report.
Brooke Colombo, a May 2021 graduate of the University of North Texas in Denton. Colombo has been a reporting intern at the Denton Record-Chronicle and served as a reporter and news editor at her college newspaper, the North Texas Daily. She begins work at Fort Worth Report June 1.
Cristian, a May 2021 graduate of Texas Christian University. At TCU, ArguetaSoto served as staff photographer at TCU360 and later as its visual editor, overseeing other photojournalists. A Fort Worth native, he began work at Fort Worth Report May 17.
Board of Directors
William W. “Bill” Meadows, President, and Co-chair, Board of Directors
Bill Meadows currently serves as the Chairman Emeritus for Hub International Texas. He recently served as Chair of the DFW International Airport Board and is the Chairman of North Texas High Speed Rail Commission. He has served as a member of the Texas Transportation Commission, Texas Water Development Water Board, Fort Worth City Council and the North Texas Tollway Authority.
He has also served as a Trustee of the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation and a board member of the Southwestern Exposition Livestock Show and Rodeo. He has previously served on the boards of numerous organizations, including Southwestern University, Fort Worth Country Day, Museum of Science and History, Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce and Streams and Valleys, Inc.
Wes Turner, Director and Co-chair
Wes Turner is a long-time civic leader in Fort Worth, having been publisher of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, from 1997 to 2008. After retiring from the Star-Telegram, he served as chairman of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. He currently is a consultant for Advance Newhouse, a long-standing national publisher of daily newspapers and digital news web sites. His other civic service includes board chair of United Way of Metropolitan Tarrant County and board member of the Van Cliburn Foundation and Performing Arts of Fort Worth.
Turner was a director of OmniAmerican Bank (now Southside Bank) and has served as chairman of the board of Texas Health Resources. He received the Pat Taggart Award from the Texas Daily Newspaper Association, the group’s highest honor for a Texas newspaper publisher. He also was honored with the Schieffer School of Journalism Ethics Award at Texas Christian University and by the Press Club of Dallas for its annual Legends of North Texas Journalism award.
Marianne Auld, Director
Marianne M. Auld is the managing partner of Kelly Hart & Hallman, a law firm rooted in Fort Worth.
Ms. Auld began her career as a law clerk on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Following her clerkship, she joined Kelly Hart as an associate in the firm’s litigation section, where she worked on a wide range of civil matters for clients, including governmental entities and both publicly traded and privately held companies. Later, she served as a tenured professor of law at Baylor Law School, where she taught, among other courses, civil procedure, remedies, and appellate brief writing. She rejoined Kelly Hart in 2008 as a partner in the firm’s appellate section.
In addition to her professional career, Ms. Auld is board chair of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for a number of nonprofit organizations, including the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, the Fort Worth Symphony, and Fort Worth Cradle to Career.
Jonathan Morris, Director
Jonathan Morris is a Fort Worth entrepreneur and co-founder of Memo Hospitality Group LLC, which is opening Hotel Dryce, a boutique hotel in the Cultural District. He opened the full-service Fort Worth Barber Shop in 2014 and later The Lathery, a men’s grooming store, after working as an account director and interactive producer for Agency Entourage of Dallas. That followed work as an audio specialist and production assistant for Turner Sports and CNN in Atlanta, where he graduated from Morehouse College with a degree in Business Administration. He has been a volunteer at Lena Pope Home since 2013.
Morris’ latest venture is hosting Self-Employed, a show on Chip and Joanna Gaines’ new Magnolia Network.
Mitch Whitten, Director
Mitch Whitten is executive vice president of marketing and strategy for Visit Fort Worth, a 501(c)6 organization dedicated to economic development through business and leisure tourism. In addition to increasing tourism in Fort Worth, Whitten’s team created the Fort Worth Film Commission, the Hear Fort Worth music association and Fort Worth showcases at the international SXSW events in 2018 and 2019.
Whitten’s previous experience includes head of marketing for SMU, a private university in Dallas, Pier 1 Imports corporate communications and reporting for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. His first job in journalism was for the Associated Press.
John Lumpkin, Director and Secretary
John Lumpkin’s early reporting experiences were as general assignment and county courthouse reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in the late 1960s before he moved to Associated Press. After working as a journalist and manager, he retired as AP’s Vice President for Newspaper Markets in 2009 when he was named Director of the Schieffer School of Journalism at TCU. He promoted TCU journalism as an accredited elite program among the nation’s private universities.
After retiring from TCU, he was elected vice chair of the Headliners Foundation of Texas, coordinating the Headliners Foundation’s journalism awards programs. Lumpkin received the “North Texas Journalism Legends Award” in 2017 from the Press Club of Dallas. He also is vice chair of the volunteer Board of Directors of The Cavalier Daily, Inc., the nonprofit corporation of independent student media at his alma mater, the University of Virginia.
Rachel Navejar Phillips, Director
Rachel Navejar Phillips is a marketing executive and civic leader who is deeply involved in her hometown of Fort Worth.
Currently business development director for The Rios Group, where she oversees proposal development, client relations, and marketing and branding activities, Ms. Phillips previously worked at Tarrant Regional Water District, where she was a key liaison between civic groups, government agencies and community stakeholders. She is a past winner of the Fort Worth Business Press 40 under 40 Award and is a 2019 graduate of Leadership North Texas.
Ms. Phillips has served as a board member of multiple community organizations, including the Junior League of Fort Worth, The Women’s Center, Girls Inc. of Tarrant County, Mayfest Fort Worth, and Presbyterian Night Shelter. She graduated with a degree in government from St. John’s University.