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Meet the news staff

Ron Judd

Executive Editor — Ron Judd, ext. 102

Ron Judd, a veteran reporter, columnist, historian, teacher, raconteur and now editor, comes to Cascadia Daily News after three decades at The Seattle Times, where he covered a broad variety of news beats, wrote several popular columns, traveled the globe to cover the Summer and Winter Olympics, and produced a range of features about Northwest people and culture for Pacific NW, the paper’s Sunday magazine.

A native of Duvall on Seattle’s Eastside, he is a fourth-generation Washingtonian who graduated in 1985 from Western Washington University, where he studied history and journalism and edited the campus newspaper, the Western Front. Before his long tenure at the Times, he worked as a reporter for the Anacortes American, and the (then) Bremerton Sun.

The author of multiple nonfiction books, Ron also has conducted extensive archival research about media and radical politics in Bellingham as part of thesis, and book-in-progress, about the 1930’s Red Scare firing of Charles Fisher, the president of the teacher’s college that became Western. He is a staunch advocate of a vigorous, aggressive and transparent Free Press, and is rabidly pro-democracy.

A 22-year Bellingham resident, Ron and wife Meri-Jo and usually a dog live in the Samish neighborhood and enjoy hiking, winter sports, cycling, photography, kayaking, and occasional proud participation in bottom-third-finishing Ski to Sea teams. He also is a collector and restorer of vintage Coleman lanterns. As a night owl, Ron constantly wonders why nearly every restaurant around here seems to close too early.

Managing Editor — Rhonda Prast, ext. 112

Rhonda Prast joined Cascadia Daily News in June 2023. She is the former Assistant Managing Editor for Investigations and Projects at the Las Vegas Review-Journal. where she oversaw coverage of police accountability, a deadly downtown fire, a podcast series about the mob’s influence in Las Vegas, and a deep look at the impact of dangerous driving in Southern Nevada. She also oversaw probes into the death of longtime reporter Jeff German, including stories about the former elected county official suspected of killing German and lax oversight by county leaders.

A veteran editor, she has held leadership positions in a variety of roles at the Idaho Statesman, the Kansas City Star, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune. She was also a professor at the Missouri School of Journalism on the magazine faculty, focusing on digital journalism. She has a passion for photojournalism and worked with CDN Executive Editor Ron Judd at the Seattle Times.

In her free time, Rhonda likes to visit her hometown of Phoenix, AZ, volunteer at no-kill pet shelters or scour thrift stores. Rhonda’s husband, Steve, and dog Freckles are enjoying exploring Bellingham and beyond.

Assistant Editor — Audra Anderson, ext. 115

Audra Anderson is the assistant editor and enterprise reporter for Cascadia Daily News. She grew up in Vail, Arizona, then swapped prickly pears for pine trees and attended Western Washington University. As a student, Audra served as editor-in-chief of The Western Front and editor-in-chief of Klipsun Magazine. She graduated with a degree in news/editorial journalism and a minor in chemistry.

She worked for Wahpeton Daily News in Wahpeton, North Dakota, for a year and a half as a reporter, then assistant managing editor. There, she honed her reporting, editing and design skills in a small, but capable, newsroom. Audra is thrilled to be back in Bellingham, and back in a place with more than one eggs benedict option. She cannot wait to support Cascadia Daily News in an editorial role.

In her free time, Audra runs a polymer clay earring business called ardentlyme designs. She also makes delicious food, paints odd paintings and belts weeknight karaoke in local bars.

Jaya Flanary

Digital Editor/Designer — Jaya Flanary, ext. 106

Jaya Flanary, digital editor/designer at Cascadia Daily News, is a Western Washington University graduate with a BA in Visual Journalism and a double minor in English and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Jaya enjoys telling human-interest stories through narrative journalism, photography, documentary filmmaking and design. She grew up in an artsy but business-oriented environment — her dad is a glassblower while her mom and stepdad managed a tattoo shop. Jaya’s upbringing not only forged her work ethic, it made her a firm believer in the power of creativity and how it changes lives.

In high school, Jaya enjoyed filmmaking and journalism. After graduating, she took a gap year, then pursued visual journalism — the perfect marriage of her interests. In college, she worked for the university’s newspaper and magazine. After interning at Bellingham Alive! Magazine, Jaya was given the opportunity to stay in Bellingham, a place she’s learned to call home, working at Cascadia Daily News.

When not hunched over at two (or more) monitors, Jaya is either bowling, playing with her cat, Sully, or blowing glass.

Eric Trent

News Producer — Eric Trent

Eric Trent, the news producer for Cascadia Daily News, grew up in the small Chinook Indian Nation fishing village of Bay Center on the Southwest Washington coast. Eric survived a 10-year drug addiction before eventually becoming a first-generation college graduate at Western Washington University.

He won the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association’s Sports Writer of the Year award in 2019 — his first year out of college — while working for the Lynden Tribune. He then worked for two years as the sports editor at The Chronicle in Centralia, Lewis County, before joining Cascadia Daily.

During late summer through early spring, Eric can be found fishing for salmon or steelhead on remote rivers in Southwest Washington. He also enjoys sports photography, movies and miniseries (“The Lost Boys” and “Band of Brothers” are his two favorites).

General Assignment/Enterprise Reporter — Charlotte Alden, ext. 123

Charlotte Alden is a general assignment and enterprise reporter at Cascadia Daily News.

Canadian by birth and raised on the edge of the Washington, D.C. swamp, she spent the last five years in Vancouver, British Columbia, pursuing an honors degree in political science from the University of British Columbia. There, she spent her time learning (now unlearning) how to spell in Canadian English and living in the office of the student paper, The Ubyssey. She was The Ubyssey’s news editor from 2020–2022 and wrote nearly 350 stories on everything from student and local politics to labor and justice. She served as editor of The Ubyssey in 2022–2023 when the paper was named Student Publication of the Year by the Canadian University Press (CUP). She was named CUP’s Student Journalist of the Year in February 2023.

Most recently, Charlotte was an editorial intern at Toronto-based Broadview Magazine where she wrote about faith, the climate crisis and small-town museums. She returns to Cascadia Daily News after interning for the paper in summer 2022. Outside of work, she enjoys crocheting coasters, attempting to be a vegetarian and escaping to the mountains.

Enterprise/Investigations Reporter — Isaac Stone Simonelli, ext. 127

Isaac Stone Simonelli is an award-winning investigative journalist who has covered a myriad of topics from oil and gas industry emissions to domestic extremism and threats to democracy.

He was most recently a Roy W. Howard fellow at the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting after earning a master’s degree in investigative journalism from Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism in December 2021. Previously, he was editor of the Kodiak Daily Mirror in Alaska, following his year-long independent project “Dice Travels.” He also served as the managing editor of the Phuket Gazette in Thailand, where he transformed the newsroom into a digital-first publication that focused its resources on enterprise reporting.

He is the author of “Hello Baby: Building an Oasis in a Play Desert” and has written for publications such as Alaska Business, Climbing and ADVMOTO. His investigations have been published by organizations such as MSNBC, The Seattle Times, Inside Climate News and the Associated Press.

Criminal Justice/Enterprise Reporter — Annie Todd, ext. 130

Annie Todd is the criminal justice/enterprise reporter for Cascadia Daily News. She grew up skiing in Colorado before moving to Wyoming to attend undergrad. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and international studies from the University of Wyoming and a master’s in journalism from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism in New York City.  

Over the years, Annie has worked for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, Gothamist/WNYC, the Associated Press and most recently, the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. There, she covered the South Dakota Legislature, courts, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women crisis and the impact of the state’s foster care system on Native families. By coming to Bellingham, Annie traded corn fields for mountains, and she couldn’t be more excited to get to know the community. 

If you can’t find Annie drinking a cup of coffee at a local cafe, you may find her perusing the aisles of one of many bookstores in the area, strolling in the park near the Sound or baking bread. 

Local News Reporter — Julia Tellman

Julia Tellman stumbled into journalism when a newspaper editor was willing to hire her as a reporter despite her utter inexperience, based solely on her blog (remember those?). What started as a lark quickly became an addiction when she discovered that talking to interesting, competent people about their passions every day is the best job in the world.

Julia was named Rookie of the Year by the Idaho Press Club in 2017 and became managing editor of a small town weekly in 2020, weathering the continuous erosion of the newspaper industry while covering a quiet agricultural valley as it morphed into one of the most desirable resort communities in the Rockies.

She moved to Bellingham in 2023 for the amazing mountain biking and stunning skiing, but the music, food, and proximity to Canada and the ocean don’t hurt either. As a former nationally ranked collegiate cyclist, Julia tries to spend every minute outside of work riding, racing, digging and coaching. 

Lifestyle Editor — Cocoa Laney, ext. 128

Cocoa Laney, joined Cascadia Daily News in December 2023 as the lifestyle reporter/editor. Born and raised in Alabama, she began her career as a freelance photographer and landed in Bellingham by way of Italy and England.

Cocoa enjoys telling stories through a variety of mediums, and she holds a master’s degree in photojournalism from London College of Communication. Her work has been published in outlets including the Guardian, the Independent, and the British Journal of Photography, and she also worked as a contract photo editor with the World Health Organization during the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Most recently, Cocoa served as editor-in-chief of Bellingham Alive! Magazine. She is delighted to continue covering Bellingham’s quirks and characters as a member of the CDN team.

Outside of journalism, Cocoa is most passionate about travel, books, art and her cat, Micia. If she’s not at work, you can find her embarking on elaborate cooking projects or getting hopelessly lost on trail runs.

Hailey Hoffman

Visual Journalist — Hailey Hoffman, ext. 103

Hailey Hoffman is a visual journalist taking photos, shooting video, flying her drone and reporting on education for the Cascadia Daily News. She graduated from Western Washington University in 2019 after escaping the dry desert heat of Las Vegas, Nevada, where she grew up.

Hailey got her start in journalism working on her middle school and high school yearbooks. After graduating, she went to college to study the thing closest to a yearbook she could find — visual journalism. While at Western, she worked for all the student publications and interned for the Skagit Valley Herald and Bellingham Alive! magazine.

In an attempt to live somewhere with even more rain and wind, she landed a job as the staff photographer for The Astorian newspaper after graduation. There, she covered the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on the small coastal towns along the Oregon Coast. She worked to feature individuals through a series of portrait projects as they navigated different stages of the pandemic. She also took a lot of photos of dogs and children at the beach.

While Hailey loved living along the Oregon Coast, she couldn’t turn down the opportunity to return to tell the stories of the vibrant Bellingham community. When she’s not shooting, she’s probably in the mountains hiking or skiing (with a camera in her backpack, of course) or enjoying a beer at one of Whatcom County’s 17 breweries.

Visual Journalist — Finn Wendt, ext. 122

Finn Wendt is a visual journalist at Cascadia Daily News. After a six-month internship tenure at CDN — first as a sports reporter and then as a photojournalist — he now spends his day job capturing photos, videos and audio of the upper left corner of Washington state. He thinks it can’t get much better than that.

Besides a haphazard semester directing his high school’s news show, Finn got his start in journalism at Western Washington University where he recently graduated with a degree in visual journalism and a minor in sociology. At Western, he served as the sports editor and photojournalist for The Front and spent time as a multimedia editor for Klipsun Magazine. More importantly, however, he became an Oxford comma denier and an avid hater of the word “amongst.”

For his senior project, he studied how The Washington Post spreads news through TikTok and has since been obsessed with finding new ways to create bite-sized news for social media that tells the whole story.

When he doesn’t have a camera strapped to his body, Finn can likely be found thrifting cameras triple his age and enjoying good food up and down Interstate 5.

Andy Bronson

Photographer — Andy Bronson, ext. 110

Andy Bronson is a Cascadia Daily photographer. He started as a professional photojournalist in South King County at the Highline News covering the five cities around Sea-Tac airport. After eight years he was hired at the start-up Federal Way Mirror.

After a year Andy made his way to the News-Review in Roseburg, Oregon. He was in Roseburg from 1999 to 2008. He was named National Press Photographers Association Region 11 Photographer of the Year in 2007. He then took a job with the Bellingham Herald and in 2013 was named Region 11 Photographer of the Year. Months later he found himself out of a job, but eventually landed at The Everett Herald commuting an hour each way for six years.

Andy just started his 30th year in photojournalism, working in Bellingham again with a much shorter commute.

For Andy, photojournalism is about adjectives and adverbs — how tired, how happy, glad or sad, winning in a blowout or losing a close game. He says it’s not just good enough to see what’s there, it’s about how people react to their surroundings at that time.

He lives with his wife and a constant bunny- and squirrel-searching dog in Bellingham.