MEET THE Staff

(Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

Pica

CDN Drone

Email: to contact Pica, email haileyhoffman@cascadiadaily.com

Twitter: @CDN_Pica

Pica the drone is Cascadia Daily News’ eye in the sky. They took their first flight just over a week ago above the Nooksack River on a day with beautiful blue skies and a perfect view of Mount Baker.


On a sunny day, Pica enjoys flying over Boulevard Park at sunset and between snow-capped peaks in the North Cascades (but not in the national park because that’s illegal). Pica does not like wind speeds over 20 mph, rain or really any bad weather because it’s very hard to fly when you weigh just over one pound. Pica hopes to take many beautiful photos of Whatcom County and not end up in a tree, through a window or in the bay.


Pica preemptively apologizes for any annoying buzzing that might ruin the local “vibe.” They promise to not do anything illegal as defined by the Federal Aviation Administration, national and local laws.


Pica will be flown by visual journalist and FAA-certified drone pilot Hailey Hoffman, so contact her for questions.


Editor Ron Judd on Pica:

Pica the CDN drone (not to be confused with Wolf Blitzer, the CNN drone), was named by the newsroom staff as an ode to a throwback newspaper/print tradition of the pica (“pai-kuh”), a unit of measurement on a pica pole. (You used to find said pole—basically a fancy ruler—on many a page designer’s desk, but now the poor pica pole has gone buggy-whip and is mostly used as a back scratcher or straight edge for trimming paper.) But in our newsroom the name is carried forward in our highest-tech piece of equipment. Watch for Pica to be buzzing above you sometime soon.

(Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

Elliott Almond

Deputy Editor

Email: elliottalmond@cascadiadaily.com

Twitter: @ElliottAlmond

Elliott Almond is deputy editor at the Cascadia Daily News with a focus on managing and mentoring the paper’s interns. He is returning to the Pacific Northwest after two decades at the San Jose Mercury News where he covered sports issues such performance-enhancing drugs, concussions and sexual abuse. For the past two years, he also worked weekends as a general news reporter covering the COVID-19 pandemic, BLM and AAPI social justice protests, and California’s wildfires. His latest investigative pieces led to the recent resignation of San Jose State University’s president and athletic director.


He started in 1970 at a weekly startup in Orange County, California. Almond spent two decades at the Los Angeles Times as well as the Seattle Times. His work has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize three times and he also has been recognized for dozens of national writing awards. Almond retired after the Tokyo Olympics, his 13th Games, to relocate to Whatcom County and help support CDN.


He earned an undergraduate degree in communications with a journalism emphasis and minor in political science. Almond went through a master’s program in comparative government and later in life attended Spanish-language school in Patagonia. He also served as a journalism lecturer at California State University, Fullerton, and Orange Coast College. For the past decade he has been part of Mosaic, a journalism teaching workshop for underserved Bay Area high school students.


Almond is author of “Surfing Mastering Waves From Basics to Intermediate” (Mountaineers Books). He is an avid hiker and outdoors enthusiast and often can be found rooting through Northern California’s magnificent redwood forests communing with the world’s tallest trees.

Editor Ron Judd on Elliott:

Deputy editor Elliott Almond (“like the nut,” he says on the phone), a longtime friend and colleague of newspaper editor Ron Judd, also has a freaky sharp memory, which frequently produces embarrassing lines from columns that Judd allegedly wrote decades ago and has long forgotten. Elliott is a consummate newspaperman, a talented mentor, editor, writer and reporter who we are fortunate to have on staff at the Cascadia Daily. He also is a baker of various fine pies, an ox-strong hiker and a native Northwesterner at heart. Don’t get him started talking about the redwoods now that he is finally in Doug Fir country, where he belongs.

(Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

Elizabeth Kayser

Assignment Editor

Email: elizabethkayser@cascadiadaily.com

Twitter: @KayserElizabeth

Elizabeth Kayser is the assignment editor for Cascadia Daily News. Elizabeth grew up in Whatcom County and attended Western Washington University where she earned her degree in journalism.


After graduating, she moved to Seattle to pursue a career in news at KIRO 7 where she developed a knack for breaking news. She then worked at KOMO 4 where she wrote and edited for the web. Her stories were picked up at a national level and have appeared on news sites all over the United States.


Elizabeth missed Whatcom County, and moved back to start a family. In her free time she keeps a small child alive.



Editor Ron Judd on Elizabeth:

One morning in late November, as record rains caused terrible flooding throughout Whatcom and Skagit counties, I saw initial social media posts about the damage and wondered: If our newspaper was publishing that day, who would be our early morning quarterback, directing writers and reporters, with a head start provided by savvy local knowledge? Days later, we hired Elizabeth, a Whatcom County native whose experience combing the Northwest for news, then dispatching crews and writing for Seattle television outlets makes her uniquely qualified for the task. Much of the breaking news reported on the CDN website, print paper and social media platforms will bear her fingerprints.


(Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

Jaya Flanary

Digital Editor

Email: jayaflanary@cascadiadaily.com

Twitter: @jayaflanary

Jaya Flanary, digital editor at Cascadia Daily News, is a Western 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 and her mom manages 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.



Editor Ron Judd on Jaya:

Over a long career in news and journalism education, I’ve learned that good reporting, newswriting and storytelling can indeed be taught and learned. But those who truly shine often come with communication skills that seem innate, with the ability to elevate craft to artform. So it is with the visual journalism talents of Jaya Flanary, who brings to Cascadia Daily News a keen eye for combining words, text, images and digital wizardry into reader-inviting packages. Jaya has been hard at work designing both our website and print pages, both of which I am confident will set a new visual standard for daily journalism in our coverage area. It’s not often you find someone who can do all this and ably captain the pending newsroom bowling team. We’re fortunate she chose our newsroom to call home.

(Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

Andy Bronson

Photographer

Email: andybronson@cascadiadaily.com

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.



Editor Ron Judd on Andy:

Key to the mission of Cascadia Daily News is strong photojournalism — the game-changing moment in a sports image or a personal portrait that gives readers a glimpse into the soul of a story subject. We’re fortunate to have a shooter with the experience and range of Andy Bronson, whose skills will be familiar to news hounds from Blaine to Everett and beyond. For CDN, Andy will specialize in shooting prep and college sports, taking advantage of his knowledge of lighting and sideline-space conditions at more local high schools than he probably cares to admit.

(Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

Julia Lerner

Environmental Reporter

Email: julialerner@cascadiadaily.com

Twitter: @julialwashere

Julia Lerner is the environmental reporter at Cascadia Daily News. She joins the staff from a remote indigenous community in Northern Alaska, where she worked as an investigative reporter at the Nome Nugget, Alaska's oldest continuously-publishing newspaper. At the Nugget, she covered climate change and indigenous affairs, and spent time working with community members to understand how the climate is impacting indigenous life. She also reported on food scarcity, mass migrations and how individual cultures and communities survive.


Lerner earned her master's degree in investigative journalism from the University of Maryland in December, 2020. She received her undergraduate degree in multiplatform journalism with a minor in rhetoric from the same university in 2019, and has experience in photography, broadcast journalism, radio production, editing, fact checking and investigations. Throughout her journalism career, Lerner has focused her efforts on investigative projects exploring the climate crisis and environmental policy, low-income and impoverished communities, as well as political disinformation and media impact on democratic states. She worked at CNN as a member of “the Triad,” the team responsible for reviewing all CNN reporting for legal, ethical and factual issues. Prior to her journalism career, she worked in academic and political research at the Congressional Research Service in the Library of Congress, NASA and the Kluge Center for Scholars.


​She prefers her pizza with pineapple on it.


Her bernedoodle, Maya, is still acclimating to life in the lower 48, but the frequent trips to Starbucks for puppuccinos have helped.



Editor Ron Judd on Julia:

The last person to physically arrive in the CDN Newsroom this fall was also the only staffer none of us had previously met in person. She had a good excuse: Julia Lerner came to us from 1,900 miles away, where she was working as a reporter at the Nome Nugget. Newly settled here, she’s reveling in Bellingham’s comparatively long winter days, not to mention its big-city amenities. What drew my attention to Julia was her extensive training, which she outlines above, in investigative and data reporting, and especially her experience reporting on the intersection of global issues such as climate change with local cultures, putting a human face on stories about science, policy and politics. After a series of Zoom interviews, we asked her to hop a plane back to the Lower 48 and were thrilled to get a “yes.”

(Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

Amy Kepferle

A&E Editor/Reporter

Email: amykepferle@cascadiadaily.com

Amy Kepferle, arts and entertainment editor at the Cascadia Daily News, continues to be amazed that she has spent more than 20 years writing for newspapers about live theater, art, music, food, books and the people and places that make Whatcom and Skagit counties shine.

After attending the College of Idaho for two years and Western Washington University for two quarters, Amy ultimately graduated from Boise State University with a Communications/English degree with a journalism emphasis and a theater minor (yep, that's a mouthful), so perhaps shouldn't be too surprised at the path her life has taken.

After a four-year stint at the Boise Weekly ― where she answered phones, delivered the paper, edited copy, pitched stories and eventually became the calendar editor ― Amy left Idaho in the rearview mirror, moved to Washington, and spent a year living alone in her family's longtime cabin on Lummi Island. It was there she started writing for the Every Other Weekly, which eventually morphed into the Bellingham Weekly and, 15 years ago, reinvented itself as the Cascadia Weekly.

Amy is excited to make the transition to Cascadia Daily News because she knows she'll have even more opportunities to share stories about people who, even in the midst of a global pandemic, are committed to enhancing our region's cultural landscape. When she's not sussing out art exhibits, interviewing actors and musicians, reviewing books, or delving into the culinary scene, she can be found in her backyard garden, growing food and flowers, pulling endless weeds and tending a small flock of chickens.



Editor Ron Judd on Amy:

One of our first priorities with the creation of Cascadia Daily News was to not only continue, but expand upon the tradition of strong local arts and events coverage established by our company’s previous newspaper, Cascadia Weekly. Central to that role there, and now here, is Amy Kepferle, whose deep knowledge of the local A&E scene will be a valuable asset to our newspaper, and its readers. We look forward to seeing her work both as a reporter and editor.

(Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

Ralph Schwartz

Local Government Reporter

Email: ralphschwartz@cascadiadaily.com

Twitter: @Ralph_Schwartz

Ralph Schwartz has worked for 14 years at newspapers on both sides of the Cascades. He started small, writing initially for The Leavenworth Echo and the Cashmere Valley Record. The publisher who ran this North Central Washington newspaper group quickly promoted Ralph to editor of the Lake Chelan Mirror.


Ralph moved to Bellingham in 2006, after landing a job with the Skagit Valley Herald. People in Whatcom County, however, might remember Ralph from his years as a reporter for The Bellingham Herald, covering the proposed coal terminal and other hot-button issues of the time. Since leaving the Herald in 2015, Ralph has written for several outlets, including the Methow Valley News, Salish Current and NWCitizen.


Ralph was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a sensible, blue collar city that doesn’t waste time on wild conspiracy theories (especially the notion that Super Bowl XL was fixed). He studied physics and philosophy at Bucknell University, never intending to write a newspaper article until an editor at the school paper asked him to cover a philosophy and music department mashup called “Nietzsche Contra Wagner.” It’s still not clear how this event was newsworthy. After that initial exposure, Ralph really caught the newspaper bug as a graduate student at The Daily of the University of Washington.


As for his personal life, Ralph does his part to stave off social collapse by reminding his teenage children not to believe everything they see on TikTok.



Editor Ron Judd on Ralph:

The search for an intrepid, bulldog reporter to cover local government and politics for the fledgling Cascadia Daily News produced a short list. At the top of it from the start was Ralph Schwartz, a veteran newspaper reporter with experience at both local dailies in our coverage zone. Ralph’s job in our State Street newsroom is a potentially daunting task: covering multiple local governments and all their attendant bureaucracies. Because of that, we sought someone with the smarts to anticipate, rather than react to, government news, and the ability to sort public process from impactful decisions that directly affect people’s lives. Experience following, and understanding, the nuances of local politics was a big plus. Ralph brings all of that and more to his job, and we look forward to his work.

News Interns

Payton Gift, Kayla Heidenreich and Sarah McCauley

Payton Gift

Email: paytongift@gmail.com


Payton Gift is a journalism student at Western Washington University with a minor in political science. Payton enjoys covering local politics, housing and public policy issues. Originally from Chehalis, Lewis County, Payton moved to Bellingham for college but decided to stay for the charm.


Boisterous by nature, Payton decided to use her talent of talking to pursue a career in journalism. While working on Western’s school paper, The Front, Payton enjoyed connecting with community members and understanding the elements that make Bellingham one of a kind. In Payton’s shrinking reserve of spare time, she can be found roller skating. Or, more commonly, falling while roller skating.



Kayla Heidenreich

Email: heidenreichmk@gmail.com

Kayla Heidenreich, self-proclaimed bagel critic, is a true born-and-raised Bellinghamster. She traded the rain for the sun when she moved to the Lake Tahoe region to pursue her two degrees in journalism and outdoor adventure leadership.

During her time in Tahoe, Kayla found creative ways to tell adventure stories that resonated with many who hadn't had the chance to experience those interesting places for themselves. While studying, Kayla took the trip of a lifetime to rural Alaska to study under and write about the Indigenous Gwich’in tribe. Her article highlighted their decade-long resistance to oil corporations attempting to destroy their land and culture.

After graduating, Kayla bought a 2006 Ford shuttle bus and traveled through nine states with her partner, their 6-month-old husky, and their cat Meatball. The end destination was unclear in the beginning, but somehow they seemed to keep getting closer to rainy ol’ Bellingham.

When Kayla is not writing or pouring beers at Aslan Brewing, she can be found up at Mount Baker getting face shots of pow, or attempting to knit Meatball a nice sweater.



Sarah McCauley

Email: smccauley15@gmail.com


Sarah McCauley, a rock-collecting Washingtonian, joins Cascadia Daily News as an intern after a pandemic prompted her to act on an impulse to move back to Bellingham. She discovered her interest in reporting while she was editor of her high school’s award-winning yearbook in Aberdeen, Grays Harbor County (a small town that’s most exciting trait might be the plaque under a bridge commemorating where Kurt Cobain once slept).


After graduating with an English B.A. and minors in journalism and psychology from Western Washington University, she moved to the Seattle area for an internship with Premier Media Group. Here, she discovered her fondness for writing profiles on people and businesses.


The plan was to stay in Seattle, but the pandemic sent her driving across the state to stay with family. She ultimately was drawn back to Bellingham, one of her favorite spots.


If she’s not reporting or at one of her other jobs, you can find her training for a marathon, on a climbing wall, or somewhere along the waterfront impulsively grabbing a rock she thinks is cool and putting it in her pocket.



Editor Ron Judd on news interns:

Interns are key to the news mission at Cascadia Daily News in two major ways: They’re central to our ambition to encourage, nurture and employ young journalists during a period when the odds are stacked against them in many ways. And they bring unique perspectives and energy into our newsroom that makes us all better people and journalists. We pay our interns and by giving them regular news assignments, have high expectations for their work. Our first group, Kayla, Sarah and Payton, have already proven themselves welcome additions as they prepare stories readers will see after our launch. They lead the way for what we hope will become a proud tradition of young journos getting their start with the Cascadia Daily News.

(Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

(Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

Hailey Palmer

Sports Editor/Reporter

Email: haileypalmer@cascadiadaily.com

Twitter: @_haileypalmer_

Hailey Palmer, sports editor/reporter of the Cascadia Daily News, spent the last three years in Lynden at the Lynden Tribune. A 2018 graduate of Western Washington University, Hailey started as a general news reporter, but moved to the sports beat in 2020. She enjoyed one much more than the other.


Before moving to Bellingham, Hailey grew up in Puyallup and graduated from Puyallup High School in 2014, for better or worse.


Hailey credits her love of sports to her father and wouldn’t have pursued the field she’s in without his influence.


After immersing herself in northern Whatcom County for the past couple of years, Hailey is excited to bring comprehensive prep sports coverage, along with college sports coverage, back to the city of Bellingham.


When she’s not roaming the sidelines or courtside at a game, Hailey is probably playing video games or spending too much money on sneakers.



Editor Ron Judd on Hailey:

During the 2020 pandemic shutdowns, I watched with interest as fellow journalists adapted to working in emergency scenarios. One who kept popping up in my Twitter feed was Hailey Palmer, then the sports guru at a local weekly newspaper. Hailey repeatedly lamented that being kept from high school bleachers, bringing the news of local sports home to readers, was killing her. She felt incomplete without it. That’s the sort of passion for the job I want from our staff. When sports came back, and Cascadia Daily News was born, I wasted zero time in seeking out Hailey to be our first official hire. You’ll see her passion for the work in our pages every week, and on our digital platforms every day.

(Ron Judd/Cascadia Daily News)

Hailey Hoffman

Visual Journalist/Education Reporter

Email: haileyhoffman@cascadiadaily.com

Twitter/IG: @haileyjhoffman

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.



Editor Ron Judd on Hailey:

We were excited to make the multi-talented Hailey H — one of two Haileys on our staff, both hailing (sorry) from Western Washington University — among our first hires for the Cascadia Daily News staff. The notion was to fill one of our valuable reporter slots with a true visual storyteller who can regularly show us, rather than simply tell us, impactful stories about our community. Hoffman, whose work I had admired as a standout college journalist and later as a working pro at The Astorian, was my first choice.


You’ve already seen her beautiful images on our social feeds and preview sports photography. Post-launch, she will be producing photo stories and covering the Whatcom County education beat with the same sharp eye for detail. She’s open to story ideas right now.