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The Beacon’s staff handle editorial content, audience development and day-to-day newsroom operations. The editorial independence of our editors and reporters is critical to the mission of The Beacon. The standards of editorial independence adopted by the Institute for Nonprofit News are our guide. Prior to working at The Beacon, journalists (staff and freelancers) agree to uphold the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics. Journalists also disclose conflicts of interest and provide references and samples of past work to editors.
We’re always looking to expand our team and work with journalists from backgrounds and areas underrepresented in media. Click here to learn more.
MARIA BENEVENTO is The Kansas City Beacon’s education reporter. Previously, she reported on Missouri state government with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, attended graduate school at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and was an editorial intern at the National Catholic Reporter in Kansas City.
CELISA CALACAL is the economics and civic engagement reporter at The Beacon. She previously worked at KCUR as a news intern before helping produce the daily talk show, Central Standard. She’s also contributed to KCUR’s newest podcast, A People’s History of Kansas City. Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, her work has appeared in Salon, The Nation and The American Prospect.
EMILY WOLF is a local government accountability reporter with a focus on telling meaningful stories through data. Previously, she worked as an editorial associate for Investigative Reporters and Editors, covered state government for the Columbia Missourian and was a Dow Jones News Fund data intern. Her coverage of child care legislation was honored by the Missouri Press Association. Prior to moving to Missouri, she grew up in Round Rock, Texas.
KELSEY RYAN is founder and publisher of The Beacon, which has independent newsrooms in Kansas City and Wichita. Previously, she worked at The Kansas City Star on the investigative team that was named a 2018 Pulitzer Prize finalist in Public Service. Originally from Newton, Kansas, she started her career covering the EF-5 tornado at The Joplin (Missouri) Globe, and later worked at The Wichita (Kansas) Eagle covering health care, city government and investigations. She’s a board member for the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government and frequently lectures at universities in Kansas and Missouri.
MARK HORVIT is the interim executive director of The Beacon. He is an associate professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, where he teaches investigative reporting, and is director of the school’s State Government Reporting Program. He previously served as executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) and the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR), where he conducted training in investigative reporting and data journalism throughout the world. Horvit worked as a reporter and editor for 20 years before joining IRE. He’s a former Beacon board member.
JENNIFER HACK WOLF is the audience director for The Kansas City Beacon and The Wichita Beacon. Previously, Wolf launched a design-thinking consultancy, Below the Fold, helping nonprofits across the region solve critical problems. A Kansas City native, she spent more than 14 years at The Kansas City Star, first as a photographer and later as photo editor and editor of Ink Magazine.
Chelan David is the vice president of development for The Beacon. He has over 20 years of experience in fundraising, sales and marketing, and has served on a number of boards including the Association for Fundraising Professionals, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Shawnee Mission Education Foundation, Wonderscope Children’s Museum and KU Advancement Board. A native of Kansas, he graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism. In his free time he enjoys jogging, traveling, reading and spending time with his two daughters.
JOSH MERCHANT is the fall reporting intern at The Kansas City Beacon. After graduating from Seattle University, they attended Columbia Journalism School, earning a master’s degree in investigative journalism. They have contributed reporting to The Seattle Spectator, The South Seattle Emerald and THE CITY in New York. In their free time, they enjoy playing piano, watching stand-up and performing astrology readings.
MOY ZHONG is a Summer 2021 audience engagement intern and journalism and digital storytelling student at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Zhong has contributed to The Columbia Missourian and is an art assistant for Vox Magazine. She’s driven to amplify marginalized voices in her reporting, especially within Asian American communities, and has a knack for journalism innovation projects. In her free time, she enjoys making art and taking care of her house plants.
HILARY BECKER is the audience and product manager for The Kansas City Beacon and The Wichita Beacon. She graduated from the University of Missouri – Kansas City with a bachelor’s degree in business with an emphasis in marketing. She has over six years of marketing experience growing audiences at nonprofits and media organizations. In her free time she can be found cooking, rock climbing or enjoying a new show or book.
HANNAH RITCHIE is a copy editor for The Kansas City Beacon and The Wichita Beacon. After receiving degrees in journalism and Spanish from the University of Missouri, she worked as a copy editor at several large newspapers, including The Austin American-Statesman and The Kansas City Star. Hannah grew up in Arizona and in her free time enjoys learning languages, traveling and reading.
Annie T.H. Le