Officers and Board Members

Karen Coates, President 

Karen is an independent journalist, editor, and media trainer. She is a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, an International Women’s Media Foundation fellow, and the author of four books. She reports primarily on science, environment, food, health, and human rights around the world. Karen and her husband, visual journalist Jerry Redfern, lived in Asia for several years before moving to Bosque Farms. The two collaborate on many projects, and they are currently finishing their first full-length documentary film, The Only American. Karen’s work has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, Undark, Archaeology, The American Scholar, and many more. She also works as a mentor and consultant to journalists, and she is eager to help expand funding and educational opportunities for Rio Grande journalists, freelancers, and science writers. Karen joined the SPJ Rio Grande board in 2017.

Marie C. Baca, VP for Development

Marie is an award-winning business journalist and investigative reporter. Before joining the Albuquerque Journal to cover the economy and healthcare, Marie wrote for the Wall Street Journal, ProPublica, and Salon, among other publications. Though she is a new SPJ member, she is a longtime supporter of IRE, NAHJ, and other journalism causes. In her spare time, Marie enjoys spending time with her two young sons and wearing her First Amendment shirt on long walks through the Bosque.

John R. Roby, VP for Communications

John is a data journalist with Previously an award-winning investigative reporter with the USA Today Network in Upstate New York, he has also worked for the Baltimore Sun and During a detour out of journalism, he earned a doctoral degree in anthropology and taught at four universities, including New Mexico State. In the little spare time two young children leave, he enjoys cooking, reading and the outdoors.

Michael Marcotte, Treasurer

Michael is a Professor of Practice in Journalism at UNM. His career includes 25 years in public media news, and he has an active news consulting and training business. Mike has been a member of SPJ chapters in the Pacific Northwest, in San Diego and now in New Mexico. He became an officer with the Rio Grande Chapter in 2013, and was first elected treasurer in 2014.

Jessica Onsurez, Secretary

Jessica is the Managing Editor of the Carlsbad Current-Argus in Carlsbad, NM. She was previously the senior reporter at the daily newspaper which serves southeastern New Mexico.

She has a master’s degree in digital communication from American University in Washington, D.C. and a bachelor’s degree in communication from Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, NM.

Jessica is a returned Peace Corp Volunteer. She was stationed in the small town of Vice in northern Peru where she taught small business practices as an Economic Development Volunteer from 2011-2013. She also served as an executive assistant for former U.S. Senator Pete Domenici in his Washington, D.C. office, and upon his retirement during his tenure at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Algernon D'AmmassaAlgernon D’Ammassa

Algernon is a reporter at the Las Cruces Sun-News, reporting on business and education in addition to coverage of labor disputes at the Third Judicial District Attorney’s office and the high-profile 2018 election for the U.S. House seat in New Mexico’s second congressional district. He also appears weekly on KRWG Public Media’s “Monday Business Watch” segment.

Algernon began as a columnist for the Deming Headlight in 2013 before joining their newsroom as a general assignment reporter and photographer in 2017, including coverage of the border village of Columbus, NM; the proposed Gila River diversion project; and a proposed magnesium and dolomite mine in Luna County. He joined the Sun-News in June of this year. His “Desert Sage” column continues to appear weekly in the Headlight and Sun-News, and occasionally in USA Today.

Monica BraineMonica Braine

Monica Braine is senior producer for the radio show Native America Calling. Her career in journalism started with an internship at her tribal newspaper Wotanin on the Ft Peck Reservation in Montana. She later studied film making at Antioch College and has a Master’s degree in Education from the University of New Mexico. She also worked at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, the Navy Museum, National Geographic and the Media Literacy Project.

Geoff Grammer

Geoff is a sports reporter for the Albuquerque Journal, primarily covering the University of New Mexico Lobos men’s basketball team and the business operations of the UNM athletics department. He’s had numerous battles with the university’s administration in recent years over transparency and the release of records concerning the use of public money in the athletics department. He’s been at the Journal since August 2012.

Prior to that, Geoff was the Digital News Editor at the Santa Fe New Mexican where he also served in two stints over five total years as a crime and courts reporter, where he received state and regional awards for his reporting and led a team of reporters on a DWI package that received a national award in 2004. Geoff has also been the sports editor at the Las Cruces Sun-News, a sports reporter at the now shuttered Tucson Citizen, has worked with and multiple websites and magazines as a freelance journalist over the past decade. He is a New Mexico State University graduate where he held several roles working at The Round Up student newspaper, including editor when it was named the SPJ best non-daily college newspaper for the 2000-2001 school year.

Heath Haussamen

Heath has worked to strengthen journalism in New Mexico throughout his career. In addition to working for newspapers and online media outlets, he has started two award-winning news organizations — and New Mexico In Depth. Heath is a vocal advocate for government transparency and ethics. He values hard-hitting investigative reporting and in-depth feature writing. As the editor and publisher of he seeks to facilitate thoughtful, bridge-building conversations that cut through partisan and other divides. Heath is a native New Mexican who grew up in Santa Fe and now lives with his daughter in Las Cruces. He’s a 2003 graduate of New Mexico State University. He’s an avid photographer and loves to lose himself in stories through books, movies and television shows. He enjoys spending time in nature and unplugging from technology. He has many interests, including religion, politics and philosophy.

Ryan LoweryRyan Lowery

Ryan is an independent journalist who contributes regularly to a number of publications, including the Las Vegas Optic in Las Vegas, N.M., where he previously worked as a staff writer. An SPJ member since 2014, Ryan holds a strong belief in the importance of journalistic ethics. He is also a vocal advocate for unifying journalists from print, online, radio, and broadcast, and promoting their work to help expand the reach of good journalism.