Four and a half years ago, I took a chance to change the way political journalism is done in this country. I didn’t yet envision co-founding a newsroom. My colleague Emily Ramshaw and I were more like discontented moonlighters engaged in a theoretical exercise of reimagining what political journalism that didn’t automatically center the White male perspective would look like. We had day jobs in nonprofit news that we loved, but we knew that more was possible, and that good wasn’t good enough.
That realization led to the creation of The 19th* — and one of the most transformative experiences of my life.
Over four and a half years, I helped our team bring our vision to life. More than a news site, but a community of passionate people committed to serving women, LGBTQ+ and people of color with the information and resources they need to be truly equal participants in our democracy.
We prioritized a different way of working together, with processes that centered our team and our audience in everything from hiring and internal workflows to budget setting, product design and development and our editorial strategy. We gathered more than 5 million readers to our website and another 2 million via local news partners, plus 61,000 subscribers to our free newsletters and more than 154,000 followers on social media. 50% of our readership identifies as BIPOC and 40% is under 40, per audience surveys.
We also rallied more than 13,600 members who help sustain our journalism with gifts of $1,000 or less, often in $19 increments, as well as a robust network of major donors who’ve invested more than $46 million in The 19th to date.
Perhaps most fulfilling of all, we weathered a pandemic, an unrelenting news cycle and the challenges of remote work to create a real sense of connection with our team, a team that is empowered to bring their whole selves to work.
But with all of these achievements — and after 23 years in deadline news — I’ve come to realize that one of the most essential ingredients for my own transformative growth is rest.
So after more than 4 1/2 years in the trenches with this amazing team, I am stepping down as publisher of The 19th at the end of this year. In short: It is time, and I trust in my bones that our organization is in a solid position — journalistically, culturally, financially — to continue making our mission and vision real in the world.
While this change closes one chapter, it opens another for me and The 19th. Next year, I’ll continue working on a passion project for me, The 19th News Network, in an advisory director capacity. I will also remain on the board of directors and continue to help guide The 19th. But no doubt, I will miss serving as a full-time member of our staff and leadership team.
To be clear, this was an extraordinarily difficult decision to make. I have grown more than I ever could have imagined in doing this work, but I have also come to learn more about myself — as a journalist, as a Latina, as a woman, as the daughter of an immigrant, as someone who is passionate about dismantling systems of oppression (sometimes successfully and sometimes not). As someone who is accustomed to assimilation and compartmentalization being requisite for “success” in this industry and the world. As someone who has internalized so many conflicting lessons about the value of my voice and experience.
At a certain point, I came to realize that I have given The 19th what I was called to give in its formative years, and am now called to give others more space to lead as I rest, recharge and reexamine what my next phase of life looks like. While I’m not sure exactly what that work will entail, I know I’ll continue working to advance equity in this industry, in particular, refocusing my energy on community-first journalism and working more directly with BIPOC publishers to find paths to sustainability. I’m also looking forward to returning to my reporting roots, exploring more of my own family and community history and the generational impacts of migration, assimilation and trauma.
But I cannot move ahead without first acknowledging how much every single member of our staff has shaped this season of my life for the better. This includes the writing and reporting, the visual storytelling and design that is done with such care, the ways you center our readers in our products, the way you collaborate with one another to build better systems for doing this work. You have taught me persistence, courage, vulnerability, humility, accountability, allyship and so much more. If I am a better leader today than 4 years ago, it’s because of the space and grace you gave me.
Together, we’ve created a truly groundbreaking news organization that has challenged almost every status quo — from who we center in our headlines; to the benefits, care and culture we extend to our staff; to the relationships we have forged with an increasingly diverse and engaged audience. The 19th came into existence at a critical point of inflection for this industry and our democracy, and I am certain that it will continue to model a path forward by staying true to its mission and values.
I remain immensely grateful to Emily for having the audacity to imagine that this was something we could do, and to our team for giving us the opportunity to collaborate with them on our original vision. And of course, to all of you, our readers, who give us life with every story shared, every tip, every bit of feedback, every donation made and all of the kudos in our inboxes. We live for those kudos.
I look forward to carrying The 19th’s mission forward as a curious reader, board member and forever champion and supporter.