Posted in Announcements

Updates to AP's US News team

, by Nicole Meir

In a memo to staff on Wednesday, U.S. News Director Josh Hoffner announced several promotions and hires across the United States:

I have said time and time again how optimistic we all should be about where we are going in 2023 and beyond in U.S. News and at the AP as a whole. Today marks an important step in this process as we announce several promotions and hires of journalists who will all play an important role in our success as a unified all-formats team in the U.S. that works in concert to own the biggest stories of the day. They include assistant news directors, assignment managers and video journalists, and there’s more to come in the next few weeks in our next batch of promotions and hires. Please join me in congratulating all of these talented journalists on their new roles.
Kathleen Ronayne is the assistant news director for California. She comes to the role after more than a decade of reporting on both coasts, including four years overseeing AP’s state government coverage in California. She also was on the national elections team for two presidential campaigns. She reported extensively on the recall of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the historic Western drought and California’s agenda-setting environmental policies. Caleb Jones is the new assistant news director for New England (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and Maine). Caleb is an all-formats journalist in every sense of the word, working as a photo editor, video journalist and reporter in more than a decade at AP and most recently helping oversee video coverage in the western half of the country. We are excited for him to bring his all-formats talents to New England as he moves to Boston in the spring. Felicia Fonseca is the new assistant news director for the Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada). Felicia started her career as an AP intern 18 years ago and went on to a stellar reporting career that saw her consistently deliver high-level stories on Native American communities, wildfires and drought. She is a member of the Native American Journalists Association, was a Nieman fellow in 2017 and has served as a mentor to many young journalists. Brady McCombs is the assistant news director for the Rockies (Colorado, Utah, Montana and Wyoming). Brady has been the Rockies News Editor since 2020, overseeing coverage of several major stories including mass shootings at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs and supermarket in Boulder and a wildfire that burned 1,100 homes outside Denver. He has taken on several special assignments over the years, helping coordinate coverage of the pandemic by overseeing the national spot team. He also shoots and produces video. Jonathan Drew is the new assistant news director for the Mid-South (North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland). Jonathan is a veteran journalist who has had a hand in writing, editing or managing many of the South’s biggest stories for over a decade. For the past year, he’s managed the four-state Mid-Atlantic territory as acting news editor. Before that, the North Carolina native had led the state as administrative correspondent since 2019 after several years as a bureau reporter. Jonathan will remain based in Raleigh. Jim VanAnglen is the new assistant news director for the Deep South (Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas). Jim joined the AP in 2011 after stints at a variety of newspapers across the South and New England. At AP, he has led coverage of everything from the overtime 2020 Georgia election and subsequent Fulton County investigation of former President Donald Trump to multiple hurricanes, such as Ida and Laura, tornado strikes and other natural disasters to cases of racial injustice, including the killings of Alton Sterling, Rayshard Brooks and Ahmaud Arbery. Jill Bleed is the new national assignment manager for the early part of the day. Jill joined the AP in 2006 as a reporter in Little Rock, Arkansas, and has played a key role in breaking news coverage there and in Oklahoma and Texas for more than a decade. She has been involved in countless major stories since then, including mass killings in El Paso and Uvalde. Jill has extensive experience covering severe weather, courts and crime, the death penalty and elections. She will continue to be based in Little Rock. Nebi Qena is the new weekend national assignment manager. Nebi has been a senior producer for Israel, West Bank and Gaza since 2015 and has directed and coordinated coverage of a range of big stories including the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year. He has covered conflict in Syria and Kosovo as well, and is known for his calm under pressure in these high-stress environments. Nebi is a terrific video manager, especially in breaking news situations, and we are excited for him to join the U.S. operation. He will be based in Washington, D.C. Julie Wright is the new State Government Editor, the point person for helping statehouse reporters connect the dots and in all-formats across the biggest themes emerging from state capitols nationwide. Julie joined the AP as Missouri/Kansas news editor in 2015. Prior to joining AP, she led teams for the World Company in Kansas, The Anchorage Daily News in Alaska and the Star Tribune in Minnesota. Kendria LaFleur is our new video journalist in Dallas. Kendria joins the AP from WCPO in Cincinnati, where she works as a multimedia journalist. She formerly worked at the ABC affiliate in her hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana, where she covered everything from natural disasters to the death of Alton Sterling. Kendria’s first day is Feb. 20. Laura Bargfeld is our new video journalist in Tampa. Laura graduated in December 2022 with a master’s degree in mass communication from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. While there, they worked as a graduate fellow for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Southwest Health Reporting Initiative, telling stories in all formats about health disparities in the southwestern U.S. Their first day is March 6. Nick Ingram is our new video journalist in Missouri. Nick comes to the AP from the ABC affiliate in St. Joseph, Missouri, outside Kansas City, where has worked as a reporter and digital content manager. He is also a licensed drone pilot. Nick will be based in Kansas City, and his first day is Feb. 27.