The correspondents of the 2023 Oakland Voices Community Journalism Academy include a diverse group of storytellers that are passionate about Oakland.
Randi Cross is currently a second semester Journalism Student at Laney College. After getting her AA in Journalism at Laney, Randi’s plan is to transfer to SF State for her BA in Journalism. Randi wants to be an example for other women of color that it is never too late to pursue your dreams. Randi resides in Oakland with her pet rabbit Pinto Bean and parakeet JT.
Manar Harb lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. She considers Oakland a home and sanctuary away from Palestine, her origin.
Patricia Morrow, also known as “Fox”, is a Brooklyn native and self-proclaimed “Renaissance Woman” who is relatively new to the Bay Area. With fresh eyes on the Town and a beautiful network of friends, Fox is exuberantly immersed in Oakland’s dynamic culture. As a published writer and advocate, she’s passionate about reporting stories with a tone of compassion and a splash of abstract thought. A fun fact about Fox is that she’s a beauty influencer.
Joy Quilatan is a published academic writer and participant in the Oakland Voices Journalism Program who is passionate about shedding light on the undiscovered beauty of Oakland. As a BIPOC Queer global citizen, Joy is uniquely positioned to celebrate the city’s distinct culture. Joy aims to use her background in healthcare and education to highlight the disparities in the community by applying a journalistic approach to her writing practice.
Tanna Samone was born in “The City” and raised in “The Town.” She has gratefully served both San Francisco and Oakland in Emergency Medical Services and Education. Community journalism is community service. Oakland Voices is an opportunity for her to serve information.
Nani Smith is a published author and Filipina American multimedia storyteller born and raised in Oakland, California. Her work encourages readers and listeners to develop healthier relationships with their own psychological landscape. Since her career path has mostly been self-guided, she decided to join the Oakland Voices Journalism Program to advance her professional development by learning in community with fellow and like-minded Oakland residents. Nani hopes to formalize her craft and network by connecting local arts and culture stories to larger topics that support her mission such as identity, sociology, and mental health.
Daniel Swafford personifies the soul of an Oakland native with his community organizing, activism, and fundraising. His role as an executive director of a nonprofit allows him a broad hand in storytelling through district management partnerships, where he seeks positive change. His world travels have taken him to volcanic sightings in South and Central America. Daniel, poet and wordsmith, is charting pathways to publication.
Ansel Troy is an East Oakland native, raised in Oakland public housing and a graduate of Oakland public schools. His work as an entrepreneur has appeared in publications including The Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, and Business Insider. He has a passion for social justice, government transparency, and investigative stories. He holds a BA in Ethnic Studies from Cal State Hayward.
Vanessa Velasco is a Chicana from Texas and based in Oakland. A daughter of agriculture workers, she spent most of her life in the field which guided her to pursue Anthropology with the ambition that one day she would re-write her Coahuiltecan narrative beyond the western gaze. Equipped with an early education teaching certificate and journalism passion she is scouting the streets of Oakland on a mission to provide a voice of empowerment to those that are often seen serving our community but not heard.
Dera R. Williams
Dera R. Williams is a lifelong Oakland resident whose family was a part of the Great Migration. Her published writings capture the hardships, heroism, and the joys of families making that journey in both fiction and nonfiction. Dera will soon share her novel with the world and is pioneering that path to publication. Exploring the relationship between myth and honoring oral and family history, she honors the voices of her ancestors in her storytelling.