BenitoLink Team


Leslie David, Executive Director

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (831) 801-1356

Leslie David is a founding board member and is currently BenitoLink executive director. She is a Bay Area independent reporter/producer and has produced for radio, television, newspaper and magazines in both California and Wyoming. She was with KRON-TV News in San Francisco as camera-woman, editor and field producer, where she and Linda Yee won the Commonwealth Club Thomas Storke Award for their series on the Aids Epidemic and England's needle exchange program. Leslie started as a small market news reporter/photographer at KEYT-TV in Santa Barbara, Ca. in the days of 16mm film. Leslie lives on a ranch with her family in San Benito County.

Noe Magaña, Content Manager/ Staff Reporter

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (831) 801-5846

Noe Magaña is a BenitoLink reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography. He is a San Benito High School graduate with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. In addition, he was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily.

Alex Esquivel, Marketing and Media Coordinator

Email: [email protected]

Alex Esquivel is BenitoLink’s Marketing and Media Coordinator. Alex started with BenitoLink in 2019, as part of our internship program as a graphic designer. He then became involved in marketing and media-related sectors, which led him to his current position. Alex is a San Benito County native and a San Benito High School alumni. Alex graduated from Gavilan College with an Associate's Degree in Digital Media and is currently attending San José State University pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Design Studies and Media Marketing.

Carmel de Bertaut, Reporter

Email: [email protected]

Carmel has a BA in Natural Sciences/Biodiversity Stewardship from San Jose State University and an AA in Communications Studies from West Valley Community College. She reports on science and the environment, arts and human interest pieces. Carmel has worked in the ecological and communication fields and is an avid creative writer and hiker. She has been reporting for BenitoLink since May, 2018.

Liz Smith, Bookkeeper

Email: [email protected]

Liz Recalde Smith was raised in Panoche Valley in the rural, south-eastern part of San Benito County. She is a bookkeeper and also a great reference for what is authentic San Benito County.

Reporter / Photographer

John Chadwell, Reporter

Email: [email protected]

John Chadwell is a BenitoLink reporter and an author. He has many years experience as a freelance photojournalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer who has worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and underwent graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John has worked as a script doctor and his own script, God’s Club, was released as a motion picture in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime that are sold on Amazon.

Becky Bonner, Reporter

Email: [email protected]

Becky Bonner is a local teacher at San Benito High School who is passionate about sharing things to do in San Benito County.

Frank Pérez, Reporter

Email: [email protected]

I’m a lifelong resident of San Benito County. I reside in Hollister with my wife, Brenda. I’m embarking on my 19th year at San Benito High School, where I teach world history and Mexican-American history. In addition, I’m moonlighting as a freelance journalist for BenitoLink. My passion is delving deeper into the nuances of the local, historical record, while including lesser-known stories of our past. My hope is that county residents will have a greater appreciation for the diversity and complexity of San Benito County, realizing that its uniqueness depends upon our responsibility as its stewards.

Mathew Koller, Reporter

Email: [email protected]

Matt Koller is a freelance journalist and photographer covering issues that affect both San Benito and Monterey County. He’s worked as a naturalist in Southeast Alaska, a photographer in the mountains of Colorado, and crewed sailing boats in Hawaii—but feels most at home on the Central Coast, writing about the community.

Patty Lopez Day, Reporter

Email: [email protected]

Patty Lopez Day, is a journalist and writer by trade. She's published in print and online media throughout the Bay Area, most notably La Oferta, the longest running bi-lingual, Latino-owned media in San Jose California. She started her journalism career after graduating from UC Santa Barbara in 2005 in English and Chicana/o studies.  Born and raised in San Jose, she is now establishing roots alongside her husband and 2 children in San Benito County. Lopez Day covers mostly education, local news and  features for Benitolink and remains open to new story ideas, sources and tips on any subject matter of interest to the community at large.

Kirti Bassendine, Reporter/Photographer

Email: [email protected]

Kirti Bassendine is a photographer, storyteller and journalist. She graduated with BA Honors in Fine Art Photography from Derby University, England. Following several exhibitions focusing on cultural identity that toured the United Kingdom, she settled in the United States and spent 30+ years combining professional photography with fine art projects. Over the last six years, her artwork has focused on cultural storytelling through still photography and videography. As an artist she has always been intrigued by human relationships and how they interweave within social and cultural contexts – especially women's sense of identity and belonging within their culture and the wider world; how homelessness and nomadic ways of life are perceived; and how its subcultures integrate or conflict with modern society.


Julia Hicks, Reporter Intern

Email: [email protected]

Julia Hicks is a senior at San Benito High School. She is a student-athlete in track & field, co-editor in chief of the yearbook and Historian for SBHS’ Associated Student Body. Julia is also a 4th degree black belt at Ernie Reyes’ West Coast World Martial Arts and has been in martial arts for 12 years. After high school, Julia plans on attending a 4-year university and major in criminal justice. She also wishes to continue journalism opportunities throughout her senior year and beyond.

Jessica De La Torre, Reporter Intern

Email: [email protected]

Jessica De La Torre is a multimedia journalist who graduated from SF State University in 2019 and will be starting her masters this fall at Berkeley's School of Journalism. She enjoys photography and creating short videos. Jessica also has a background in digital marketing and has managed social media platforms for several businesses. She is a Salinas native and is excited to cover San Benito county throughout the summer.

Corissa King, Reporter Intern

Email: [email protected]

Corissa King is a Senior at California State University, Fresno obtaining her degree in Media, Communications and Journalism with an emphasis in Broadcast Journalism. She was a reporter for Fresno State focus, a live student-run newscast. Corissa is very passionate about the agriculture community and the western way of life.  While attending California State University, Fresno Corissa was a student-athlete on the Division I Women's Equestrian Team. She is also an active member of the Fresno State Young Cattlemen's Association as well as Fresno State Block and Bridle. She was Miss San Benito Rodeo 2017, Miss Gilroy Rodeo 2019, and is currently Miss Clovis Rodeo.