BenitoLink Team

Staff

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.



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.



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.



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.



Robert Eliason, Reporter / Photographer

Email: [email protected]

I got my start as a photographer when my dad stuck a camera in my hand on the evening of my First Grade Open House. He taught me to observe, empathize, then finally compose the shot. The editors at BenitoLink approached me as a photographer and have since encouraged me to write stories about things that interest me, turning me into a reporter as well. BenitoLink is a great creative family that cares deeply about the San Benito community and I have been pleased to be a part of it.



Jenny Mendolla Arbizu, Reporter

Email: [email protected]

Jenny is a Hollister native who resides in her hometown with her husband and son. She is a San Benito High School graduate, and received her BA in Literature from UC Santa Cruz and her MA in Education from San Jose State University. Jenny has written for the Hollister Freelance, San Benito and South Valley magazines. She enjoys meeting new people in San Benito County, sharing breaking news with the community, and spotlighting the county’s events and businesses. When not writing, Jenny can be found performing with SBSC, singing with the Hollister VFW, or working out at Cold Storage CrossFit.


Intern

Mireya Leon, Wordpress Intern

Email: [email protected]

Mireya Leon obtained a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from California State University, Monterey Bay. Currently, she is pursuing a Master's degree in Human-Computer Interaction at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her interests lie in web development and mobile applications. In addition to technology, her passions include tutoring, nature, and drawing.



Jonathan Crowther, Photography intern

Email: [email protected]

Jonathan Crowther was raised in San Benito County and is an alumnus of San Benito High School. Jonathan studied Psychology at UC Santa Barbara, and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in 2017. Jonathan was initiated into fine art photography in college, which has since inspired his work as a freelance photographer and graphic designer in his spare time; in addition to other independent projects.



Juliana Luna, Reporter Intern

Email: [email protected]

Juliana Luna is Hollister born and raised. She recently graduated from San Benito High School, 2021. Currently attending Gavilan College where she plans to earn her Business Associate’s Degree to transfer to a four-year university. In her free time, she enjoys exploring Pinnacles National Park, horse riding, and photography.



Leila Sadeghian, Community Connections Intern

Email: [email protected]

Leila is a lifelong Hollister resident and 2012 San Benito High School graduate. She enjoys volunteering and being active in the community. She is a Classified Substitute in Hollister School District. Leila is currently enrolled in a teacher credential program. She enjoys meeting and conversing with new people and hearing different perspectives. She also is a part-time Doordash and Instacart delivery driver.