S. Lynne Walker
President and Executive Director

S. Lynne Walker-Photo
Public Appearances


Lynne Walker talks about security threats faced by Mexican journalists during an interview with Vanguardia in Saltillo, Mexico.

Lynne Walker discusses journalist safety on the “LP Noticias” program at La Prensa in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.


Lynne Walker talks with journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro on the “Esta Noche” news hour in Managua, Nicaragua.


Lynne Walker is interviewed by Bolivian television talk show host Justa Canaviri in La Paz, Bolivia.

S. Lynne Walker

President and Executive Director

S. Lynne Walker is a Pulitzer Prize finalist whose reporting has taken her to Mexico, where she lived for almost 16 years and reported on political, economic, legal and social issues affecting U.S.-Mexico relations.

Walker began her journalism career at the age of 18 when she got her first newspaper job at The Honolulu Advertiser.  After graduating from the University of Hawaii, she worked at newspapers in Tampa, Sacramento and San Diego. It was at The San Diego Union-Tribune, while covering California's agricultural industry for the business section, that Walker became interested in Mexico coverage. She received her first national journalism award -- the 1989 Gerald Loeb Award from the UCLA Anderson School of Management -- for her four-part series, "The Invisible Work Force."

Walker did a three-month stint in Saudi Arabia in 1990-91 during Operation Desert Storm as a correspondent imbedded with an Army tank division. A year later, she was hired by Copley News Service as Mexico City Bureau Chief. It was from her base in Mexico City that Walker came to understand the Mexican people and appreciate their rich culture, music and art, as well as the political, economic and social issues that shape their country.

Her coverage of Mexico and Central America won numerous national and international journalism awards.  In 1997, she received a National Headliner Award for a 14-part serial narrative that showed the human drama of illegal immigration to the United States. Her coverage took her to remote corners of Mexico: to Chiapas, where she rented a plane to fly into Zapatista-held territory, and to a remote village in the mountains of Oaxaca where she traveled on horseback to report on rural poverty.

In 2004, Walker was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for "Beardstown: Reflection of a Changing America," her four-part series about a small Illinois town that was transformed by immigration. That same year, she received the American Society of News Editors’ Diversity Award.

Walker received the Maria Moors Cabot Prize from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2005 for her outstanding coverage of Latin America. In awarding the Cabot Prize judges said, “Among the many correspondents who cover the uneasy relationship between the United States and the countries south of the border, Walker stands out as one of the very few who manages to fully convey the human side of the story. With a natural sympathy for the underdog and a keen eye for detail, and by probing the depths of Latin American culture and society, Walker gives readers an unblemished view of and greater insight into the region.”

Before joining InquireFirst, Walker served for eight years as the vice president of the Institute of the Americas, a nonprofit organization on the University of California, San Diego, campus.  There, Walker established the Institute's regional journalism program, creating an international network of journalists and raising funds to provide them with scholarships to attend week-long journalism workshops that she organized and directed.

Walker continues to travel to Latin America to help colleagues there find new ways to produce in-depth reporting and broaden their audiences. She has conducted Spanish-language journalism workshops in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Bolivia and Argentina.

Published Work


Beardstown / Reflection of a changing America
Published November 9-12, 2003 in The State Journal-Register (Springfield, Illinois)
BEARDSTOWN - On winter afternoons, in the sliver of twilight dividing day from night, Mayor Bob Walters drove along his town's quiet streets troubled by the changes he feared were coming. Beardstown was an all-white community of 5,200 people built by German immigrants. No one remembered an African-American ever setting down roots in this Illinois River town. When Mexican immigrants began flowing into the state, they, too, had bypassed Beardstown. Read more...


Exporting a problem/Gang members deported from U.S. take deadly culture to their home countries
Published January 16, 2005 by Copley News Service
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Marlon Fuentes is a big man at Honduras' largest penitentiary. His face is tattooed. His talk is tough. He menaces with threatening stares. A gang member from Los Angeles, Fuentes spends his time behind bars impressing Honduran "homies" with stories of his exploits in California. He joined Los Angeles' 18th Street gang when he was 12, was later arrested for selling dope and brandishing a deadly weapon, then was deported in 1995. Read more...


Skeleton force/Emerging from shadows on the edge of Mexican society, devotees of Santa Muerte clash with Catholic Church
Published July 1, 2004 by Copley News Service
MEXICO CITY – In Mexico City's most violent neighborhood, two men are locked in battle for people's souls. One is a priest. The other calls himself a priest. At the center of their struggle is a sinister icon who implores her followers to worship death.Read more...


Mexico peyote site suffers onslaught of tourists, mining
Published December 9, 2007 by Copley News Service
REAL DE CATORCE, Mexico – Pity the peyote, the legendary cactus whose hallucinogenic powers inspired gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson and an entire generation of hippies. This ground-hugging native of Mexico's northern desert is in danger of disappearing, a victim of psychedelic tourism, silver mining and greenhouse tomatoes. Read more...


New law propels gay rights in Mexico/Moves boldly with civil unions as nation watches
Published March 5, 2007 by Copley News Service
SALTILLO, Mexico – Gabby and Ana are in love. So are Marco Antonio and Juan Carlos. Under a sweeping new law allowing same-sex couples to form civil unions, they are planning to turn their love into a legal commitment. Legislators in the dusty northern border state of Coahuila have stunned Mexico by giving same-sex couples property and inheritance rights long reserved for married heterosexuals. Read more...


S. Lynne Walker-Photo

Contact Info

Walter Baranger
Vice President

Walter Baranger

Vice President

Walter Baranger, former senior editor of news operations at The New York Times, joined InquireFirst as vice president in August 2017.

Baranger has a deep understanding of the challenges facing journalists in Latin America and around the world. During his 27-year tenure at The Times, he logged more than 3 million airline miles traveling to more than 60 countries and nearly all of the U.S. states in support of the Times newsroom.

His accomplishments and awards include The New York Times Publisher’s Award for introducing satellite communications to the newsroom, and an additional Publisher’s Award for designing an online version of the Times Manual of Style and Usage.

Baranger’s departure from The Times came 46 years after he sold his first news story to the Los Angeles Times for $10. Over the decades, Baranger has worked as a reporter and editor at The San Diego Union and Evening Tribune, as a copy editor and columnist at The Press-Enterprise in Riverside and even as a reporter for high school sports at The Orange County Register.

He has covered 13 wars and conflicts, several Olympics, and countless political conventions and special events including the impeachment trial of President Clinton, 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombing and Hurricane Katrina. Baranger was The New York Times Company's longtime delegate to the International Press Telecommunications Council, and was liaison between the newsroom and major news wire services.

Baranger is a 1986 graduate of California State University, Fullerton. He returned to his alma mater in August 2017, this time as a full-time journalism professor in the College of Communications.

 

Patricia M. Smith
Treasurer

Patricia M. Smith

Treasurer

Patricia Smith is a licensed California CPA who has a tax practice in San Diego. She has been in the business as a sole-practitioner for over 30 years. Her medium-sized practice deals with personal, business, corporations, trusts, and nonprofit entities through tax preparations, consulting and representation before the IRS.

Pat has served on many boards of director, particularly in the nonprofit field. Her first position was as the treasurer of Able-Disabled Advocacy, Inc., then in the same position for the National Sleep Foundation. In addition she served has a director for New Entra Casa, Project Wildlife and InquireFirst.

Over the years, Pat has taught federal income tax classes at the University of California, San Diego, for students seeking credentials as Certified Financial Planners. She lectures at numerous professional luncheons. Pat participated in one of the first seminars for "Women's Opportunity Week" in San Diego.

After recently undergoing cataract surgery on both eyes, Pat can indulge in one of her favorite pastimes, reading for pleasure. Her tastes are rather eclectic including historical novels, mysteries, science fiction and popular fiction. Another favorite is teen literature acquired from her years as a middle school teacher.

 

Luis J. Jiménez
Web Developer

Video Journalism

Luis J. Jiménez produced this video report about the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Latin America and along the U.S.-Mexico border.


This video report, which was photographed, produced and narrated by Luis J. Jiménez, reports on a Summer Science and Innovation Camp for Latin American high school students held in July at the Institute of the Americas.

Luis J. Jiménez

Web Developer

Luis J. Jiménez is a photojournalist who is refocusing on web design and presenting news on multiple platforms. His experience ranges from covering Mexico’s armed Zapatista uprising to presidential elections to the tequila industry and Day of the Dead celebrations. His work has appeared in U.S. newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, the Austin American-Statesman, The San Diego Union-Tribune and U.S. News & World Report. His coverage of rural poverty in México was selected as a finalist in the photojournalism category of World Hunger Year’s Harry Chapin Media Awards. Luis now resides in San Diego.

Published Work

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Audrey Aguilar
Logistics Director, Symposiums

Audrey Aguilar

Logistics Director, Symposiums

Audrey Aguilar is an event planning specialist who serves as Logistics Director for Symposiums at InquireFirst.  Since joining InquireFirst in 2016, Audrey has directed logistics for journalism workshops in Costa Rica, San Francisco, San Diego and at Stanford University. The workshops were attended by almost 300 journalists from more than 12 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

For nearly a decade, Audrey has coordinated workshops, private events, forums and movie premieres for numerous organizations and government agencies. In 2009, she worked in the Mexican Senate as an assistant and advisor to the Latin American Parliamentary Committee specializing in international affairs in Latin America and Caribbean.

Audrey worked as for five years as an English and French teacher at the Institute Real de Playas in Tijuana, Mexico. She is also qualified as an English-Spanish Certified Translator.

Early in her career, Audrey interned for the U.S Commercial Service in the U.S Consulate General in Tijuana, Mexico, assisting in commercial trade shows to identify potential import/export opportunities in Tijuana and San Diego.

Audrey earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California. She also participated in an exchange program for European Studies at the Universidad de Castilla La Mancha in Toledo, Spain, on the introduction of Arabic and Islamic studies.

She now resides in San Diego.

 


Denisse A. Tirado
Deputy Director, Symposiums

Denisse Tirado

Deputy Director, Symposiums

Before joining InquireFirst, Denisse A. Tirado was director of the Institute of the Americas Summer Camp on Science and Innovation. For six years, Denisse helped organize the camp for more than 200 students from 16 Latin American countries, the Caribbean and the U.S. who received scholarships to attend the two-week program. The camp, which is conducted in Spanish, is designed for motivated students who have demonstrated interest in science and desire to go to college, but they need support and motivation from educators.

In 2015, Denisse launched a five-day workshop, complementary to the Science & Innovation Summer Camp, that engages high school science instructors in an idea-generating program designed to promote innovative teaching techniques in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Denisse also worked with the Vice President of the Institute of the Americas, S. Lynne Walker, in coordinating logistics for professional development workshops for journalists in Latin America and the Caribbean.

From 2007-2010 Denisse worked in the Office of Academic Support and Instructional Services (OASIS) at the University of California, San Diego. Where she supported underrepresented freshmen students in achieving maximum academic and personal success and satisfaction with first- year college experience via weekly group meetings with a facilitator, an academic counselor, and a mentor. During this time, Denisse also volunteered at Gompers Middle School tutoring 6th grade English.

Denisse has a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies focused on Political Science and a Minor in International Migration Studies from the University of California, San Diego.

Denisse earned her MBA from California State University San Marcos, where she now serves as Director of MBA Operations. Her specialization is business intelligence.

 


Susan White
Executive Editor

Public Appearances

Sheri Fink and Susan White talk about outlining Sheri’s Pulitzer Prize-winning project.


In a lecture at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Susan White uses the trajectory of her own career to illustrate how journalism has changed in the last decade–and why the public should care about these changes.

Mike Web of ProPublica talks with Susan White about her three years at the investigative news site and her thoughts about what it takes to be a good editor.

Reporter Mike Stetz interviews Susan White about her career as an editor.

 

Susan White

Executive Editor

Susan White has edited or co-edited three Pulitzer Prize-winning projects at three different news organizations, working with a succession of talented reporters who are as obsessive as she is about accuracy and storytelling.

Susan studied professional writing at the University of Oklahoma School of Journalism, where she learned about plot, narrative, dialogue and the other building blocks of popular fiction. Her mentor, Prof. William Foster-Harris, urged her to delay the required journalism classes until her junior year, insisting she would learn most of what she needed in his classes. He was right. The story-telling techniques he taught her decades ago shaped not only her work, but also the work of generations of reporters who will never know his name.

After leaving Oklahoma, Susan worked for city magazines in Kansas City and Indianapolis. Her newspaper career officially began at the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader, where she was the television critic for almost 13 years. During the 1990 Iraq war—the first war to unfold step-by-step, live, on America’s TV screens—she wrote almost every day, speaking frequently with news anchors Dan Rather and Peter Jennings. Years after she left the TV beat to become an editor, a reporter paid her the compliment she treasures most to this day. “Weren’t you once a TV critic?” he asked. “I always used to watch for your stuff on the Knight-Ridder entertainment wire, because it was so different.”

Susan moved to San Diego in 1994 to be with her now-husband, journalist Robert Laurence. She started at the San Diego Union-Tribune as a reporter, but soon became the newspaper’s writing coach and later its U.S.-Mexico border editor and enterprise editor. It was in that capacity that she worked with Marcus Stern and Jerry Kammer on the 2006 Pulitzer Prize-winning articles that led to the imprisonment of former San Diego Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham for bribery. It’s also where she worked with then-reporter S. Lynne Walker, now her partner in InquireFirst, on two groundbreaking projects that cemented their friendship and changed the trajectory of both of their careers.

In 2008 Susan was the first assigning editor hired by New York City-based ProPublica, where she was an editor on Sheri Fink’s 2010 Pulitzer Prizing winning project about a New Orleans hospital where patients died during Hurricane Katrina. In 2011 she and Bob moved back to San Diego and she became executive editor of InsideClimate News, a nonprofit that focuses on climate and energy news. That’s where she conceived and edited “The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You’ve Never Heard Of.” The project won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting thanks to the hard work of reporters Lisa Song, Dave Hasemyer and Elizabeth McGowan. The fiction-writing techniques that Susan learned from Foster-Harris helped them breathe life and passion into their carefully documented reporting project.

Published Work


 

Susan White’s Brief Guide to Investigations
Great investigative projects usually begin with journalists brave enough to be guided by their own curiosity even if their sources—or their colleagues—think they’re a bit daft


Driven to see the USA for all its core values.
Published May 13, 2007 in The San Diego Union-Tribune
What does it mean to be an American at the beginning of the 21st century?Today, I'll set out on a six-week trip across the United States and back to try to answer that question. If all goes as planned, I'll be pulling out of my driveway in North Park at roughly the same time you are reading this article. Read more...


No debating role immigrants play in building Okla. town
Published May 27, 2007 in The San Diego Union-Tribune
Mike Shannon, the city manager of Guymon, Okla., isn't paying much attention to the immigration bill that's being debated in Congress.
Immigrants have been “the saving grace of this community,” he said. “I don't think anybody cares if they are legal or illegal.” Read more...