Meet the team


Chris Cobler
Chris Cobler

"I try to treat each day as editor of the Advocate as a gift. I thank the newspaper's owners, my co-workers and my community for their faith in me to do a job I consider central to society. While embracing the exciting opportunities presented by new media, I believe newspapers' future, whether in print or online, rests with the old-fashioned values of serving your community, creating meaningful connections, and trying to make a difference in our readers' lives. We're all family, after all. A newspaper should be that close friend who cheers your successes, cries over your losses, and prods you to be better than you ever thought possible."
Read more about Chris here

Becky Cooper
Managing Editor

“I like working at the Advocate because every day is different. I like being able to tell the stories of our community from fun light-hearted stories to sad life-changing stories to hard hitting-investigative reports every day for our readers to enjoy. In my 30 years with the Advocate, no two days have been the same, which keeps my interest in my work fresh. Working with the staff to develop the stories and try new ways of presenting the news in print and online also keeps the job fresh. I enjoy picking up the paper in the morning or clicking on the online paper and seeing the work our talented staff has done to educate and entertain our readers."
Read more about Becky here

Tony Balandran
Tony Balandran
City Editor

"For almost 170 years, generations of Victoria readers have trusted the Victoria Advocate to be their key source of information about the region. They have turned to the pages of the newspaper to learn about the world surrounding them during good times and bad. For that reason, the Advocate is part of the region's history, and I am honored to be a part of that long journalism tradition that began in 1846. I owe it to Crossroads readers and to my long line of newsroom predecessors to make sure that the stories we print in the Advocate are fair, accurate and timely."
Read more about Tony here

JR Ortega
JR Ortega
Copy Desk Chief

"I've worked in many capacities at the Victoria Advocate over the past almost six years, and I've enjoyed every minute of it. From being a reporter, to then being features editor and eventually delivery desk chief, the Advocate continues challenging me every day to be better than I believe I am. One of the best aspects of this job is hearing feedback from our community about how the newspaper is working in their lives - money can't buy that kind of feedback. Leading the delivery desk, which is made up of copy editors/designers, I've learned so much about copy editing and making writing tighter and better. As bad as it may sound, I enjoy finding errors prior to publication because it makes me feel like we're working that much harder and truly making the paper the best it can be."
Read more about JR here

Laura Garcia
Features Editor; Nonprofits/Health Reporter

"I love meeting people and telling their stories. Just finding people who genuinely care about the community and are passionate about what they do is what makes the long, crazy hours worth it."
Read more about Laura here

Ana Ramirez
Angela Piazza
Chief Photographer

"I could fill an entire book with reasons I enjoy my job but I’ll summarize. Every day is different, I meet interesting people and document human life. Photojournalism constantly pushes me out of my comfort zone and allows me insight into areas of life I would otherwise be ignorant to."
Read more about Angela here


Jessica Priest
Senior/Environment Reporter

"I am fascinated by our judiciary and enjoy learning about and explaining its processes to our readers. I am passionate about holding those in public office accountable and giving a voice to marginalized people."
Read more about Jessica here

Jon Wilcox
Jon Wilcox
Courts/Public Safety Reporter

"Whether I am on the scene of breaking news or at my desk in the newsroom, I love my job because I learn something new every day. Reporting in the Crossroads has given me a unique chance to get to know one of the most vibrant communities in Texas firsthand. As a newly-settled Victorian, I promise to give my best effort in serving the area with accurate and timely information."
Read more about Jon here

Marina Riker
Marina Riker
City/County Reporter

"My favorite part about working at The Advocate is being able to bring all voices to the table when discussing important issues for Crossroads residents. I'm passionate about drawing attention to Victoria's challenges to spur positive change. It's also my goal to shine a light on problems so community leaders and residents can decide how to tackle them."
Read more about Marina here

Kathryn Cargo
Business Reporter

"Reporting in the Crossroads is a new adventure each day, because I always learn something new about the community. I love being in one of the most unique places in Texas with so many people who have fascinating stories to tell. The best part is that I get to tell those stories. "
Read more about Kathryn here

Gabriella Canales
Education Reporter

"When I started my internship in April, I had no idea what to expect. I thought Clark Kent was going to turn the corner and people would be shouting deadline, deadline! I originally wanted to be a high school English teacher, however, I came to love what I was doing with my time at the Advocate. My passion for writing is why I am here."
Read more about Gabriella here

Ismael Perez
Entertainment/Breaking News Reporter

"I love asking people what they are passionate about. Working for the Victoria Advocate allows me to learn more about the fascinating things people are doing throughout their community. If you have any story tips or suggestions, email me at or call me at 361-580-6558."
Read more about Ismael here

Amber Aldaco
Regional Reporter

"I love having the opportunity to meet so many different people in the Crossroads and learn something new every day. It's an honor to be entrusted with the stories and news of our area."
Read more about Amber here

Lauren Hernandez
361 Magazine Reporter

"As someone who is very, very shy, journalism inspired me to get out of my shell. Everyone has a story, and being a reporter gives me the opportunity to meet all kinds of amazing people and share their stories with others. I am very honored to be a part of this new adventure the Victoria Advocate is about to embark with 361 Magazine. I've been reading magazines since I was a kid and would plaster all kinds of pages on my wall. Magazines are visually stunning and their words are insightful. I'm very excited to be a part of this great team on accomplishing just that."
Read more about Lauren here


Mike Forman
Mike Forman
Senior Sports Reporter/Columnist

"I enjoy covering events and keeping our readers informed about what's going on in area sports."
Read more about Mike here

Mike Forman
Rey Castillo
Sports Reporter

"Writing about sports has always been my passion. Now, I get to do it alongside the most talented journalists in Victoria. The best part about my job is interviewing athletes after a game and seeing the excitement on their faces."
Read more about Rey here

Marcus Gutierrez
Marcus Gutierrez
Sports Reporter

"I have always wanted to cover sports since I was a little kid, whether it was reading a newspaper, watching television, or listening to sports talk radio. My family is from Victoria, Texas and it feels good to be back home covering teams that I have known about my whole life. The best thing about South Texas is the hospitality you receive going to each small town. Everyone treats you as you were part of their family. It’s great to see how much the sports scene has grown in Victoria and in the Crossroads. I’m excited to tell sports stories in the Crossroads.”
Read more about Marcus here


Copy Desk

Kimiko Fieg
Graphic Artist

"Victoria Advocate is a gem in this community, I believe. It has improved tremendously last 10 years. I am always reminded of that seeing so many plaques lining the wall of the newsroom. (I don't think there are enough room left to display them all.) A tight-knit but small newsroom staff that strives to deliver the best-quality paper daily. I am happy to be part of this team. This rare, family-owned newspaper should be cherished and preserved to keep the vibrant journalism thrive to better the community for long time to come."
Read more about Kimiko here

Meredith Cash
Senior Copy Editor/Page Designer

"For me, having a hand in creating something that impacts people on a daily basis is what makes working at the Advocate so special."
Read more about Meredith here

Nicole Crapps
Copy Editor/Page Designer

"My favorite part of my job is getting people interested in a story they might not otherwise have read because of an exciting, eye-catching design."
Read more about Nicole here

Sam Hankins
Copy Editor/Page Designer

"I love being part of the team that brings people their news. Whether it's laying out a big story or thinking of the perfect headline, there's always something interesting to do."
Read more about Sam here

David Vasquez
Copy Editor/Page Designer

"I am very excited and extremely grateful to have the opportunity to continue my journalism career at the Victoria Advocate.."
Read more about David here

Administrative Staff

Kathleen Grones
Kathleen Grones
Viewpoints Coordinator and Editorial Assistant

"Being at the Advocate is rewarding and challenging -- something fresh and new every day. I enjoy being able to be of service to my community."
Read more about Kathleen here

Robbi Patterson

"I like working at the Advocate because I like to know what is going on in the community and preserving its history."
Read more about Robbi here

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