Our Team

 

Valerie Bush, Executive Director

Valerie Bush is a journalist who has more than 20 years of experience in media, nonprofit administration, strategic communications and project management. Since 2010, she served as Renaissance Journalism’s deputy director, spearheading many of the organization’s groundbreaking initiatives, including the Equity Reporting Project, LearningLab and the Vietnam Reporting Project. She assumed the executive director’s position in 2021, when Jon Funabiki, the founder of Renaissance Journalism, retired.

Prior to joining Renaissance Journalism, Valerie was the communications and marketing director at California Institute of Integral Studies. Her experience includes serving as the executive director of the Asian American Journalists Association, as well as working as a reporter for the Marin Independent Journal, an assistant editor at The Village Voice, and as the editorial director for the Maynard Institute. Valerie is the editor of four books of creative writing by at-risk youth and editor of Jump Write In! Creative Writing Exercises for Diverse Communities, Grades 6-12, published by Jossey-Bass. She was a criminal justice advocate for battered women and a co-founder of the San Francisco-based Asian Women’s Shelter before pursuing a career in journalism. She holds a BA from UC Berkeley and a master’s degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She currently serves on the board of directors of the Society of Professional Journalist’s Northern California chapter.

 

Daphne Magnawa, Managing Director of Programs

Daphne Magnawa is a mission-driven leader with multidisciplinary experience in the private and nonprofit sectors. In her prior role as director of membership and community at the San Francisco Public Press, she oversaw audience growth, partnership engagement and development operations. She founded and chaired the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and designed programs that integrated new policies into the strategic planning process. After working in the technology sector, she began a career in public service with a focus on education. Daphne held a position as program expansion director at the Potrero Residents Education Fund and served as treasurer on the board of the directors. She continued supporting education as co-executive director at Public Engagement for Public Schools and launched pilot programs that increased school capacity and funding streams. Her responsibilities have crossed functions and disciplines giving her the opportunity to work with people of color, people identifying as LGBTQ+, recent immigrants and people experiencing homelessness. She was inspired to work in the nonprofit journalism field because of her interest in sharing information about social, economic and political issues that helps people improve their communities.

 

Kaylee Fagan Media & Research Coordinator

Kaylee Fagan is a media strategist, journalist and digital producer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She joins the Renaissance Journalism team after serving as an editorial intern with Business Insider’s technology desk, where she covered the companies and influencers at the forefront of the social media and gaming industries. While pursuing her bachelor’s degree in journalism at San Francisco State University, she led outreach efforts and content strategy for Spaceship Media, a non-profit that aims to use journalism to reduce polarization, build communities, and restore trust in media across the United States. She continues to cover technology and other topics as a freelance reporter and video producer.

 

About Jon Funabiki, Founder

Jon Funabiki, whose career spans journalism, philanthropy and academia, founded Renaissance Journalism in 2009. Over the past 11 years, under his leadership, Renaissance Journalism has pioneered ways to improve news coverage of equity and social justice issues through national fellowships, collaborative reporting projects, grants and training. Hundreds of journalists from a wide range of news outlets have produced innovative and award-winning coverage on such complex issues as the growing crisis in housing insecurity and affordability, systemic inequities in public education, the Covid-19 pandemic and its disproportionate impact on communities of color, the financial crisis in Detroit, and the toxic legacy of Agent Orange in Vietnam.

Since 2008, Jon was a professor of journalism at San Francisco State University. He joined the university after an 11-year career with the Ford Foundation, one of the world’s leading philanthropies. As the deputy director of the Media, Arts and Culture Unit in New York, he led grant programs to promote ethics, credibility and diversity in journalism; social justice journalism; and the ethnic and independent news media.

Jon is the former founding director of San Francisco State University’s Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism and of its Dilena Takeyama Center for the Study of Japan and Japanese Culture. A veteran reporter, he was a journalist for 17 years with The San Diego Union, where he specialized in U.S.-Asia political and economic affairs. A graduate of San Francisco State University, Jon was awarded the John S. Knight Professional Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University; the Jefferson Fellowship at the East-West Center of Honolulu; and a National Endowment for the Humanities Professional Summer Fellowship at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He announced his retirement from Renaissance Journalism in December 2020.