Local. Independent. Award-winning.

Meet the Searchlight team.

Executive Director and Editor  |  Sara Solovitch guides and edits the work of Searchlight New Mexico. She supervised its launch in January 2018 with the Child Well-Being Project, an investigation into the plight of children and families in New Mexico. Before coming to Searchlight, she published investigative and long-form stories in Esquire, Wired, Politico, and the Washington Post. As a staff reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer, she covered education, courts and special projects. A former health columnist for the San Jose Mercury News, Solovitch also has traveled throughout New Mexico and Alaska while reporting for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on health care in under-served areas. Her book Playing Scared: A History and Memoir of Stage Fright was published by Bloomsbury in 2015

Deputy Editor  |  Amy Linn has written about social issues and child well-being throughout her career, starting at the Miami Herald and including work for the Philadelphia Inquirer, San Francisco Examiner and Bloomberg News. She was the recipient of an Alicia Patterson Journalism Fellowship to write about teenagers on death row; the resulting stories appeared in The New York Times and other publications. Linn has been an editor at Outside Magazine, Wired and the San Francisco Chronicle, where she was associate national editor. She has also freelanced for national magazines and been a case investigator for the Montana Innocence Project.

Director of Operations and Data Editor  |  Christian Marquez was born and raised in the Land of Enchantment and has spent his career thus far exploring the stories of the people who call it home. Christian started as an intern at Searchlight New Mexico in the summer of 2018. His past work has focused on the issues of health care access, housing security and homelessness, and also economic development and job growth. He is a graduate of the University of New Mexico and is based in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Staff writer  |  Ed Williams won the 2019 News Leader Association’s Frank A. Blethen Award for local accountability for his stories about abuses in the foster care system. He also was an NLA award finalist in 2020 for a story about the abusive discipline of students with disabilities. Ed spent seven years in public radio before joining Searchlight, where he covers foster care, education and other issues. He has been a reporter in both the United States and Latin America, working for print, digital and radio outlets. Williams was a 2016 USC Annenberg Health Journalism Fellow and earned a master’s in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin in 2010.

Staff writer  |  Ike Swetlitz has traveled the world to hold policymakers, businesses and scientists accountable. At Searchlight, he is focusing on criminal justice, health and other issues. He most recently reported for STAT, the national health and medical science publication, in both Boston and Washington, D.C., where he focused on drug pricing, artificial intelligence and genetic engineering. He graduated from Yale with a degree in physics and is based in Albuquerque.

Staff writer  | Raised in the northern New Mexican village of Truchas, Alicia Inez Guzmán has written about histories of place, identity, and land use in New Mexico. She brings this knowledge to her current role as education reporter at Searchlight, where she focuses on the lived experiences of New Mexico’s students and the role that equity and cultural literacy should play in the classroom and educational policymaking. The former senior editor of New Mexico Magazine, Alicia holds a Ph.D. in visual and cultural studies from the University of Rochester in New York.

Staff writer  | Lindsay Fendt got her start covering the environment as a reporter for The Tico Times in San José, Costa Rica. She covered human rights, immigration and the environment throughout Latin America before moving to Colorado in 2017 for the Scripps Fellowship in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado. Before joining Searchlight Lindsay worked as a freelancer and is finishing a book about the global rise of murders of environmentalists.

Staff Photographer  |  Don J. Usner was born in Embudo, N.M., and has written and provided photos for several books, including The Natural History of Big Sur; Sabino’s Map: Life in Chimayó’s Old Plaza; Benigna’s Chimayó: Cuentos from the Old Plaza; Valles Caldera: A Vision for New Mexico’s National Preserve (winner of a Southwest Book Award); and Chasing Dichos through Chimayó (finalist for a 2015 New Mexico – Arizona Book Award). Don contributed a chapter and photographs to The Plazas of New Mexico (also a winner of Southwest Book Award) and writes for periodicals as well. His photographs were featured in the photography journal Lenswork and in an online blog of The New Yorker.

Copy Editor  |  Aleta Burchyski has been editing great stories for more than a decade, first at Charlottesville’s The Daily Progress, where she was the editor in chief of The Rural Virginian and other special insert publications, and most recently at Outside magazine, where she oversaw the copy edit department. She has a master’s degree in magazine, newspaper, and online journalism from Syracuse University.

Contributing writer  | Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi is an award-winning Diné journalist from Teec Nos Pos, Ariz. She was the sports writer for the Navajo Times for over 10 years. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, the Salt Lake Tribune and other publications. She is also a Ph.D. student in rhetoric and writing at the University of New Mexico and a core writing instructor. She has a master’s degree from Northern Arizona University in rhetoric, writing, and digital media studies. She is a fifth-generation Navajo rug weaver.

Rob Dean Reporting Fellow | Born and raised in Santa Fe, Annabella Farmer came to investigative journalism while studying at the Institute of American Indian Arts, and graduated from the writing program in May 2021. She worked with High Country News as an intern, and contributed research support and consulting for the Polk Award-winning Land Grab Universities project. She has also written about education, sustainable land use, art, and sanitation practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Roy W. Howard Fellow | Luciana Perez Uribe Guinassi was born in Lima, Peru but spent her childhood living between the Peruvian coast, the tumultuous city of Lima, and a quiet suburban village in Ohio. Her multicultural background sparked her desire to learn more about different worldviews and government structures and is expressed in an interest in reporting on a range of topics. Most recently, she reported on federal and state gaps in COVID-19 protections for legal migrant seafood workers. She has also written about housing, student affairs, climate change and the 2020 presidential election. She is the 2021 Roy W. Howard fellow at Searchlight New Mexico. She received a master’s degree in journalism from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland.

Diné Translator  | Dr. Dolly Manson comes from the Chishí (Chiricahua Apache) clan, born for the Rock Gap people. Her maternal grandfather’s clan is of the Manygoats; her paternal grandfather’s clan is of the Tangle People. The first seven years of her life were spent in a rural area of the Navajo Nation, where she lived in a dirt-floor hogan with her maternal grandmother. As a child, she was steeped in a Navajo woman’s traditional roles and responsibilities, which included the care of the family’s sheep. Her first language was Navajo and she spoke it alone until she entered school at age 7. Manson served as ambassador for the Navajo Nation from 1981 through 1982 as Miss Navajo Nation. Hers is the voice of Peach (the starfish) in the 2016 Navajo-dubbed version of the film “Finding Nemo.” She holds a doctoral degree from New Mexico State University and is a lecturer of Navajo/Linguistics at the University of New Mexico. She currently resides on the Navajo Nation. 

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Assistant Digital Editor  | Joe Rull is a multimedia journalism student at the University of New Mexico. Originally a sportswriter and stats geek, Rull founded the data desk at the University of New Mexico’s Daily Lobo. In its founding, he created and maintained a fully comprehensive COVID data tracker, among the first of its kind in the state. Rull brings these skills to the Searchlight team, where he manages digital, data, and social media production.