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, Sara also has traveled throughout New Mexico and Alaska while reporting for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on health care in underserved areas. Her book “Playing Scared: A History and Memoir of Stage Fright” was published by Bloomsbury in 2015.

Managing Editor  |  Amy Linn has written about social justice and poverty 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. Amy 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.

Development DirectorTamara Bates has worked as a financial advisor for UBS and Raymond James. She also spent much of her career in nonprofit fundraising and philanthropy, as VP of Strategy and Programs for Innovate+Educate and as a Program Officer at the Schott Foundation for Public Education. Tamara holds a BA from the College of Santa Fe and an M.A. in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning and Child Development from Tufts University. She is a former Arts Commissioner for the City of Santa Fe and a member of the National Advisory Council for Creative Capital.

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 economic development and job growth. He is a graduate of the University of New Mexico and is based in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Investigative Reporter  |  Ed Williams covers child welfare, social justice and other issues. In 2022, he was selected for ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network to produce stories about abuses in the foster care system and the devastating impacts on children. Before joining Searchlight, Ed was a reporter in both the United States and Latin America, working for print, digital and radio outlets, including seven years in public radio. His numerous journalism awards include a 2020 First Amendment award and 2019 local accountability reporting award from the News Leaders Association. He was a USC Annenberg Health Journalism Fellow in 2016 and has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.

Investigative Reporter  | 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 covering the nuclear industry, focusing on the impact of nuclear weapons expansion at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, nuclear waste storage and other critical issues. 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.

Investigative Reporter  | Joshua Bowling, Searchlight’s criminal justice reporter, spent nearly six years covering local government, the environment and other issues at the Arizona Republic. His accountability reporting exposed unsustainable growth, water scarcity, costly forest management and injustice in a historically Black community that was overrun by industrialization. Raised in the Southwest, he graduated from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. 

Investigative Reporter  | Elise Kaplan moved to New Mexico in 2010 and was instantly enamored with the landscape, the people and the stories the state holds. She graduated from the University of New Mexico with a degree in journalism in 2012. Before joining Searchlight as the education reporter, she spent almost nine years focusing on accountability while covering crime, the criminal justice system and more for the Albuquerque Journal. She has won multiple regional awards for her reporting on subjects including the ongoing crisis at the state’s largest jail and the pandemic on Native lands. 

Roy W. Howard Fellow  | Vanessa G. Sanchez, born and raised in Ecuador, has written in-depth stories about issues affecting underrepresented communities, including migrant workers and asylum seekers in the U.S. She contributed to the award-winning investigations “Essential and Exposed” and “Printing Hate.” As an intern and Bradlee Fellow at The Washington Post, she covered education, local government and politics in the Baltimore-Washington region. Vanessa joins Searchlight as a yearlong Roy W. Howard fellow to cover health policies affecting children and families in New Mexico. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.

Staff Photographer  |  Nadav Soroker has specialized in local and community news photography and videography since becoming a visual journalist in 2017. He has worked at newspapers across the country, including the Colorado Springs Gazette, Carrollton Times-Georgian, Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang. After covering the topics most dear to his adopted communities, Nadav moved to New Mexico to freelance and be closer to family during the COVID-19 pandemic.  He has a bachelor’s degree in photojournalism from the University of Missouri.

Digital and Engagement Editor | Dan Pennington was born and raised in New Mexico, and found a love for journalism in high school. In 2019, he joined the Weekly Alibi as the food editor, taking on a role as Albuquerque’s go-to food critic. At the start of the pandemic, he became managing editor, tackling stories about the Black Lives Matter movement, community struggles with the Albuquerque Police Department and the pandemic’s effect on the food industry. His investigation into COVID-19 test reporting led the state to change its protocols, making it difficult for private businesses to hide positive test results.

Contributing Writer /Photographer | Michael Benanav is a writer, photographer and digital storyteller based in northern New Mexico. In addition to Searchlight, his work appears in The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, Sierra Magazine, and other publications. He’s also the author of three books, most recently the award-winning “Himalaya Bound: One Family’s Quest to Save Their Animals — And an Ancient Way of Life.”

Navajo Translator  | Dr. Dolly Manson comes from the Chishí (Chiricahua Apache) clan and born for the Rock Gap people. Her maternal grandfather’s clan is of the Manygoats and paternal grandfather’s is of the Tangle People. The first seven years of Dolly’s life was spent in a rural area of the Navajo Nation. She lived in a dirt floor Hogan with her maternal grandmother. As a child, she learned to care for the sheep and the roles and responsibilities of a Navajo woman. In this world of Dolly’s, there was only one language spoken and that was Navajo. Thus, Dolly only knew of one culture and language when she entered school. She served as ambassador for the Navajo Nation from 1981 through 1982 as Miss Navajo Nation. Dolly can be heard in the Navajo-dubbed version of Finding Nemo as the voice of the Starfish PEACH. Dr. Manson received her doctoral degree from New Mexico State University in Curriculum & Instruction in 2005. Dr. Manson is currently resides on The Navajo Nation and is a Lecturer of Navajo/Linguistics at the University of New Mexico.