Staff Spotlights

Jeff vonKaenel, President & CEO

When did you start at N&R Publications? In 1973, I worked at one of the first alternative papers in the country, the Santa Barbara News & Review. Over the years, I become the publisher of three newspapers – the Sacramento News & Review, Chico News & Review, and Reno News & Review. I realized that many organizations could benefit from our journalistic storytelling experience, and founded N&R Publications in 2010.
Interests? Politics (local, state, and national), reading and audio books, running and cycling.
Bucket list item? Competing in a triathlon on my 80th birthday in 2031 — I’d like to not only finish but also to beat some of those 50-year-old whippersnappers.
Favorite thing about the job? Helping organizations craft a compelling narrative, and seeing the impact that narrative has on the target audience and in the community. Also, working with my wife. In 1977, I started dating the Production Manager at Santa Barbara News & Review, Deborah Redmond. For a Sales Manager and a Production Manager to agree on anything in the newspaper world, let alone to date, is quite an accomplishment. We have been together for 44 years and have two wonderful children. Deborah and I work side by side, running the three newspapers and N&R Publications as a team. Deborah continues to be the smarter, more beautiful and competent of the two of us. 
Most memorable project(s) to date? Putting together an interfaith Call for Unity music and spoken word project on the 2002 anniversary of September 11th, which over the years has led to 30 different communities doing interfaith Habitat for Humanities home builds. I have attended over 150 different religious services in Sacramento and toured religious organizations in Turkey, India, and Cuba.

Elizabeth Morabito, Lead Marketing & Publications Consultant

When did you start at N&R Publications? I started with N&R Publications in October 2017. After 10 years of nonprofit fundraising, I was attracted to this position because I was still part of the “do good” world and had the opportunity to engage with a wide variety of organizations.
Interests? I call Ann Arbor, MI home and am the only staff person to reside outside of California or Nevada. A2, as it is affectionately known, provides plenty of diverse opportunities to enjoy arts, culture, and sports. As a University of Michigan graduate and huge Wolverines fan, I love going to various sporting events – football games at The Big House, in particular. I volunteer for a few different arts organizations and see many well-known musicians, plays, musicals, symphonies, and operas! I also volunteer at The Creature Conservancy which primarily serves as a sanctuary for wild and exotic animals. Some of my favorites are the sloths, a lynx, a warthog, and muntjac deer.
Bucket list item? My dream is to be a part-time van dweller and travel the continental U.S.
Favorite thing about the job? My favorite thing about the job is all of the amazing people I get to meet who are so passionate about making a difference in the world.
Most memorable project(s) to date? My most memorable project to date is the pit bull advocacy publication I conceptualized and created early on in the job. I love pitties and have a beautiful blue nose named Winnie. I lost my sweetest boy, Wally, in 2020 to bone cancer.

Ray Laager, Publications Consultant

When did you start at N&R Publications? Jan. 1, 2021.
Interests? Reading, Music, Cooking, Cycling, Community Radio, Fitness.
Bucket list item? Travel more, visit all the professional baseball parks, learn to surf.
Favorite thing about the job? Helping and meeting interesting people who make a difference in our communities.
Most memorable project(s) to date? Although I’m new to N&R Publications, I have decades of experience in producing and marketing of events. Most memorable… producing the NorCal Jazz Festival, which produced over 50 jazz concerts in a five-year period throughout northern California.

Debbie Arrington, Lead Publications Editor

When did you start at N&R Publications? May 2019. That followed almost 20 years at The Sacramento Bee and another 20 with Knight-Ridder Newspapers.
Interests? Gardening, cooking, horse racing; not necessarily in that order. With decades of experience as an award-winning garden writer (and gardener), I write a daily gardening blog, Sacramento Digs Gardening. President of the Sacramento Rose Society, I’m also a master rosarian (a certified rose expert). A longtime food writer and editor, I’m a founding member of the Sacramento chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, the top philanthropic organization for women in the food industry. As a sports reporter, I’ve covered America’s biggest horse races (and many other sporting events, too).
Bucket list item? Own a champion Thoroughbred, which I did. As part of a syndicate, I own a tiny piece of 2020 Horse of the Year Authentic, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Favorite thing about the job? Every day is different. It’s never boring and often challenging. And we meet so many interesting people who are passionate about what they do! That passion is contagious!
Most memorable project(s) to date? There are so many! I’m particularly fond of the California Conservation Corps’ “We Transform Lives”; it’s a beautiful, dynamic and effective publication, completed during the pandemic. And the title of that publication sums up what we do daily through our own work: We transform lives.

Thea Rood, Managing Editor

When did you start at N&R Publications? I started in 2016 as a freelance writer; joined the staff as a writer in Jan. 2019 and was promoted to editor shortly after.
Interests? News junkie (NYT, CNN), big TV-watcher since COVID (“Schitt’s Creek,” “Road Kill”), like to cook and garden, love hanging out with my family (including my two kids: daughter who is 24 and a 2L at Berkeley Law, son who is 21 and a 3rd year at UC Davis, plus our 4-year-old German shepherd and son’s 1-year-old black pug).
Bucket list item? Already did it: I toured the National Parks with my kids.
Favorite thing about the job? Discovering so many creative people–our clients and sources–quietly doing amazing work.
Most memorable project(s) to date?Innocent Until Proven Guilty” for County of Santa Clara Office of Pretrial Services (was one of the first organizations to get rid of money bail just as it became a national trend) AND “Your Vote Counts” for the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (helped educate voters about the new voting machines and how to work around any restrictions to make sure their voices are heard–and they were!).

Deborah Redmond, Director of Nuts & Bolts

When did you start at N&R Publications? I’ve worked in a supporting role in alternative journalism since 1973 – always having to explain that I’m not a writer, but rather support those who do write, working on the operational side of things. Hence my title, Director of Nuts & Bolts. I’ve been with N&R Publications since it started in 2010. 
Interests? Art – creating art and appreciating art – the first place I visit in any city is the art museum; science – I am currently fascinated with gene editing and immunology; technology – although it is a love/hate relationship; going for walks in nature; and reading and audiobooks. 
Bucket list item? Spending more time with my kids.
Favorite thing about the job? I love the people I work with – they are smart and challenge me to think more creatively every day, and it’s a supportive work environment which makes work fun. 
Most memorable project(s) to date? Probably I worked on this project with four wonderful collaborators: Melinda Welsh, Dave Webb, Don Button and John Bisignano. We asked writers, scientists, artists and others to predict the outcome of the Paris Climate talks as if writing to their children’s children, and the project attracted a wide range of impressive talent and was published across the country in both small local publications and large national websites. Al Gore said that the future of the world depended upon the outcome of the Paris Climate talks, and we felt a sense of urgency while working on this project, and a sense of great pride when it was completed. 

Katelynn Mitrano, Senior Publications Designer

When did you start at N&R Publications? Started on June 4, 2018.
Interests? Reading outside in my backyard (my favorite book is The Master and Margarita) and watching movies, but most of all horror movies. Late nights I’ll be gaming and chatting with my friends and family on my PC. If we have a funny or thought-provoking conversation, I might just illustrate you in a comic. After work, I’ll usually be cooking up a vegan dinner or trying out the latest vegan restaurant nearby. 
Bucket list item? Get over my fear of flying so I can travel to Japan, and having a graphic novel published.
Favorite thing about the job? Getting to learn about our clients and the helpful services they provide. I know so much about recycling and mosquitoes!
Most memorable project(s) to date? Right now I am working on illustrating an activity book about recycling! I love illustrating and I’m a big supporter of taking care of our planet. 

Jocelyn Parker, Publications Designer

When did you start at N&R Publications? I started at the News and Review as a Publications Designer in December 2020.
Interests? In addition to graphic design, I love all things art, from painting to carving replica Viking runestones. I also write in my spare time, and have started to get into gardening despite apparently having a black thumb rather than a green one.
Bucket list item? I went to Japan several years ago now and had an amazing time, and would love to go back with my kids someday.
Favorite thing about the job? I love being able to think creatively everyday, getting to play with as many design ideas as I can come up with.
Most memorable project(s) to date? My very first pub was a completely new experience for me, and working on its design myself from start to finish. It was one that challenged me in interesting ways, and taught me a lot about being flexible in design.

Blake Geyer, Executive Assistant

When did you start at N&R Publications? Started September 7th, 2021.
Interests? Music: listening to it, watching it live, and attempting to play guitar myself. Working out, lately it’s been strength training. True crime podcasts. Anything involving time with my family (husband and 2 young daughters) or friends. Weekend getaways. Anything that will make me laugh.
Bucket list item? See the Grand Canyon, an RV trip, go to Thailand, survive raising two girls when they go through adolescence.
Favorite thing about the job? I’ve learned so much about policy and the government. I am pleased to work for a company that gives a voice to organizations that serve overlooked populations that often go unheard, such as the homeless, people with disabilities and children.
Most memorable project(s) to date? We seem to always have environmental projects going on which keep me knowledgeable on what’s going on with our world. Our publication “Reducing Food Waste” was eye opening. 

Gabby Reisz, Project Assistant

When did you start at N&R Publications? I started on September 12th, 2021.
Interests? When I’m not reading for fun, I’m typically playing video games, going for walks in my neighborhood, or hitting the gym. I’ve also taken up bullet journaling, which has been an incredible way for me to be creative and express myself while documenting my life.
Bucket list item? Become fluent in another language and visit every continent.
Favorite thing about the job? The feeling of connectivity with my community and meeting so many amazing people.
Most memorable project(s) to date? Every project has been such a unique experience, it’s one of the highlights of this job. But the “Garden Smart” publication for the Sacramento Regional Water Authority sticks out, as it was one of the first projects I got to be a part of. Such beautiful work from our design team, and an overall amazing publication.

Gemma Goebel, Project Coordinator

When did you start at N&R Publications? I started at N&R Publications on March 21st, 2022.
Interests? Spending time with family and friends, music, cooking, and paddle boarding.
Bucket list item? Travel more. I also hope to have the opportunity to live by the beach someday.
Favorite thing about the job? One of my focuses at N&R Publications is researching and analyzing environmental policy. With a major in Political Science and having previously worked on campaigns and legislative research, I love this part of the job. There’s not a day working here that I don’t learn something new about progressive, environmental legislation in California. Climate change is a pressing issue, and it’s been wonderful to meet people who are passionate about it and making an impact.
Most memorable project(s) to date? Our “Garden Smarter” publication for Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency. It’s beautifully designed and a great source of information for those looking to convert to water-wise landscaping.