About Us

Our mission is to share the lives and amplify the voices of the community–particularly those of the underserved–to remain faithful to the highest standards of editorial independence, to preserve journalistic freedom from corporate and political control, and to reveal the overreach of authority and failure to protect the health of the community by individual officials and governmental bodies as a whole, business interests–both for-profit and non-profit–as well as other dominant institutions.

We want to celebrate the joys and victories in the Central Valley in addition to holding the powerful accountable. We will be reporting on issues relevant and vital to the community, such as housing, the environment, health, the arts and education. We are just starting out as a grassroots organization. In the future, we hope to partner with a cross-section of journalists and members of the community to contribute to our site, in what we hope will be a lasting endeavor.

mom
Photo of Emily Brandt by Krystal Preciado Photography

Emily Brandt | Writer, Researcher | emily@fresnofreepress.com

Fresno, California became Emily’s new home in 1979. She grew up in Hartford, Conn., Norwich, Vt., and Pittsburgh, Penn., and met her husband in Princeton, N.J. After they were married, they worked in a senior citizen’s home in France through the Mennonite Central Committee where their daughter Hannah was born. Their two sons were born in Fresno.

As a child, Emily spent two years living overseas with her family, attending local schools where she became fluent in both French and German. Her experiences working abroad years later gave her perspective on how a more socialized world works as far as labor unions, healthcare, and education are concerned.

It was valuable for her to struggle to get a green card, establish residency, attain work permits abroad, and to live in a place where her first language wasn’t spoken and she was a foreigner. Later, as an educator, this experience helped her understand a little of what her students who moved to new schools and/or were encountering American culture and language for the first time were feeling.

Emily was fortunate enough to have started teaching before the heavy hand of administers controlled teaching with managed curriculum, stock textbooks and overbearing classroom infiltration by downtown administrators and site administrators who are working outside their area of knowledge. What she liked best about teaching was the opportunity to work with young people, who are always intriguing and generally kind and caring people if they are given the chance. School can be a very unforgiving setting for young minds and hearts. Emily’s door was always open, not only to her own students but to all students on campus during lunch and after school.

Emily worked with the U.S. Forest Service in the mountains of the Central Sierra for 5 years. She trained volunteers to repair trails and be custodians of the forest. She was the editor of the High Sierra Trail Crew Newsletter for two years during which she also created a high school club called the Trail Crew Club that took students on wilderness outings like snow-camping and supported the regular work of the HSVTC with painting and restoring bear-boxes at Kings Canyon National Park.

On June 9th, 2018, Emily retired from 27 years of teaching English; since then she has been active in a number of organizations and projects, such as the Central Valley chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and the Central California Environmental Justice Network. She hopes you will find the next phase of her work interesting and informative.

13087677_10154283153176435_8992011885748727934_n - Edited
Photo of Hannah Brandt by Richard D. Iyall, Cowlitz

Hannah Brandt | Editor/Reporter | hannah@fresnofreepress.com

Hannah was born in Belfort, France and raised in Fresno and Berkeley, Cal. As a teenager, she lived in Southeast Fresno and graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1995. Her junior year of high school, she worked with Habitat for Humanity, helping to rebuild a home in Southwest Fresno. As a senior, she spent a semester in France with her family while her father worked and she attended school.

Hannah did her undergraduate work at the University of California, Santa Barbara where she received her B.A. in Art History. After working for five years in a bookstore, Hannah pursued graduate work at San Francisco State University, attaining a teaching credential in Social Science in 2008. Sharing her mother’s love for education and working with young people, she taught high school full time for two years and worked in classrooms as a tutor and substitute for eight years.

Upon returning to Fresno in 2014, Hannah explored journalism by interviewing people locally and far away–including a human rights activist in Cambodia and a medical student in Gazaand publishing her articles on Medium. Hannah wrote for the independent newspaper Community Alliance for one year before becoming managing editor of the monthly print and online publication. Her work has been profiled on 88.1, kfcf.org, where she was interviewed and filled in as host for the Community Alliance edition of the radio program Stir it Up.

As editor from the fall of 2015 through the winter of 2017, Hannah coached volunteer writers, led editorial board meetings, and made presentations about Community Alliance. For three years, she managed the social media pages and co-managed fresnoalliance.com with the layout designer. In partnership with the staff and editorial board, she organized two annual fundraisers. With a university librarian, she helped archive 20 years of print editions at California State University Fresno. 

Hannah has taken part in the Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk to raise funds to combat pancreatic cancer every year since 2009. In 2014, she participated in the non-partisan non-profit organization Election Protection to observe the polls to ensure voting rights. In 2018, Hannah worked with the Fresno chapter of the ACLU of Northern California and Fresno Teachers Association as a volunteer at local events and canvassing neighborhoods throughout South Fresno in voter education drives.

Hannah is excited to continue her work in independent journalism in the Central Valley, to listen to and learn from the community, and to partner with her mother.

13731628_10154498587526435_2365253220086637662_n
In the summer of 2016, Emily (left) and Hannah (right) took in the giant trees at Sequoia National Forest, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, about 90 minutes from Fresno.
ext (1)
In August of 2016, Hannah (far left) and Emily (center) visited Fresno Freedom School at the Boys and Girls Club where Floyd Harris Jr. (back left) and Dvera Saxon (back right) were teaching students to bake pies with the peaches and nectarines they had picked at Masumoto Farms.
45505014_10157106260696435_8889667826873270272_n
Emily and Hannah participating in a voter education campaign in Fresno during the 2018 primary election season.