Organization / Welcome Gisela Zuniga, our Executive Associate
Gisela Zoom portrait

Over the past few years, Meedan has grown significantly, expanding to three major programs — Check Global, the WhatsApp 3PFC project and the Digital Health Lab — alongside our existing initiatives such as the Credibility Coalition, Pop Up Newsroom, the Content Moderation Project and our ongoing trainings. With this growth comes a need for more operational infrastructural support. We’re thrilled to welcome Gisela Zuniga to the team as our new executive associate, supporting our operational and administrative work throughout the organization. She brings her skills as a communicator to the team as well, having already helped us run two events and revamping our communications strategy.

Here’s a short Q&A where we spend some time getting to know Gisela and welcoming her to the team!

1. What has been your experience before you joined Meedan?

I studied filmmaking and cultural studies for undergrad in New York; during this time, I completed internships about archiving activist artwork, museum programming, and media nonprofit development. After graduating, I joined the independent media outlet Neta in my hometown of McAllen, Texas, focused on sharing grassroots narratives about the U.S.-Mexico border. I first joined as a video journalist, and transitioned to creative strategy, taking on additional freelance work in documentary film and mixed reality projects in both Texas and New York. I’m a member of Brown Girls Doc Mafia, a global women of color filmmakers group, and do art residencies occasionally.

2. Tell us about a journalism project that you worked on that was exciting and insightful.

While at Neta, I produced a video about low-income residents of Texas border towns organizing to install public lighting in colonias. Colonias, or unincorporated settlements of Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans, often don’t have access to sanitation or other city services like the streetlights many of us take for granted. We collaborated with local civic rights organization ARISE, led by the headstrong women of these colonias, to develop the Spanish-language script and create a digital landing page for this video guide. We got to present this collaborative project in city hall to local legislators, and since then many more colonias have been able to get public lighting installed!

Alumbrado Publico

November 6, 2018. A 6-year-old girl plays in the streets as the sun sets, before her neighborhood goes completely dark. This colonia in Alamo, Texas awaits installation of public lights scheduled for January 2019.

3. What is the local news media ecosystem like in the US? What are the strengths and what gaps do you see?

Based on my experience, the U.S. local news media ecosystem is fundamental to how we understand our lives as community members in our town/state/region in a way distinct from national coverage. However, local news has been set up to fail by investment capital, corporate influence, and the scarcity of sustainable funding models, creating massive gaps for meaningful growth. Its strength lies in the resistance of its journalists to imagine a better industry and the incredible organizing to bring it to life. Groups like Study Hall create national dialogues for workers across individual contexts to share resources, and Press On Media and Migrant Roots Media has done incredible work organizing U.S. Southern BIPOC-led local outlets to connect and build a better industry together.

4. What brought you to Meedan?

I have become increasingly curious about the tech world and its intersection with media over the years. While my introduction to this field has been through creative technology applications, I’ve been voraciously learning as much as I can about emerging tools to imagine and implement a more just world. Given Meedan’s work to support fact-checkers worldwide via open-source tool Check, to cultivate the sustainability of independent media organizations via the Check Global program, and to explore cutting-edge research in AI technology, joining the Meedan team felt like the natural next step in my career.

5. What skills are you hoping to grow at Meedan?

I’m hoping to strengthen my skills in operations management, nonprofit development, and to learn more about nuances of the tech industry. My past experience working in the arts and media emphasized to me that the way colleagues work and communicate with one another is just as vital as the quality of the actual product made. Learning how to craft systems that affirm team members, establish clear expectations for workflows, and cultivate a culture of care within management dynamics not only strengthens my own systems thinking skills, but empowers me to envision what a better tech and media world might look like and bring it to life.

6. Tell us some fun facts about Gisela.

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my favorite TV show!
  • Favorite food is poc chuc, a Yucatecan Maya dish of grilled pork chops marinated with sour orange and served with pickled red onions and avocado.
  • I think the best ways to get active are salsa dancing, roller skating, and taekwondo.
  • I’m a U.S. Southerner of the Mexican and Honduran diaspora, and call the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas home.

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