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Who We Are: About Burnt Orange Report

Burnt Orange Report, or BOR for short, is Texas' largest political blog, written from a progressive/liberal/Democratic standpoint. Our readership includes institutional leaders, political consultants, elected officials, lobbyists,  and concerned Texans. Our site continues to be one of the most visited and widely respected state-level blogs in the nation. As of October 2013, Burnt Orange Report has had 7.8 million visits and 13.2 million page views.

Burnt Orange Report's History:

BOR began on April 24, 2003 as a live-journal site written by University of Texas students Byron LaMasters and Jim Dallas. The site focused on happenings at the Capitol and around Austin. Over the past 10 years, BOR has evolved to become one of the leading state blogs in the progressive Netroots, and has featured the writing of dozens of staff bloggers. BOR's writing team has matured from a group of independent and outspoken Longhorns into a group of legislative staffers, activists, organizers, attorneys, and thought leaders on politics in Texas. Our slogan reflects our origins:

Burnt Orange Report: Our Eyes Are On Texas Politics.


Burnt Orange Report's Staff:

Katherine Haenschen, Editor in Chief & Publisher .

Katherine Haenschen is an organizer, activist, and blogger in Austin, Texas, where she previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns. She is currently a PhD student at the University of Texas studying the intersection of digital media and political participation.

Katherine's past efforts include Donna Howard's 2012 campaign, the 2012 Travis County Democatic Party voter registration drive, the 2011 "Travis Two-Step" county bonds campaign, Randi Shade for Austin City Council, the 2010 Travis County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign, Kurt Kuhn for Third Court of Appeals, Chris Riley for Austin City Council, and the 2008 Austin Vote for Change registration drive. She has been an active campaign volunteer since 2004, when her then-State Senator, Barack Obama, ran for Illinois Senate. As a grad student at UChicago she organized her friends to help register voters on subway platforms for Obama. 

Katherine also serves as the president of the Austin Young Democrats, and is UCONN's biggest fan in Texas.


Joe Deshotel, Senior Staff Writer. 

Joe has worked in and around politics for over 10 years. He has worked for members and representatives of Congress, the Texas legislature, Jefferson Co. and the City of Austin. He believes government has been a defenseless whipping boy for 'conservatives' and big business. He believes we first we have to define the role of government and then we can decide whether tax payers are getting what they deserve. His goal is to see progressive candidates win in Texas and believes it comes down to messaging and infrastructure. Joe plays in a band and loves living in the Live Music Capital. Personal highlights include introducing Barack Obama in his home town of Beaumont, Texas. 


Michael Hurta, Senior Staff Writer.

Michael began reading BOR before graduating high school, back in 2006 when he discovered the site while Googling "angry at Rick Perry." But he had first gotten politically involved when his former teacher, Jim Henley, ran against Congressman John Culberson in 2006. As the "kid who used the Internets," he did some blogger outreach for that campaign. And by the time he stepped on the 40 Acres of UT, he was a Burnt Orange Reporter. In college, he interned for Rick Noriega's Senate campaign, Bill White's gubernatorial campaign, and Representative Diana Maldonado. His senior year, he became president of the University Democrats and led part of the losing battle of 2010. He previously managed David Wahlberg's campaign for the 167th District Court and is currently a 2L at UT Law. 


Ben Sherman, Senior Staff Writer. 

Ben Sherman is a proud progressive with a passion for political strategy. In 2010, Ben worked on the Bill White campaign as Communications Coordinator, handling media requests, writing news briefs and organizing the communications team. He spent the summer of 2012 writing for ThinkProgress about everything from the Affordable Care Act to Mitt Romney getting booed. At Burnt Orange Report, he covers Rick Perry, Ted Cruz, Greg Abbott, climate change, racism, and political corruption. Ben studies political science and history at the University of Texas and will graduate in December 2013.


Omar Araiza, Staff Writer.

Omar Araiza was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley, along both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. His parents are originally from Mexico and came to the United States as immigrants with hopes of being able to provide a better life for their family. Having faced harsh bullying and physical assaults for being gay as a young kid, Omar is not afraid to stand up for others facing discrimination and always roots for the underdog.

Omar was recently part of Texas State Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa's staff, and is working towards obtaining graduate degrees in national security. He also enjoys shooting at inanimate objects with his recurve bow.


Emily Cadik, Staff Writer.

Emily Cadik grew up outside of Houston in Montgomery County, where rampant conservatism sent her fleeing in the opposite direction. She then went to the University of Texas, followed by the Harvard Kennedy School, where she studied government and public policy with a focus on political rhetoric and voter turnout. Emily now works on affordable housing policy in Washington, DC, but pines for breakfast tacos, Shiner Bock and the unfailingly outrageous brand of politics found only in Texas.


Genevieve Cato, Staff Writer.

Genevieve Cato is a feminist activist and a native Texan. She tried to escape the pull of Texas nationalism by leaving the state for graduate school, but after the attack on women's healthcare during the 82nd legislative session she came back as quickly as she could. While not writing for the Burnt Orange Report, she can be found working to elect pro-choice women to the state legislature, tweeting as @blasfemmetx, and drinking copious amounts of pretentious local craft beers.


Phillip Martin, Staff Writer.

Currently the Research and Policy Director for Progress Texas and the Texas Research Institute, Phillip Martin writes occasional long-form pieces for BOR that will promote focused analysis and insight into Texas politics.

Born and raised in Austin, Phillip started working in politics in 2003 and started writing on BOR in the summer of 2005. In 2007, he took a brief hiatus from BOR to serve as Chief of Staff for State Rep. Garnet Coleman. Following the 2007 legislative session, Phillip left Austin to pursue a Master's in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School. Homesick, Phillip continued writing for BOR, producing comprehensive posts about how the Texas Democrat delegate selection process worked and creating an analysis of the 2009 Speaker's race that helped turn the tables against then Speaker Tom Craddick.

Since returning to Austin in 2009, Phillip has worked for the Texas Democratic Trust, the Texas Legislative Study Group, and now the Progress Texas family. He is a lifelong Houston Astros fan, a loyal Longhorn, and loves swimming at Barton Springs Pool. If you take him to Dirty's he'll still write anything you want.


Natalie San Luis, Staff Writer.

Natalie San Luis is a native Austinite, a feminist, and a freelance writer who holds a B.A. in Plan II Honors, English, and women's and gender studies from UT Austin. During her time at UT, Natalie worked with several organizations to foster a feminist community at the university. Previously, she has worked as a writing consultant at the Undergraduate Writing Center, a columnist for The Daily Texan, and a debate coach for a group of high school kids who know more about politics than the average college grad. Natalie believes that the media is a critical institution for connecting citizens to their government, especially for Texas as the state undergoes significant political transformations. In her free time, Natalie reads, visits local breweries, and listens to hip hop.


Katie Singh, Staff Writer & Intern.

Katie Singh grew up in Austin. Katie has known she's a Democrat ever since being the only student who disagreed with her fourth grade teacher's declaration that Al Gore was a "sore loser" in 2000. She got involved in Texas politics in middle school, volunteering on Kelly White's 2004 campaign and later interning on Valinda Bolton's 2008 campaign. She began reading Burnt Orange Report to stay up to date on Texas politics while attending Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. In 2012, she interned at Obama for America headquarters in Chicago. She also helped organize Northwestern student trips to canvass in Iowa and Wisconsin. The highlight of her time in Chicago was being at President Obama's victory speech on Election Night 2012. She graduated from Northwestern in 2013 with a degree in political science and global health. She's interested in health policy and plans to go to graduate school for public health to learn more about the relationship between social inequality and health disparities. Katie is excited to contribute her enthusiasm for progressive politics to BOR. Appropriately, her favorite color is blue.


Joseph Vogas, Staff Writer.

The day after the 2004 election, Joseph Vogas declared himself a Democratic activist and has dedicated himself to electing Democrats and further progressive values through the state of Texas ever since. Joseph was raised in Friendswood and attended the University of North Texas where he majored in political science. During his studies, Joseph was elected as Vice President and then President of the College Democrats of North Texas. Joseph went on to work on several political campaigns throughout the state including those of State Senator Wendy Davis and Congressman Nick Lampson. In 2013, he was proud to have worked in the office of State Rep. Craig Eiland.

Joseph's education in electoral politics came from Swing State Project (now Daily Kos Elections) and the many writers and commentators of that website. SSP's precise focus on electoral results, candidate recruitment, and campaigns lead Joseph to specialize in electoral politics. Joseph strongly believes in the power of activism through community organizing.

Updated April 11, 2014
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Burnt Orange Reporters
Editor and Publisher:
Katherine Haenschen

Senior Staff Writers:
Genevieve Cato
Joe Deshotel
Ben Sherman

Staff Writers:
Omar Araiza
Emily Cadik
Phillip Martin
Natalie San Luis
Katie Singh
Joseph Vogas

Byron LaMasters

Blogger Emeritus:
Karl-Thomas Musselman

Read staff bios here.

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