I’m writing with exciting news from the board of directors of The Texas Tribune.
With great pride and anticipation about the Trib’s future, I’m delighted to announce that Sonal Shah will become the organization’s chief executive officer, starting Jan. 1, 2023.
It’s been a privilege for the board to find someone who embodies all of the qualities and qualifications we identified The Texas Tribune needing in its next leader. Our north star was to find an executive with a passion for the work we do here at the Trib, and a leader with both a deep understanding of the functional and financial needs of a mission-based organization and a track record of high-impact leadership. We’ve found just such a CEO.
Sonal embodies all these qualities and more. She has deep Texas roots. She has an extraordinary record in fundraising and strategic leadership. She has figured out how to evolve the business models of organizations she’s led to stay ahead of the times. Her commitment to the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion are evident in every aspect of her work. Above all, Sonal is a champion of a free, independent press who understands that trustworthy journalism is the bulwark of democracy.
In Sonal, the Tribune will have a business leader who can build on the successes of the past 13 years and work with the staff, board and all our stakeholders on behalf of readers to establish the organization’s path to thriving over the next decade (and beyond). She will drive strategy and oversee fundraising, operations and business development, ensuring the financial health and independence of the Trib. Sonal will be a collaborative partner with Sewell Chan, the Tribune’s editor in chief, ensuring that the operational and financial needs of the newsroom are well-supported. Under her leadership, Sewell will continue to oversee the Tribune’s newsroom and its journalism, which was recently recognized with a National Edward R. Murrow Award.
A first-generation immigrant, Sonal grew up in Houston. Through a career that has taken her around the world — with stops at Google, the White House and Georgetown University, among other distinguished posts — she has always made Texas her home base. She was the founding president of The Asian American Foundation, based in Houston, and will be joining the Trib from her role as an executive vice president at United Way, one of the world’s leading nonprofits. With her combination of nonprofit, public sector and private sector experience; her deep understanding of policy and technology; and her passion for building a stronger future for Texas and our country, Sonal Shah is the ideal leader for The Texas Tribune’s next chapter.
And what a foundation she has to build on. Since its launch, the Tribune has raised an impressive $112 million to fund the newsroom’s ambitious reporting, and currently attracts nearly 4 million monthly unique visitors to the destination website. The organization boasts more than 175,000 newsletter subscribers and has 10,000 current members. Current CEO and Tribune co-founder Evan Smith has been successful by all measures in his time leading the Tribune, and we are grateful for his dedication to building the nation’s most authoritative source of news and information on Texas. Evan has endorsed our pick in his successor, calling Sonal “an inspired choice” and “the transformational leader we need right now — that the Tribune and Texas need right now.” We couldn’t agree more. Evan will stay in the Tribune’s orbit, shifting to the role of an adviser to the organization after the new year.
And while we on the board watch as the Tribune continues to build a better, more informed Texas one day at a time through honest reporting and through easy-to-reach and free community conversation events, and to change the media landscape while doing it, we’re fully aware that the success of the Tribune begins with you. The Texas Tribune is possible because of you. Readers, members, subscribers, followers, event attendees, sponsors — you make it possible for the continuing impact the Tribune has on Texas. As we approach this moment of transition, I and all the members of the board remain in awe of The Texas Tribune. Sonal, I know, shares that admiration and can’t wait to get started on the work of forging The Texas Tribune’s next chapter and beginning with you, the reader.
Jim Schachter is the chair of The Texas Tribune’s board of directors and the president and CEO of New Hampshire Public Radio.
Disclosure: Google has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.