Wednesday Speaker Bios
Niran Babalola wrote web applications for the Austin American-Statesman before joining the Texas Tribune. He has also written software at Yahoo and Apple. A native of Sugar Land, he studied computer science at Stanford University.
David King has been at Texas State University-San Marcos since March of 2009. His official title is publications writer, but his job responsibilities range from crafting advertising copy to working on the university’s social media outlets. He helped develop the university’s social media strategy and presence, has been involved in the production of video for both the university’s website and television, and led the university’s first video contest. He helped prepare and present the first professional development seminars on social media at Texas State, and in the last 10 years has taught seminar-style classes on subjects ranging from computer software to the sensory evaluation of wines. Before coming to Texas State, he worked as a writer, copy editor and technical trainer in the newspaper business, including 13 years as a sports writer at the San Antonio Express-News.
For two decades, Brent Ladd has worked at GSD&M’s Idea City providing creative leadership and vision for many of the agency’s clients: Southwest Airlines, AT&T, BMW, the U.S. Olympic Team, YMCA, AARP, DividedWeFail.org, Walmart, BBVA Compass, The Discovery Channel, Yellowpages.com, Haggar Clothing Company, HD radio, 7-Eleven, Seaworld, San Antonio Spurs, U.S. Air Force, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Tourism and the American Red Cross. Along the way, his work has been recognized by all the major advertising shows, including the One Show, CA, Archive magazine, Clio’s, New York Art Directors, D&AD and the Cannes Film Festival. More importantly, his work has made a demonstrable difference in the marketplace. In 2007, the BMW Holiday Wish Event resulted in the best ever December sales for the carmaker, with a 17 percent jump in deliveries over the previous year. USA Today recognized one of Ladd’s Southwest Airlines “Wanna Get Away” campaigns as one of the most memorable and effective of 2005. He was part of the creative team that helped pioneer the DING! desktop application for Southwest Airlines, a first in the airline industry. Before coming to GSD&M’s Idea City, Ladd’s agency experience included a stint at Bozell & Jacobs and later Tracy Locke/BBDO. Ladd is a founding board member of the Peace Council Foundation, a nonprofit organization that produces creative on issues of social consequence. Some of the accounts Peace Council has created advertising and design for are Caritas, the Children’s Advocacy Center, AIDS center of Austin, Community in Schools and The Texas Monthly Volunteer Campaign.
Jacqui Maher is a software developer on the Interactive News Technologies team at the New York Times. She has over a dozen years of experience in the tech start-up world and is a long-time news junkie. Maher thinks that programming and database skills are among the most advantageous traits for journalists now, and will only be more useful in the future.
Christian McDonald is the Online Projects Editor at the Austin American-Statesman, which means he is the technical liaison for the online newsroom staff. He has been in online since 2000, including stints as the software development manager and the online news editor. Before working at the Statesman, he worked at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Tribune Newspapers in suburban Phoenix, and the Longview (TX) News-Journal.
Jennifer McInnis is a food and wine writer at the San Antonio Express-News. In addition to reporting, Jennifer coordinates weekly with the designer to budget and help produce the Taste section, and she maintains Taste’s social networks on Facebook and Twitter. McInnis previously worked as an assistant editor for 210SA, a weekly entertainment tab for the 21- to 35-year-old demographic, and produced an occasional video, “Cooking with Jen.” Jennifer is 2003 mass communication graduate from Texas State University.
Richard Oppel counsels Public Strategies’ clients on strategic campaign development and execution with particular emphasis on complex issues involving media strategy, drawing on his more than 30 years of senior-level media experience. Oppel was a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board for 9 years and served as chairman in 2008-2009. He was editor of the Austin American-Statesman from 1995 until retiring in 2008. He was Washington bureau chief for Knight Ridder Newspapers in 1993-95, and before that worked as editor of the Charlotte Observer. During his 15 years as editor (1978-93), the newspaper won two Pulitzers for Meritorious Public Service — the highest award in journalism — and shared a third Pulitzer for Editorial Cartooning with The Atlanta Constitution. The National Press Foundation’s Editor of the Year in 1988, Oppel served as president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 2000-2001, and was president of the North Carolina Press Association in the early 1990s. He also has served as chairman of the Journalism Advisory Committee of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Oppel graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in political science in 1964, and completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Graduate School of Business in 1984.
Douglas Pils, 43, has been at the San Antonio Express-News since June 2005, starting as a sports copy editor and has been an assistant sports editor for the past three years. He’s in charge of the E-N’s coverage of the Spurs and Silver Stars basketball teams and of Texas and Texas A&M. He also authors the E-N’s Review-Preview commentary, which runs on Page 2 of the Sunday sports section, and College GameDay package, which runs on Saturdays during the college football season and once a week during college basketball season. Pils returned to Texas in 2005 after three years out of the state. He spent a year freelancing for Newsday while spending time near his wife’s roots in Greenport, N.Y. Before that, he spent two years working for The Associated Press in Arkansas, where he was the sports editor. While at the AP, he covered former Arkansas basketball coach Nolan Richardson’s discrimination trial against the university and Smarty Jones’ early rise to fame as the 2004 Arkansas Derby winner before he captured the nation’s attention and nearly the Triple Crown. Of course, working for the AP in Arkansas also provided Doug with the opportunity to cover former first-kitty Socks’ return to as grand marshal of a Little Rock Christmas parade. Doug earned a couple of Katie awards in Arkansas and he has been honored by the Texas APME for sports feature writing. Doug grew up in Waxahachie, Texas, graduated from Texas A&M in 1992 and 1995 with degrees in journalism and economics and in 2002 he received his masters in journalism from the Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism at the University of North Texas. He started his professional career at the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung in 1992, spent a year there, two years at the Waco Tribune-Herald, one year at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and five years at the Arlington Morning News/The Dallas Morning News.
Michael Quintanilla prefers briefs over boxers, red salsa over green and is gunning for Mondo to blow Gretchen away on Project Runway. Known as S.A.’s “Fashion Guru,” Quintanilla is a fashion and pop culture writer and stylist for the San Antonio Express-News and that newspaper’s TRENDS magazine. Additionally, his work is featured in other Hearst newspapers including the Houston Chronicle and the San Francisco Chronicle; his pieces are also sent out nationally on the New York Times wire service, via Heart’s national editor in Washington, D.C. Before joining his hometown paper four years ago, Michael was fashion and pop culture writer for the Los Angeles Times where he biannually covered fashion weeks and prêt-a-porter shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris, a beat he fell into. While at the L. A. Times, Quintanilla also wrote features and covered the party beat that included celebrity interviews, red carpet events, movie premieres and after parties. He also contributed to two Pulitzer Prizes: the Los Angeles Riots and the Northridge Earthquake. A San Antonio native, Quintanilla graduated from Burbank High School and Trinity University.
Bill Schoening is now in his 9th year with the Silver and Black, after being named voice of the Spurs in September of 2001. Nicknamed “Philly Billy” by former Spurs assistant coach P.J. Carlisemo for his native Philadelphia roots, Schoening is currently one of only nine NBA announcers who does his broadcasts solo. Schoening got his start in broadcasting at the tender age of 23 at Sam Houston State University, where he covered the Bearkats, before moving down to Austin to spend the next 12 years on the University of Texas Longhorn network. In his 20+ years of play-by-play experience, he has broadcast a variety of NFL, MLB, arena football events. Schoening also dabbles in music, and released a CD of his original tunes called “Life in the Minors” in 2001. Schoening and his wife, Gerry, have two sons, Eric and Karl. For more information on the man behind the microphone and to listen to some of his greatest calls, click here for a special spurs.com report.
Thom Singer is a professional speaker and the author of seven books on the power of business relationships and networking, and a eighth on presentation skills. He has spent over 20 years in sales, marketing, and business development roles with major corporations and AM LAW 100 law firms. He regularly consults with corporations, law firms and individuals on how to cultivate their personal brands and establish professional connections that will lead to more referral business. Singer is the author of the “Some Assembly Required Blog” (www.thomsinger.com
Matt Stiles covers government and politics for the with a focus on computer-assisted reporting, and he and manages and helps develop the Texas Tribune’s library of data-driven applications and interactives. Previously, he was a government reporter at the Houston Chronicle. While there, he won the newspaper’s Jesse Award for service journalism and beat reporting and was its reporter of the year in 2007. Before joining the Chronicle’s staff, Stiles worked as a reporter for nearly four years at The Dallas Morning News.