Soledad O’Brien is an award-winning documentarian, journalist, speaker, author and philanthropist. She is the CEO of Soledad O’Brien Productions, a multi-platform media production company dedicated to telling empowering and authentic stories on a range of social issues and a thought leader whose public engagement garners wide attention.
O’Brien has had national impact with her books and speeches, and her presence on the nation’s op-ed pages, including the New York Times and Huffington Post. She is very active on social media, particularly Twitter where she has over 1.3 million followers.
O’Brien currently anchors and produces the Hearst Television political magazine program “Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien” which is distributed by Sony Pictures. She also reports regularly for HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.”
She has anchored shows on CNN, MSNBC and NBC, and hosted projects for Fox and A&E. O’Brien has contributed to the three major broadcast networks, Oxygen, Nat Geo, the PBS NewsHour and WebMD. She was a special correspondent on Al Jazeera America’s news program, America Tonight, and produced several documentaries on social issues for the network.
Earlier in her career, O’Brien anchored a show for MSNBC, before moving on to co-anchor NBC’s “Weekend Today” and contributing segments to the “Today” show and “NBC Nightly News.” In 2003, O’Brien transitioned to CNN, where she was the face of CNN’s morning news shows for many years and a frequent reporter and analyst for breaking news stories and election coverage. She also anchored the CNN documentary unit, where she created the “In America” documentary series “Black in America” and “Latino in America” which she continued to produce under Soledad O’Brien Productions as speaking tours.
O’Brien’s was recognized with three Emmy awards -- for her coverage of the Haiti earthquake, the 2012 election and a series called “Kids and Race.” She was also honored twice with the George Foster Peabody award for her coverage of Hurricane Katrina and her reporting on the BP Gulf Coast Oil Spill. Her reporting on the Southeast Asia tsunami garnered CNN an Alfred I. DuPont Award.
Upon founding Soledad O’Brien Productions, she continued to produce documentaries and series on topics that included youth incarceration, police brutality, veterans with PTSD and the opioid epidemic for Al Jazeera, CNN and the PBS NewsHour.
Besides HBO Real Sports and Matter of Fact, O’Brien hosted “American Injustice” a BET Town Hall on the future of criminal justice reform. She was a host of the A&E special “Shining a Light: Conversations on Race in America.” She was the Host and Executive Producer of the Oxygen series “Mysteries & Scandals” as well as “O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession” and “Who Shot Biggie and Tupac,” both for Fox. She was also host of National Geographic Channel's “Live From Space” and moderator and executive producer of the annual National Geographic Bee. She was Executive Producer of the Lifetime Billboard Music Awards.
She has served as Chair of the board of The After-School Corporation (now ExpandED Schools), and as a director on the boards of the Rand Corporation and the National Archives. She was a Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Distinguished Visiting Fellow.
O’Brien frequently speaks on a variety of social issues at college campuses and corporate events. She was named on People magazine’s list of the 50 Most Beautiful People in 2001 and was on People en Español′s 50 Most Beautiful list in 2004. She was named to Irish American magazine’s "Top 100 Irish Americans" on two occasions, and was on Black Enterprise magazine’s 2005 Hot List. Also in 2005, she was awarded Groundbreaking Latina of the Year by Catalina magazine. In 2006 she was featured in the Newsweek cover story "15 People Who Make America Great".
She is the author of two books, her critically acclaimed memoir “The Next Big Story” and “Latino in America.”
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, O’Brien and her husband, Brad, created the PowHERful Foundation to help young women get to and through college. The foundation hosts the PowHerful conferences that support hundreds of young women with mentoring programs, professional advice and other services.
She lives in New York with her husband and four children.
Joie Chen brings her unique storytelling style to Matter of Fact. “What I love about the program is its commitment to understanding history, and how events of the past continue to shape our world today,” she says. Her reporting has taken her across the country and around the world. Joie is most often recognized for her decade as an anchor and correspondent for CNN International and CNN. She’s also been a Washington, DC correspondent for CBS News, reporting from the White House, Capitol Hill and contributing to the legendary CBS Sunday Morning. Most recently, she served as host and correspondent for Al Jazeera America’s flagship program, America Tonight. When she’s not producing reports for Matter of Fact, Joie is pursuing her other professional passion: making journalism better. She’s a senior leader at the Poynter Institute, the world’s leading non-profit journalism education organization. A Chicago native, she now lives outside Washington, DC.
Jessica Jallings Gomez has more than 20 years of television storytelling experience. For more than a decade she was a reporter and anchor at local news affiliates around the country, including NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX stations. Jessica's stories have been featured on the Today Show, NBC Nightly News and CNN. After leaving local news to start a family, Jessica started her own video production company, Story Place Productions. Story Place helps organizations large and small share their message through video. Meantime, Jessica continues to work in news, freelancing as a host and correspondent.
Matter of Fact Executive Producer, Rita Hagen Aleman, a longtime member of the Hearst Television family, is a veteran journalist, producer, storyteller, and writer. She is a member of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle, honoring a lifetime of dedication to the television industry. She has earned multiple Emmy awards and a USC Walter Cronkite Award for her work producing politically themed programming, including a highly rated prime time news magazine show. A Wisconsin native, she is a graduate of Marquette University in Milwaukee, and holds a Master's Degree from the University of Wisconsin. Go PACK Go!
Matter of Fact Associate Program Producer, Christina Romano is a veteran journalist, producer, storyteller, and writer. She has worked in breaking news, documentaries and most everything in between. She began her career as a receptionist at ABC News and worked her way up to producer going on to cover South and Central America and the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Her work has taken her all over the world; Pakistan, India, North Korea and the Middle East. She has received a Peabody, two Gracies and a Front Page Award and has been nominated for two national Emmys. A graduate of Boston University with a degree in International Relations, she lived for 20 years in New York City before moving to Washington DC. She is fluent in Spanish and considers Madrid her home away from home.
Rob brings over 25 years of experience in the media industry. His international production experience spans from Broadcast to Documentaries and gives this award winning Director of Photography & Editor a broad world view that continues to serve him—and those who work with him—to this day. His passion for the moving image drives him in the pursuit of not only those images which are beautiful, but also those that need to be shared.
Ashqelynn Ayers is the Coordinating Producer with more than ten years of experience in broadcast television and production. Before joining Matter of Fact, Ashqelynn covered breaking news as a content producer at NBC Washington. As a segment producer at NewsOne Now with Roland Martin on TV One, she covered the major headlines from the African-American perspective. Ashqelynn began her career in her hometown of Missouri City, Texas, which is just outside of Houston.
Jessica Mathies has been working in television for over 15 years. As a development executive in unscripted television, she was the creative force of original programming for shows like, OWN's 2 Fat 2 Fly, UP TV's hit series, Expecting, and Investigation Discovery's, The Last Goodbye. Before transitioning into Development, Jessica worked in production on various projects for Spike, HGTV, and NBC. Her career began in local programming, where she worked with KQED, the PBS member station serving Northern California. Coming back full circle, Jessica is currently the Executive Producer of local programming for Hearst Television.
Karen Holmes Ward is the Director of Public Affairs and Community Services as well as host and executive producer of CityLine, WCVB-TV’s award-winning weekly magazine program. Holmes Ward oversees the station’s public service and community outreach efforts earning national recognition, including an Emmy nomination and a National Association of Broadcasters ‘Service to Community in Television’ award for the station’s efforts during and following the Boston Marathon attack. A graduate of Boston University’s School of Public Communications (now COM), Karen has received numerous awards for her work including the National Association of Black Journalists Region I Journalist of the Year; the ‘Silver Circle’ Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences; the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association Lifetime Achievement Award, and has received honorary doctorates from Merrimack College, Cambridge College and Boston University.
Stevland Wilson is an award-winning producer, a director, contributor, writer, public speaker, and entrepreneur. In his 20-year career, Stevland has worked in radio, television, print, digital, live production, news, and sports. After spending more than a decade at ESPN, Stevland served as the Vice President of Production for the XFL. In addition to his role with Matter of Fact, Stevland is also the Supervising Producer for the Matter of Fact Listening Tour. Stevland is the Founder and President of Landmind Productions, and the Chairman of Hofstra University’s Herbert Lawrence School of Communications Dean’s Advisory Board.
Tara Cleary is an accomplished audio and video journalist. She began her career in South Africa in radio, soon moving to television, and subsequently founded her own company, Tin Rage Productions. Her small team produced an award-winning literary magazine series, and soon after, she worked with author and playwright, Eve Ensler on the South Africa portion of an Ensler documentary. Following those successes, Tara moved to New York City chasing a long-term professional goal of working in the U.S. What started as a short-term assignment editing for a local TV news station, quickly grew into rewarding production opportunities with the BBC, Reuters, and with the Al Jazeera America show, "On Target with Ali Velshi" . At Reuters, Tara added voice reporting to her skillset, producing and narrating stories for the news agency. She joined the MATTER OF FACT team in 2020. Tara lives in New York City where she loves to explore the many diverse neighborhoods, creating videos of the tours for Walks NY.
Laura is an award-winning producer and journalist, who is managing partner and executive producer at What Is Productions and Exit19, two Chicago-based video production companies. She has dozens of credits in documentary and reality productions, with work appearing on Discovery, HGTV, FYI, A&E, Food Network and many others. An Indiana native and graduate of Loyola University in Chicago, Laura began her TV career as a producer and reporter in Peoria, Illinois. She then moved to Washington, D.C., where she produced a local evening newscast and created Let's Talk Live, the D.C. area's first afternoon TV talk show, with a focus on news and lifestyle. Laura's background in news and public affairs programming continues to inform her work, allowing her to use the power of other people's stories to create greater awareness about the issues that shape our world.
For over 30 years, Greg has produced, shot, and edited hundreds of commercials and dozens of long-format presentations for businesses and non-profits. As an accomplished live-TV director and technical director in a top 20 market, he’s directed countless newscasts, political debates and live specials. Greg holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Ohio University.
As the Assistant Director for Hearst Television’s centralized design department, Stephanie oversees a team of artists that create graphics for 26 of HTV’s markets each day. Since 1999 she has the opportunity to work with newsrooms in 45 markets, but it all started with an amazing opportunity to learn television from the ground up at WWBT, Richmond’s NBC affiliate. She received her Bachelor’s in Visual Communication from Towson University and lives in sunny Florida with her family.
Ted has been a video editor for newscasts, long form programs, and breaking news coverage for more than two decades. For most of his career he has been working in a top 20 market. Ted’s creativity and attention to detail are an asset to any project. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication from Bowling Green State University.