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Freelancers, special correspondents, and former staff & board members of Making Contact


Monica Lopez, Producer

Monica Lopez has a 16 year track record as a reporter and producer based in California. She enjoys field production and working with reporters on the development of their stories.

Monica’s former work includes News Director and Producer at KCSB-FM, Santa Barbara, CA; Senior Producer and Reporter, Free Speech Radio News. Monica studied at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and UC Santa Barbara’s Department of Chican@ Studies.

Aysha Choudhary, special associate producer

Aysha is a journalist who seeks stories at the intersections of healthcare, politics, inequality, civil rights and human rights. Raised in New York by   hardworking Pakistani immigrants, and alongside 5 outspoken sisters, Aysha is motivated by the kind of storytelling that speaks truth to power. She received her B.A. in political science from NYU and her M.A. in journalism from Columbia University. Prior to a career in media, Aysha worked in communications at Doctors Without Borders. When she’s not busy running around with a mic in her hand, she’s probably lifting weights.

Kathryn Styer Martinez,  producer, special projects and podcasts

Kathryn E. Styer is an audio producer and journalist based in Oakland, California. She freelances for Making Contact, TalkPoverty, Outside Online, New Life Quarterly. She was the station co-director of KGPC-LP Oakland, Peralta Community Radio.  During her fellowship with New Economy Coalition Reporting Project Kathryn produced a piece on student debt for Making Contact. Her work focuses on equity and the impacts of race, gender and class. She is on a break from our work to concentrate solely on her Toni Randolph Diversity Fellowship at MPR in Minneapolis.


Emily Rose Thorne, Mercer University student journalist

Emily Rose is a multimedia journalist and writer based in Macon, Georgia. She is a two-time Center for Collaborative Journalism John M. Couric Fellow and Editor in Chief of The Cluster, the independent student-run news organization at Mercer University.

Her freelance work centers on gender, sexuality, social justice, and health. Her byline can be found in The Washington Post’s The Lily, Business Insider, NPR affiliate Georgia Public Broadcasting, Atlanta Magazine, and more. She also hosted and produced a reproductive justice podcast, Between The Bills.

Her articles have been nominated for six awards through the Georgia College Press Association since 2018. The GCPA named Emily Rose a Durwood McAlister Scholar in 2017, honoring the former editor of the Atlanta Journal.

Marie Choi, former producer

small Marie Choi Bio Photo

Marie Choi is a Bay Area based mama, researcher, and radio producer. She’s worked on radio shows at KPFA hosting UpFront, the morning news show and producing features, news, and long-form interviews for Hard Knock Radio, and Apex Express. Marie has participated in workplace and community organizing since she was a high school student and wants to lift up stories of how people organize independently of NGOs and unions.

She is curious about culture as a political space and interested in how people around the world are grappling w/ the rising tide of right-wing nationalism. She likes cooking, swimming, and children’s audio books.

RJ Lozada, recent former Producer rj_lozada_better-cropped_2016

R.J. Lozada is an award winning documentary filmmaker (Distance Between, Grand Jury Award San Diego Asian Film Festival 2015, Breathin’: The Eddy Zheng Story, Audience Award, CAAM Fest 2016, and Tribeca Screening 2017) and multimedia producer who explores and engages multiple diasporas and communities in flux. After obtaining his MFA in documentary filmmaking at Stanford University in 2015, he spent close to 10-weeks on a road trip visiting sites of death at the hands of law enforcement, and produced Passing Grounds, a visual exploration on the legacies of police violence, and the force of memory. During his time at Making Contact, Lozada aspires to bring a visual aesthetic to the radio airwaves.


Kwan Booth,  our former Digital Content and Community Engagement Manager

tumblr_inline_mw2s5bjLHB1qavvzfKwan Booth is a journalist, digital strategist and independent publisher focusing on the intersection of communications, community, art and technology. He is the cofounder of and the Black Futurist Project and the editor of “Black Futurists Speak: An Anthology of New Black Writing.”

Kwan ‘s reporting on air quality in West Oakland and Bay Area hip hop culture have won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and he has developed digital projects and workshops for several media and community organizations including The National Conference on Media Reform, Public Radio International, The Black Coalition on AIDS, Netsquared, the Knight Digital Media Center, The Online News Association and the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy. He writes at  We will never forgive FaceBook for stealing Kwan from us 🙂

Andrew Steltzer


Andrew Stelzer, Special Correspondent 

Andrew Stelzer’s radio work has appeared on programs including Marketplace, NPR News, BBC’s The World, Latino USA, Radio France International’s Crossroads, Free Speech Radio News, and on Making Contact since 2008.

His print work has appeared in The St Petersburg Times, In These Times, E!Magazine, and elsewhere. Andrew was previously the senior reporter and anchor at WMNF radio in Tampa, FL. Before that, he reported from KBOO radio in Portland, OR, and was KBOO’s youth advocate. Andrew has received awards from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He was awarded a scholarship to the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism in Mexico, and has taught radio production classes around the world from Algeria to Mississippi.

Laura Flynn, Former Producer at Making Contact and now our occasional trainer

150e6f8You can typically find Laura equipped with her camera, recorder, and notebook. A self-proclaimed radio and public policy nerd making her way as a public interest journalist. Laura uses the art of storytelling and policy analysis to make engaging stories for radio. In 2013 Laura was a New America Media Energy Fellow and a KALW Audio Academy Fellow. Since 2010 she has produced radio stories covering topics ranging from energy to education. You can find her stories at New America Media, KALW (San Francisco), KUSP (Santa Cruz), and on her website  Pedestrian Adventures. Follow her on Twitter @msmightyflynn.


Sabine Blaizin,   former Audience Engagement Director

George Lavender, former Producer

Nancy Lopez, former Producer


Making Contact’s Community Storytelling Fellows


LateefAward-winning Author, Lateef McLeod will be reporting on his experience as a person who uses Augmentative and Alternative Communication. Lateef is building his career as a motivational  speaker, spoken word artist, and author. He has earned a BA in English from UC  Berkeley and a MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College. He published his first poetry book entitled A Declaration Of A Body Of Love in 2010 chronicling his life as a black man with a disability and tackling various topics on family, dating, religion, spirituality, his national heritage and sexuality.

He is also working on a novel tentatively entitled The Third Eye is Crying. He was in the 2007 annual theater performance of Sins Invalid and also their artist-in-residence performance in 2011 entitled Residence Alien. He is now working with Sins Invalid as an intern and looking forward to his fellowship with Making Contact. Follow Lateef’s Blog

AquielaBay Area native Aqueila M. Lewis has been writing poetry since she was in high school and has explored several other forms of artistic expression including composing, dancing, singing, modeling, spoken word and journalism. Lewis writes poetry in relation to her experiences and trauma with childhood sexual abuse, adult rape and sexual assault and is featured in the documentary You and Me and the Fruit Trees. She has over a decade of professional journalism experience and for ten years has volunteered and serves as Entertainment Chair for the annual Empowering Women of Color Conference at UC Berkeley.

Lewis is a graduate of Napa Valley College, UC Berkeley and KPFA Radio’s First Voice Media Apprenticeship Program. Most recently, Lewis’ work has been published in Sistah’s With Ink Voices anthology. And she is currently writing children’s books on social justice and community.

RochelleRochelle Robinson is a Black feminist cultural worker and writer who believes in the words of Sweet Honey in the Rock: “those of us who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”   In her work and activism, Rochelle addresses multiple oppressions particularly faced by Black women and women of color through critical analysis, personal and collective struggles.  When she is not writing, this Bay Area transplant spends time with family and friends.  She loves to read and is an indie film buff and foodie.



Ivan Maceda Rodriguez was born and raised in Los Angeles to parents who immigrated from Mexico to make a better life for their family. He is the first generation in his family to seek a higher education in this country. When he was young, a mentor told him he had the responsibility to speak for those who didn’t have a voice. He became active in community issues after watching his parents and others in their community use their voices to demand better education opportunities for local youth. Ivan wants to be the driving force of change in his community and his Making Contact story will focus on the institutional environmental racism plaguing the neighborhood where he grew up.

Al Sasser Headshot

Al Sasser served 31 years I prison before being released in September 2013. Education became his springboard toward change, as well  as a mutual support system developed among a group of 50 men at the California State prison in Solano, CA. As one of Making Contact’s community Storytelling Fellows, Al will told the story of how these men transformed themselves and the greater culture inside the prison walls, and have maintained a system of peer support on the outside. Thus far, 44 of the 50 men he worked with have been released.


Ingrid Rojas Contreras is the 2014 recipient of the Mary Tanenbaum Literary Award in Nonfiction. She is a 20ing_author15 fellow at the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto and is in residence in Cassis, France, as part of the Bread Loaf Bakeless Camargo Fellowship. Her writing is forthcoming or has been anthologized in Guernica Annual, Wise Latinas (University of Nebraska Press) and American Odysseys: Writings by New Americans (Dalkey Archive Press). Currently, she is working on a nonfiction book about her grandfather, a medicine man who it is said could move clouds. Her Making Contact piece explores immigration, identity and memory.



Alice Wong, MS, proudly claims several identities: Asian American, woman, disabled person and big-time nerd. As a disability rights activist in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than 18 years, Alice keeps all her work and activism inter-sectional. There is no one ‘disability’ experience and in every community there is a diverse spectrum of understanding and perspectives. Alice spends most days as a Staff Research Associate at the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, UCSF.  She is also an author of online curricula for home care providers and caregivers for Elsevier’s College of Personal Assistance and Caregiving.  Alice is playing an important role documenting the stories of individuals with disabilities. Currently, she is the Project Coordinator for the Disability Visibility Project, a community partnership with StoryCorps. The Disability Visibility Project is a grassroots effort collecting oral histories of Americans with disabilities celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Alice is also an Advisory Board member of APIDC (Asian Pacific Islanders with Disabilities of California) and a Presidential appointee to the National Council on Disability.


Vincent Medina is an active force in the revitalization of Chochenyo, a Native language historically spoken in the East Bay across from San Francisco, CA. Through the study of field notes and wax cylinders, Vincent has both uncovered the language’s history and discovered patterns to support Chochenyo as a living, breathing vessel for modern communication and contemporary Ohlone identity. Find his blog on all things “Ohlone in the 21st Century” at


Isabella ZiZi  is a member of the Northern Cheyenne, Arikara, and Muskogee Creek tribes and the founder of Earth Guardians Bay Area. At 22 years old, she is the youngest member of Idle No More SF Bay.
In Isabella’s words: “I’ve been active in the native community for a few years now educating those about indigenous sovereignty, sacred sites, and issues around climate change locally and globally.” 

Isabella’s involvement in environmental activism began on August 6, 2012, when a huge explosion erupted at the Richmond Chevron refinery, near where her family has lived for decades. The explosion caused over 15,000 residents to flee to the hospital due to respiratory problems, itchy eyes, and irritated throats caused by the black smoke that covered the town. Since that day, Isabella has been tirelessly organizing in her community.

She has committed the past four years to organizing with Idle No More SF Bay Area and their Refinery Corridor Healing walks. Those monthly public walks start at one refinery town and connect to the next, each month from April to July. They bring attention to the health risks posed by the refineries ringing the bay and they envision a just transition to a clean and safe energy future with an economy that supports everyone. Members of Idle No More SF Bay conduct prayers at each refinery and toxic sites along the way. Prayers for the waters are conducted by Native American women at the beginning and end of each walk.

2018-2019  Welcome, Indigenous Leader and Fellow Kanyon Sayers-Roods!

Kanyon “CoyoteWoman” Sayers-Roods is a Native California Mutsun-Ohlone. As the Co-Founder of Kanyon Konsulting llc she currently focuses her work on offering opportunities to share Indigenous perspectives. Her work with the GCAS, the de Young and talks on the importance of land acknowledgment, land stewardship & ecology is grounded in the belief that by applying indigenous perspectives we can find solutions to today’s problems. We are very excited that she is our tenth Community Storytelling Fellow.



The late great Dan Turner, Super Volunteer In 1998, a social-justice activist friend of Dan’s suggested he check out Making Contact. After hearing Making Contact and meeting the staff, he was so impressed that he decided to volunteer his time doing administrative work – doing things that free us up to work on the issues. He worked with us for 12 years, and passed away in 2015.  Dan was an activist and a spiritual leader. He enjoyed interacting with staff and other volunteers, helping out in many different ways, and being informed and educated in the variety of critical issues that we explore.

Lisa Bartfai, Eryn Mathewson special correspondents. Nicolo Scolieri, Barbara Barnett, Alton Byrd, Carol Maddox, Bill Creighton, organizational volunteers, assisting with marketing, stations relations, research, fundraising and production assistance. And all our Other Wonderful Volunteers, who help us with… Research, database work, outreach and distribution, publicity, administrative, development/fundraising transcribing, recording events, translation, english language voice-overs, special events. and more! Get more information about being a volunteer.



Past Board Members

 Luna Olavarria Gallegos, recent past memberIMG_3982-e1401822505869-150x150

Luna is a Native New Mexican activist, student, writer, artist, and dreamer. She has been active in the organization Generation Justice and she is a currently studying Documentary Studies, Archaeology, and African Diaspora at the New School in NYC. Having worked with multimedia and radio projects throughout her life, Luna’s passions lie in developing platforms that empower communities and individuals to tell their stories. Through connecting people to independent media, she hopes to “disseminate true knowledge and decolonialize our lives.”


Dorian Roberts, recent past member

Dorian Roberts moved to Oakland from Dallas, Texas. He obtained his degree in Political Science from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He then proceeded to work in the nonprofit sector helping organizations bring educational assets to communities abroad. Passionate about education Dorian decided that he could have a greater effect on communities by working in higher education. He has held several positions in higher education administration and continues to create pathways for students to become college graduates. In his spare time Dorian enjoys volunteering, writing and traveling to new destinations.

Karen Gordon-Brown, recent past member karen

Karen’s career has included sales, marketing, and public relations, particularly in the high-tech and financial industries as well as writing and producing of  training videos  She is currently the Instructional Designer for the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) and holds an MBA in Strategic Human Resources. She also works as an adjunct professor of business for the Peralta Community College District where she teaches HR Management, Supervisory Management, and Human Relations in Business.  Her leadership in training and development includes 4 years as Vice President of Marketing and Communications on the Board of Directors for the Golden Gate Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).  Originally from the East Coast,  Karen lives in Oakland California where she met her husband whom she now shares the raising of her two sons.

Linnea Ashley With previous work experience focused on marginalized populations both nationally and internationally, Linnea currently works for a public health non-profit focused on environmental and policy approaches to improved health. Her work with Making Contact merged her undergraduate degree of journalism with her with her previous work and travel experiences. Linnea served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in South Africa working on health and education projects, received her MPH from Tulane University in New Orleans and her BS in Journalism from Florida A&M University.

Simon Avakian Simon is a former aerospace engineer who has worked a family farm. He has been a long-term IMP board member. Simon has been a salesman and currently manages logistics at SMA America, a solar photovoltaic inverter manufacturer and is a volunteer technical consultant to several non-profit media organizations. He has worked in photographic sales and technical support and the solar energy field.

Elaine Beale Elaine is an independent fundraising consultant. Her services include funding research, program planning, proposal writing, organizational development planning, and training. She specializes in working with human services and social justice organizations and has worked in the nonprofit field since 1989. Formerly, she was Development Director at the National Housing Law Project; Director of Development, San Francisco Women Against Rape; and Director of Volunteer Programs at Community United Against Violence. In addition to her work with nonprofits, Elaine is also a writer. Elaine immigrated to the United States in 1989 and lives and works in Oakland, CA.

David Clark David is currently utilizing his background in industrial engineering and MBA in Sustainable Management to support entrepreneurial ventures in the Bay Area. He has developed strategies and operations plans for micro-enterprise businesses including a homepower company, yoga studios, and non-profit organizations in North Carolina. In Tennessee he worked in manufacturing for large corporations. He enjoys playing the saxophone, and has performed and recorded with various pop, and reggae groups, and continues to study jazz.

Marla Cornelius Marla is a Projects Director at CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, a nonprofit consulting, research, and training organization providing nonprofits with management tools, strategies, and resources to lead change in their communities. She has served on several community based organizations’ boards and is a graduate student at the University of San Francisco pursuing her masters in Nonprofit Administration.

Vidya Chander Vidya is a Business Development Analyst with Cisco Systems, Inc. She also spends time volunteering for groups such as the Bayfund Website Project at Taproot Foundation, and performs in South Indian Classical Dance groups.

Christine Comella Christine has worked for nonprofit human services organizations in the Bay Area since 1995. She brings several years of fundraising, event planning and communications experience to the National Radio Project Board. She currently works as the Director of Development and Marketing for the Unity Council. Christine holds an MBA from San Francisco State University. She was formerly the Director of Development & Communications, St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County; Fund Development Manager, Community Housing Partnership; Fund Development Coordinator, Spanish Speaking Citizens’ Foundation, Oakland, CA.

Anna Couey
Anna Couey works at the intersection of art, communications, information and social justice, using new media tools and story-collecting methods to re-imagine and restructure power. As Assistant Director of Art Com, Anna helped build a participatory online art space that engaged artists and audience in jointly producing art. She assisted the nonprofit arts sector in adopting new media tools for cultural advocacy, information-sharing and community building as the first Network Coordinator for Arts Wire, a national initiative of the New York Foundation for the Arts.

At CorpWatch, Anna produced feature stories and participated in the development of this digital journalism project to monitor the impacts of transnational corporations. She also coordinated a San Francisco Public Library project to engage high school students and city officials in online discussions to foster direct learning as part of social studies curriculum. As Information Activist at DataCenter, Anna provided strategic research support and facilitated community-led participatory research projects to strengthen community organizing efforts and build community power. Her communication sculptures have been exhibited at digital art festivals internationally.

Candice Francis Candice Francis is with Third World Newsreel and was the Communications and Development Director for the Family Independence Initiative (FII), an Oakland based community and economic development non-profit. Her experience spans a number of related disciplines including: radio and television production; teaching and life/skills coaching; manuscript and copy writing and editing; marketing, promotions, public relations and advertising. She recently served as a writing coach, editor, and consultant on a personal memoir project.

Craig Franklin is a Senior Producer/ Videographer at KPIX CBS 5. Craig’s programs, which have taken him to El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Israel, Hong Kong as well as throughout Northern California, have resulted in 19 Emmy awards, 3 Peabody Awards and a DuPont-Columbia award. The recipient of Columbia University’s “Diversity Leadership Award” for his stories on race relations, Craig has used his programs to train students and professional journalists on race reporting. Craig is currently Governor at National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and the Awards Chair at SF/NorCal NATAS.

Gary Heider Gary is a labor activist who recently retired from Stage Hands Union and has run several successful businesses.

Adrienne Hirt Social justice advocate and philanthropist with expertise in organizational development, conflict management and public speaking; former welfare mother. Other community connections: former Board member of San Francisco CASA; Resourceful Women; Families with a Future.

Jocelyn Clare R. Hermoso Joyce is a professor at San Francisco State University. She is a social work academic and international development consultant with sixteen years of experience in research, education, policy analysis, and program development on international development issues. Joyce holds an MSW from Boston College and a PhD from the Catholic University of America. When not busy with academia, Joyce does some travel-writing.

Jeff Jacoby Jeff is an award winning sound, radio, and video producer, recently relocated to San Francisco. He owns & operates Living Sound Productions, serves on the faculty of San Francisco State University (audio & radio), produces and hosts The Traveling Radio Show, and is currently engaged with sound, radio, and political art. He also serves on the board of The Freedom Fries Art Collective. Jeff has operated Living Sound Productions since 1980, and was previously on the faculty of Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT and the Digital Audio Project at Real Art Ways in Hartford, CT, served on the boards of The Media Arts Center and The Elm City Folk Festival in NewHaven, CT, and performed as a commissioned artist for The International Festival of Arts and Ideas. Jacoby has been awarded an Emmy, two Emmy nominations, two Ciné Golden Eagles, two Benjamin Franklin’s, and two Crystal Radio awards, among other honors. Learn more about Jeff at

Owen Li
Owen Li is currently the lead organizer for Books Not Bars – a campaign of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights – organizing with families impacted by the broken and destructive juvenile (in)justice system.  Previously, he spent three years in campaign strategy and organizing at UNITE HERE!, the union representing low-wage workers in hotels, food service, and other industries.

As a law student, Owen worked at Great Boston Legal Services as well as for public defenders and defense clinics in Boston, San Francisco, and Harlem. Owen was also an intern at the Organization of Chinese Americans, spent a year coordinating a voting rights project in Seattle and experienced an unforgettable year as an organizing fellow at the Boston Youth Organizing Project. As a student organizer at Stanford University, Owen worked with Asian American Activism Committee and Student Labor Action Coalition while studying race, class, imperialism, and patriarchy.

Heather Masaki Heather was born and raised on the island of O’ahu. She graduated with highest honors with a BA in Women’s Studies and a minor in Religious Studies. While at university, she led an active feminist organization on campus and traveled to India and Turkey as part of a study group focused on the international women’s movement and women-led NGOs. She currently works on the Development team at the Global Fund for Women, and she has also interned at NARAL Pro-Choice California. Heather is passionate about women’s rights and social, economic and environmental justice.

Brieshen McKee Brieshen has a background in finance, administration and HR, and has worked with a number of Bay Area nonprofits in this capacity.  As a consultant, she focuses her work on helping enterprises understand the importance of social and environmental responsibility; and is interested in working with businesses to build solid organizational infrastructures in order to fortify their missions.  Brieshen has an MBA with an emphasis in sustainable business and a BA in anthropology.  She is an avid traveler aided by her interest in community, urban studies and women’s health issues.

Molly Mitoma

Molly Mitoma is the Marketing and Communications Manager for the Golden Gate Council of Hostelling International USA, a nonprofit that promotes intercultural exchange and understanding through independent travel. She has previously served as Membership Director of the Film Arts Foundation, and as Communications and Marketing Manager for the New Music organization Other Minds. Her freelance gigs include PR and operational support for Bay Area film festivals, as well as editorial work for arts-related nonprofits. As a passionate supporter of independent media, she is delighted to serve NRP and its mission to showcase diverse voices, highlight the human realities of politics, and present creative solutions.

Nell Myhand  

Nell is a seasoned community organizer, facilitator and trainer with a commitment to finding creative and effective tools for engaging people from diverse backgrounds and building alliances for justice across differences. Nell is a trainer with Class Action, facilitating workshops to challenge classism, and has worked with Causa Justa::Just Cause, a Housing and Immigrants Rights Organization, Todos Alliance Building Institute, and Oakland Men’s Project


S. Ravi Rajan Asst. Prof. of Environmental Studies, University of Calif. Santa Cruz. Extensive radio experience in India. Other Boards: Pesticides Action Network; Bhopal Group for Information and Action, 1986. Other Affiliations: Edit. and Board Committees for several professional and environmental journals.

Michael Rosenthal Michael Rosenthal is an Emmy Award winning television producer. Since 1993, he’s been on the staff of KRON-TV in San Francisco, working on the northern California travel show “Bay Area Backroads.” He is also one of the essayists in’s book, “50 Ways to Love Your Country.”

Simran Sethi Simran is the host/ writer of Ethical Markets, the first national program reporting on sustainable business practices and corporate social responsibility, created by futurist Hazel Henderson and airing on PBS. Simran is an award-winning journalist who produced and anchored the news for MTV Asia, co-created the MTV India news division, and developed programming for the BBC and Doordarshan through her independent production company SHE TV. She also holds an MBA in sustainable management, integrating ethical, social and environmental values with practical business knowledge.

Rita Takahashi Rita is a Professor of Social Work & Community Organizing at San Francisco State University, School of Social Work. She is on the National Advisory Committee for Wartime Incarceration and the Life Course of Nisei Families, and is an Advisory Board member (and former Board President) of the Japanese American National Library.

Laarni Von Ruden CPA and small business owner who has specialized in non-profit accounting since 1991. Other community connections: Board member of AIDS Community Research Consortium; Nonprofit Chair of Peninsula chapter of the California Society of Certified Public Accountants.


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