top of page

Maria Sestito

When I was growing up, I experienced food insecurity, poverty, unstable housing, domestic violence, divorce and other adverse childhood experiences (known as ACEs). That experience has made me an empathic storyteller and ally to marginalized people.

 I'm enthusiastic about uplifting others the way that I, despite the circumstances, have continued to be uplifted.

I'm currently writing the Civic Solutions column for The Coachella Valley Independent and stories of public interest for The Palm Springs Post. You can read my past work in USA Today, SFGate, The Desert Sun, The Groundtruth Project, The Napa Valley Register and The Daily News.


Photo of Maria Sestito


USC Annenberg Health Journalism California Fellow, 2022

The Gerontological Society of America & the Journalists Network on Generations Journalist in Aging Fellow, 2021

The Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center & Columbia Journalism School ​Age Boom Academy Fellow, 2021

U.S. Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellow: Arabic and  Middle Eastern Studies, 2018

Bloomberg-UNC-Berkeley Business Journalism Diversity Fellow, June 2019


California News Publishers Association

  • Coverage of Local Government - 1st Place, 2021

  • Feature Story - 1st Place, 2021

  • Coverage of the Covid-19 Pandemic (Profiles) - 2nd Place, 2021

  • Profile Story - 2nd Place, 2019

  • Best Column -  1st Place, 2018

  • Best Writing - 1st Place, 2018

  • Breaking News - 1st Place, 2017

Report for America Local News Awards

  • Community Leadership Writing - 1st Place, 2022

  • Dispatch of the Year - 2nd Place, 2021

North Carolina Press Association

  • Education Reporting - 3rd Place,  2016


2020 - 2022

Senior Issues Reporter

The Desert Sun

Palm Springs, Calif.

2015 - 2018

Public Safety Reporter

The Napa Valley Register

Napa, Calif.

2013 - 2015

Reporter & Photographer

The Daily News

Jacksonville, N.C.


Master's in Journalism

UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

Berkeley, Calif.

Bachelor of Arts & Sciences

Rutgers University

New Brunswick,  N.J. 

bottom of page