Our Team

ReShonda Tate


I’m a Houstonian (by way of Smackover, Arkansas). My most important job is being a wife to my amazing husband, mother to my three children, and daughter to my loving mother. I am the National Bestselling and NAACP Image Award-winning author of more than 50 books, some of which have been made into TV movies (I had brief appearances in two of them). I am a former TV news anchor and reporter who has worked in Houston, Oklahoma City, and Beaumont. I also work as a ghostwriter, literary editor and consultant, and screenwriter. The first film I penned will be released this winter. FUN FACT: I wanted to be a rapper back in high school (I’m an award-winning poet). My mom shut that dream down. 

    Aswad Walker

    Associate Editor

    I’m originally from Cincinnati. I’m a husband and father to six children.  I’m an associate pastor for the Shrine of Black Madonna (Houston). I am a lecturer (adjunct professor) in the University of Houston Main Campus’s African American Studies Department and have done that since 2004, teaching “The Black Church in America,” “Black Liberation Theology.” I have authored five books and contributed to the Frederick Douglass Encyclopedia, Journal of Black Studies. FUN FACT:  I graduated from the greatest high school in the universe, Willowridge High School, and started as an offensive guard on our undefeated 1982-83 state championship football team that went 15-0.

      Laura Onyeneho

      Education Reporter

      I left the cold winters of Boston, MA to Houston, TX as the Defender Network’s education reporter and Report for America corps member in 2021. Before joining the team, I’ve landed opportunities covering stories for several digital, TV, and print organizations such as the Boston Herald, 21 Ninety, HerAgenda, Somerville Neighborhood News, WBZ-TV, and the BayState Banner. When I’m not working…I’m still working as a professional event host facilitating a diverse range of events from weddings to cultural festivals that have taken me all across the country. FUN FACT: I’ve visited all but two countries that border France, Andorra and Luxembourg.

        Terrance Harris

        Pro | College Sports Editor

        I’ve been with The Defender since August 2019. I’m a long-time sportswriter who has covered everything from college sports to the Texans and Rockets during my 16 years of living in the Houston market. Before joining The Defender, I worked for the Houston Chronicle, AOL, Sports Radio 610, and NOLA.com. FUN FACT: When I’m not juggling assignments, I’m usually spending time with my two children, Amari and Nigel. One is four hours away in college, but that doesn’t stop her from keeping me busy with the Daddy do’s. My son is 14 and vacillates between an aspiring athlete and a drummer. Go figure. But I enjoy every minute and all of the quirks of being a girl and boy dad.

          Jimmie Aggison

          High School Sports Editor / Lead Photographer

          I’m originally from Kansas. I graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in communication studies. Shortly after moving to Houston in 2007, I began doing photography. I covered cy fair sports little league then moved on to covering more national tournaments. In 2018 I began covering high school football for the Houston Defender. FUN FACT: I have 2 kids, one who loves photography and one who wants nothing to do with it. I’ve been shooting youth sports with my son since he was 10. He is now 16 and sometimes gets better shots than I do at games. My life goal is to teach him the business so that when he gets older he has a skill no one can take away.

            Tia Alphonse

            Social Media Manager

            I’m a proud HBCU grad of Xavier University of Louisiana. I am also a guest lecturer there—teaching many of the same classes that I took recently as a student. When I’m not running social media for the Defender or teaching, I spend my free time sending social media memes to my friends, binge-watching tv series on all the streaming platforms, and writing a fantasy novel that I hope really shakes the literary world. Random fact about me: my mother who is a twin named me after Tia Mowry from Sister, Sister.

              Jordan Hockett

              Social Media Specialist

              I’m Jordan Hockett (J. Hock) by way of Dayton, Ohio, the birthplace of aviation. I’ve been married for 13 years and we have three boys. I earned my B.S. in Marketing from Wright State University. My career spans across retail, local news, and the marketing agency world. I’ve been in various digital/social media roles, project management, client success, and even paid my dues in a call center. Right now I’m interested in mastering day trading and coding. 

                Jodi B. Jiles

                ACCOUNt EXECUTIVE

                I love sports and have been with the Defender since birth. I joined the staff as a videographer and accepted the responsibility of doing high school sports and never looked back. FUN FACT: I am trying my hand at being an author and just launched a book entitled “Vampire in Egypt.”

                  Clyde Jiles

                  Strategic Alliance Manager

                  I was born into the business, and have been exposed to the dynamic effect the Defender has had on the Houston Black community since I was a little boy. I received my BA in Finance from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. Later I pursued a career in food as and trained to become a professional chef at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. I had a deep need to continue my education in food so I went to Le Cordon Bleu in Paris to study Modern and Classical Pastry. After graduating I returned to Houston and began a career in food and eventually became an Executive pastry chef at a local café/ patisserie. Covid caused the shop to close and the opportunity to work in the family business (the Defender) presented itself. Once I joined the team it was a natural fit. I have worked as a paperboy, secretary, distribution team member, virtual event producer, video producer, social media manager, sales, and several other roles. In working in those various capacities within the Defender I was able to see how this company truly cares about the people and community we serve.

                    Sonceria “Sonny” Messiah-Jiles

                    Chief Executive Officer

                    I’m originally from McNair, Texas as though you knew where that is. I purchased the Houston Defender at age 27 in 1981 using creative financing by assuming the previous owner’s debt. The journey has been a rollercoaster ride with extreme highs and lows, unexpected curves, and exhilarating adventures as we confront injustices, applaud successes and raise Black voices. Being Black is a priority, yet showing our interconnectedness is a goal. During this journey, I’ve been blessed with a wonderful husband and two fantastic sons. Being the first African American woman to serve on the Greater Houston Partnership and the first African American to lead the University of Houston, alumni opened doors but the work continues.  I continue to build my life on a foundation of service to my community, my industry, or my family.