Both Sides Now – Perspectives on the Border




On Tuesday, October 22, we’ll have a rare and exciting opportunity to learn about the human and social realities of the border—unfiltered by partisanship or media.


Who crosses the border every day and why? Where do they go? How does cross-border traffic impact the economies of border cities? How does it impact tourists to El Paso, Juarez, and other border destinations? What do we as journalists need to know?


Our up-close and personal “Both Sides Now” border panel will feature experts in a variety of fields, folks who know firsthand what living along the border means for citizens and leaders on both sides, and how we in travel journalism can best portray these regions in our articles and blogs. We may leave believing something new or perhaps what we already thought coming into the discussion. Either way, we will leave with facts and insights from those who live border realities each and every day.




Roger Toll has spent his career editing magazines and newspapers as well as writing for a variety of publications. From 1980 to 1988, he was editor-in-chief of the English-language daily, The Mexico City News. While in Mexico, he worked as an op-ed contributor to the Los Angeles Times and launched two Spanish-language magazines, Eco and Quetzal. From 1988 to 1993, he was Director of Publications for Univision, the Spanish-language U.S. television network, and launched and ran the half-million circulation Más magazine. In 1993, he was named editor of Snow Country, a New York Times Sports and Leisure Group magazine. He has contributed profiles and travel articles to, among others, the New York TimesWall Street JournalLos Angeles TimesHouse & Garden and Travel & Leisure and served as contributing editor to Conde Nast Traveler, Snow and Delta’s Sky magazine.

Fluent in Spanish and experienced in foreign publications over 25 years—in Latin America, Europe and India—Roger Toll has also worked as an editorial consultant to publications throughout Latin America and in Spain. In the U.S., he launched Mira! Magazine for American Media Inc.; he taught a graduate level course in travel writing at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, and he served as part-time editorial director for Thunderbird School of Management in Phoenix and for Global Plateau Inc., in Boston. He is the author of Egypt: Faces and Places, a recently published book of his photography and writing.




Turista Libre founder Derrik Chinn, 38, graduated from The Ohio State University in 2004 with degrees in journalism and Japanese language and literature before relocating to San Diego in 2006. He moved to Tijuana in 2007, where he currently resides. In 2009, he founded Turista Libre (“Free Tourist”), a day-trip company aimed at destigmatizing the border city, the surrounding region and beyond by ushering foreigners to an array of sights and experiences typically reserved for locals. Chinn calls Tijuana “a mecca of otherworldliness and humble innovation,” adding, “beneath the heavy veil of corruption and violence, the spirit of Tijuana mesmerizes and inspires.”  He is a former staff writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune, where he covered arts and entertainment from 2006 to 2010.


Jessica Herrera was born and raised in El Paso, Texas and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Government from the University of Texas at Austin and her Master’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in International Business from the University of Texas at El Paso. Jessica has more than ten years of economic development experience including expertise on business recruitment, retention and expansion efforts, small business development, real estate and retail recruitment strategies, and successful marketing and communication initiatives. As the Director for the City of El Paso’s Economic & International Development Department, she works to build and strengthen public-private partnerships to rebuild key assets of the city and help create an environment that supports a vibrant regional economy.  


Mario Porras has ample experience on United States – Mexico affairs on the government, non-profit and for-profit worlds. He currently serves as the director of binational affairs at the El Paso Community Foundation (EPCF) and he is the founder of Sierra Franklin LLC, a binational business development consultancy firm in El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. He currently serves as the vice chair for the City of El Paso’s Committee on Border Relations and as member of the City’s International Bridges Steering Committee. At EPCF, Mario works as a connector, facilitator and project manager between the two border cities of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez and the United States and Mexico on binational affairs such as philanthropy, economic development, migration, social projects, and sports and cultural events. 


José Rodríguez was elected in 2010 to represent Texas Senate District 29 (SD 29), which includes the counties of El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson, Jeff Davis, and Presidio. He represents both urban and rural constituencies, and more than 350 miles of the Texas-Mexico border. Prior to his election to the Texas Senate, Sen. Rodríguez served as the El Paso County Attorney for 17 years. Sen. Rodríguez is a strong supporter of heritage tourism, historic preservation, and community-based economic development.



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