• Leyla Santiago is a Mexican-American news reporter for CNN.
• She has won two Emmy Awards for her work.
• She has a twin sibling and family in Mexico and Puerto Rico.
• She is married to freelance video journalist Zac Gooch.
• Her net worth is estimated to be over $1.5 million.


Leyla Santiago is a noted Mexican-American news reporter working on CNN. She is a very experienced journalist, and has even won an Emmy Award for one of her correspondent’s articles. Let’s find out more about Leyla’s family, husband, salary, net worth, etc.

Early life, family

Leyla Michelle Mangual-Santiago was born on 12 July 1980 in Mexico, but her family moved to the USA when she was a little child, with her twin siblings, a sister and a brother. Her relatives live in Mexico and Corozal, Puerto Rico, and she speaks both English and Spanish fluently. Leyla has never mentioned any detailed information about her parents, so their names, ages and professions are unknown. Now Leyla’s parents and her aunt Hilda live in Corozal, and suffered the effects of Hurricane Maria in 2018, which destroyed almost all plantain farms across the island. So Leyla’s aunt had to deal with food issues as the country needed to import products such as bananas and plantain to feed the people.


Leyla matriculated from a local high school in 1998, after which she entered the University of Florida, graduating with a BA in Journalism and Broadcasting in 2001.

Leyla Santiago


Leyla got her first job right after her graduation, offered the position of a morning anchor for KBAK/KBFX based in Bakersfield, California. Then Leyla got another job offer to become a reporter for KTUU in Anchorage, Alaska. Later she held the same position for NBC29 based in Charlottesville, Virginia. For her coverage of California wildfires in 2010, Leyla won her first Emmy Award, and the Associated Press gifted Leyla with the Mark Twain Award in 2011 as the best anchor. She won her second Emmy Award in 2014 for her coverage of the winter storm in Raleigh, North Carolina while she was actually working in Raleigh – she held the position of an anchor and reporter at WRAL.

During the same period, Leyla along with her team won the legendary Alfred I. DuPont Award for their documentary “The Journey Alone”, which told the story of illegal immigrants trying to enter the US from Mexico and Central America. Leyla herself traveled to the Rio Grande Valley, and followed the path which immigrants with children were taking. She also managed to estimate the impact of the immigration rise in North Carolina.

In 2016 Leyla joined CNN network, continuing to report on new weather disasters. She covered the consequence of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, which led her to more journalistic recognition – she was nominated for the Peabody Award and for the Edward R. Murrow Award (for CNN). Leyla’s contribution to the investigation into the death toll can hardly be undervalued: she was one of the first journalists who reached the furthest parts of the island and gathered more facts about the death toll. The US government had to add more cases to the official statistics and lists of the hurricane victims.

In April 2019 Leyla performed another journalistic investigation, again traveling through Mexico with migrants in their so-called caravan. The trip took about a month, and during this period of time Leyla heard and recorded the stories of the wishful migrants, their issues, and the complicated cases of immigration.

As for the moment, Leyla is still a reporter and a correspondent for CNN in Mexico City.

Personal life, husband Zac Gooch

Leyla is married to Zac Gooch, a freelance video journalist, who grew up in Virginia and has lived in several countries, and now works with Leyla in her team as a photographer and videographer. They met in 2003 during their work at NBC29 in Charlottesville, Virginia, and haven’t parted since then, even working together at the same projects, including coverage of the hurricanes’ aftermaths. An alumni of Piedmont Virginia Community College, Zac is always in search of more work to expand his experience in valuable projects. He was the NPPA Best Documentary runner-up in 2011, and ater he became the chief photographer for KBAK-TV. Leyla and Zac don’t have any children yet. He has a personal site and an Instagram account on which he shares his photography works.

Hobbies and interesting facts

Leyla loves visiting cafes and restaurants and often enjoys a cup of cappuccino when she has a spare minute to rest. She and her husband Zac try to have active vacations, and often travel and go hiking. Leyla is also a big cat-lover.

Social media presence

Leyla is very active on various social media platforms. She has an Instagram account which is followed by more than 3,200 subscribers, and a Facebook profile which is ‘liked’ and followed by more than 10,500 people. She often posts on her Twitter  account, and mostly uses it to promote Beto O’Rourke’s campaign, who is now seeking support for the Democratic nomination for President of the US in the 2020 election. CNN often invites him for interviews and morning news shows, so Leyla actively shares those episodes with the audience.


Leyla has middle-length dark-brown hair and dark-brown eyes. She is 5ft 5ins (1.67m) tall and weighs around 120lbs (55kgs). She has a very slim figure since she prefers a healthy diet to sweet desserts. However, she once shared she doesn’t have much time for going to the gym, so she tried to eat healthy to keep her body fit. As for her clothing style, she prefers casual looks, wearing plain dresses, comfortable jeans and T-shirts when she is not in front of the cameras.

Net worth

Leyla’s net worth is estimated by authoritative sources to be over $1.5 million, and as a senior reporter and anchor who works for , can earn up to $185,000 a year. We are sure her net worth is going to grow in the future, since she continues working hard.

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

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