LION expands Board with 6 new directors

By Dylan Smith | Jun. 20, 2017

The new members of LION's Board of Directors, from top left: Glenn H. Burkins, Uriah Kiser, Teresa Wippel, Kim Clark, Rosemary Hoban and Tracie Powell.

Expanding the leadership of Local Independent Online News Publishers, six new members have been elected to the Board of Directors of the national journalism group.

The six, five of whom are active members of LION Publishers and leaders in their respective local news organizations, were unanimously elected by the Board to three-year terms.

They are:

The new Directors include the publishers of both for-profit and nonprofit news outlets serving a variety of communities all across the country, and the first outside Director elected to the Board.

"This is a great move for LION and our members," said Dylan Smith, Chairman of the Board and the Editor and Publisher of TucsonSentinel.com. "The election of these experienced and talented journalists and industry experts continues our work to be as inclusive as possible while representing the interests of the wide spectrum of members within the LION fold."

The LION Board voted to amend the Bylaws of the organization, expanding the maximum number of Directors, in order to seat the entire group of new leaders. With the new Directors joining the nine already serving, LION's Board now has 15 members.

"It was a pleasure to have so many excellent candidates who were ready to serve LION's growing membership and help advance local independent news," said Charlotte-Anne Lucas, LION's Board Secretary and the Executive Director of NOWCastSA.org in San Antonio. "Rather than choose among them, we wanted to have all of their voices represented in our decisions about how LION is building a better future for local news."

One of the members of the founding Board of Directors of the organization has returned to serve another term.

"I'm excited to rejoin the LION Board," said Glenn Burkins of Qcitymetro.com in Charlotte, N.C. "Since its inception, LION has been committed to helping local independent online publishers get the recognition and tools they need to thrive in this fast-changing media landscape. I look forward to working with others on the Board who are equally passionate and optimistic about the future of local, independent journalism."

Although she does not herself helm a local news organization, Tracie Powell has been involved with LION's work to expand the ranks of local indie news publishers for several years.

"LION Publishers supports those who are on the front line of making a difference and having a real impact on real lives," said Powell, who monitors the media's impact on diverse communities with All Digitocracy. "LION is the organization that is doing the work that journalism is all about."

"When we talk about actively being part of the communities we serve, not just reporting on them, I think of local independent publishers. When it comes to our best opportunity at re-establishing trust and credibility with news consumers, I think of local independent publishers," Powell said, explaining why she became involved with LION as a frequent conference speaker and participant in group discussions about expanding membership. "When it comes to producing investigative journalism that makes a difference, I think of local independent publishers. And when it comes to filling in the gaps created by large, corporate media that have all too often abandoned whole communities and cities, I think of local independent publishers."

LION Publisher's nearly 155 members include the publishers of both for- and nonprofit news sites across the United States, ranging from rural towns and urban neighborhoods to regional news sites.

"The expansion of the Board brings even more expertise to our leadership," said LION Executive Director Matt DeRienzo. "As LION tackles how startup local entrepreneurs can grow businesses in what have been news deserts, how we can be even more inclusive as an organization and an industry, and expands our mentoring and exchange of best practices, it's important to hear from a wide variety of voices."

"LION's growing Board shows we're standing behind our founding commitment to growing authentically local news in communities across the country," Smith said.

"These additions both reflect and will help steer the growth of LION Publishers as a whole, which now has members in nearly every part of the country, all pursuing journalism rooted in their communities but coming from many different backgrounds and pursuing a range of different business models,' DeRienzo said. "LION's new Directors are giving their time and abilities to help other publishers reach long-term sustainability, and work with idea-stage local news entrepreneurs just getting started. That should give people a lot of hope about the future of journalism."

Kim Clark, a partner in Noozhawk.com, a LION site that serves Santa Barbara, Calif., said she is "honored to serve on the Board of Directors."

"Local online publishers have a unique product to offer, and I look forward to working together to find innovative ways to monetize our brands, continue to grow our audiences, and ultimately, increase our bottom lines," Clark said.

Rosemary Hoban, founder of the nonprofit North Carolina Health News, has been a LION since the group first began signing up members. 

"I'm so proud to be part of this group that's helping local news work," she said. "I get practical support along with a ton of ideas for how to make our business more sustainable. The exchange of information between LION's nonprofit and for-profit members, and the constant peer-to-peer support, makes this a vital organization unlike any other."

Seattle-area local news entrepreneur Teresa Wippel said that she is "proud to be joining the LION Board of Directors and supporting LION’s work to ensure ongoing sustainability of local online journalism." Wippel was among LION's intial organizers, playing a role in the 2011 discussions that led to the group's formal incorporation the next year.

"Two of the three news websites I publish are in communities with no local newspaper," Wippel said, pointing to the importance of independent news organizations in informing and improving communities all across the nation. " We are the only media organization to provide regular coverage of local government, public safety, schools and business. Every day, I see how community news impacts the lives of our readers, and I know we are making a difference."

Uriah Kiser of PotomacLocal.com in Virginia has been involved with LION from the very beginning.

"I have been a proud LION member since its founding in 2012, and have watched from the sidelines during its formation in a Chicago hotel room to the national organization it has become today," Kiser said. "LION has not only been imperative to the growth of both my business, but it has also helped me to excel in the craft of local journalism."

"Every day, I look for new and different ways to serve and inform my community, as our fellow LION Publishers do," Kiser said. "I now look forward to helping our publishers by communicating their needs, learning from them, by working to ensure a place for all at the LION table, and fostering growth within our organization."

More about the new members of the LION Publishers Board of Directors

Glenn H. Burkins is editor and publisher of Qcitymetro.com, a website he launched in 2008 to provide news and information to African-American readers in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has worked at The Charlotte Observer, The Wall Street Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and St. Petersburg Times. He hold a degree in journalism from the University of South Carolina and is married with one daughter.

Kim Clark is a proven sales and marketing leader with the ability to cultivate and build strong business relationships. She possesses more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience in the Santa Barbara community, and received her bachelor’s degree in English Literature from UC Santa Barbara.

Before joining Noozhawk in 2012, she was division director for Office Team, a subsidiary of Robert Half International, and led her staff to be the top-producing team in the region. She previously was sales and marketing director at the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce, and spent 14 years at the Santa Barbara News-Press, developing the company’s New Media Department in the 1990s and serving as online sales manager before leaving in the mid-2000s.

Clark previously served as board president for the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Santa Barbara Chapter, is a current executive board member of Downtown Santa Barbara, as well as an incoming board member of The MAD  (Multimedia Arts and Design) Academy at Santa Barbara High School.

She and her husband, Woodie, a captain in the U.S. Navy Reserve and a pilot for FedEx, live in Santa Barbara with their twin daughters, Brooke and Sierra.

Rosemary Hoban spent more than six years as the health reporter for North Carolina Public Radio – WUNC, where she covered health care, state health policy, science and research with a focus on public health issues. She left to start North Carolina Health News after most of the other reporters in North Carolina concentrating on health care had been laid off, taken buy-outs or had quit, leaving her state with few people to cover this complicated and important topic.

Hoban took a circuitous route into journalism — after a decade of practicing nursing, she enrolled at the University of California — Berkeley's journalism school. While at Berkeley, she also earned a master's in public health policy.

Hoban's work has been recognized both regionally and nationally with numerous awards, including broadcast journalism's highest award — the Columbia-DuPont, as well as a Gracie Award, an Edward R. Morrow award, and a Society for Professional Journalists Green Eyeshade award. In 2010, she was awarded a fellowship by the Association of Health Care Journalists to do in-depth reporting on North Carolina's mental health system. She has also been a Knight Digital Media Fellow.

Uriah Kiser founded Potomac Local in 2010 to serve his hometown of Prince William County, Virginia. The daily newspaper that served the region for a 140 years closed two years after Potomac Local's launch further solidifying the need for the services provided by the business. Kiser worked at the shuttered daily newspaper for four years prior to its closing.

Before Potomac Local and the newspaper, Kiser worked in TV news, most recently at WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., WVVA-TV in Bluefield, WVa., and served as a student on-camera reporter at News Channel 8 in Washington. D.C. Kiser lives with his wife, three dogs, five goats, and is a founding volunteer organizer at 1 Million Cups Prince William, and serves on the Volunteer Prince William Board of Directors. 

Tracie Powell is the founder of AllDigitocracy.org, which is focused on the media and its impact on diverse communities. She is also a Senior Fellow with the Democracy Fund and a 2016 JSK (Knight) Fellow at Stanford University where she researched how techniques used in online advertising to reach specific customers could be used by newsrooms to reach specific news consumers and to grow audience. 

She's written regularly for the Columbia Journalism Review and her work has been highlighted by Harvard's Neiman Lab. Tracie's early career involved reporting and editing jobs at The Augusta Chronicle, The Austin American-Statesman and BlackAmericaWeb.com not to mention ad sales and circulation management as a Knight-Ridder Newspapers management trainee. Tracie launched Eclipse, a regional magazine and companion online publication in Dallas, Texas in 2004. Two years later she earned a journalism and public policy fellowship at The Ohio State University and then a fellowship on Capitol Hill, on the House Judiciary Committee. She earned a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center and clerked for the U.S. Department of Justice. Having developed some expertise in media policy and regulatory issues that she thought journalists should be aware of, Tracie began writing for the Poynter Institute, CJR, and later launched All Digitocracy. Her work and byline also regularly appeared in other publications including The Washington Post, Newsweek and People magazines. Before that she covered police and government for news organizations in Georgia, Texas, and Washington, D.C.

Teresa Wippel has more than three decades of experience as a communications professional in weekly and daily newspaper and magazine journalism, government public information and Internet publishing. She started out in community journalism, and now has come full circle as publisher of three online community news publications covering three cities 12 miles north of Seattle: MyEdmondsNews.com, MLTnews.com, and LynnwoodToday. She also provides live video streaming of high school sports through the Sound Live Sports Network, a collaboration with high school journalism and broadcast programs in the Edmonds School District. And she offers video production services through the Edmonds-based W Video studio.

About LION Publishers

LION Publishers has some 155 publisher members representing local independent online news organizations in 37 states and Canada.

Founded in 2012, LION Publishers is led by a volunteer Board of Directors, most of whom are themselves the CEOs of local independent news outlets. LION's membership includes nonprofit and for-profit news organizations, and approximately 50 percent of the membership are female publishers. Sites run by LION members offer public-affairs journalism, civic coverage and investigative reporting on communities ranging from urban neighborhoods to rural towns, from major metros and coastal suburbs to Midwestern states.

Along with a number of workshops and seminars, both virtual and in-person, throughout the year, LION will again hold its annual national conference in October in Chicago.

The work of the only national organization dedicated to supporting local journalism entrepreneurs is funded in part by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Ford Foundation, along with LION's members, with additional support from the Democracy Fund, Robert R. McCormick Foundation, and others.