Rice, Wheeler and Allred elected to LION Board

By Dylan Smith | Sep. 22, 2015

Jay Allred, Brian Wheeler and Traven Rice have been elected to the Board of Directors of LION Publishers.

Three new members have been elected to the LION Publishers Board of Directors: Traven Rice, publisher of The Lo-Down in New York; Brian Wheeler, executive director of Charlottesville Tomorrow in Virginia; and Jay Allred, publisher of the Ohio-based Richland Source.

The trio, all active members of Local Independent Online News Publishers and leaders of their respective news organizations, were unanimously elected by the Board to three-year terms. LION Publishers now has nearly 130 members, who operate local online news outlets in 32 states and Washington, D.C.

"As someone with a passion for local, independent news, I am thrilled to be joining the LION Board," Rice said.

"LION members have been an inspiration to us as we have built our site over the years," said the co-founder of the six-year-old community publication dedicated to covering the Lower East Side neighborhood of New York City.

Wheeler said, "I look forward to serving as a new member of the LION Board. Independent publishers and quality journalism are both essential ingredients for building better communities around the nation. LION plays a critical role placing a spotlight on best practices, sharing knowledge and supporting our members' innovative work."

"LION has been a tremendous resource from the moment I joined," said Allred. "The group's role in connecting independent online news publishers across the country is absolutely crucial to not only its members, but to the communities they serve."

The three new Directors are well-suited to help represent the diverse membership of LION Publishers and the neighborhoods, towns and cities on which they report. Wheeler operates a mission-driven nonprofit known for its deep public-service reporting on land use, transportation and education, while Rice and Allred run for-profit outlets with reputations for creative engagement with readers and local businesses.

"We on the Board consider it vitally important for LION's leadership to be reflective of the entire membership," said Dylan Smith, Board Chairman and the editor and publisher of TucsonSentinel.com. "We're mindful of the geographic distribution as well as the many approaches to editorial focus, for- and nonprofit status, and revenue strategies of our members."

"We're especially proud of the fact that nearly 50 percent of LION's growing membership are women. In local indie news, and particularly with LIONs, female entrepreneurs are among the most active and successful," Smith said.

"The deep experience and creative approaches to news and business that Traven, Brian and Jay bring to our organization are a solid asset. All three are busy local publishers, and we're thankful that they've chosen to dedicate time and effort to growing the LION pride even further," Smith said.

LION's Board of Directors is entirely comprised of volunteers from the group's membership; each is the leader of a local independent online news outlet.

Beyond being a co-founder of The Lo-Down in 2009, with Ed Litvak, Rice is also an an award-winning film and theatrical director and a seasoned video producer. She recently directed a multimedia production of Jean Anouilh's "Antigone" while an artist in residence at Stephens College (Columbia, Mo.), and her most recent short film, "Side Effects," won the Audience Award at the Boston Sci-Fi Fest as well as Best Actress at HollyShorts in Los Angeles.

"I'm excited to help build a sustainable, vibrant network to support great local sites around the country," she said.

Along with Rice, Wheeler was one of the first members to join LION Publishers at the group's founding in 2012.

"LION has been a great asset to our work," said Wheeler, who was hired as the first head of Charlottesville Tomorrow in 2005 after stints providing financial data to Wall Street and with the W. Alton Jones Foundation. "The membership provides a valuable sounding board and support network for both for-profit and nonprofit publishers alike."

Allred, publisher of the two-year-old Mansfield, Ohio-based Richland Source, was born into a newspaper family and has either worked in media or followed it closely since high school. His news background is in production, marketing, and sales; and before returning to media with his North Central Ohio news outlet, he was in the photography and imaging businesses.

"Membership has made our company stronger, smarter, and more innovative," Allred said. "I was humbled to be asked to join the Board of Directors and I am honored to serve."