These veterans of WhereBy.Us and VTDigger are joining LION Publishers full-time

I am so excited to introduce the next two faces of LION Publishers — our incoming Director of Revenue and Operations, Phayvanh Luekhamhan, and our incoming Director of Programming, Anika Anand.

Phayvanh joins us after a 5-year stint at VTDigger, a LION Publishers member, where she oversaw vital financial and administrative duties at VTDigger, supported its business development team, and administered philanthropic and earned revenue efforts. She has helped to build Digger into the largest news organization in the state of Vermont by taking on the many challenges of the business office in virtually every capacity.

Phayvanh will work to establish LION’s sustainable future, supporting local journalism entrepreneurs across the country by building our nonprofit business model. As in her previous roles, she will focus on strengthening the membership with revenue diversification, grant writing, among other operational projects.

Before VTDigger, she was the executive director for Montpelier Alive, a downtown revitalization program, and co-founder of PoemCity, an annual celebration of poetry in Vermont communities. Phayvanh’s writing can be found in Troubling Borders (Univ. Washington, 2014) and in the Vermont Folklife Center archives. She lives in Barre, VT with her partner and a black cat named Gremlin.

“I’m truly excited to be joining LION Publishers at this time–journalism is at a crux where it needs all hands on deck to keep democracy thriving,” Phayvanh said. “I love that the membership is such a spectrum, with nonprofits, for profits, single-staffers, and larger newsrooms all playing a part in the future of the field. I am thrilled to be able to nurture all their efforts.”

Anika was most recently the Director of Product for WhereBy.Us, another LION Publishers member that operates in Miami, Orlando, Portland and Pittsburgh, as well as Seattle — where Anika co-founded and launched The Evergrey, a WhereBy.Us site. She oversaw the editorial and product strategy across all cities and helped developed the systems and processes that have helped the company grow.

Before The Evergrey and WhereBy.Us, Anika worked for The Seattle Times Education Lab as its engagement editor, and was the first product and engagement director at the education news nonprofit Chalkbeat. She was part of the 2018 Poynter Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media and was named one of the 50 most influential women in Seattle by Seattle Metropolitan magazine.

She leads the Online News Association’s Seattle chapter, writes a monthly newsletter about Seattle journalism, and has helped organize a scholarship program for aspiring journalists of color in Washington State. She lives in Seattle, WA with her husband and one-year-old son.

Anika will take the lead in building the LION Starter Pack, a forthcoming digital tool to help aspiring local publishers test their ideas, choose the right tools, develop business and marketing plans, and launch their own local news business.

“Nothing feels more urgent to me than the loss of media publications in communities across the country, and the need for more experimentation and sharing of best practices to create sustainable local journalism,” Anand said. “I want to help identify the bright spots that we all can learn from and build upon together.”

Personally, I couldn’t be more excited for Phayvanh and Anika to start in mid-August. Both positions are supported by a $1 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, announced in March to help our organization further develop its capacity and train our members on core issues for sustainable local publishing.

Both Anika and Phayvanh will be at the 2019 Local News Summit, our conference in Nashville from October 24–26. That conference is the best place to interact with a quorum of LION members, which now number more than 250, located in 47 states. Members are both for-profit ventures and nonprofit newsrooms, and they must meet standards set by the organization. They range from one-person shops to statewide news operations.

— Chris Krewson