Executive editor Mike Lenehan left Chicago Reader, Inc. on Aug. 30, and as a result he has stepped down from his position as Diversity Chair on the AAN Board of Directors. Lenehan has served on the board since 2002 and was elected as the association’s first Diversity Chair in 2004.
“I think I speak for everyone on the board in expressing our gratitude for Mike’s service over the years,” says AAN president Stephen Leon. “We’re going to miss his dry wit, and also his common sense. Whenever we got too caught up in the minutiae of conducting board business, Mike was always the one to remind us that we are here first and foremost to help our members publish newspapers.”
Lenehan, who has been the driving force in the formation of AAN’s diversity program, has no immediate plans for the future. He will retain a connection to the alt-weekly business through his ownership of a small stake in Quarterfold, Inc., a company that was created after the sale of the Reader. Quarterfold holds a minority interest in Index Publishing, the company that owns The Stranger, the Portland Mercury and Amsterdam Weekly.
“Mike has been a valuable board member and a wonderful comrade,” executive director Richard Karpel says. “Without him, we would not have the Academy for Alternative Journalism, which he almost single-handedly organized and nurtured until it became the centerpiece of AAN’s diversity program.” The Academy, which is administered by the Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Ill., has its roots in a smaller program started by Lenehan and the Chicago Reader in 2000.
AAN president Leon appointed Jackson Free Press editor and current at-large board member Donna Ladd to serve the one year remaining in Lenehan’s term as Diversity Chair. Ladd has been a visiting instructor at AAJ for the past two years and plans to start a six-month “boot camp” for Academy graduates to come to Mississippi to cover stories for her paper. Earlier this year, she attended a conference on diversity hosted by the Columbia School of Journalism, her alma mater, and also served with Lenehan and AAJ director Charles Whitaker on a panel on diversity at this year’s AAN convention.
“I’m thrilled to take the reins of the diversity committee from Mike,” Ladd says. “He’s done a wonderful job and laid the groundwork for AAN to make major progress on this front. I applaud him.”
Leon also appointed East Bay Express publisher Jody Colley to take Ladd’s at-large seat for the one year remaining in her term. Colley, formerly the director of sales and marketing for the San Francisco Bay Guardian and the ad director and sales manager for Pitch Weekly, has served for many years on the Marketing, Classified and Retail Advertising Committees.