ELi Has a New Board of Directors

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Friday, January 31, 2020, 2:01 pm
Alice Dreger, Publisher

From left: Natalie Rose, Jiquanda Johnson, Maysa Sitar, Ray Vlasin, Anaiis Rios-Kasoga, Sam Hosey, Alice Dreger (Photos by Raymond Holt).

East Lansing Info (ELi) has reached a milestone with election of an expanded Board of Directors and a new slate of officers.

OK … because I’m wearing my “reporter” hat for ELi, I’m supposed to tell you the details of all this in a rather dry fashion. But I will admit that today my heart is filled with such gratitude to our Board of Directors and our Community Advisory Board, our outstanding staff, and all of our supporters!

Before last night’s meeting, I was serving as President, with Stephen Thomas as Vice President and Secretary and Mike Lawrence as Treasuer.

Stephen and Mike have been with me on ELi’s Board since the start, and it is with deep thanks that we mark the end of their Board service. I am happy to relay that Stephen is going to continue working with us as Illustrator-in-Chief and will also serve on our new Reach Committee — a committee aimed at expanding our reach. Meanwhile, as a legal scholar in Constitutional law, Mike has promised to continue to be available to us for First Amendment issues.

At the meeting last night, Samuel Hosey, Jr., (above) was unanimously awarded the position of President, with Jiquanda Johnson unanimously named as Vice President. Sam and Jiquanda both have professional experience in journalism and business and have already been outstanding advocates for ELi. (You can read their impressive bios at our board page.)

Jiquanda (above), who joins us from Flint, was recently elected in the same round as lifelong East Lansing resident Ann Nichols. While Jiquanda brings her statewide and national perspectives on the realities of doing local news in this economy, Ann will be drawing on her wide community connections and acquired wisdom to serve as our Public Editor — essentially an ombudsperson to aide readers who may feel we are wandering off mission and need an advocate.

Last night we also welcomed for the first time new member Raymond D. Vlasin, and immediately unanimously elected him Treasurer. A widely recognized expert in leadership, teamwork, and economics, Ray will need little introduction to those who follow East Lansing city government as he has been a helper in that scene for many years, including as a member of the Financial Health Team. (His longer bio is available here.)

When Ray (above) asked me, over coffee a few months ago, if he might serve on our Board, I was bowled over with delight. As I told him, I would have asked him years ago if I thought he had had the time given his full plate of activities. Ray has agreed to serve on our new Fundraising Committee, and I know the day-to-day staff is going to love having him as a mentor and colleague. His energy and good sense are infectious.

With the shift of officerships, I am taking on the role of Secretary from Stephen Thomas (above) to help with transition from my doing most of ELi’s administration to dispersing those roles, to broaden ELi’s power structure out into more of the community. If you didn’t already read of our excellent good fortune in hiring Natalie Rose as our Associate Publisher, have a read now. Natalie is on track to take over from me as Publisher by mid-year. Already she has made it possible for me to do much more of what I love — reporting and fundraising for you all. It’s been amazing having so much terrific help in the last few months!

We greeted last night two other newly elected members, Anaiis Rios-Kasoga and Maysa Sitar, both of whom have been reporters for ELi. I will confess that I had suggested to the Board that we invite one of these two women to add a youth perspective, and I was thrilled when the rest of the Board suggested we invite both.

Anaiis (above) probably needs no introduction to those at East Lansing High School. She is currently a junior and besides being the Co-President of the ELHS Black Student Union, she is the student government liaison to the School Board, a member of Encore Strings, and a gifted writer. She is a graduate of ELi’s Summer Youth Journalism Program and is currently taking courses at MSU and LCC in addition to her high school courses.

I worked on recruiting Maysa Sitar (below) to ELi shortly after meeting her in her role as Vice President for Government Affairs of the Associated Students of MSU (ASMSU, the undergraduate student government). Hailing from the Upper Peninsula, Maysa is an impressive advocate for undergraduates on and off campus, including at the local and state levels. She intends to pursue a career in election law, and we are grateful for the time she will be with us before that.

So, you can see why I have trouble containing my joy as I report these developments to you! As I said to the Board last night, if when we started ELi in 2014 I could have known this is where we would be today, everything would have felt a lot easier!

I am enormously grateful to all of these people as well as all of you for coming together to make sure all our people here in East Lansing have free access to independent, meaningful, local news and information.

Our deep thanks also go to Raymond Holt who came and spent the evening with us taking photographs of our “resting board faces” as well as our team. Ray’s work has truly been the icing on top since he joined us early last year.

On a personal note: All this makes me feel like dancing! I will be at Fieldhouse tonight, starting at 8 p.m., to get down to the 80s covers of Triple Lindy. Tickets are $10 and I invite you to come dance with me to the success of ELi!

Soon we will also have a dedicated celebration party specifically for ELi and everyone will be invited to that. Thank you!

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