Jiquanda Johnson and Ann Nichols Appointed to East Lansing Info Board of Directors

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Monday, December 9, 2019, 2:45 am
Mark Meyer

East Lansing Info's founder and Publisher Alice Dreger is pleased to announce that Jiquanda Johnson (above left) and Ann Nichols (above right) and have accepted invitations to join ELi’s Board of Directors.

Johnson and Nichols join Sam Hosey, Mike Lawrence, Stephen Thomas and Dreger to comprise the six-member ELi board.

“This is exciting news for us at ELi,” Hosey said. “As we forge ahead, bringing on two experienced and talented people like Ann and Jiquanda will help round out our mission of bringing quality journalism to our community. They are great additions.”

Johnson is founder of Brown Impact Media Group, an independent publishing company focused on developing media products in underserved and marginalized communities. The company kicked off their efforts in 2017 with FlintBeat.com a news website focused solely on Flint, Mich., where Jiquanda grew up. In 2017, she launched Flint Beat after the community said they wanted more from local media outlets. Like ELi, Flint Beat is a hyperlocal news site, covering Flint's city hall, neighborhoods, community movers and shakers, and public health issues. This year her team is focused on solutions journalism, the restorative narrative, and government transparency.

Her efforts in Flint, also include launching News Movement, a youth journalism program. News Movement teaches Flint-area youth various newsroom skills, including writing, graphic design, photography, and videography.

“In the brief time she has been with us, [Jiquanda] has been able to bring her vast knowledge, skills, and experiences in journalism and specifically FlintBeat.com to help us think more broadly about ELi,” Thomas said. “I think her participation will help both our communities grow more sustainable community journalism programs, and I'm personally looking forward to learning more from her.”

Johnson has nearly 20 years of experience in journalism including working for MLive Media Group, Fox 46 in North Carolina, NBC25's affiliate station in the Flint area, The Detroit News, Pull Magazine, and Tween Girl Style Magazine. In addition, her work has appeared in Belt Magazine, National Geographic, and Spotlight on Poverty. She has also served on panels focused on local journalism in underserved and marginalized communities and discussions related to media startups for many events and organizations including LION Publishers, Solutions Journalism Network, the National Association of Black Journalists, Online News Association, ONA Local, the John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford's journalism series, the Chautauqua Institute, and the Society of Environmental Journalists.

Ann Graham Nichols joined ELi’s Board of Directors in Fall 2019 but has been with ELi since its inception. In fact, our first published article in August 2014 was Ann’s report on the bells starting to ring again at Peoples Church.

A practicing Buddhist, Ann lives just north of Peoples Church in the Oakwood Historic Neighborhood in a historic house, where she and her husband Rob raised their son. Ann grew up in a portion of the eastern edge of East Lansing that put her in Okemos Public Schools.

Ann earned her bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and her law degree from Suffolk University Law School and she now works at the law firm of Willingham & Cote, PC. (That puts her in downtown East Lansing, where she keeps an eye out for subjects for her beloved “Ann about Town” placemaking column.)

“Ann Nichols has been in the trenches of East Lansing Information since its inception,” Thomas said. “Having stepped away from that day-to-day role, I'm so thankful that she is willing to help put that organizational knowledge to more strategic decision making in the Board of Directors: she is and will be invaluable.”

Ann’s community leadership in bringing together student residents and long-term residents of East Lansing earned her the Crystal Award in 2018, East Lansing’s highest award for public service. She has had a rich professional life, working as a professional writer and editor, a professional cook, and as ELi’s Managing Editor from 2015-2019, a critical period of ELi’s growth. She continues to help ELi with reporting and behind-the-scenes guidance because she strongly believes in the importance of a free and responsible press.

Read more about ELi's Board of Directors here.

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