Chief Executive Officer, Ohio Local News Initiative

The Organization

A coalition of Ohio organizations and community leaders, and the American Journalism Project, have partnered to launch a network of independent, community-led, nonprofit newsrooms, starting in Cleveland. The coalition, which includes the Cleveland Foundation, the John S. And James L. Knight Foundation, Sisters of Charity Foundation, the Visible Voice Charitable Fund, and the Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation, has raised over $5.8 million for the organization so far, and has formed a search committee that is conducting an open search for a founding leadership team.

The organization will be governed by a board that is representative of Ohio’s diverse communities. It will be sustained by a combination of philanthropy, membership, and sponsorships, with 25 employees at launch in 2022. Its first newsroom in Cleveland will have an innovative, community-focused structure, and will work directly with residents to report on and elevate voices and stories from their own communities in addition to providing much-needed accountability and service journalism across critical beats, including public health, education, economy, and government.

Information produced for communities by the Ohio Local News Initiative will be free to access, and is available for republishing. The Cleveland newsroom will work in close partnership with Cleveland Documenters, WOVU, and members of the Neighborhood & Community Media Association of Greater Cleveland, to increase the volume of relevant, original local reporting available to all residents.

The Ohio Local News Initiative is a 501(c)(3)-pending organization will be fiscally sponsored by the American Journalism Project.

Position Overview

The Ohio Local News Initiative is looking for its founding Chief Executive Officer to lead the organization’s launch and growth.

The successful candidate will have a passion for local journalism, executive leadership experience, a track record of fundraising for mission-driven organizations, and a strong perspective on equitable organization design.

Directing this startup’s business operations would put you on the forefront of a movement to make local journalism a foundational part of civic life in Ohio by enabling the kind of journalism that holds power to account, and truly addressing the information needs of communities.

The Role

The CEO will help build and quickly grow the organization. You will lead strategic planning for the startup to build a sustainable, local civic institution. You will coordinate the organization’s fundraising efforts across a diverse mix of revenue streams, and build the financial, human resources, and administrative infrastructure to support fast-paced growth while cultivating a just and equitable organizational culture. As a partner for the editorial team, you will be a champion for newsrooms in the network, maintaining relationships with funders and sponsors while protecting the independence of the organization’s editorial team.

Responsibilities and priorities

Strategic vision

  • Work with the organization’s editorial leaders and board to develop a strategic plan for the next five years. This includes building a fundraising strategy, and defining strategic and hiring priorities in line with the editorial mission.
  • Ensure that diversity is a key part of the organization’s framework and that equity and inclusion are ingrained in the organization’s strategic vision, including when it comes to hiring, retention, compensation and coverage.
  • Ensure a culture of innovation and collaboration between internal and external stakeholders.
  • Lead and inspire staff to meet the goals of the organization’s strategic vision while also supporting the needs of the community they serve.
  • Support editorial leaders in the design, implementation, and management of daily newsroom operations that can produce strong, community-oriented accountability journalism where ground level stakeholders are involved in shaping news stories.
  • Create an environment where editorial leaders across the network are incentivized to produce culturally relevant narratives to amplify the voices and lived experiences of marginalized communities. Hold editorial leaders accountable for producing culturally competent news coverage that centers on the perspectives and concerns of the community most impacted by the subject matter.
  • Work with editorial leaders to build new products that will enhance the startup’s presence as Ohio’s anchor newsroom.
  • Develop a brand strategy to bring awareness to the organization’s vision and increase its readership.

General management

  • Ensure the organization’s day-to-day operations and programs are professionally and efficiently administered, holding the organization to the highest levels of transparency, accountability and consistency; set benchmarks for program spending and delivery without losing commitment to the communities being served.
  • Develop, manage and provide oversight of the startup’s operating budget; ensure that financial systems, budgets, and planning strategies accurately reflect the financial realities of the organization; achieve ambitious but realistic and attainable financial projections and ensure fiscal stability.
  • Quickly build systems for measuring and evaluating the organization’s and members of the team’s progress and success; track and disseminate information about impact internally and to funders and partners.
  • Build and maintain core administrative functions including HR, Finance, Development and Marketing.
  • Manage compliance for all grants and contracts including public and private funders and regulatory bodies.
  • Ensure the organization’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion commitment and programming spans across all levels of program, staff development and operations.

Fundraising and revenue

  • Develop and implement a long-term funding and sustainability plan for the organization.
  • Manage the organization’s fundraising pipeline, including funding from foundations, major donors, underwriters, and corporate sponsors.
  • Build and oversee a development team, and coordinate with the editorial team as necessary to galvanize funding support.
  • Personally identify, cultivate, and solicit new donors, and maintain active partnerships with all of the organization’s funders.
  • Explore and strategically deploy opportunities for new revenue streams, including sponsorships, events, and membership, to diversify revenue and protect the independence of the newsroom.
  • Implement best practices in growth management including the development of financial models for new initiatives and newsroom expansion plans.

Board relations and development

  • Serve as a contact for the organization with its Board of Directors, and be evaluated by benchmarks created by the board.
  • Engage and update the Board of Directors on matters related to revenue and operations; in partnership with the editorial leadership, consistently update the Board on relevant progress and impact.
  • Partner with the Board to recruit new Board members, including members that reflect the diversity of the populations served.
  • Partner with the editorial leadership and Board of Directors on issues related to strategic planning.

You’re a good fit if…

  • You’re passionate about media, local news, and serving the information needs of Ohio residents.
  • You have at least five years of executive management experience in nonprofits and/or media, including managing expenses and reporting to and working with a strong board.
  • You prioritize and have a track record of building an equitable and inclusive organizational culture.
  • You have a familiarity with the business side of a media organization and are familiar with and committed to journalism ethics and working with editorial teams.
  • You have a proven track record of fundraising for fast-growing organizations or programs.
  • You have a proven track record of diversifying and increasing revenues.
  • You have experience in P&L management and setting and delivering budgets.
  • You have a proven track record of attracting, retaining and evaluating top local talent.
  • You are the kind of leader who brings teams together, fosters a healthy work environment, and motivates people to work toward a common goal.
  • You believe that an independent free press is crucial to a local community’s civic engagement and you are deeply committed to journalism values and ethics.
  • You’re passionate about building an organization from the ground up and influencing its vision for years to come.
  • You would thrive in a startup environment where you are expected to think outside the box; you are comfortable in an early-stage organization that will often require scrappiness and “building the plane as you fly it.”
  • You’re committed to learning and inspiring others around you to do the same.

Compensation and benefits

Compensation commensurate with experience.

We’re committed to building an inclusive organization that represents the people and communities we serve. We encourage members of traditionally underrepresented communities to apply, including women, people of color, veterans, LGBTQ+ people and people with disabilities.

How To Apply

Apply here: https://www.localnewsforohio.org/ceo

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