In the nearly 18 months since I joined Crosscut, we’ve seen readership grow, donor support broaden, editorial coverage deepen and momentum quicken. Last month we were encouraged by a room full of supporters who showed up early one morning to cheer for our first-ever Courage Award winners. And Crosscut’s election coverage the very next week was followed by legions of political and news junkies.
Throughout this past year, we’ve watched the community get behind our brand of regional journalism. Our membership campaigns reached new heights, the Courage Awards exceeded our expectations and philanthropic organizations have provided critical programmatic grants. The Boeing Company, for example, recently awarded Crosscut $45,000 to help us redesign our website to make it more responsive to the growing number of mobile readers. And we’ll have more grant news to announce later.
It’s all quite thrilling and extremely gratifying.
So it is with decidedly mixed emotions that I am announcing my decision to step down from my role as publisher and CEO, though I’m happily remaining on Crosscut’s board of directors.
What happened? Very simply, an opportunity came along that was too promising to pass up: I will become Microsoft’s senior director for advertising and strategy with a focus on news partnerships.
At Crosscut, I will remain not only an active board member, but also an enthusiastic and optimistic colleague with the staff, which will be led by our editor-in-chief, Mary Bruno.
Mary has been such a remarkable partner to me and an inspirational leader in our drive to build this unique institution. Just as I experienced, Mary will have the full support and leadership of our very capable board of directors, chaired by Bradley Bagshaw who has been an insightful and decisive board chair. I will continue to focus on raising funds for Crosscut, supporting grant initiatives like our Kids@Risk series and helping both Mary and Brad when asked.
Our board, including founder David Brewster, recruited me to this role in the summer of 2012 at a time when Crosscut was looking for new energetic leadership. Crosscut is now stronger than ever and contributing mightily to the journalism and civic landscape of our region. The number and quality of our stories have steadily climbed as have our staff and readership. Your support has been a key ingredient, and I thank you for that.
This growth is thanks in large part to the work of Mary, whom I hired in January to lead our editorial team. She is an experienced editor coming from Newsweek, Seattle Weekly, ABC, Grist and other posts. Mary’s leadership, sharp wit and dedication to great writing and reporting were on full view at the Courage Awards, which she hosted. Mary has commenced popular and insightful new series on topics as far-reaching as commercial fishing, gavel-to-gavel coverage of the last state legislature, start-to-finish analysis of the Seattle mayoral election and entertaining features like $15 or Less and Digital Prospector. She is the editor in charge of our nationally-recognized Kids@Risk series about at-risk children in the Pacific Northwest. A native of New Jersey, Mary has translated her 30 years in the Northwest into a fresh editorial narrative about her adopted region. She wants Crosscut to tell the story of a region’s ambition and ideas for becoming the most livable place on the planet. Livable in all ways – great schools, more sustainable, innovative. A veteran of numerous traditional and new media ventures as well as author of a wonderful environmental tale about a river near her childhood home, Mary has shown great leadership for Crosscut and will continue to do so as we develop the next chapter for online news.
Behind the scenes here, Michael Crystal has been our CFO and assistant publisher, once a mentor, numbers man and friend. Now Mike will take on an even bigger business role supporting Mary and her editorial team. Mike has years of news experience as publisher of the Chicago Reader and Seattle Weekly. He recently conducted an annual survey of financial information and metrics for the 150 members of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, and he has also contributed his time and considerable talents to the treatment of autism, as a board member and financial planner of ASTAR, an autism treatment clinic.
I have been fortunate to lead a dedicated team at Crosscut. It’s been my honor and pleasure. My goal coming in was to make a contribution to Crosscut specifically and to regional journalism more generally during exciting yet uncertain times for the news business. I’m excited to continue that work as a member of Crosscut’s board and in my new position at Microsoft.