COMMENTARY: Starting a second generation of the paper’s advisory board

The City of Dayton’s skyline. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
The City of Dayton’s skyline. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

About a year and a half ago, when our news organization launched the project we have call The Path Forward, we realized it was something we couldn’t do on our own.

The project was aimed at concentrating our investigative and reporting resources on several large challenges facing the Dayton region and focusing our coverage of them around seeking solutions the community could enact.

From our market research, consulting with readers and drawing upon our own experiences in the community, the issues we chose were: the ongoing problems in the Dayton Public Schools; the long-running opioid addiction and overdose epidemic; and concerns that the Miami Valley’s economy might not be as robust as it needs to be, heading into the future.

We realized early on that in addition to sustained reporting and editing resources, we needed a way to hear what was going on in the community. We formed the Daily News’ first Community Advisory Board, inviting a group of 16 local business leaders and local influencers to meet with our Path Forward team once a month to discuss story ideas, suggest sources and think through issues.

After working for a year with the first board, we have invited a new group to the table — 22 community leaders including seven members from the first year who enjoyed the experience enough that they asked to return for another year. The new board met with our team for the first time earlier this month.

They heard updates on the topics we’ve been covering, and heard about plans to cover two new Path Forward topics for the coming year: the safety of our drinking water supply, and the state of mental health and suicide prevention services locally, especially for teens.

“The Community Advisory Board members have provided us with valuable insight,” said Samantha Sommer, the newspaper’s Investigative and Community Impact Director, who manages the Path Forward team and works with the board. “They have connected us with stories and people we might not have known about otherwise. They also proved critical in selecting our new topics – youth mental health and drinking water safety and sustainability.”

We’ll share more about the advisory board on these pages over the course of the year. Said Sommer: “The new group of board members is a diverse and exciting group of leaders. Each of them bring unique experiences and perspectives to the table that we need to hear.”

New this year to the board:

Laura Jordan Roesch, CEO, Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley.

Bryan Hunter, CEO, 937 Payroll.

Helen Jones-Kelley, Executive Director, Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board.

Adam Murka, Vice President for Advancement, Sinclair Community College.

Libby Ballengee, Venus Child Productions and the Gem City Podcast.

Gregory Ramey, Dayton Children's Hospital.

Jessica Salyers, Deputy Director, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Maurice McDonald, Vice President of Military Affairs, Dayton Development Coalition.

Richard Biehl, Dayton Chief of Police.

Stephen Keyes, Vice President, Key-Ads.

Brad Eaton, Vice President of Corporate Partnerships, Dayton Dragons.

Gerald Parker, Judge, Montgomery County Common Pleas Court.

Anita Adams-Jenkins, President, Sycamore Hospital.

Alexandra Rivers, co-owner, Twist Cupcakery.

Rick Schwartz, board chair, WinSupply.

Members returning for a second year:

Diane Ewing, Chief Liaison to the CEO and VP of External Communications, Premier Health.

Cassie Barlow, President and CEO, Southwestern Ohio Council of Higher Education (SOCHE).

Rusty Clifford, Director Administration and Operations, Montgomery County Educational Services Center.

Nick Ripplinger, President, Battle Sight Technologies.

Jeff Kruithoff, Springboro Chief of Police.

Rev. Vanessa Ward, President, Omega Community Development Corporation.

Jill Dietrich, Director, Dayton VA Medical Center.

Ron Rollins is community impact editor of the Dayton Daily News.