THE PATH FORWARD: The people helping us listen and learn

When the Dayton Daily News launched its “Path Forward” project earlier this year to examine some of the toughest issues facing our region, we knew we had to try to do some things differently to get the results we hoped to achieve.

We formed a team of reporters and editors who were given the task of focusing for a long-term, sustained time on specific local challenges that readers and our research told us were calling out for solutions-based coverage.

Those issues: the problems facing the Dayton Public Schools; how the region can shift its reputation as the overdose capital; and how to create a more robust local economy as we move into the future.

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We knew we had the right staff in place to tackle these, but we wanted to make their work more closely connected to the community as they sought ideas and answers. So we convened something that was a first for our paper – a council of thinkers and leaders who could help us as we went.

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The Dayton Daily News Community Advisory Board consists of 16 people who represent a diverse range of professions, backgrounds and interests, but who all share an interest in helping make this a better place to live and work.

The board first gathered in June and has met monthly since. Members have followed the Path Forward stories we’ve produced and offered their perspective on where our reporters should go next, suggesting story ideas, sources and lines of inquiry. We’ve been pleased how much their insights have shaped our thinking and coverage.

One example: The lively discussion among board members in response to the PBS “Frontline” program earlier this year that focused hard on Dayton’s issues with poverty and drugs. Several board members said they were disappointed by what struck them as an unbalanced portrayal of the city – lingering on problems, while ignoring attempts to address them.

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Others felt the Frontline show was an urgent call to action, and were grateful that it showed the city’s challenges plainly. “We need to stop being so fragile about who we are,” one said, “and we don’t talk holistically about ourselves. How do you change something if you don’t think it’s yours?”

That sentiment is the very idea behind why we created the Path Forward initiative, and why we’re committed to helping find solutions to these community concerns. We’re grateful to the advisory board members who’ve volunteered to help us.

We’ll keep you up to date on the board and its work in the coming months.

THE DAYTON DAILY NEWS COMMUNITY ADVISORY BOARD

Cassie Barlow, Chief Operating Officer at the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education.

Raphael Carranza, Board Chair at UpDayton.

Rusty Clifford, Director of Administration & Operations at the Montgomery County Educational Service Center.

Rob Connelly, President and CEO of Henny Penny.

Juanita Darden-Jones, Owner/Manager of the Third Perk Coffeehouse & Wine Bar and an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Sinclair Community College.

Jill Dietrich, CEO at the Dayton VA Medical Center.

Diane Ewing, Senior Vice President & Chief Communication Officer at Premier Health.

Doug Fecher, President/CEO at Wright Patt Credit Union.

Deb Feldman, President and CEO at Dayton Children’s Hospital.

Steve Haller, Greene County Prosecutor.

Shannon Isom, CEO at Dayton YWCA.

Jeff Kruithoff, Springboro Chief of Police.

George Lewis, President at Kettering Physicians Network.

Nick Ripplinger, Co-Founder & President at Battle Sight Technologies.

Vanessa Ward, Co-Pastor at Omega Baptist Church.

Kevin Weckesser, Director at Brixey & Meyer Inc.

READ MORE of our Path Forward stories and content.

Ron Rollins is the newspaper’s community impact editor, and edits the Ideas & Voices pages.

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