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Valeria Fernández and Lucas Grindley join Institute of Nonprofit News board of directors

November 4, 2022

Members of the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN) elected two leaders to represent them on INN’s board of directors. Valeria Fernández is the managing editor of palabra., a multimedia platform that aims to provide an accurate and honest representation of the Latino community by publishing stories from freelance journalists who are members of the National Hispanic Journalists Association. Lucas Grindley is the executive director of Next City, which leverages solutions-based journalism to spread workable ideas from one city to the next with the vision of reimagining cities as places of economic, environmental and racial justice.

“This was a remarkably competitive board election, with eight candidates running for two seats,” said Marcia Parker, the chair of INN’s board who is vice president for philanthropic partnerships at The New York Times. “We are grateful for the intense interest in the future of nonprofit journalism, and I look forward to working with Valeria and Lucas on advancing INN’s vision of making quality news available to people in every community.”

Valeria Fernández, managing editor of palabra., and Lucas Grindley, executive director of Next City, will join the INN Board of Directors.

When asked what she would change about INN if elected to the board, Fernández said, “I think getting more diverse people to sit at the table is important. I would like to see more participation from Spanish-speaking publications and a push to create bilingual materials. I don’t think as much about change but more about growth and evolution.”

Before joining palabra., Fernández was a professor at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where she helped develop the next generation of Latinx and immigrant journalists. She recently received a Nieman Visiting Fellowship at Harvard University to develop Comrades al Aire, a podcast in Spanish focused on immigrant women, trans and non-binary people’s health.  An immigrant from Uruguay, Fernández started her career at La Voz newspaper and later became a correspondent for CNN Spanish, and the Associated Press. She is a 2009 Feet in Two Worlds fellow, where she received training to work on public radio and crossover to English media.

In his candidate statement, Grindley, who identifies as a gay man, said, “I’ve experienced what it’s like to be excluded by our country and by the fourth estate assigned with keeping our democracy accountable. A more representative media is one better able to bring about a democracy that truly represents our nation.”

Prior to joining Next City in 2018, Grindley spent several years at Pride Media, where he became president after serving as editor in chief of The Advocate magazine and being twiced named LGBTQ journalist of the year by NLGJA. Grindley started his journalism career at local cable TV and newspapers before moving to Washington, D.C. and covering politics and policymaking at National Journal during President Obama’s campaign and first term.  

As member representatives on the INN board of directors, Fernández and Grindley are leading a field that is increasingly diverse. According to the INN Index 2022, about half (53%) of nonprofit news staff are white and about a third (35%) are people of color. This tracks with the overall U.S. workforce, which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics puts at 38% people of color and projects to grow to 43% by 2028. The INN Index also found that one quarter of INN Network newsrooms focus on serving communities of color, up from one fifth in 2020.

In addition to six seats allocated for representatives from the 400-member INN Network, INN’s board of directors includes individuals from outside the network who are known for their strong commitment to investigative journalism and those who bring broader expertise to help INN achieve its mission. 

INN expresses deep gratitude to the board members whose terms were up: Kelsey Ryan, founder of the Kansas City Beacon, and Norberto Santana, founder of Voice of Orange County. 

Fernández and Grindley join Ron Smith, Erika Dilday, Sheila Krumholz and Kyra Kyles as INN member representatives. The public seats on the board are held by Bruce Theriault, Mark Horvit, Ron Nixon, Hsiu Mei Wong, Kinsey Wilson and Parker.

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