Meet ELi’s Board of Directors and Community Advisory Board

East Lansing Info, a public service news organization, has been a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation registered in the State of Michigan since 2014. ELi’s voluntary Board of Directors is charged with the duty of overseeing the finances and operations of the nonprofit corporation that runs East Lansing Info. Our voluntary Community Advisory Board (ELi CAB) functions as a group to whom we can turn for editorial feedback, sources, and ideas. (Some people serve on both boards, so we’ve combined information about the members here.) We are very grateful for the service and support of our board members!

Sam Hosey Jr., President of the Board of Directors

Sam is a native of East Lansing and graduate of East Lansing High School, and brings to the ELi Board of Directors and our CAB valuable professional experience and a long record of public service. While parenting five sons with his wife, Sam is Manager of Innovation at AF Group, with 20 years’ experience as an IT professional in areas including multi-million-dollar software development projects, project management, and system administration. For over a decade, Sam worked as a freelance sports writer and as a radio and television personality covering high school, Michigan State, and Big Ten sports. His reporting and analysis appeared in the Lansing State Journal, Detroit News, on WLNS TV-6, and elsewhere. Sam’s work in sports culminated with him serving as Sports Director for Life In Lansing. Passionate about supporting young people, Sam volunteers as a youth basketball coach, mentors young people, and is an ardent advocate for youth education. He serves on the board of the Edja Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping orphaned girls in Uganda who have been sexually assaulted and infected with HIV. A classically-trained pianist, Sam has performed at Common Ground, the Loft, and NAACP fund-raising events. Those experiences have lead him to start his own production company Play It Again Sam Productions, LLC. Sam currently plays at local churches and other special events.

Jiquanda Johnson, Vice President of the Board of Directors

Jiquanda is founder of Brown Impact Media Group, an independent publishing company focused on developing media products in underserved and marginalized communities. Jiquanda has nearly 20 years’ experience in journalism, including working for MLive Media Group, Fox 46 in North Carolina, NBC25’s affiliate station in the Flint area, The Detroit News, Pull magazine, and Tween Girl Style Magazine. Her work has also appeared in Belt Magazine, National Geographic, and Spotlight on Poverty. Her company, Brown Impact Media Group, kicked off their efforts in 2017 with FlintBeat.com, a news website focused solely on the city of Flint, where Jiquanda grew up. The hyperlocal news site covers everything Flint, including city hall, neighborhoods, community movers and shakers, and public health issues. Jiquanda’s efforts also include launching News Movement, which teaches Flint-area youth newsroom skills. Jiquanda has served on many panels focused on local journalism in underserved and marginalized communities and discussions related to media startups for many events and organizations including LION Publishers, Solutions Journalism Network, the National Association of Black Journalists, Online News Association, ONA Local, the John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford’s journalism series, the Chautauqua Institute, and the Society of Environmental Journalists.

Raymond D. Vlasin, Treasurer of the Board of Directors

Ray has served in various roles at Michigan State University since 1971, including Dean, Department Chair, Professor, Extension Specialist, and Extension Program Leader. With Arlen Leholm he co-authored the book Increasing the Odds for High-Performance Teams—Lessons Learned and co-authored with Ken VerBurg the book Pursuing What Is Best for the World: 150 Years of Teaching, Research and Extension—Stories of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. He is an experienced facilitator for public, private, and not-for-profit sector groups and is skilled in group-dynamics processes. As a long-time resident of East Lansing, he has volunteered his time in many local and state venues. In addition to being a long-time leader in his own East Lansing neighborhood, Ray served on East Lansing’s Financial Health Team and on the Executive Committee of the Rural Development Council of Michigan; helped design and create MSU’s Victor Institute, emphasizing reuse of “brownfields” and protection of agricultural lands; and served as Chair of the Education Committee for the Michigan Economic Developers Association (MEDA). Ray was designated “Life Member” by MEDA. Currently he is assisting the Port of Monroe in Michigan with legal and economic development analyses.

Maysa Sitar, Secretary of the Board of Directors

Maysa is a political science major at Michigan State University and has also worked as a reporter for ELi. She has been a leader in the Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU), which is the undergraduate government of MSU, including serving as the group’s Vice President for Governmental Affairs. She also works as a student researcher. Maysa intends after graduation to pursue a career in election law. Originally from a small town in the Upper Peninsula, she now lives in the Bailey neighborhood of East Lansing. Her favorite East Lansing event is the Art Festival in May. In her free time when there isn’t a pandemic going on, you might find Maysa writing mediocre poetry in the park, eating pasta in any restaurant that serves it, or attending the latest East Lansing City Council meeting. She’s excited to serve on ELi’s Board of Directors and CAB, learn more about sustaining local journalism, and provide insight as a young member of the community.

Ann Graham Nichols, Public Editor and Director

Ann joined ELi’s Board of Directors in Fall 2019 but has been with ELi since it started. In fact, our first published article in August 2014 was Ann’s report on the bells starting to ring again at Peoples Church. A Buddhist, Ann lives just north of Peoples Church in the Oakwood Historic Neighborhood, where she and her husband Rob raised their son. Ann herself grew up in a portion of the eastern edge of East Lansing that put her in Okemos Public Schools. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and her law degree from Suffolk University Law School and now works at the law firm of Willingham & Cote, PC. That puts her in downtown East Lansing, where she keeps an eye out for subjects for her beloved Ann About Town placemaking column. Ann’s community leadership bringing together student residents and long-term residents of East Lansing earned her the Crystal Award for public service. She has had a rich professional life, working as a professional writer and editor, a professional cook, and as ELi’s Managing Editor from 2015-2019, a critical period of ELi’s growth. She continues to help ELi out with reporting and social media management.

Anaiis Rios-Kasoga, Director, Community Advisory Board Member

Anaiis will graduate from East Lansing High School in 2021. She is active in her school community as co-president of the ELHS Black Student Union, school board liaison to the student council, and a member of the Encore Strings as well as symphonic orchestra program as a violinist. Her sophomore year, she helped to organize professional development for teachers at ELHS consisting of student-led, small groups covering content such as race and mental health. Her main passion is writing. As a graduate of MSU’s ISHALL program she completed all the high school English necessary to graduate by the time she was a freshman. She now continues her English education through classes at MSU and LCC. Anaiis has been with ELi since graduating from the 2019 ELi Summer Youth Journalism Program, reporting for us on government, schools, and more. After graduating from ELHS, she plans to continue her education and expand her literary voice at a liberal arts school in the East. Outside of academic extracurricular activities, she enjoys making music, making clothes, reading, and writing.

Alex Hosey, Community Advisory Board Member

Alex is known for his leadership in civil rights in East Lansing and beyond. An Honor Roll student-athlete at East Lansing High School, Alex sparked a city-wide conversation that led to a formal acknowledgment by the City Council of East Lansing’s history of racist housing discrimination. Since that time, Alex has worked to change Michigan school curricula to include more meaningful material about the history of Black people, including the history of inequities and inequalities. Alex’s public speaking has included events hosted by the NAACP, MSU, the Rotary Club, and the Obama Foundation. His many honors include having been named “Athlete of the Week” by ESPN’s “The Undefeated” and “Peacemaker of the Year” by the Peace Education Center of East Lansing. A graduate of ELi’s Summer Youth Journalism Program, Alex works as a general reporter for ELi.

Thasin Sardar, Community Advisory Board Member

Thasin lives in East Lansing with his wife and two boys. He has a Masters Degree in Software Engineering Administration and works as an IT Infrastructure Architect for Secure Solutions of Lansing. He currently serves as a board member of the Islamic Society of Greater Lansing, Michigan Chapter of the Council of American Islamic Relations, the Greater Lansing United Nations Association, Peace Education Center, and an East Lansing Human Rights Commissioner. He also serves on the Community Advisory Board of the Michigan Muslim Community Council and was a founding member of the City of East Lansing’s Citizen Innovation and Technology Panel. In the recent past, he served two terms on the City of East Lansing Crystal awards committee and as a Chairperson of the Greater Lansing Islamic School. A very active community volunteer, Thasin is very concerned about social justice issues and is a strong believer in civic engagement, working extensively in outreach efforts for the Islamic Center of East Lansing to bridge his faith community with the larger community and foster a spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood.

Anne Hill, Community Advisory Board Member

Anne has been a resident of East Lansing for 15 years and was born and raised in Michigan. Her educational background includes an Executive MBA and Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Northwood University, with professional experience that includes management in automotive manufacturing in the areas of operations, finance, and logistics. While presently retired, Anne has also been a small-business owner, served as an elected official, and been involved in numerous non-profit boards, committees, and organizations. A resident of Hawk Nest and an active member of East Lansing’s Council of Neighborhood Presidents, she joins us with an enthusiasm for the inner workings of local government and how it impacts and interacts with the individuals, businesses, and other organizations that support it. She is excited to join the ELi Community Advisory Board.

Chris Root, Community Advisory Board Member

Besides being a member of the ELi CAB, Chris reports on Government (and sometimes gardening) for ELi and also helps edit our Government reporting. She was recently named a member of East Lansing’s Study Committee on an Independent Police Oversight Commission by City Council and is an active leader in the Oakwood Historic Neighborhood association. By way of background: Chris registered as a lobbyist at the age of 18, when she began working on anti-apartheid and southern Africa issues for a church- and union-sponsored non-profit, the Washington Office on Africa. After moving to East Lansing, Chris provided staff support for the Democratic caucus of the Michigan House of Representatives on a bill to divest state public employee pension funds from companies operating in South Africa. Chris continues her focus on this movement by helping to build the Africa Activist Archive Project. Holding bachelors and masters degrees in Economics from American University, Chris worked at MSU for 15 years helping faculty obtain grants. She now devotes a lot of her time to monitoring economic development and financial issues in East Lansing, gardening, and spending time with family.