Seven and a half years after forming the nonprofit news organization East Lansing Info (ELi), Founding Publisher and Executive Director Alice Dreger is taking a break.
After nearly a year of planning, ELi’s Board of Directors last week granted Dreger a sabbatical starting Feb. 1. At the same meeting, on Jan. 26, the Board promoted Managing Editor Emily Joan Elliott into the role of Acting Executive Director and Publisher. Jodi Spicer remains General Manager and Chief Financial Officer.
“I couldn’t be happier for Alice to take this time to dive back into one of her passions, which is her writing and speaking career. This is something that has been in the works for quite some time and I have joked with her about it over the years, to be frank,” said ELi Board President Sam Hosey.
“The organization has really continued to grow and, with Emily leading the way and, getting support from Jodi and the Board, we are extremely confident there won’t be much change at all,” Hosey said.
“Emily is fully qualified to step into my shoes and I expect you will notice that she’s a better dancer in them than me,” Dreger wrote to members of the team this weekend.
While locally known for ELi, Dreger is perhaps best known nationally as the author of Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and One Scholar’s Search for Justice. She earned her Ph.D. in 1995 in History and Philosophy of Science from Indiana University and is both a writer and a public lecturer.
“While I won’t be disappearing from ELi – I am still going to be on call to help with administrative work and reporting as the team needs – I’m going to be enjoying a radical reduction in ELi workload so that I can rest and also return to working on my own writing and speaking career,” Dreger wrote to members of the team on Saturday. “That work has slowly been eclipsed by the huge success of ELi, and I’m excited to get back to it.”
Dreger started the nonprofit to provide news for year-round residents of East Lansing. Since then, she has, in her estimation, “attended hundreds of meetings, reported thousands of stories and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire good people to bring East Lansing the news.”
“I have also had the joy of training dozens of people, from the young to the finely-aged to bring factual, community service news,” Dreger wrote.
Elliott earned her Ph.D. in History from Michigan State University in 2019 and was named ELi’s Managing Editor in 2020. In addition to her editing and managerial duties, she has reported on many issues, from East Lansing Public Schools to public health and local politics.
Functioning also as ELi’s Development Director, Elliott ran ELi’s most successful-ever Sustainability Campaign at the end of 2021, bringing in over $160,000 in donations and annual commitments for ELi’s work in 2022.
To support Elliott in her new administrative role, ELi’s Board also voted last week to support Elliott’s decision to name Andrew Graham and Heather Brothers to the positions of Staff Editors. Graham is also the producer of ELi’s East Lansing Insider podcast, and Brothers is ELi’s social media manager. Both are also City Desk reporters for ELi.
“The reporting team we have now is astonishing,” Dreger wrote in her letter. “They are mission-driven, vibrant, smart as heck, and truly committed. In fact, one of the hardest things about making this decision for me was having to step back from daily work with a reporting team whose company I enjoy so very much. I am truly a fortunate person, and we are a fortunate town to have this group working for us all.”