For immediate releaseNovember 2022
The Reader Institute for Community Journalism, which operates the 51-year-old newspaper, Chicago Reader, has announced its board of directors and officers for 2023.
RICJ’s current chairperson Eileen Rhodes, has been re-elected, along with secretary Kim L. Hunt. New board member Reese Marcusson has been elected treasurer. Returning at-large board members are Alison Cuddy, Vanessa Fernandez, and Robert Reiter. New at-large members are Daniel Dever, Matt Doubleday, Torrence Gardner, and Christina Crawford Steed. Officers serve for one year while at-large members serve in staggered two-year terms.
“I am very excited about the addition of five well-qualified board members,” said Rhodes. “This has been a very heavy lift for our team, transforming the Reader into a nonprofit in 2022, after more than two years of pandemic-fueled economic challenges. We have added experience in finance, governance, fundraising, community engagement, and marketing.
The board has engaged The Morten Group to assist in its search for a new CEO and publisher. The current president and publisher, Tracy Baim, will step down once new leadership is onboarded. Baim, who was hired in fall 2018 when the Reader was two days from being shut down, has transformed the paper’s revenue streams, avoided layoffs during the pandemic, and diversified staff during her tenure. She has also helped uplift the city’s media ecosystem with RICJ’s Chicago Independent Media Alliance (CIMA) project, and successfully transitioned the organization into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
Eileen Rhodes (chair) is the president of East Lake Management, the largest African American-owned real estate company in Chicago, which focuses on affordable housing development and management. She is also co-owner of Blanc Gallery, which showcases works of artists from underrepresented communities. Rhodes has served on numerous nonprofit and public boards, including several related to community development.
Kim L. Hunt (secretary) has focused on leadership, organization, and community development in a career spanning more than 30 years. She is the executive director of the Pride Action Tank, a project incubator and think tank that focuses on LGBTQ+ issues that is an initiative of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, where she serves as the senior director in the policy and advocacy department.
Hunt was previously the executive director of Affinity Community Services, a 27-year-old social justice organization that focuses on Black LGBTQ people.
Reese Marcusson (treasurer) is a former chief operating and financial officer of Window to the World Communications, the nonprofit parent of Chicago public TV station WTTW and Chicago’s classical music service WFMT. Marcusson also brings his experience from his work at Big Four accounting firm, KPMG and his present role at Borst Accounting Solutions. He currently serves on the DePaul College of Communications Dean’s Advisory Council, and the Career Resource Center Development Committee.
Alison Cuddy is a Chicago-based writer and curator. She is the former host of WBEZ’s Eight Forty-Eight and artistic director of the Chicago Humanities Festival. She serves on the board of the Arts Club of Chicago and in 2019 was appointed by Mayor Lightfoot to serve as the vice chair of the City of Chicago’s Cultural Advisory Council.
Daniel Dever is a retired nonprofit executive with more than three decades of experience as chief fundraising and communications officer at Chicago-area organizations, including Howard Brown Health, the Family Institute at Northwestern University, and Children’s Place Association. He previously served on the board of Equality Illinois.
Matt Doubleday is the founder of Creative Advisors, a boutique marketing and strategy consulting firm based in Chicago. He was previously chief marketing officer for Wintrust Financial. Doubleday is a member of the advisory boards for Chicago Innovation and the Center for Creative Entrepreneurship, and serves on the boards of directors for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Economic Strategies Development Corp (ESDC). A graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, Doubleday earned his MBA from Loyola University Chicago.
Vanessa Fernandez is a strategist and fundraiser who builds tools, systems, and strategy that center the experiences and voices of working people to lead and win campaigns. Fernandez is currently the director of development at demos, and has supported work with the LIFT Fund, Resilience Force, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and United for Respect, among others. Most days you can find Vanessa curled up with a book and her cats in Chicago.
Torrence Gardner is an organizer in Rogers Park. He is the chief of staff to Illinois State Representative Kelly Cassidy, where he is helping steer the expansion of abortion rights in Illinois. He was previously the Director of Economic and Community Development for Alderman Maria Hadden. He drafted the historic Juneteenth Holiday resolution and ordinance that would make it a paid holiday in Chicago and coordinated the city’s first Juneteenth flag-raising ceremony, which was held downtown. He helps lead the Chicago Juneteenth Planning Coalition
Bob Reiter is the president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, the third largest central labor council of the national AFL-CIO. He previously served two terms as secretary-treasurer of the CFL between July 2010 and May 2018. Reiter is a third-generation member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150. Throughout his career, he has worked as a labor attorney, an organizer, a negotiator, and a lobbyist.
Christina Crawford Steed is an award-winning marketing communication expert whose experience includes business development, client relations, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and internal and external marketing communications. She is also a consultant for global companies and agencies with Agents & Strategies (A&S), a Black-owned, women-led communications and cultural consultancy company. Additionally, Christina is an adjunct professor and professional fellow in the College of Communication at DePaul University as well as serves on the dean’s advisory board. She is also chairman of the Chicago State Foundation board and serves on the boards of OpenBooks and Girls Like Me Project.