Meet Cohort 11!

Meet Cohort 11!

The Minnesota News Media Institute is pleased to present the 11th Cohort of the Editors & Publishers Community Leadership Program. This intensive, months-long program is funded in part by a generous grant from the Blandin Foundation and was founded in 2005, modeled after the successful Blandin Community Leadership Program.

Annually, MNI recruits editor-publisher teams who want to develop their community leadership and vision skills. The program encourages newspapers to develop and strengthen social capital within their communities, to learn of the power they have to frame issues and mobilize action and ultimately helps them to advance the health and vibrancy of their communities.

Welcome Cohort 11 — The “Class of 2015”

CrystalMillerCrystal Miller, Publisher
Albert Lea Tribune

Crystal Miller is the publisher of the Albert Lea Tribune and affiliated products. Miller joined the Tribune in 2002 as a sales representative, was promoted to advertising director in 2004 and became publisher in 2012.

She started her newspaper career of 14 years as a salesperson at the Owatonna People’s Press. Miller attended Minneapolis Business College for graphic design and has used those skills in creating successful advertising campaigns and newspaper design.

Crystal was drawn into the world of publishing through marketing and has found a great passion in both preserving a record of history and building community through civic relationships and serving the people. “It’s always been about the people, developing the right people on staff to take care of the people in the community.” In 2013 she was featured as one of Editor and Publishers “25 Under 35” on the principles of developing the right people.

Outside of work, Miller is an active member of First Lutheran Church, a Rotarian and a board member for Albert Lea Community Education. She has spent many years as an ambassador for Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce and volunteers at local schools.

Miller lives in Albert Lea with her husband, Dave, a police officer, and children Lauren, 12, and Jacob, 7. She enjoys fine dining and restoring her 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle.

SarahStultzSarah Stultz, Editor
Albert Lea Tribune

Though new as an editor, Sarah Stultz has worked in the journalism field for 8 1/2 years, all of that at the Albert Lea Tribune. She worked as assistant editor and reporter for that time covering everything from breaking news to local and state government and even features.

Stultz moved to Minnesota in 2006 after graduating from Brigham Young University to start her career in journalism. Prior to moving to Albert Lea, Stultz interned at multiple newspapers, including the Salem Times-Register in Salem, Virginia, The Daily Herald in Provo, Utah, and the Deseret Morning News in Salt Lake City, Utah.

From a young age, Stultz recognized the value of the written word and began collecting important newspapers. That love for journalism has only grown over the years.

At the Tribune, Stultz leads a team of five people and she looks forward to moving the newspaper forward. In the community she serves on the Albert Lea Salvation Army Advisory Board and on the Albert Lea Noon Kiwanis Club.

She and her husband, Jason, have two children, Sophie, 7, and Landon, 3. When she’s not working, Stultz enjoys gardening and home decorating.

Steve PrinsenSteve Prinsen, Publisher
Annandale Advocate

Steve Prinsen is publisher of the Annandale Advocate. He and his wife Sharon Schumacher purchased the newspaper in 1990. Prior to that, Steve was publisher of the Pine City Pioneer for five-plus years, and prior to that he worked more than five years at two weekly newspapers as a reporter and sales representative. Sharon also works in administration and sales at the Advocate.

Steve is an English composition major and has a strong sales background. This is his second Blandin Community Leadership training; he participated in the program in 2007.

Steve and Sharon have a grown son, Trevor, who lives and works in the Twin Cities, and a daughter, Stephanie, who is a chemistry major at the College of St. Scholastica, Duluth. She is completing her junior year.

When they are not working at the paper, Steve and Sharon enjoy outdoor activities like running, boating and yard work. They also enjoying spending time with their family.

PaulDownerPaul Downer, Managing Editor
Annandale Advocate

Paul Downer is the managing editor of the Annandale Advocate.

After graduating from Luther College in 2007 with degrees in English and history, Downer’s newspaper career began in Norwood-Young America, where he was the community editor of the Times. That position with American Community Newspapers – later ECM Publishers – included managing the full spectrum of newspaper coverage, from sports and city council meetings to producing and laying out special sections, area guides and the quarterly Carver County Living magazine.

In 2013 Downer moved to the Advocate, where he focuses primarily on news and features, while managing the news department. Downer is responsible for news and editorial content as well as layout, along with many other duties.

He lives in Annandale with his wife Kayla, daughter Elise, 4, and son Isaac, 1.

Outside of work, Downer enjoys playing baseball, softball and hockey, taking the kids to the park, working in the garden and generally getting outdoors as much as possible.

Mary BrenkMary Brenk, Publisher
Detroit Lakes Tribune

Mary Brenk was recently named publisher of the Detroit Lakes Tribune, as well as the Park Rapids Enterprise. She is looking forward to the new challenge and is grateful for the dedicated and talented  co-workers at both locations.

When Forum Communications purchased the Lake Area Press shopper in 1992, Brenk joined the advertising team at the Detroit Lakes Newspapers before being named ad manager in 2005.

Brenk lives in Detroit Lakes with her husband, Detroit Lakes Mayor Matt Brenk. Together they have five children — Devon, Jake, Christopher, Eric and Jess. They also have three grandchildren—Merida, Aiden and Zach.

pippi mayfieldPippi Mayfield, Editor
Detroit Lakes Tribune

I am the editor of Detroit Lakes Newspapers, where I have worked for more than 12 years as a reporter and news editor before being named editor in March of this year. I started my journalism career in college at Minnesota State University Moorhead, having so much fun at the college newspaper. Then again, it was college right? When I got to college, I knew I wanted a profession in writing, but I wasn’t sure I could write an immediate best-selling novel, so I chose mass communications, with emphasis on print and photo journalism.

After graduation, I worked a few months writing obituaries and then serving as editor at a small town paper in North Dakota. Happy to be back on my home turf, I took the reporter job at DL Newspaper after a phone interview. Since then I have been enjoying every aspect of journalism, even government meetings.

I live in the area with my 8-year-old daughter, Charlie, and a bunch of pets. I also serve as president of the Becker County Historical Society board of directors.

JodyHansonJody Hanson, Publisher
Echo Press, Alexandria 

Jody Hanson is the Publisher of the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria and The Osakis Review as well as the Publisher of the Forum Communications Lakes Group including Wadena, Morris, Perham, Detroit Lakes and Park Rapids.  She joined the company thirty years ago as a sales representative and later sales manager, a position included in her responsibilities as publisher today.

Hanson served on the Minnesota Newspaper Assn board of directors for eight years and as president for two consecutive terms.  Other civic organizations she has served include Rotary, Alexandria Community Foundation, United Way, Alexandria Chamber of Commerce and Chamber Ambassadors.

As a lifelong resident of Douglas County, she and her husband, Steve, live close to Alexandria on Big Chippewa Lake where they enjoy the treasured visits of their grandchildren Emma, Stella and Jack.

Tara BitzanTara Bitzan, Editor
Echo Press, Alexandria 

Tara Bitzan is the editor at the Echo Press in Alexandria. She first came to the company as a college intern in the summer of 1991. She was hired on as a full-time news reporter that September, and later became the Life and Special Projects editor. After 23 years with the company, she moved into the role of editor in April 2014.

A lifelong resident of Douglas County, Tara graduated from Brandon High School. She attended Moorhead State University where she earned a bachelor of arts degree with a dual major in mass communications and English, and a minor in Scandinavian Studies.

She and her husband Dennis and their two daughters live on a farm near Alexandria.

MarkRoyMark Roy, Publisher/General Manager
Grand Rapids Herald-Review

Upon graduating from Bemidji State University, Roy joined the Grand Rapids Manney’s Shopper as a sales consultant in 1984.

Promoted to Grand Rapids zone manager and national sales consultant in 1987, Roy served in that position until 1996. After the merger of the

Murphy Newspapers and McGinnis Publications in 1996, Roy was named corporate sales manager of Manney’s Shopper. In 2004, Roy took over as general manager of Manney’s Shopper.

With the merger of Manney’s Shopper and area newspapers in 2009, Roy was named regional sales director For Hibbing, Chisholm, Virginia, Grand Rapids and Walker newspapers/shoppers. In September 2013, Roy took over as publisher/general manager of the Grand Rapids Herald-Review.

“I attended my first MNA conference several years ago as a Minnesota Free Paper Association board member and have enjoyed networking every year since, “said Roy.

“Although most of my career has been on the sales and financial side of the business, I have found the past year and a half exciting as I continue to work and learn the editorial side of this great industry.”

BrittaArendtBritta Arendt, Editor
Grand Rapids Herald-Review 

Britta Arendt first fell in love with community journalism as an intern for two summers at her hometown newspaper, the Grand Rapids Herald-Review. After attending the University of Minnesota, majoring in Creative Writing, Arendt worked for the Bookmen, Inc., a national book wholesaler in Minneapolis, before the opportunity presented itself for her to move back to the northwoods with her husband and daughter. Serendipitously, not long after, a reporter position opened up at the Herald-Review and Arendt was hired full-time at the newspaper that started her career.

In 2005, Arendt took on the editor’s desk. This is Arendt’s second time through the Editor and Publisher Leadership Program. She completed the program in 2007 with the former publisher of the Herald-Review and recently graduated from the Blandin Foundation’s Community Leadership Program in October, 2014.

“I look forward to engaging in E&P again with another cohort of fellow newspaper colleagues. This program is so valuable for learning how we as community journalists can provide leadership and inspiration. I also completely enjoy the opportunity to network.”

Arendt lives with her husband and children, ages 14 and 6, near Pokegama Lake in Grand Rapids.

Kari SundbergKari Sundberg, Editor
Grygla Eagle

Kari Sundberg is the editor of the Grygla Eagle. She has only been in the newspaper business for two years. Previously, she worked as an assistant to the Athletic Director at Northland Community & Technical College in Thief River Falls. The 2-hour commute each day was growing old and Kari was looking for something closer to home. Having no background experience or education in the journalism field (other than one public speaking class and a couple of writing classes in college), she felt ready to take on the challenge. She has always said her dream job would consist of being a news anchor on television; the Grygla Eagle Newspaper seemed like the next best thing! Her friends and family knew it’d be a great fit, too, as they always say Kari wants to know everything about everything and has the ability to talk to a complete stranger for hours.

In a town of just over 200 people, the Grygla Eagle has just the one employee so Kari wears many different hats. She gets to explore her creative side by hunting and gathering stories to share and still is in awe that she gets paid to attend events and write about them! She will admit, however, that she knows nothing about cameras and is surprised her photos turn out as decent as they do.

Kari says the last two years have been great but feels there is always room for improvement. She is looking forward to meeting and talking to other editors and being introduced to new ideas to bring home and apply to the weekly paper.

Kari and her husband, Robert, have two children; Sheldin is in fourth grade and Anna is in second grade. She loves to read, drink coffee, play piano, go camping and bear hunt. Her 3 goals in life are to raise happy and kind children…live on a lake…and write a fictional novel – preferably a best seller.

KevinCederstromKevin Cederstrom, Editor
Park Rapids Enterprise

Kevin Cederstrom is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise in Park Rapids, Minn.

Cederstrom started in March of this year and comes to Park Rapids from southwestern North Dakota where he worked as a freelance photojournalist for Forum Communications publications and other national and regional media organizations.

Prior to his freelance career, Cederstrom worked as editor of the New York Mills Herald and East Otter Tail Focus (Perham Focus), both Forum Communications newspapers.

After graduating from North Dakota State University in 1996 with a mass communications and photojournalism degree, Cederstrom has built a career in newspapers, which include Minnesota weeklies and North Dakota dailies.

Interested in joining the program next year? To apply, editor-publisher teams interested in being considered for the program should send an email to Lisa Hills at or Sarah Bauer at