Welcome Cohort 12

Welcome Cohort 12

The Minnesota News Media Institute is pleased to present the 12th 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 12 — The “Class of 2016”

Tom StanglTom Stangl, Publisher // Country Messenger, Scandia

I began in the newspaper business delivering the Des Moines, IA Register for eight years. I later worked in circulation at the Register, sold advertising for a shopper and ran an antique car magazine before purchasing three small weekly newspapers near Sioux City, Iowa.

My wife and I ran these papers for 10 years. I worked at the Le Mars, Iowa Daily Sentinel for 15 years, serving as Editor and General Manager before becoming a Group Publisher overseeing the Sentinel, a second five day daily, central print plant and four weeklies.

In 2012, my wife and I moved to Amery, Wisc. where I served as editor and publisher of the Amery Free Press for a year before being named Group Publisher of the Free Press, Burnett County (Wisc.) Sentinel, Osceola (Wisc.) Sun and the Country Messenger of Scandia, Minn.

Suzanne LindgrenSuzanne Lindgren, Editor // Country Messenger, Scandia

After studying, writing, waiting tables and tutoring in various pockets of North America for about a decade, Suzanne Lindgren returned to her place of origin, Scandia, Minnesota, and began writing for the Country Messenger in 2014. About six months later, the paper’s editor announced her pending departure and Lindgren was hired to take her place. She now reports for and edits two small newspapers, the Country Messenger in Minnesota and the Sun (Osceola area) in Wisconsin. Lindgren has written for the Utne Reader, Mother Earth News, Public Art Review and the now-defunct Minneapolis publication Vita.mn.

Steve GallSteve Gall, Publisher // RiverTown Multimedia

Steve Gall is a 35 year veteran of the newspaper industry. Prior to joining RiverTown Multimedia, he served as Director of Multimedia Sales for the Pioneer Press and twincities.com of Digital First Media. Before that, Steve was VP Advertising for the Tacoma (WA) News Tribune and the Anchorage (AK) Daily News as well as Publisher of the Vail (CO) Daily, VP Advertising for the Knight-Ridder Duluth News Tribune and VP of Sales & Marketing for Murphy McGinnis Media, an independently owned newspaper company with 17 newspapers, 7 shoppers, and an Interactive company in the Duluth market.

Gall received his BFA degree in Graphic Design with a business minor from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He spends his free time enjoying the outdoors in Wisconsin or Minnesota either playing hockey, water skiing, snow-skiing, mountain biking or inline skating. He also loves to draw.

Chad RichardsonChad Richardson, News Director // RiverTown Multimedia

Chad Richardson graduated from Moorhead State University in May 1995 and began his career in community newspapers three days later at the Pope County Tribune in Glenwood. He worked there for a year, then was hired at the Hastings Star Gazette as a sports editor and photographer. He’s worked with the same group of publications ever since and is now the news director for RiverTown Multimedia, which includes nine publications, which are located primarily in the southeast metro.


Reed AnfinsonReed Anfinson, Publisher & Editor // Swift County Monitor-News, Benson

Reed Anfinson is the publisher and owner of the Swift County Monitor-News in Benson, MN, and the Grant County Herald in Elbow Lake, MN. Anfinson is a partner in Quinco Press, Inc., a central printing plant in Lowry, MN, that prints nearly 30 publications. In 2014-2015, the owners invested $1.4 million into putting up a new building in Lowry and installing new presses.

He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Anfinson has served on and the Benson Industrial Development Corporation board for more than 25 years and was a member of the Benson Economic Development Authority.

He was a member of the first Parents Advisory Committee for the University of Minnesota Variety Club children’s hospital.

Anfinson served six years as the National Newspaper Association (NNA) Region 6 director representing newspapers in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. He served as president of the 2,300-member organization from September 2011 to October 2012. He currently serves as the vice president of the NNA Foundation.

In 1999, Anfinson served as president of the Minnesota Newspaper Association (MNA) and was a member of its board for nine years. Anfinson currently chairs the MNA Legislative Committee.

In 2003, he was awarded the MNA Al McIntosh Distinguished Service to Journalism Award, the highest honor given by the association. In March 2010, the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information named Anfinson the winner of the 2010 John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award.  In 2013, St. Cloud State University presented him with is First Amendment Award.

Bruce BrierlyBruce Brierly, Managing Editor // The Exponent, East Grand Forks

I’ve lived the life of an American Bedouin having moved around the United States quite a bit in my early life. Minneapolis, MN; New Haven, CT; Chicago, Il; and Buffalo, NY before making my way to the Red River Valley where I attended school at Concordia College where I got my first taste of working on newspapers when I became the Technical Editor for the Concordian. Little did I know that 30 years later the Managing Editor of the Exponent would recruit me based on my submissions to the paper to fill a vacant Sports Editor position. I gradually took on more responsibilities and was promoted to Managing Editor when the person who originally hired me moved onto another opportunity and chapter in her life.

Serianna HenkelSerianna Henkel, Reporter // The Exponent, East Grand Forks

My name is Serianna, and I am a reporter with The Exponent in East Grand Forks. I use “reporter” as a bit of a loose term here, because in addition to writing stories, I take photos and build pages as well. My position at this paper is my first taste of a career in community newspapers, and I am loving it. Following my graduation from the University of North Dakota last May, I was fortunate enough to be taken on as a member of the team shortly after. Though I have been with The Exponent just under a year, I have learned a lot so far about the importance of newspapers— no matter how small— to communities across the country. Currently I reside in my hometown of Grand Forks, ND where I live with two wonderful cats, Ezra and Renly. Outside of the office, I consider travel, music, and photography to be my passions.

John GronesJohn Grones, Publisher // The Voyageur Press, McGregor

My name is John Grones and I publish the Voyageur Press, a small town newspaper near Duluth that covers four school districts — McGregor, Cromwell/Wright, Floodwood and South Ridge. For the past 16-plus years, our motto has been to Shine a Positive Light on Our Communities. My former occupation was teaching and coaching which I really enjoyed for 13 years, but my true passion has now become blessing our residents and readers with encouraging stories and photos.


Karie KirschbaumKarie Kirschbaum, Publisher // Twin Valley Times, Fertile Journal, Red Lake Falls Gazette

Karie Kirschbaum is new to the paper industry but has been in printing, sales and journalism since 1981 when she studied graphic arts at Dixie College in St. George, Utah. Her career included running presses, sales and writing guest columns for papers and magazines.

The Kirschbaums spent the 1990-2010 working to improve life for inner city youth by networking with law enforcement, churches, schools and city governments to improve options for children and families. They also traveled throughout Europe, Asia, Mexico and Africa working with like-minded people.

In 2010 they moved from his native state of California to her home town of Gary located in Norman County. In 2012 Karie became the mayor and started writing a column for her hometown publishing it in the Twin Valley Times continuing the Gary Graphic located in Twin Valley.

In 2014 Karie purchased the newspaper from Rod Thoreson located in Twin Valley, Norman County.  In November 2015 she purchased the Fertile Journal located in Polk County and in December they purchased the Red Lake Falls Gazette located in Red Lake County. Jeff works developing the online newspaper, personnel, logistics and accounting. Karie works handles the sales, writers and graphics of the papers.

Jeff KirschbaumJeff Kirschbaum, Editor // Twin Valley Times, Fertile Journal, Red Lake Falls Gazette

Jeff Kirschbaum is new to the paper industry but has been in printing since 1981 when he started running presses in Southern California. Through his career he has been superintendent, operations manager and quality manager in a variety of companies in California and New Mexico. In 1997 he and his wife, Karie, started QCS Quality Consulting where they assisted companies with Total Quality Management projects and ISO 9000 certification. He continues to consult in the industry today.


 Debra NeutkensDebra Neutkens, Editor // White Bear Press

I’ve been part of Press Publications for 9 years, starting as a part-time proofreader and moving on to full-time staff writer and editor. Like most of us in the Press Pubs newsroom, I don’t have a journalism degree, but I did double major in agricultural journalism and animal science at UW-Madison. After college I wrote for farm magazines for 15 years and then freelanced as a stay-at-home mom. This is Stage Two of my career and path to retirement.