Letter from the publisher

Posted 5/2/24

Six months ago, The Local made a happy announcement. It's only gotten better.

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Letter from the publisher


Six months ago, The Local made a happy announcement. We received a $100,000 commitment from The Lenfest Institute for Journalism as part of a $2 million Philadelphia Local News Sustainability Initiative that funded 17 community media throughout the city.

The two-year grant, intended to provide core operating support and capacity-building, has already begun to bear fruit for the newspaper, for Chestnut Hill and for nearby communities. 

A key component of the grant application crafted by The Local’s development associate, Samantha Roff, then-publisher John Derr and then-board member Carole Carmichael was the hiring of a business growth officer to spearhead our effort to expand our reach, especially in Mt. Airy and Germantown.

Meet Daralyse Lyons. A local resident, she has already sparked excitement for the project, from Wissahickon Avenue to Roosevelt Boulevard. Her bright eyes were shining at a recent meeting where she outlined her goals and her background.

“I moved here in 2009, thinking I’d stay a year,” she recalled, “But I fell in love with the place and I’ve been doing the Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy, Germantown dance,” finding a succession of homes in those neighborhoods.

She’s delighted that her job takes her out of The Local office and into the community where she has been lending an ear to business and organization leaders as well as people she meets on the street or in co-working spaces up and down Germantown Avenue.

“This role is empathy building,” she explains. “I’m happy to amplify people’s voices.”

Her diverse experience makes her a one-in-a-million fit for the job at hand. Since she’s charged with business growth, financial knowledge is important and Lyons began her financial training early. “When my friends were doing babysitting,” she quipped, “I learned Quickbooks and made more money.”

As an adult, her first career move was in accounting, but she soon realized she had a quick wit, a talent for writing and a boundless capacity for hard work. She has written novels, nonfiction books, short stories and articles for a variety of print and online publications, all while growing a personal social media brand and developing popular podcasts.

Oh, and don’t forget her monthly appearances on two nationally renowned comedy improv teams, and her dozens of theatrical and movie roles.

Did I mention she’s a high-level athlete, too, good enough to win a volleyball scholarship to Molloy College where she got the journalism bug and became the sports editor of the school paper. Seeking greater academic challenges, she transferred to New York University, where she graduated summa cum laude.

Lyons has been impressed by the energy and dedication of her colleagues at a journal which she calls “a change agent in the community with an incredible 65-year legacy.” And she’s “excited about engaging with other partner newsrooms,” on projects such as the Philadelphia wastewater investigation conducted by The Local in tandem with two other media outlets.

She’s already working with the Philadelphia Journalism Collaborative and hopes to broaden that relationship, and she’s not shy about seeking the advice of her colleagues at both the Philadelphia Chapter of the NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists (where she serves as vice president) and The National Association of Black Journalists.

Somehow, she finds time to serve on the board of the Venice Island Performing Arts & Recreation Center. 

Listen to her at demystifyingdiversitypodcast.com or onbeingbiracial.com.

How were we lucky enough to land her for The Local? “I stumbled upon the job notice while reading The Local,” she remembers. That notice was placed at the behest of Samantha Roff, the paper’s development associate.

Ironically, Roff also found her job listed in an ad on the pages of The Local. With a generous donation earmarked to cover the first few months of her salary, The Local’s board was seeking new ways to fund the publication and upgrade its technology. Once again, they struck gold with a person who has a unique skill set.

“I reached out to John Derr,” Roff said, “and told him that what attracted me to the job was my experience as a journalist before getting involved with advocacy in the arts.”

Roff had expected a tranquil retirement after a stint as the top fundraiser at the Please Touch Museum, but she was aware that “lots of papers were getting into not-for-profit. It was a perfect chance for me to lend my expertise to The Local.”

The board already had begun the process with Lenfest, she said, and “I was brought on to flesh out our plan. That was my first assignment, then we refined our aims and goals.”

Together with John Derr and a committee of board members, Roff determined that “we needed to expand into the news deserts of Mt. Airy and Germantown.” 

The two-year Lenfest grant is intended to roll out digital publications in both communities while enhancing The Local’s prize-winning coverage of Chestnut Hill. 

Board Chair Jane Hughes has the last word: "With the new ideas being generated by our business growth officer, the board, Samantha and our very able staff, I have no doubt that The Local will be able to attract the funding  necessary to sustain the paper as it has been established for over 65 years in Chestnut Hill, and expand to meet the needs in news coverage for the communities of Mt. Airy and Germantown."

Richard Stein

Interim Publisher