Reporting on the current state of The Local

Posted 11/9/23

I am gratified by the number of inquiries we have received into how the Chestnut Hill Local has been managing since John Derr’s departure.

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Reporting on the current state of The Local


I am gratified by the number of inquiries we have received into how the Chestnut Hill Local has been managing since John Derr’s departure. This strong and caring outreach is a testament to how crucial the Local is to our community and your investment in its continued success. 

While the Local’s dedicated team remains focused on telling our community’s stories, I feel a sense of responsibility to keep you informed about the paper’s status during this period. To paraphrase an oft-repeated quote: the state of the Chestnut Hill Local remains strong. 

One of John’s great attributes as a publisher and a leader was building and working alongside a trusted team of professionals. Just as they did when John took an extended leave of absence in 2022, our skilled team is dedicated to ensuring the Local operates as always. They continue to report the news and deliver the content our readers rely upon and provide an attractive vehicle for our advertisers to touch our wide-reaching community. 

By the nature of her role, our editor, Carla Robinson, is the organization’s most recognized leader. She raised the level of reporting and content from her first day and continues to innovate. One example is her recent collaboration with Grid Magazine to provide in-depth reporting on train safety concerns in and around Philadelphia following the derailment in Whitemarsh Township. Look out for more great reporting from Carla and her team.

Marketing/Circulation Manager Leisha Shaffer stepped up to lead advertising and operations functions. No stranger to this role, the board has complete faith in Leisha and her abilities. She knows our community, our people, and our processes. The Local and its advertisers are well placed in her capable hands. 

As important, Production Manager Blaise Brugger continues to do what it takes to get our papers and our magazines produced and printed on time – under what can sometimes be challenging circumstances. 

Our development efforts also continue unabated. There are several exciting opportunities we continue to pursue that can not only help grow but transform our organization, positioning it for success for many more decades. Samantha Gibb Roff, our new development associate, has certainly hit the ground running and I look forward to us reporting on our development successes in the weeks, months, and years to come. 

These leaders are joined by our incredible staff. I am constantly astonished at what they achieve every week and am proud to be affiliated with them in some small manner.  The Pennsylvania News Media Association agrees, recently designating the Local as Pennsylvania’s #1 Weekly Newspaper. 

The Local is also fortunate to have a “working board” comprised of people with varied and complementary talents and professional experiences. They are the hardest working and most dedicated volunteer board members I have ever been privileged to serve alongside. I can fill the pages of multiple papers with a list of their accomplishments. Suffice it to say, their contributions are invaluable, now more than ever.

Our search for a new publisher is progressing well. The search committee, comprised of representatives from the boards of the Local, the CHCA, and the Chestnut Hill Community Fund, has interviewed several excellent candidates and continues along the path to hiring our next great publisher. In the meantime, our incredible team and strong interim operational structure afford us the time to fully vet the candidates. We will hire the best person for the job and not just the first qualified person we find. 

Thank you to everyone who has reached out. We appreciate your concerns, your encouragement, and your support. Your paper is in good hands, and we will ensure it remains so for years to come. 

Joel Barras

President, Chestnut Hill Local Board of Directors