Founding Board Richard Bugarske is a retired educator and free press advocate. Beginning with Sonoma County Head Start, he taught at Starr School in Windsor for 14 years then worked as a teacher, principal and superintendent in Healdsburg until his retirement in 2008. Bugarske served as a School Board member, Parks and Recreation Commissioner and is currently a member of the regional Climate Action Advisory Committee. He is also active in many local nonprofits. Bugarske’s belief that local newspapers are pillars of our communities may have begun at age 11 as a paperboy delivering newspapers in rural Wisconsin.
After serving in the Army, Bugarske ventured west, fell in love with Sonoma County and with his wife, Claudia Berndt with whom he began a family. Educating in these communities has wedded Richard to the children, families and the rich local history of Sonoma County. Bugarske believes much of what we hold dear has been chronicled in our local newspapers. They tell the stories of our past, inform us honestly and locally about our present, and are part of the glue that allows us to come together and thrive as communities. Newspapers are democratic anchors we cannot lose.
Marie Gewirtz’s career in marketing, brand development and public relations in the wine and specialty food industries has spanned nearly four decades and almost as many continents. Early in her career she learned the importance of community. At the core of community is journalism. With thorough research and commitment to truth, journalists were often partners in providing readers with information that helped build enduring brands.
Raised to believe that democracy is dependent upon a free press and that education is the bedrock of the free world, Gewirtz taught Marketing & PR at Santa Rosa Junior College for 28 years as an adjunct teacher and at Sonoma State University. She has served on many boards including the Healdsburg Boys & Girls Club and Sonoma County Harvest Fair and pens the Wine Words column for her local newspapers. The mission of Marie Gewirtz Marketing and Public Relations is to preserve agriculture as a lifestyle. Working to ensure a sustainable future for local journalism has become her new passion. Marie lives in Healdsburg and is devoted to her grandchildren.
Rick Theis is an environmental and social justice advocate who is currently the Resource Librarian for The Climate Center. He co-founded the Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy to educate leaders to create public policy for a sustainable future. To date there are 500 Fellows of the Institute in leadership roles making positive change throughout the country.
As a trustee at Sonoma Academy, Theis oversaw the planning, design and construction of the LEED Platinum Janet Durgin Guild and Commons, one of the most highly honored buildings in the US for environmental design and performance. Formerly a wine columnist for the Minneapolis Star, Theis’s love of wine brought him to Sonoma County. Once here he realized that to protect one of the world’s greatest winegrowing regions, we had to stop sprawl. This resulted in being part of many political campaigns.
Theis believes our new nonprofit is important because knowing the truth about what is happening in our local community is an essential foundation to building trust in our society. Theis and his wife live in Sebastopol in their award winning green home.
Mary Fricker has been a business reporter for 35 years and has been honored nationally for her work. Mentoring young reporters for decades, Mary knows that their accurate and unbiased reporting is what binds a community together. Through our new nonprofit, Fricker fights to make sure we don’t lose their voice. They are ..... the INK-STAINED WRETCHES The reporters, those tireless-tradesmen Who claw at the TRUTH Buried under the sound bite Who sweat not from SPOTLIGHTS, but deadlines Who devote their lives to the ENDLESS TASK of PUSHING and PUSHING and PUSHING Not just sources, but understanding Not just for WHO and WHAT, but for WHY Wrist-deep in raw fact And Quick-scribbled INSIGHT They work for the NEWS But answer to the TRUTH. Fricker is proud to be their colleague. She lives near Graton and volunteers at El Molino High School, where her sons and grandsons attended.
Nancy Dobbs is currently the President Emerita of Northern California Public Media, having just retired after 38 years of founding and leading this organization. She continues to work with KRCB–TV, KPJK–TV and KRCB-FM, focusing on environmental and climate change programming for the on-going series Bay Area Bountiful. Among her greatest accomplishments, Dobbs shepherded the fledging organization to 10 Bay Area counties and secured significant endowment providing permanent financial stability. NorCal Public Media has become an acknowledged leader in providing PBS and NPR stations nationwide with strong environmental programming, earning 8 regional Emmys, and a Best Podcast award. The station’s Rebels With A Cause on the saving of the Sonoma Marin coast has been aired by an incredible 83% of PBS stations nationwide.
The vision of NorCal Public Media parallels that of the new nonprofit, to provide high quality journalism with insight and understanding to the community regarding issues of consequence. Journalism serves the important function of encouraging engagement in community. As Walter Cronkite said, “Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy.” Without trusted and effective local media, democracy withers. Preserving and strengthening local media is a challenge worth vigorously undertaking.
Rick Massell is a retired teacher from El Molino High School and served as a Board member of the Windsor Unified School District. Throughout his career, he advocated for the incorporation of technology into schools and headed the digital high school program. A founding member of the Windsor Democratic Club, Massell spends his days advocating for democracy. While working on local community matters, he has come to realize the importance of local newspapers as democracy relies on an informed electorate. Rick believes the staff of the local newspaper has the most insight into its community and the direction in which the town is going.
Massell enjoys a good discussion, especially when getting into the thick of it. Now that he is retired, he has even more time to do so!
Rollie Atkinson is the owner/publisher of Sonoma West Publishers, a group of legacy community newspapers including The Cloverdale Reveille, The Healdsburg Tribune, The Windsor Times and Sonoma West Times & News. Atkinson’s journalism career started in 1974 as reporter for his hometown daily, The Frederick News & Post in Frederick, Maryland. After moving to Sonoma County, Atkinson joined the staff of The Healdsburg Tribune in 1981 and moved from the sports editor and news editor chairs to general manager and finally to newspaper owner in1995, when he and his wife Sarah Bradbury purchased Sebastopol's Sonoma West Times & News. Atkinson firmly believes in "raising hell," but he is equally devoted to "raising the sense of community." Both fit his independent nature.
Sarah Bradbury is the owner/associate publisher of Sonoma West Publishers and former managing editor and photographer for SWP’s Sonoma Discoveries and Homes & Lifestyle magazines. In the four decades she and husband Atkinson have lived on Westside Road, Bradbury has witnessed and photographed the changing landscape and personalities in both the northern and western regions of Sonoma County.
Prior to SWP, Bradbury was Assistant Director of Head Start in Frederick, Maryland and Director of Good Beginnings, a private-public preschool and day care program in Healdsburg. Bradbury has served on a number of local nonprofit boards in both west and north Sonoma County including 4C’s (Community Child Care Council), Circuit Riders Productions and the Sebastopol Cultural Community Center. Currently Bradbury volunteers with a number of local progressive political groups.
Beginning in middle school, she was an avid reader of two newspapers, local and regional that landed on her home’s porch daily. Bradbury recognized early on the importance of accurate and well crafted reporting to enhance and encourage a well-informed citizenry.
Kathryn Hecht is the founder and Executive Director of the Alexander Valley Film Society, a nonprofit organization that creates access to film and media arts education for the communities of Northern Sonoma County. A year before creating the Film Society, Kathryn and her husband, Ryan, headed west after twenty years in New York. Since landing in Cloverdale, they revived The Clover Theater, a four-screen cinema, and launched Next Door Comics, a comic book shop filled with games, novelties, and nerd culture. Believing that community journalism is a path forward towards civic engagement and media literacy. Kathryn joined the Board to help shepherd the formation of the foundation. When Kathryn is not in her office or trying to shorten the distance between Healdsburg and Cloverdale in her car, you can find her out and about - often with coffee in hand - with her beloved dog, Gertie.
Mary Luttrell, Certified Management Consultant Emeritus, works with Sonoma County businesses, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. Focusing her consulting business in Sonoma County, her work strengthens and supports organizations in her own backyard. She helps local businesses to grow and prosper, which in turn provides jobs that support local residents and families.
Luttrell is one of the founders of the GO LOCAL organization and also worked with Select Sonoma, the predecessor of the MADE LOCAL brand. Recognized for her expertise in strategic planning, marketing, organization development and leadership, Luttrell is also a writer. For many years, The North Bay Business Journal published her monthly column on leadership.
Luttrell volunteers as a professional advisor to the Founding Board of Directors during the organization’s transition to the new nonprofit. Personally, Luttrell is fascinated with nature, music, art and dance and cherishes her husband Michael Cuoio, her dear friends and her West County community.