New hires on board at Access Press

by Jan Willms Access Press, Minnesota’s disability community news source, is pleased to announce that Holly Anderson has been appointed […]

Holly Anderson

by Jan Willms

Access Press, Minnesota’s disability community news source, is pleased to announce that Holly Anderson has been appointed as the organization’s new executive director. She joins newly hired Advertising Manager Staci Reay and longtime Managing Editor Jane McClure.

“Holly will be a great addition to the Access Press team,” said Joel Ulland, president of the Access Press board of directors. “Her experience with the disability community will be extremely valuable as we expand the reach of Access Press into the future.”

Anderson said it is an honor at being selected to “fill one of Tim Benjamin’s shoes.” Benjamin retired as executive director in 2020, and is still a columnist for the paper.

“I have respected him and his excellent work for many years,” Anderson said. “I promise to do everything I can to try to meet and maybe exceed his expectations.”

Anderson comes to Access Press with more than 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience.  She began her career in Washington, DC, working on marketing and public awareness campaigns for the National Consumer League. In 2002, she and her husband moved to Minnesota. She became vice president of the Minnesota Chapter of the MS Society, and in 2009 became president of the chapter.

 “Advocating for people with disabilities is a passion of mine,” Anderson said. “I look forward to working with the amazing nonprofits in Minnesota that are advocating for disability rights.”

Anderson’s office at the MS Society was a drop-off point for Access Press. “The paper is such an important source of news in Minnesota. There isn’t another news source covering people with disabilities in this way.”

Reflecting on the past year and a half in Minneapolis, Anderson said that as an extrovert, not working or seeing people was difficult. “I get my energy from people, and I also live with depression and struggled to do anything. I also live with fibromyalgia, which flared often during COVID. It’s the irony of the disorder and of depression that moving helps and yet moving is the last thing you feel you can do.” Anderson was also devastated by the loss of two pets during this time.

She kept active with anti-racist and diversity work. “I got involved with anti-racist learning in 2016,” Anderson said. “I took 80-plus hours of training through the Unitarian Church.” She also completed classes at Cornell University to earn her certification in diversity and inclusion. “All of this training, reading and discussions led me to get active after the murder of George Floyd.”

Anderson works with Show Up for Racial Justice (SURJ-TC) and Residents Organizing Against Racism (ROAR).  Anderson said volunteering at SURJ and the Upper Midwest Great Dane Rescue gave her something to get out of bed for during the pandemic, as did her family and family pets.

Optimistic about the future for people with disabilities, Anderson said Minnesota is moving in a positive direction for all people. “I saw some positives in the budget for the state, and I know there is still much to do.”

“I look forward to working with Jane, who is a great managing editor, and Staci to put out an amazing paper, raise the funds to ensure the paper’s legacy and to build relationships across the disability community,” Anderson said.

To reach Holly Anderson, contact [email protected]

Reay takes advertising reins

Staci Reay is the new advertising manager at Access Press. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in advertising.

“I have more than 25 years’ experience in marketing communications and have worked in both an agency and corporate environment,” Reay said. “I also have five years of experience working for a domestic/sexual violence nonprofit shelter in northwest Minnesota.”

Reay understands the importance of bringing together community voices to discuss critical issues, advocate and provide resources for Minnesotans with disabilities.

Considering the past long months of the pandemic, Reay said the isolation and being separated from family and friends were the most difficult things for her. “I was grateful to have technology to help me stay connected.”   She added that she is an avid reader, and “reading always helps me cope.”

In her spare time, Reay said she enjoys reading fiction and non-fiction. “I live on 40 acres with five cats, chickens, turkeys, peafowl and visiting waterfowl,” she said. “I enjoy spending time with family and friends and traveling when I can.”

As to her role with the paper, Reay said “I bring commitment and dedication to the Access Press team in support of their mission to be a resource to Minnesotans with disabilities.”

To reach Staci Reay, contact [email protected]

Here’s how to work with Access Press

Under the new staff structure, Anderson will focus on organization management, development and fundraising, and community relations and outreach. Reay will focus on advertising including new print and online advertising products for the paper.

McClure will have responsibility for news, both in print and online under the new staff structure. That’s a change from the previous Access Press management structure, where the executive director also acted as an editor.

“Tim Benjamin and I worked collaboratively in editing Access Press for many years, and the board recognized that we weren’t likely to find that kind of strong working partnership again,” said McClure.

“I’m very pleased with the new hires and the organizational changes. This allows Holly and Staci to work on areas Access Press needs to focus on,” McClure said. “Bringing in new staff allows me to focus on our news content, in print and online.”

McClure thanked the newspaper’s board and Bethany Gladhill, management consultant from Gladhill Rhone, for their work during the last several months. Gladhill and current and former board members Kay Willshire and Jane Larson handled day-to-day tasks as interim management. “I can’t say enough about all of the time they have put in over the past several months, especially Bethany and Kay,” she said.

To reach Jane McClure about news items, contact [email protected]

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