Winners of the 2019 Ohio Health and Human Services Reporting Grant

It was truly inspiring to see the number and quality of applications from journalists all across Northeast Ohio who responded to our inaugural Ohio Health and Human Services Grant!

Applicants from across the region, reporters based everywhere from Youngstown to Cleveland, applied with original, unique and compelling reporting projects.

Due to the quality of the applications, and the varied story ideas, The Center for Community Solutions decided to award four grants to reporters from different newspapers.

The winners are:
  • Rachel Dissell and Ginger Christ, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
  • Jess Hardin, Youngstown Vindicator (Youngstown)
  • Hannah Lebovits, Cleveland Scene (Cleveland)
  • Betty Lin-Fisher, Akron Beacon Journal (Akron)

All of the reporters will maintain editorial independence as they report on real, important health and human services related topics that affect everyday folks across Northeast Ohio.

Community Solutions is concerned that important health and human services stories, stories with the potential to impact the lives of Ohioans, aren’t being told.

When it came to deciding the winners, Community Solutions gathered a team of judges with varied and diverse backgrounds who could each bring unique expertise to the judging process. The judges were:

  • Alan Ashby, Media Relations Officer, The Cleveland Foundation. Ashby has more than 20 years of marketing and media relations experience.
  • William Doll, Ph.D., President, Bill Doll Company. Doll is an attorney, has a doctorate in sociology and is a Presidential Fellow at Case Western Reserve University. Doll is also a journalist and the former theater critic for The Plain Dealer. Doll is also a Community Solutions board member.
  • Alan Johnson, Retired reporter, Columbus Dispatch. Johnson was a reporter for The Columbus Dispatch for more than 35 years, covering topics as varied as criminal & social justice, addiction, mental health, disabilities and the death penalty.
  • Richard Jones, Nonprofit consultant and executive coach. Jones served in executive positions in Cuyahoga County’s Departments of Senior and Adult Services and Employment and Family Services for years and also serves on both the NASW Insurance Company Board of Directors and the Risk Retention Group Board of Directors. Jones is also a Community Solutions board member.
  • Karen Long, Manager, Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards, The Cleveland Foundation. Long is also a literary critic for publications including Newsday and the Los Angeles Times and reported for The Plain Dealer for years before joining the Foundation.

Each of these reporters will maintain their editorial independence

Community Solutions initially decided to launch this reporting grant because the number of local journalists and local publications is shrinking. Period. And with this local loss, Community Solutions is concerned that important health and human services stories, stories with the potential to impact the lives of Ohioans, aren’t being told.

As a 106-year-old think tank, one of Community Solutions’ goals is to improve the health, social and economic conditions of all Ohioans. We believe strong health and human services reporting is an important step to achieve that and we hope that our strategic leadership is helpful in efforts to address this crucial issue.