Democracy needs community news

We’re on a mission to ensure all residents of Greater Cleveland have the local news they need.

What is Signal Cleveland?

Launched in 2022, Signal Cleveland is a nonprofit newsroom that fuses community building with local news reporting. We produce authoritative, trustworthy daily journalism across a range of topics, including government, economy, education, health, and safety and resilience. We’re also home to Cleveland Documenters, a group of 600 Cleveland residents who represent almost every ZIP code in Greater Cleveland and are trained and paid to cover public meetings.

Together, we are a primary source of information for residents who may not otherwise have access to trusted local journalism, and we’re available online, via email, and on social platforms. Our website has explainers and guides to help residents navigate life in Cleveland, and it serves as a growing civic tool for our city. We also hold community gatherings and trainings, and we’re present every day in Cleveland communities.

We’re here to earn your trust

Our values are what set us apart. They help ground us, and guide us back to center when we inevitably make mistakes, and they help us learn from those mistakes. Most importantly, they keep us accountable to Greater Clevelanders:

  • Move at a pace that respects community. We are accountable to community questions and interests and operate first with a respect for community, not an arbitrary deadline.
  • Flip the traditional news/civic information dynamic. Instead of civic information trickling out of the news of the day, we start with providing civic information and tools. Reporting flows from gathering and distributing that information.
  • Hold and nurture accessible, informal community gathering spaces where everyone has a voice and power is shared. In these spaces, people are able to step into civic life in a way that feels safe, fun and productive.

Meet the Signal Cleveland team (we’re your neighbors!)

Learn more about the newsroom below, and say hello!

Doug Breehl-Pitorak, Documenters Assignment EditorDoug Breehl-Pitorak, Documenters Assignment Editor

Doug Breehl-Pitorak

Assignment Editor (he/him)
Doug, a Cleveland Documenter since 2020, has been a copy editor and reporter. His work includes: The Pace of Passage about how quickly Cleveland City Council passes legislation; a look at the challenges of the city’s Exterior Home Paint program; and University Circle Police Department’s complaint-review process. Doug has also written explainers and guides and launched #CLEDocsAnswers, which answers questions Documenters have about local government.

Stephanie Casanova, Criminal Justice ReporterStephanie Casanova, Criminal Justice Reporter

Stephanie Casanova

Criminal Justice Reporter (she/her)
Stephanie, who covered criminal justice and breaking news at the Chicago Tribune, is a bilingual journalist with a passion for storytelling that is inclusive and reflects the diversity of the communities she covers. She has been a reporter and copy editor for local newspapers in South Dakota, Kansas and Arizona. Stephanie is also a Maynard 200 alumni, a Maynard Institute for Journalism Education training program for journalists of color that focuses on making newsrooms more equitable, diverse and anti-racist.

Nick Castele, Government ReporterNick Castele, Government Reporter

Nick Castele

Government Reporter (he/him)
Nick joins us from the world of public radio, where he has 10 years’ experience covering politics and government in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. Last year he produced and hosted “After Jackson: Cleveland’s Next Mayor,” an Ideastream Public Media podcast on the Cleveland mayoral race. He has also covered breaking news, opioid lawsuits and elections nationally for NPR.

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Lawrence Daniel Caswell

Managing Editor, Community (he/they)
Lawrence, a 2022 Stanford JSK Community Impact Fellow, was most recently field coordinator for Cleveland Documenters, where they led the recruitment of more than 600 Greater Cleveland residents. They bring a wealth of knowledge about journalism, civic engagement and technology. Lawrence has worked in non-commercial media for over 28 years, including 11 years at Ideastream where they focused on civic engagement and media production.

Rachel Dissell, Community + Special Projects EditorRachel Dissell, Community + Special Projects Editor

Rachel Dissell

Community and Special Projects Editor (she/her)
Rachel leads our special projects work on topics that demand deeper coverage, and works with Cleveland Documenters and Signal staff to report those stories for wider understanding and accountability. She is our liaison with the Marshall Project in Cleveland where she focuses on including residents’ voices in criminal justice reporting. Rachel has reported in Cleveland for more than two decades on stories that have changed laws, policies, hearts and minds. She was part of the team that helped launch Cleveland Documenters in 2020, and she was a John S. Knight Community Impact Fellow in 2021. Dissell is a two-time winner of the Dart Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma for narrative stories about teen dating violence and systemic failures with rape investigations.

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Najee Hall

Community Reporter (he/him)
Najee has been a Cleveland Documenter since it started in 2020. He joins Signal Cleveland from a role as an organizer with New Voices for Reproductive Justice. He leads the Central Community Listening Team.

Gennifer Harding-Gosnell

Gennifer Harding-Gosnell, Freelance Audio Producer(she/her)
Gennifer is a news writer returning to her first love, radio. She holds a MA in Journalism from Kingston University in the UK, and has spent the last couple years as a Cleveland Documenter. More by Gennifer Harding-Gosnell

Jeff Haynes, Multimedia DirectorJeff Haynes, Multimedia Director

Jeff Haynes

Multimedia Director (he/him)
Jeff, a longtime producer and Cleveland resident, will be working to bring stories to life with videos and animation. He comes to us from Ideastream Public Media, where he oversaw on-air promotion, digital content, and design. Jeff has launched multiple digital series that have led to national distribution and five Emmys.

Mary Ellen Huesken, Copy EditorMary Ellen Huesken, Copy Editor

Mary Ellen Huesken

Copy Editor (she/her)
Mary Ellen, a member of the original Cleveland Documenters team, reviews all notes and stories for clarity. She previously worked as a staff editor at The Plain Dealer and at the now-closed Youngstown Vindicator.

Frank Lewis, Director of the Editors’ BureauFrank Lewis, Director of the Editors’ Bureau

Frank W. Lewis

Director of the Editors’ Bureau (he/him)
Frank is an award-winning reporter and former editor at alternative newsweeklies in Cleveland and Philadelphia. He has worked with writers of all experience levels on beat reporting, features, investigative projects and books.

Helen Maynard, EditorHelen Maynard, Editor

Helen Maynard

Editor (she/her)
Helen, a longtime journalist at News 5 in Cleveland and ABC News, brings knowledge of television news and community reporting to the Signal Cleveland newsroom. An alum of the University of Michigan’s Knight-Wallace Fellowship, Helen has been thinking for years about innovative ways to center news on community interests.

Jim McKiernan, Audience EditorJim McKiernan, Audience Editor

Jim McKiernan

Audience Editor (he/him)
Jim is a digital media entrepreneur with a focus on audience engagement and data architecture. He has worked in both nonprofit and for-profit newsrooms.

Lila Mills, Signal ClevelandLila Mills, Signal Cleveland

Lila Mills

Editor-in-Chief (she/her)
Lila is the founding editor-in-chief of Signal Cleveland, the Ohio Local News Initiative’s Cleveland newsroom. Lila, who has experience in community building and journalism, led the launch of Cleveland Documenters in 2020. Formerly associate director at Neighborhood Connections, a Cleveland-based organization that has done groundbreaking work building community networks, Lila has been a newspaper reporter, a student-journalism advisor and a freelance news producer. Born and raised on the southeast side of Cleveland, Lila is a first-generation college graduate with degrees from Columbia University.

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Kellie Morris

Community Listener (she/her)
Kellie Morris, who coordinated the Glenville Spelling Bee at the Glenville Festival, is a Cleveland Documenter, a member of the Central Community Listening Team, and also writes for The Cleveland Observer.

Amy Morona, Higher Education ReporterAmy Morona, Higher Education Reporter

Amy Morona

Higher Education Reporter (she/her)
Amy, who’s worked in both local and national newsrooms for nearly a decade, previously covered higher education at Crain’s Cleveland Business in partnership with the national nonprofit news organization Open Campus. A first-generation college graduate, Amy is committed to highlighting the voices of students in her coverage.

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Mark Naymik

Managing Editor, News (he/him)
Mark is a veteran journalist with experience in alternative media, print, digital and television news. For 19 years, he was a groundbreaking reporter and metro columnist with The Plain Dealer and Most recently, Mark spent three years as an investigative, enterprise and breaking news reporter at WKYC-TV, where his “Leading the Land” series on Cleveland’s 2021 mayoral primary race earned a regional Emmy.

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Lila Parker

Community Listener (she/her)
Lila Parker, a graduate of the Ohio Center for Broadcasting, has worked doing public relations for Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing (CLASH). She is a member of the Central Community Listening Team.

Olivera Perkins, Economics ReporterOlivera Perkins, Economics Reporter

Olivera Perkins

Economics Reporter (she/her)
Olivera, an award-winning journalist, covered labor, employment and workforce issues for several years at The Plain Dealer. She broke the story in 2013 of a food drive held for Walmart workers who made too little to afford Thanksgiving dinner. Olivera has received state and national awards for her coverage, including those from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW). She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. Olivera believes the sweet spot of high-impact journalism is combining strong storytelling with data analysis.

Camille Renner

Audience Manager (she/her)
Camille, a Floridian turned proud Clevelander, comes from the automotive aftermarket industry, where she created content including articles, newsletters and podcasts as well as managed social media brands for various sects of the industry. She is excited to combine her professional expertise with her passion for civic engagement. More by Camille Renner

Paul Rochford, K-12 Education ReporterPaul Rochford, K-12 Education Reporter

Paul Rochford

K-12 Education Reporter (he/him)
Paul, a former City Year Cleveland AmeriCorps member based in a charter school, covers K-12 education. Paul joins us from Cleveland Documenters, where he focused on creating infographics and civic tech to make public information more accessible. Paul is also a musician, photographer and graphic designer.

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Marvetta Rutherford

Community Listener (she/her)
Marvetta Rutherford, an active Cleveland Documenter, is a member of the Central Community Listening Team and also a champion for better public transit.

Anastazia Vanisko

Documenters Community Coordinator (she/her)
Through a partnership with Neighborhood Connections, Anastazia works with Signal Cleveland to support Cleveland Documenters and our community building. More by Anastazia Vanisko

April Urban, Director, Research + ImpactApril Urban, Director, Research + Impact

April Urban

Director, Research + Impact (she/her)
April has a passion for weaving together data and community voices. Her career highlights include research into the rental-housing market in Cleveland to inform policy change and program development and co-founding Data Days Cleveland to help amplify the value of data.

Candice Wilder, Health ReporterCandice Wilder, Health Reporter

Candice Wilder

Health Reporter (she/her)
Candice, a Cleveland Documenter since 2020, has been a freelance writer whose reporting and digital media work have appeared in The Daily Beast, VICE, Cleveland Magazine and elsewhere. She has written about health, equity and social justice.

La Queta Worley

Community Listener
La Queta (Keeta), who was born and raised in Central, is a Cleveland Documenter and has written for The Land and FreshWater Cleveland. She is a member of the Central Community Listening Team. More by La Queta Worley

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