Who we are


The Land arose during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many of us were isolated at home and hungry for news, hope, and a sense of connection. Additionally, when The Plain Dealer newsroom closed in May 2020, we were left with fewer reporters to serve the Cleveland community. 

Founder Lee Chilcote and visionary supporters had big ambitions but started small. With the fiscal sponsorship of the Institute for Nonprofit News, and the generosity of individuals, small grants, and underwriters, Chilcote and his team launched a website and newsletter to test the idea of a nonprofit newsroom and to seek feedback from the community about what would best serve them. A new kind of newsroom was needed, one with the community at its core and grounded in principles of diversity, equity and inclusion. The Land began hiring freelance reporters to cover local government and the impact of COVID-19 on Cleveland’s neighborhoods while engaging in an audience-centered approach of constantly seeking feedback.

Today, we’ve created an outstanding nonprofit organization, built a rock star board, fostered dozens of community partnerships, created a fellowship program for reporters of color, and written many dozens of stories … and we’re just getting started.

The Land’s mission is to provide in-depth reporting about Cleveland’s neighborhoods and inner-ring suburbs. We aim to inform the community, foster accountability, and inspire people to take action. 

We hope you find our work valuable and you will choose to support us by becoming a member, keeping our journalism free for all.


  • Jeff Kipp, President, Civic Push Consulting (President)
  • Renee Ligon, Director, Partnerships and Engagement, Team NEO (Vice President)
  • Victor Ruiz, Executive Director, Esperanza Inc. (Treasurer)
  • Kate Klonowski, Director, Local Government and Community Relations, Case Western Reserve University (Secretary)
  • Srinivas Merugu, Regional Chief Medical Officer, United Healthcare
  • Caitlin Johnson, Director of Communications, Policy Matters Ohio
  • Tom Breckenridge, retired, Senior Corporate Communications Specialist, Medical Mutual
  • Robert Smith, Director of Communications, Case Alumni Association
  • Leah Hudnall, President, The Legacy Perspective and Assistant Professor of Practice, Urban Affairs, Levin College of Education and Public Affairs, Cleveland State University
  • Regina Fisher Gonzalez, Attorney, Mark Barnes and Associates
  • Lauren Welch, Assistant Director of Communications, Say Yes Cleveland
  • Luis Cartagena, President/CEO, Cartagena CPA & Consultants, LLC
  • Earl Pike, Executive Director, University Settlement


Lee Chilcote, Founder and Executive Director

Lee Chilcote is an award-winning writer and author whose work has been published in The Washington Post, The Associated Press, Vanity Fair, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cleveland Magazine and many others. His poetry chapbooks are The Shape of Home and How to Live in Ruins. He is a founder and past executive director of Literary Cleveland, an organization with a mission of “developing writers, amplifying voices, and transforming our community through storytelling.” He lives in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood of Cleveland with his family.

Cindy Bailie, Development & Marketing Manager

Cindy has dedicated her career to strengthening nonprofit organizations and people who are transforming communities through purposeful work. At Bailie Consulting Group, she helps nonprofit and other social sector organizations become financially sustainable through sound practices for fundraising, development, and strategic marketing communications. During her 30-year career, she held previous leadership positions at the United Church of Christ (UCC), the Foundation Center (now Candid), and The Veale Foundation, among others.

Sharon Holbrook, Managing Editor

Sharon Holbrook is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Cleveland Magazine, Preservation, Belt, and many other national and local publications. She is also published in the anthologies A Race Anthology: Dispatches and Artifacts from a Segregated City and So Glad They Told Me: Women Get Real about Motherhood. Prior to becoming managing editor of The Land, Sharon was the managing editor of local media company Your Teen. She lives in Shaker Heights with her family.

Mandy Kraynak, Report for America (RFA) corps member

Mandy Kraynak is a reporter who is passionate about local, community-based journalism. Before joining The Land as an economic development reporter, she worked as a reporter and editor for The Daily Orange, where she wrote about artists and leaders in the community and led a team of over 40 student journalists to produce daily news coverage and in-depth enterprise projects. Her work has also appeared in local news outlets such as The South Side Stand in Syracuse, New York, and The Devil Strip in Akron, Ohio. Mandy is dedicated to collaborating with other journalists and with Cleveland residents to produce in-depth reporting that has the community at its center. She approaches her work with curiosity, persistence, and care for the community.

Summer 2022 interns

  • Owen MacMillan, Brianna Camp (Newslab at Kent State University)

Contributing Writers

Rhonda Crowder, Zachary Lewis, Charlotte Morgan, Nate Paige, Dan Polletta, Ken Schneck, Grant Segall, Ilona Westfall, Marc Lefkowitz, Mark Oprea, Aja Hannah, Collin Cunningham



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