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, Coordinator, Provost Scholars Program, 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, Director of Racial Justice and Community Inclusion, Energy Foundation
  • Regina Fisher Gonzalez, Attorney, Mark Barnes and Associates
  • Lauren Welch, Managing Director, Laurel Cadence
  • Luis Cartagena, President/CEO, Cartagena CPA & Consultants, LLC
  • Earl Pike, Executive Director, University Settlement


Lee Chilcote, Founder and Editor

Lee Chilcote is a writer and journalist. His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Next City, Belt, Planning, Land and People, and other publications. Before founding The Land, Lee was a founder and executive director of Literary Cleveland, an organization whose mission is to “help writers and readers explore other voices and discover their own—creating a vital, diverse and supportive literary community in Northeast Ohio.”

Cindy Bailie, Development 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.

Michael Indriolo, Reporting Fellow

Michael Indriolo is a visual journalist whose coverage focuses on unrest, public policy, and injustice. He believes strongly in a bottom-up approach to news, holding fast to the idea that strong local news encourages local civic engagement, fostering community, and holding local officials accountable to the truth and to their constituents. He was born to a Lebanese immigrant, his mother, and a small-town American, his father, leaving him in a sort of ethnic and racial limbo while offering him unique insights into what being an American means. Through journalism, he aims to explore just that: what the American Dream means to communities and individuals alike by reporting on cultural, social, and political movements.

Spring 2022 interns

  • Hannah Davis (Newslab at KSU)
  • Ashley Blood (KSU)

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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