It’s been almost a year since we at the Post have been discussing ways to equitably serve our diverse communities, how best to grapple with the differing cultures and viewpoints of our readership.
What emerged from these discussions is the idea for an editorial board—a community editorial board—made up of people from different parts of the city, with different life experiences, different reactions to the way the city’s decisions are made, different socioeconomic backgrounds.
When we put out a call for applications in June, the response was both heartening and difficult for us. A team reviewed the 144 applicants’ essays and narrowed the field to 22 finalists, from whom the seven new board members were finally selected.
Today, we are in equal parts happy, proud and excited to announce the seven inaugural members of the Post’s Community Editorial Board.
Traditionally, an editorial board would write unified opinion pieces as the institutional voice of the publication. This board may do that occasionally, but in the event that the board is not able to reach a unanimous opinion, the dissenting member or members will have the opportunity to publish their rebuttals in order to give readers the opportunity to consider both sides of the issue. Board members are also invited to write opinion columns during their year-long term on issues and subjects in which they have a personal interest, experience or expertise, as well as write critically about our news coverage, or national media coverage.
Board members will also receive a small stipend for their service.
It is important to note that the group will operate wholly separate from the newsroom, as is the case with traditional, internal editorial boards. Reporters, editors and others on the editorial team will not be privy to the group’s deliberations, and the group will not have any direct influence in news decisions.
Feedback may at times be funneled to the newsroom through newly-appointed Community Engagement Editor Stephanie Rivera, who will serve as executive liaison to the board. Rivera will also assist the group in research for editorials and opinion columns, and provide editing support.
We, and they, are still figuring all this out, but our work to form a community editorial board has already gained national attention.
Please join us in welcoming these impressive Long Beach residents to our team.
Amber Hopper has been a teacher, educational director and community volunteer for over 20 years in Long Beach and Los Angeles. Students and colleagues voted her “Teacher of the Year” in 2008. Her love of teaching has brought her to classrooms across the globe and currently through the screen in Damascus, Syria. She has an English degree from UC Berkeley and a teaching credential from CSULB. Amber was drawn to join the Community Editorial Board because there are many stories of joy, hardship and commitment left to tell in Long Beach. Amber is married with two children.
Ebony A. Utley
Ebony A. Utley, Ph.D. is a professorpreneur. As a professor of communication studies at California State University Long Beach she researches, publishes, and teaches interpersonal communication. As an entrepreneur, she curates experiences and develops technology products for social impact. Her contributions include, but are not limited to, raising awareness about the dark side of technology, improving romantic relationship communication, supporting women recovering from infidelity, preventing domestic violence through entrepreneurship, and healing via Ebony Yoga. Her two worlds collide as the associate director for the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at California State University Long Beach.
Jeffrey L. Rabin
Jeffrey L. Rabin is a retired Los Angeles Times reporter and long-time Long Beach resident. He is now an urban planning and environmental consultant. Rabin is concerned about racial, economic, and environmental injustice. He is troubled by the huge disparities in income, life expectancy, employment, education, and quality of life between low-income communities of color in north, west, and central Long Beach and the affluent east side. As a volunteer for Meals on Wheels of Long Beach, he has seen first-hand what food insecurity means for our senior citizens. Rabin has a master’s degree in urban planning from UCLA and a bachelor’s degree in history from UC Berkeley. After his career in journalism, he worked for the California Coastal Commission. He is the lead author of a major report published by UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation about California’s investments in pioneering programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He wrote a major article about the impact of climate change on Long Beach published last fall in UCLA’s Blueprint magazine.
Jose Osuna wears many hats in the community. He is a formerly incarcerated Latino living in North Long Beach with a consulting business that centers around assisting organizations that serve individuals that have been impacted by the justice system, especially the gang-impacted community in Long Beach. Jose spent almost a decade working at Homeboy Industries, in Los Angeles—the world’s largest re-entry and gang rehabilitation facility—under the leadership of the Rev. Gregory Boyle, where he discovered his passion for working with gang members and the formerly incarcerated. Jose is also co-founder of a small organization, Restore I.N.K., whose mission centers around serving the gang-impacted community in Long Beach. He is father to four children and lost his oldest son, Moises, to gun violence in 2008. This tragic incident is the driving motivation in Jose’s work with the community.
Mariela Salgado, MBA is a local small business co-owner, Long Beach Parks, Recreation and Marine commissioner, education advocate and most importantly, mother of two Scouts. Her business has been recognized for its service and commitment to Long Beach and awards include Best of Long Beach, Best Small Business 2018 and most recently Community Impact Award 2020. She strongly believes in being of service and can often find her and family working on a community improvement project or event. Her personal experiences as a first-generation college student fuels her desire to serve and champion policies and programs to provide recreational and educational opportunities for all children and abilities. Today, she joins the community editorial board to share the importance of education and service.
Murriel McCabe and her husband, both native Angelenos, landed in the Wrigley neighborhood of Long Beach four years ago and quickly fell in love with the local community. She has been working in technology for over a decade and is currently focused on cloud computing technologies as a customer engineer at Google. She is deeply interested in exploring ways that technology can be used for social good and community empowerment. A longtime volunteer, Murriel has served on non-profit boards focused on technology, mentorship, and education; and is passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion. She has previously developed mentorship programs, launched a local youth literacy initiative, and coordinated hackathons and STEM/STEAM education events. She strongly believes in the value of independent media, that the voices of the community at the ground level are meaningful, and that transformational change and lasting impact will come with continued accountability and awareness. Despite the current state of the world, at heart, she is still an idealist and optimist.
Shilita Montez is a longtime Long Beach resident, student, parent, educator, and community agent. She has served in various administrative offices in LBUSD schools, as a dance and theater coach at Long Beach Renaissance High School for the Arts, and as a community college and learning community English instructor at Long Beach City College. Shilita currently serves as an opportunity specialist, a community agent and advocate for special populations such as people with special needs and people experiencing homelessness. In addition, Shilita works with community and faith organizations where she applies doctoral research in intercultural studies.