Board of Directors & Staff
The Community Reporting Alliance
Jeanne Straus, board president
Jeanne Straus began her career 30 years ago reading local newspapers. As an editorial assistant at the White House News Summary, she read community newspapers from around the country and summarized local news for a daily digest distributed to the President and 250 other administration officials. Her passion for community news reporting has not waned since.
Today Jeanne is the President of Straus News, a group of nine local news operations that publish in contiguous communities in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Straus News also publishes the innovative sustainable living magazine Dirt.
In between times Jeanne worked for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, as a stringer for the Associated Press, and as program director and director of news and operations at WMCA Radio in New York City. Throughout the community news industry, Jeanne is the go-to person for guidance due to her business acumen and deep journalism experience.
Jeanne serves on the Board of the New York Press Association and was its President from 2008-2009. She is a founder of New York Cares, New York’s leading volunteer agency, and serves on its Board, Executive and Finance Committees. She is President of the Board of the Community Reporting Alliance and is the leading force behind its vision to promote and preserve local news. Most recently, she led CRA’s business model project, funded by a new York City-based donor interested in boosting sustainability among small, independent urban news organizations.
Laura Handman, board of directors
Laura Handman is today one of the nation’s leading First Amendment lawyers.
Her clients have included The New York Observer, The New York Daily News, Amazon.com, NPR, The Economist, U.S. News & World Report, Talking Points Memo and many others.
She is a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP and a member of its Executive Committee.
A former Assistant U.S. District Attorney and law clerk to a federal district judge, Laura now also serves on the Executive Committee of the Council for Court Excellence and was Co-Chair for the Journalists’ Handbook to the Courts of the District of Columbia (September 2009). Laura is Founder/former Chair of the Media Law Committee of the D.C. Bar’s Arts, Entertainment and Sports Law Section.
She is past President of the Defense Counsel Section of the Media Law Resource Center and the former Chair of the Communications and Media Law Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. Laura was awarded the 2007 International PEN First Amendment Award from PEN USA, the West Coast center for the worldwide writers’ organization.
Laura has served as an expert on American libel law on behalf of U.S. media in connection with libel actions brought in London, Belfast and Melbourne and established the first precedents in the U.S. and state courts refusing to enforce British libel judgments as repugnant to U.S. public policy.
Garry Pierre-Pierre, board of directors
Gary Pierre-Pierre is the editor and publisher of The Haitian Times, the English language weekly for New York’s 500,000-strong Haitian community. He founded the paper in 1999. Pierre-Pierre previously worked as a staff writer at the New York Times and was part of the team which shared a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Garry has been a lecturer at University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University and Rutgers. He has also served as the journalist-in-residence at SUNY Oswego.
He is a member of the Board of the New York Press Association and its treasurer, and serves as well on the Board of the National Association of Black Journalists, the New York Community Media Alliance and the Committee on Open Government. He is co-host of Independent Sources, a show about the news and views of the ethnic media, on CUNY-TV Channel 75.
Garry has trained scores of journalists in the United States and Haiti and has been an adjunct at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Currently, he is project leader for ethnic and community news at the Ford Foundation-funded training center at CUNY.
Garry began his career working for the Peace Corps in Togo, West Africa. Early on, he worked as a reporter for the Lakeland (Fla.) Ledger, and then for The Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Barbara Gref, executive director
Barbara Gref serves as Executive Director of the Community Reporting Alliance. Her local reporting and news management skills are unparalleled.
Gref worked as reporter or editor at the weekly Ellenville Press, the Sullivan County Democrat and the Times Herald-Record. She was owner and publisher of the weekly Towne Crier and the editor of Orange Magazine.
Gref’s awards include the Associated Press’ first place for journalistic quality as well as national and state awards for reporting on public education. Her team’s work on the series Children of Change was honored with a national award from the Casey Journalism Center. The New York Press Association recognized her work with a statewide Community Leadership award in regard to coverage and community action following devastating floods in the Catskills.
Gref has served as adjunct professor of journalism at Sullivan County Community College and has directed the student Writing Center there. She served as board president during the formative years of National Public Radio affiliate WJFF, the nation’s only hydro-powered radio station, where she is currently an on-air volunteer.