Center for Michigan Founder and Chairman Phil Power was the owner of HomeTown Communications Network, Inc., a group of 64 community newspapers in Michigan and the Upper Midwest that together won more state and national awards for excellence than any other group in the country. He sold his newspapers in 2005 and founded The Center in 2006. Power graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Michigan in 1960, where he was editorial director of the student newspaper, the Michigan Daily. He was a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University in 1962-64. The former U-M Regent helped found the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce and served as Vice Chairman of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
John Bebow is president and CEO of the Center for Michigan. Prior to joining the Center in 2006, he worked for 16 years as a professional journalist, mainly as an investigative reporter for The Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Ann Arbor News, and Traverse City Record-Eagle. He covered the 2003 invasion of Iraq for the Detroit News and Gannett newspapers. He also served as editor-in-chief of MLive.com, Michigan’s largest online news and information service. He lives in Milan with his wife, Monica, and their daughter, Delaney. He holds a bachelor’s degree with honors in English from Western Michigan University and a MBA with distinction from the University of MichiganRoss School of Business.
Senior Editor Derek Melot joined Bridge Magazine in 2011 after serving as an assistant editorial page editor, columnist and reporter at the Lansing State Journal, where he covered state and local issues extensively, earning awards from the Associated Press and Michigan Press Association. A graduate of the University of Oklahoma and Phi Beta Kappa, Melot moved to Michigan in 1999 and remains in awe of Michigan’s natural splendor and vibrant culture. He and his partner Jesse live in Lansing.
Senior Writer Ron French joined Bridge in 2011 after having won more than 40 national and state journalism awards since he joined the Detroit News in 1995. French has a long track record of uncovering emerging issues and changing the public policy debate through his work. In 2006, he foretold the coming crisis in the auto industry in a special report detailing how worker health-care costs threatened to bankrupt General Motors. In 2007, French uncovered Michigan’s educator pension and health-care costs that are now at the center of policy debate in Lansing. He is also the author of “Driven Abroad,” a book chronicling the movement of Michigan jobs overseas.
Staff Writer Nancy Nall Derringer has been a writer, editor and teacher in Metro Detroit for seven years, and was a co-founder and editor of GrossePointeToday.com, an early experiment in hyperlocal journalism. Before that, she worked for 20 years in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where she won numerous state and national awards for her work as a columnist for The News-Sentinel. A native of Columbus, Ohio, she attended Ohio University, and was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan in 2003-04. She lives in Grosse Pointe Woods with her husband and daughter.
Amber Toth serves as outreach director for the Center. Previously, Amber worked as a grant programs consultant for the Michigan Nonprofit Association, and completed two years of national service as an AmeriCorps*VISTA and VISTA Leader for Michigan Campus Compact. She received a B.A. in psychology from Michigan State University and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from Grand Valley State University. She lives in Okemos, MI.
A.J. Jones serves as operations director for the Center. Prior to joining the Center in 2006, he worked as communications director for the Ypsilanti Convention Bureau and as development director for Ozone House Youth & Family Services. He manages the day-to-day at CFM, the websites and serves as lead designer on Center publications. He holds a degree with honors in English from Emerson College in Boston, and lives in Ann Arbor with his wife and two children.