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 Ann Arbor 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.
Dwayne Barnes serves as outreach coordinator for the Center. Prior to joining the team Dwayne worked as the Communications Director of Project: Better Man a prostate cancer awareness, education and prevention organization. Dwayne began his career in Public Relations working with non profits organization and political campaigns. Dwayne graduated from Eastern Michigan University and is currently pursuing an Master’s in Public Administration from Oakland University. Dwayne is married and has one child.
Chastity Pratt Dawsey joins Bridge from The Detroit Free Press after more than a decade of providing authoritative coverage of Detroit Public Schools. She has broken many of the biggest stories regarding education in the state’s largest city over the past decade. Her work has included analyses of misspending and waste that occurred leading to state takeovers of the school district; investigative projects on grade-fixing and suspected cheating on standardized tests; the impact of the school district’s declining enrollment on neighborhoods; the dangers students face walking to school, and the huge debt taxpayers owe on demolished and vacant schools. Her investigations led to the creation of the Detroit Blight Authority as well as the removal of two superintendents and a school board president. Pratt Dawsey’s work also has appeared in USA Today, Essence Magazine and the Investigative Reporters & Editors Journal. Before the Free Press, the native Detroiter was a reporter at Newsday in Long Island, NY, and The Oregonian newspaper in Portland. She started her career as an intern at The New York Times. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and Communications from the University of Michigan.
Amber DeLind serves as engagement strategy 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 Detroit, MI.
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.
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.
A.J. has served as operations director since 2006. Prior to joining the Center, he worked for a start-up toy company, a tourism bureau, a homeless shelter and an adventure travel company. He holds a degree with honors in English from Emerson College in Boston, and lives in Ann Arbor with his wife and two children.
Bill McGraw, a veteran Detroit Free Press writer, was inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame in April, 2014. A native Detroiter, McGraw co-founded the online website, Deadline Detroit, in 2012. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Toronto Globe and Mail, National Geographic, Newsweek, the London-based History Workshop Journal, the Fifth Estate and Orbit. McGraw spent 37 years as a freelance contributor, city-desk reporter, sportswriter, Canada correspondent, deputy metro editor and columnist at the Free Press. He created two best-selling books on Detroit subjects, “The Quotations of Mayor Coleman A. Young” and “The Detroit Almanac,” which he co-edited with Peter Gavrilovich. In 2007, McGraw drove all of the city’s 2,100 streets for the award-winning “Driving Detroit” series.
Mike Wilkinson joins us from the Detroit News as Bridge’s computer-assisted reporting specialist. Mike performed a similar role at the News, where his work showed, for instance, that just under half of all Detroit property owners paid their annual tax bills. He was also part of a team at The Blade of Toledo that won national honors, including the National Headliner and Gerald Loeb awards, for exposing widespread political corruption in a scandal that came to be known as Coingate. The stories led to political reform in Ohio state government.
David Zeman is senior editor at Bridge. Previously, he was director of content and communication at the nonprofit Education Trust-Midwest. Zeman worked for two decades at the Detroit Free Press as an investigative reporter and editor. As editor, his reporters won some of the nation’s highest honors, including the Pulitzer Prize, the George Polk Award, the Worth Bingham Prize and the National Headliner Public Service Award. Before returning to his hometown of Detroit, Zeman was a reporter at The Miami Herald and The (Raleigh, N.C.) News and Observer. He also spent two years as an attorney at a commercial litigation law firm in Miami. Zeman holds a law degree from the University of Miami, a master’s in journalism from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He lives in Beverly Hills with his wife and two children.
Hailey Zureich serves as engagement and training coordinator for the Center. Before joining the team she worked for Michigan Works and Detroit Public Television where she gained expertise in community engagement and content strategy. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Communications from Oakland University. She currently resides in Ypsilanti with her charmingly clever Pomeranian.