Bridge Magazine’s philosophy was best set out nearly 200 years before its creation. In his “Democracy in America,” Alexis de Tocqueville wrote,“The health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens.”
The Center for Michigan was created to help Michigan citizens develop an agenda to move our state forward.
Bridge’s mission is to inform Michigan citizens about their state, amplify their views and explore the challenges of our civic life. Our goal at Bridge is simple: To better inform Michigan’s private citizens so as to encourage a vibrant state in both the private and public sectors.
Bridge is an online magazine publishing content throughout the week focused on six key facets of life in Michigan:
To prosper, Michigan must be a more educated place. Bridge will explore the challenges in education and identify policies and initiatives that address them.
Michigan is a great place to live. Bridge will report that fact often — and on potential threats to the assets that make it so.
Each day, Michigan is made a better place to live through the efforts — large and small — of private citizens and public servants. Bridge will feature those inspiring stories.
Citizens cannot do their job of running their government if they don’t know what their public servants are doing. Bridge will take you beyond the political food fights into the policy decisions that affect everyday life.
About 1 in 5 children in Michigan live in poverty. Bridge will explore the reasons behind this disturbing result and the ideas to address it.
Bridge will help lead Michigan’s transition into a diversified, 21st century economy.
In addressing these topics, the Bridge Team brings to its readers the following assurances:
“Gotcha” isn’t on our map. Bridge is not about the “gotcha” moments that have come to dominate the “conflict for its own sake” media.
There’s a point to our view. Bridge is journalism with a stance. We will examine objectively, but advocate for policies and an agenda identified via the Center for Michigan’s engagement with Michigan citizens.
Choices and consequences. Bridge will explain the consequences of policies and inform readers about choices.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Bridge’s journalism will be fact-based and will respect the good sense of our readers.
There’s no “I” in “team.” Bridge will share its reports and findings widely with other media. Bridge is about solutions, not exclusives.
Bridge is an endeavor of the Center for Michigan, a nonpartisan, nonprofit, 501(c)3 “think-and-do tank” based in Ann Arbor. The Center is governed by a Board of Directors that can be found here.
The ongoing Bridge coverage plan is influenced and guided by a diverse, statewide advisory board of Michigan citizens. Their bios are listed on this page.
PHIL POWER – 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 – 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 Michigan Ross School of Business.
DAVID ZEMAN – 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.
RON FRENCH – 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.
NANCY NALL DERRINGER – 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.
BILL MCGRAW – 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.
CHASTITY PRATT – Chastity Pratt Dawsey covers Michigan’s cities and urban affairs for Bridge. She joined the Bridge team from the 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. 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.
LINDSAY VANHULLE – Lindsay VanHulle is a Lansing-based Capitol correspondent covering the intersection of business and public policy in a joint venture that launched in 2015 between Bridge and Crain’s Detroit Business. Prior to joining Bridge, she was a reporter at the Lansing State Journal and Traverse City Record-Eagle. Her work also has appeared in the Detroit Free Press and USA Today. As a business reporter in Lansing, VanHulle covered plans for a $245 million off-reservation tribal casino in Lansing and subsequent court challenges, right-to-work legislation that drew thousands of protesters to the Capitol during lame-duck session in 2012 and dozens of same-sex marriages performed in Ingham County the day after a federal judge overturned Michigan’s ban. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University and is president of the Mid-Michigan Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
MIKE WILKINSON – 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.
Tom Baldini worked for both Gov. Jim Blanchard and U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak in the Upper Peninsula. A former co-chair of the International Joint Commission, Baldini currently serves on the board of Michigan Technological University.
Mitch Bean was the long-time director of the Michigan House Fiscal Agency which provides non-partisan information and analysis for members of the Michigan House of Representatives. He is one of the most knowledgeable financial and policy figures in Lansing.
Kelly Chesney is a former spokesperson for Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, and now is head of communications for Business Leaders for Michigan.
Ken Cole is a former Capitol reporter for the Detroit News and now is a lobbyist for the city of Detroit and other clients.
Desiree Cooper is a former Detroit Free Press columnist and National Public Radio commentator. She now heads communications for Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan.
Blaine Lam is owner of Lam Associates, a PR firm in Kalamazoo, and a former reporter for the Kalamazoo Gazette. The mission of his firm is to help improve the quality of life in Kalamazoo County. He has served as interim executive director of eight different organizations over the past decade.
Richard McLellan, owner of McLellan Law Offices, is a retired senior partner for the Dykema Gossett law firm’s Lansing office and an influential and knowledgeable Lansing insider. A graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, he lives in East Lansing.
Matt McLogan is head of government relations for Grand Valley State University in Allendale. He has also been commissioner of the Michigan Public Service Commission; chair of the State Officers Compensation Commission; and a member of the Michigan Broadband Development and Utility Consumer Participation boards. Though he insists he can neither sing nor paint, he also served on the Opera and Art Museum boards of directors in Grand Rapids.
Helen Taylor is director of the Michigan Chapter of The Nature Conservancy in Lansing, as well as chair of the Board of its Great Lakes Project. Prior to joining the conservancy, Taylor worked in the environmental policy field with a concentration in Great Lakes issues, pollution prevention, waste, and public involvement.
Margaret Trimer-Hartley is superintendent of the University Prep Science & Math Academy in Detroit and a former head of communications for the Michigan Education Association. She was also an education reporter at the Detroit Free Press.
Ken Winter is a former editor and publisher of the Petoskey News-Review. A member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, he now teaches political science and journalism at North Central Michigan College and at Michigan State University.