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Bridge Team


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, 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.

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, 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.

aj-revA.J. JONES – A.J. Jones has served as operations director for the Center since 2006. Prior to joining the Center 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.


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.

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:
Talent & education:
To prosper, Michigan must be a more educated place. Bridge will explore the challenges in education and identify policies and initiatives that address them.

Quality of life:
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.

Public sector:
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.

Safety net:
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.

Economy & competitive position:
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 at left.

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