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Hip hip hooray for EdNC

We have splendid news to report. Please indulge us here a little burst of cheering in celebration.

At its annual national policy conference earlier this week in Pittsburgh, the Governmental Research Association gave EdNC its award for the most effective citizen education on issues of cross-jurisdictional, statewide importance. Kriss Sjoblom, senior economist of the Washington Research Council who chaired the awards committee, described EdNC’s work as pioneering in disseminating policy research in the 21st century.

What’s more, Mebane Rash, our editor-in-chief and CEO, was elected vice president of the GRA, which puts her on the ladder to ascend to the presidency of the organization in two years. “Mebane is an innovator, a dynamo and a great contributor to the GRA,” said the organization’s current president, Peter Reichard of the Bureau of Governmental Research in New Orleans.

The GRA is a 102-year-old organization of professionals who conduct research on state and local issues. It gives three annual awards: for distinguished research, for policy achievement, and for effective citizen education, which EdNC received. Mebane’s involvement in the GRA dates back to her tenure at the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research.

Mebane took part in the GRA event on her return from a week-long visit to Singapore, along with 11 North Carolina middle school and high school teachers. On that trip, she produced an outpouring of photos, videos, tweets, and commentary on what the North Carolinians were learning from talking to educators and visiting classrooms in a small nation with “student-centric, values-driven’’ schools.

Gerry Hancock and I founded this nonprofit organization, formally known as EducationNC, in 2014. Mebane took on the job as editor/CEO in the summer of that year, and we launched publication in January 2015. In accepting the GRA award, Mebane described EdNC’s hybrid approach: a think tank that uses journalism to arm the media, philanthropy, public officials, and citizens with data, news, stories, information, analysis, and research so they can participate in the ever-rolling, sometimes noisy, exercise of democracy.

Under Mebane’s leadership, EdNC has become a more robust, expansive enterprise than Gerry and I would have imagined in barely two years. We began with a staff of three, now we have a staff of six. We have expanded our bipartisan board of directors. We have a diverse base of funders — and, as a nonprofit, we continue to work at broadening our financial base. She adheres to high standards of transparency and independence in editorial decision-making.

“Everything we value in our state we owe to visionary leaders like Mebane,” said Gerry, who serves as EdNC’s publisher and board chair. “She works every day to breathe life into our constitutional system, to create opportunity, and to disseminate information we must have to govern ourselves wisely. EdNC thanks the GRA for this recognition of Mebane’s superb leadership; she’s a blessing to both organizations.” 

Indeed, Mebane wakes up early in the morning to gather material for her “editor’s picks’’ of education news from around the state and nation. While attending to the day-to-day decision-making of a news organization, she travels often to visit schools in communities across the state, as well as to lead discussions on education issues. She appears regularly on a Time-Warner Cable interview program.

Mebane enriches EdNC by drawing on her own potent network of friends, colleagues, and policymakers. It’s a delightful opportunity to salute Mebane for the GRA’s recognition of her significant career in policy and research — and to salute the EdNC team for their work in making EdNC a go-to site for North Carolina citizens.

Ferrel Guillory

Ferrel Guillory is the Director of the Program in Public Life and Professor of the Practice at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, and the Vice Chairman of EducationNC.