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WITF Names Jess King as Executive Director of The Steinman Institute for Civic Engagement

Institute to advance innovations in local journalism, media literacy and civic engagement.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (July 26, 2023) – WITF Inc. has named Jess King, formerly chief of staff for the mayor of Lancaster, as executive director for The Steinman Institute for Civic Engagement. The new institute will concentrate on building stronger communities by researching, developing and advancing innovations in the areas of local news consumption and delivery, media literacy, and ways in which citizens participate in civic life.

“With the survival of local news a growing concern nationwide and media literacy a challenge, we view the mission of The Steinman Institute for Civic Engagement as critically important to the well-being of communities and our democracy,” said Robert Krasne, founding chair of the board of managers of The Steinman Institute. “Jess shares that view and we are tremendously excited to welcome her as the institute’s first executive director.”

WITF President and CEO Ron Hetrick said, “As a new venture of WITF, The Steinman Institute for Civic Engagement requires a driven executive who is passionate about local journalism and civic engagement and their critical role in building stronger communities. Jess is just the right leader at just the right moment as we transform The Steinman Institute from an idea into an impactful thought-leader and innovator.”

King brings to The Steinman Institute over 20 years of experience in public and nonprofit sector organizations. Prior to her tenure as chief of staff for the mayor of Lancaster, King was a candidate for Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District. She also previously served as executive director for ASSETS Lancaster, a nonprofit economic development organization; economic coordinator for the East King Improvement District in Lancaster; and was founding executive director for Union Project, a community development organization in Pittsburgh.

“I truly believe my executive roles in public service and community development have been leading up to this opportunity,” King said. “I have dedicated my career to bringing ideas, people and resources together to build stronger communities. That’s exactly what The Steinman Institute will set out to do. The health of communities, and the health of our democracy itself, depends on citizen engagement, trusted local journalism, and citizens who invest time in and critically analyze local news content. I look forward to guiding the institute on its journey to innovate ways to improve local journalism and civic engagement regionally and nationally.”

King earned her MBA in sustainability from Bard College; completed graduate coursework in community development, nonprofit management and fundraising at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs; and holds a certificate in advanced social enterprise from Duquesne University’s Nonprofit Leadership Institute. She earned her bachelor’s in liberal arts from Eastern Mennonite University.

King is currently a board member for the Lancaster City Alliance, a nonprofit that works to enhance the city’s quality of life, and RegenAll which focuses on identifying and implementing local climate solutions. She has been recognized with numerous honors and awards for her service and accomplishments including Young Alum of the Year from Lancaster Mennonite School; Red Rose Award from LNP; Pittsburgh 40 Under 40 Award from Pittsburgh Magazine; James Richards Servanthood Award from the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation; and the Inaugural “Promise Award” from the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh.

Steinman Communications Inc. and WITF on July 1 completed a transaction that gifted LNP | LancasterOnline to WITF, setting the combined organization on a path to innovate a new model for local news, community education and civic engagement in Central Pennsylvania. On July 5, The Steinman Foundation provided seed funding to WITF to establish The Steinman Institute for Civic Engagement.

Founded by educators in 1963, WITF has been an essential part of the civic, educational and cultural fabric of Central Pennsylvania for 60 years. The Steinman family owned and operated what today is LNP | LancasterOnline, Lancaster County’s top source of news and information, for nearly 158 years and four generations. Together, WITF and LNP now serve almost three million people – about a quarter of Pennsylvania’s population – in 19 counties in Central Pennsylvania.

About WITF Inc. 

WITF, Inc. is an educational organization that inspires lifelong learning. We create connections with people and their communities through trusted journalism, thoughtful discussions, entertainment and educational experiences. WITF’s media services include WITF TV and WITFK PBS KIDS 24/7 (PBS and PBS KIDS public television member stations); WITF 89.5 & 93.3 (NPR public radio member stations); digital content (including, StateImpact Pennsylvania, Mosaic and; LNP, Lancaster County’s daily newspaper; LancasterOnline, the number one news site in Lancaster County; The Lititz Record-Express (serving Lititz and Manheim); The Ephrata Review (serving Ephrata and Cocalico); The Caucus (a state government accountability journalism publication); LNP Media Group, Inc. (a marketing agency); and Media Solutions (a production services division). 

For more information or to contribute to WITF or The Steinman Institute for Civic Engagement, visit