Sara Crickenberger. Submitted photo.

Mountain State Spotlight is thrilled to announce that after a nationwide search, the board of directors has hired experienced West Virginia nonprofit leader Sara Crickenberger as the news organization’s executive director.

Crickenberger, a native of Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties, brings decades of experience running nonprofits to the organization. Most recently, she was the Foundation Relations and Institutional Grants Officer at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. She previously served as the President and CEO of Lewisburg’s Carnegie Hall and for a decade as President and CEO of the American Lung Association of West Virginia. 

Prior to her nonprofit experience, Crickenberger began her professional career working for newspapers in West Virginia, including the Charleston Daily Mail, The Evening/Weekend Journal in Martinsburg, and The Register-Herald in Beckley. She also worked at The Seattle Times. 

“Sara has a passion for local journalism and deep experience in fundraising and nonprofit management,” said Ken Ward Jr., senior editor and co-founder of Mountain State Spotlight. “I can’t wait to begin our partnership, and I look forward to working together to sustain the public service journalism organization West Virginians need.”

Mountain State Spotlight, founded in the spring of 2020, has one of the largest reporting staffs in West Virginia. Its mission is to help West Virginians make our state a better place by producing “sustained outrage” journalism that exposes abuses of power by government, business and other institutions.

When she starts her new role at Mountain State Spotlight next month, Crickenberger will share leadership with Ward; while he oversees the editorial department, she will run the business operations, with a focus on long-term sustainability and growing support from major donors.

“I am thrilled to have Sara join MSS,” said Ben Bailey, chairperson of the organization’s board of directors. “She brings a unique combination of nonprofit leadership and journalistic sensibilities to our goal of building an independent, fearless news organization serving all of West Virginia for years to come.”

Crickenberger said, “I believe independent, investigative reporting is critical to good government, social justice, and the very existence of American democracy.

“The talented team at Mountain State Spotlight is on the cutting edge of nonprofit, civic journalism in the United States, and I am proud and excited to be part of the next phase of this venture,” she said. “This transition also has some beautiful symmetry for me personally as I return to West Virginia journalism where I started my professional career.”

Crickenberger holds a bachelor’s in journalism from Marshall University’s W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and a master’s in communication studies from West Virginia University.

“Mountain State Spotlight provides the information West Virginians need about their communities and our state — deeply sourced stories of abuses of power, corruption, and injustice that lead to needed reform,” said Suzanne Weise, secretary of the MSS board of directors. “Sara’s experienced leadership of our nonprofit business team will ensure our journalists have the resources to execute our mission.”