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After Four Years of Journalistic Excellence, NJ Spotlight Looks Ahead

Hiring of first Development Director positions site for sustainability

four years of excellence

NJ Spotlight celebrates four years of news, issues, and insight on New Jersey public policy this month, and is marking the occasion with a move aimed directly at the future: the hiring of its first development director.

Michelle Ruess joins NJ Spotlight in the new position, funded by a grant from the Knight Foundation. As Development Director, Ruess will be responsible for creating donor programs and other ways for the public to support NJ Spotlight's mission. She will also manage current and future foundation grants.

“We are so thrilled to have Michelle, who brings with her a unique blend of experience in both journalism and fundraising,” said John Mooney, NJ Spotlight’s founding editor. “She’ll make the powerful case that NJ Spotlight’s goal of informing and engaging New Jerseyans deserves support and attention.” Ruess can be reached via email at

A graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, Ruess was formerly the managing editor of New Jersey Reporter Magazine, and covered the statehouse for The Record of Bergen County. Before coming to New Jersey, she covered Congress for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, OH, as well as state legislatures in Indiana, Florida, and Missouri.

Ruess also worked as press secretary for U.S. Rep. Rush Holt and directed communications for several New Jersey nonprofit agencies. Most recently, she headed up successful fundraising campaigns for the George School, a Quaker high school in Bucks County, PA.

NJ Spotlight cofounder and managing editor Lee Keough said, “An informed electorate is integral to sound public policy, and we believe we have played a large part in meeting that need these past four years. Michelle’s arrival is a critical step to ensuring NJ Spotlight continues to survive and thrive well into the future.”

NJ Spotlight was launched in May 2010, supported by grants from the Community Foundation of New Jersey, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, William Penn Foundation, and Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. The organization uses a blended business model that combines foundation support with advertising, sponsorships, and customized products. Other foundations that have supported our work include the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, and The Fund for New Jersey.

In addition to its daily news coverage, NJ Spotlight hosts live and online events with key stakeholders on issues such as the state budget, healthcare reform, solar power, charter schools, teacher tenure, and wind energy. Further information is at

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