Longtime editor of The Times-Independent, Lisa Church, will soon step into a new position — as the city of Moab’s communications and engagement manager. City officials said Church will work on improving interdepartmental communications as well as the city’s ability to engage and inform residents on various municipal issues.
“I think Lisa knows this community so well and she has a really great tone and tenor about her that I think people will really relate to,” said City Manager David Everitt. “She obviously brings a very qualified set of skills in terms of being able to write across various mediums and help everybody else do their job better. I’m looking forward to her energy and her bringing that level of focus.”
Church has worked for more than 30 years in journalism. In Moab she has been both the editor and a news reporter for The Times-Independent, as well as a freelance reporter and photographer for publications including The Salt Lake Tribune and Mother Jones. She has also worked as a college English instructor and as a marketing and public relations director for both arts and education nonprofit organizations in Kansas City, Missouri, and Moab.
Church said her new role as the city’s communications manager will involve bringing “clear and factual” information to the public regarding issues at the city.
“Part of my job as a journalist over the years, and my job as editor of The Times-Independent, has been to take information and put it into terms and language that people can understand easily and clearly,” Church said. “I’ll now be taking that knowledge that I’ve learned over many years and using it to try to help the city and help the community. The city certainly has a need for the community to better understand how things work there, what they’re doing, what they’re up to, and they also have a need to be able to explain that in as clear a way as possible.”
Everitt said that it is “pretty clear” that Moab city needs to better inform the public about local issues while also finding ways to engage more residents in government processes.
“When I first started it was pretty clear that council members felt like there was a lot going on in the city and it was time for it to be somebody’s job to figure out better ways for residents to understand what was going on in the city and how to participate in local decisions,” Everitt said. “... The second aspect of [the job] is looking at how people could participate in government more actively, whether it’s soliciting people’s feedback or creating opportunities for people to help provide input into a particular proposal.”
Moab Mayor Dave Sakrison said Church’s knowledge of the Moab community will benefit both residents and city staff as she builds the communications manager position.
“Lisa knows our community, understands our issues, and brings a wealth of skills and experience to the job,” Sakrison said. “She’s a great fit. We are fortunate to have her join our team at the city.”
Times-Independent publisher Zane Taylor said he also believes Church will be a good resource for the city.
“Lisa has always been dedicated to the highest standards of integrity and ethical conduct,” Taylor said. “There is no doubt that she will be a great asset for the city in this new role in communications.”
Church described her almost 20 year career with The Times-Independent as an “honor.” She first began writing for the newspaper as a freelance reporter in 1999, later taking the helm as editor in 2006.
When Church became editor, she was the first person in 50 years to serve in that role who was not a member of the Taylor family, who have owned and operated The Times-Independent since 1911.
“I think about all the amazing people I’ve had the opportunity to meet working at The Times-Independent ... and I’m just so grateful for all the opportunities that the Taylor family have given me,” Church said. “They put a huge amount of trust in me. ... That was touching.”
Filling her shoes at the newspaper will be news reporter and editor Greg Knight, most recently of the Sanpete Messenger. Knight said he is eager to begin serving the local community by helming Moab’s longest-running community newspaper.
Church said her experience interacting with the local community through her role at The Times-Independent and as a local journalist will inform her work as the city’s communications manager. She said she will keep in mind the passion and spirit local residents bring to the issues that they care about.
“I’ll absolutely take away with me the kindness of people in this community, the thoughtfulness of people ... and the spirit of people in this community,” Church said. “One of the things I love about Moab is the fact that people do get out there and try to make a difference. They get out there and voice their opinions at meetings; they do it through the newspapers. People in this town are very active — politically and personally — about things that they really care about. It’s one of the things that make Moab such a great place.”