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COLUMBIA, Mo. — Echo Lee Menges’ tenure as leader of the Missouri Sunshine Coalition promises to be both eventful and challenging.
The coalition’s directors elected Menges, editor of The Edina Sentinel in northeast Missouri, as president following the annual membership meeting July 28. She succeeds Amos Bridges, editor of the Springfield News-Leader.
Menges takes office as supporters prepare to mark two special events in 2023: the 50th anniversary of the Sunshine Law and the 15th anniversary of the Sunshine Coalition. The coalition promotes awareness and provides education about the landmark 1973 law and its requirements that the records and meetings of public governmental bodies be open and accessible to the public.
The celebrations come at a difficult time for supporters of government transparency. Multiple proposals to weaken the Sunshine Law were offered this year during meetings of the General Assembly in Jefferson City. Menges said these threats are expected to return in the new year.
Menges said her goals include improving communications with coalition members and interested citizens, particularly using a relaunched website and social media; promoting broad awareness of the Sunshine Law through a series of events marking its anniversary; and leading supporters in speaking with legislators about the law’s benefits for citizens across Missouri.
The awareness efforts kick off in September with award presentations planned for three Sunshine Heroes selected by the directors: Jason Maki, a private citizen in Platte County; Shane Schoeller, the clerk for Greene County; and the Missouri Independent, a nonprofit news service based in Jefferson City.
In addition to Menges, officers elected for the new program year include Kia Breaux, regional director for The Associated Press based in Kansas City, vice president; Mahree Skala with the League of Women Voters of Columbia-Boone County, secretary; and Roger Seay, news director of KFVS-TV in Cape Girardeau, treasurer.
The membership reelected five directors to the nine-member board. They are Menges, Breaux, Seay, Bridges and Kathy Kiely, the Lee Hills Chair in Free Press Studies at the Missouri School of Journalism.
The four directors continuing on the board are Skala; Sarah Fenske, executive editor for Euclid Media Group, publisher of the Riverfront Times in St. Louis; Jean Maneke of The Maneke Law Group, Kansas City; and Tom Sullivan of Sullivan Advertising, St. Louis.
For more information, contact coalition Executive Director Dennis Ellsworth at (816) 261-5373 or email@example.com.