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More than 75 guests, two food trucks and a grateful staff gathered at The Lens’ office Thursday evening to celebrate our sixth anniversary. The event doubled as a welcome party for two new members of our board of directors.

The Lens published its first story in 2010, by Lens co-founder Karen Gadbois, about the storm-damaged Gentilly Terrace shopping plaza, detailing how the owner had received grants from the city but hadn’t made any improvements. Just weeks ago, the property’s new owner began demolition at the site.

Since that first story, we’ve published nearly 5,000 posts, such as charter school board reports, major multi-media projects, and investigations that have later been connected to officials going to jail.

Our board of directors oversees our operations, and in a sign of continued growth, two more people have joined the board, Stephanie Stokes and Nicholas Peddle, bringing our total to eight members.

Originally from Boston, Peddle moved to New Orleans six years ago with his wife, a New Orleans native. He works in marketing and cares greatly for his adopted city. He looks forward to combining these skills in his work with The Lens: spreading the message of an organization that creates a more fair and equitable city.

Stokes is a journalist with 30 years of experience; the last 20 years, until 2013, were spent at The Times-Picayune as an editor on the City Desk and in the Living section. A Philadelphia native, Stephanie has lived in New Orleans and Metairie since 1993. Her husband, Dan Shea, is publisher of The Advocate; they have two teenage children. She has been a longtime supporter of The Lens.

The board is led by by Chairman Calvin Johnson, a retired criminal-court judge. Gadbois’ partner in imaging and establishing The Lens is co-founder Ariella Cohen, who serves on the board of directors and is now the editor of Next City, based in Philadelphia.

The board recently was awarded a challenge grant from the Freeman Foundation, which will allow The Lens to establish a board-controlled reserve fund. This, too, speaks to the long-term sustainability of our operation.

We’re thankful for your support as readers and donors. We wouldn’t be where we are today without you, and we wouldn’t do this work if you weren’t here and interested.

Steve Beatty

Steve Beatty is the publisher and chief executive officer of The Lens. He worked as an editor for The Times-Picayune for 15 years, leaving New Orleans just before Katrina to take a position as an editor...