When John Schaffner retired in February and transferred The Beacon’s day-to-day management to Director of Operations Ali Hermes, the paper embarked on a new era of publishing. Under Hermes’ leadership, The Beacon is managed under a philosophy that balances the paper’s community roots with today’s high-tech needs. With Hermes as head of The Beacon, the paper is now a primarily women-run business, and The Beacon team is dedicated to providing readers with modern access to news while protecting The Beacon’s small-town identity that has made it a trusted literary friend in the community for four decades.
Hermes brings to The Beacon years of experience. She holds two master’s degrees, one in forensic psychology with a minor in behavior analysis and one in psychology with a minor in adolescent psychology. She was hired as sales manager in 2011 and promoted to Director of Operations in 2021. Under her leadership, the paper has won several MACPA Conference awards, including Best Overall Free Community Newspaper, Best Special Sections and Best Creative Design.
Hermes is a uterine cancer survivor, a wife and a mother of nine children. She has three biological children, one stepdaughter and five children she adopted after an aunt passed away at age 46.
“The Beacon is a community tradition of 40 years, and now The Beacon has become a love of mine that has 1.4 million readers a year. I believe that The Beacon is a staple to the community that would be missed if not here, and I continue to carry on this tradition and look forward to the progress we will make in the future,” Hermes said. “We at the Beacon will always strive to be better and create better ways for readers to obtain our positive news.”
The women helping lead The Beacon are Account Executives Gina Monak-Miller and Corrie Shiplett and Assistant Editor Sheri Trusty. Along with Editor D’Arcy Egan and Graphic Designer Mark Schaffner, The Beacon has the strong foundation to be the county’s favored source of positive news for another 40 years.
Monak-Miller is a Marblehead native and Oak Harbor resident with 21 years of newspaper experience. She is personally and professionally ingrained in Ottawa County, and she considers herself a “county girl” who has developed lifelong friendships through her professional life as an advertising executive for The Beacon.
“I absolutely cherish my customers, and I love making friends along the way. They bring out the best in me, and I am truly blessed,” she said.
Shiplett is a registered nurse with 13 years of experience who joined The Beacon about a year ago. She manages special sections including Memory Lane, Weekly Horoscope, and the entertainment and sports calendars.
“I love that I can work from home with The Beacon. It gives me variety in my careers and allows me to provide research and resources for the community,” Shiplett said.
Trusty, who joined The Beacon in July, is an Associated Press award-winning feature writer who has been a newspaper correspondent since 2006. Her photography has been published in newspapers around the country, including the New York Times, and her photos were featured in a national project that received a James Beard award.
“I have a passion for sharing the stories of the incredible people of Ottawa County,” Trusty said.
Hermes carried The Beacon into the modern world when she developed its strong online presence. She incorporated website ads, revamped the Facebook page, began offering client email campaigns, added QR codes, and upgraded the website, which increased views to 200,000 in the last year. Today, Beacon readers can access the paper in print or as an eNewspaper, and The Beacon Mobile App will soon launch.
The Beacon men are glad to be a part of those changes. As The Beacon’s graphic designer, Mark Schaffner has seen firsthand the impact Hermes made on the paper by increasing its digital presence.
“She has strengthened The Beacon’s online influence. By adding modern marketing technology like QR codes, she has helped The Beacon’s advertisers reach more customers and better educate potential clients about their businesses,” he said.
Egan, who has five decades of media experience, understands the importance of the online strength Hermes brought to the paper, and he is glad she has created a balance between The Beacon’s community roots and modern technology.
“An excellent example has been Hermes’s impressive expansion of The Beacon’s internet presence and the value of its online advertising and community news,” he said. “Port Clinton’s residents have fully embraced their small city as a modern Vacationland, where The Beacon has flexed its muscle as an entertainment weekly under Hermes’ leadership.”
While Hermes has utilized digital technology to increase The Beacon’s reach, she is still committed to The Beacon’s local heritage which earned the trust and loyalty of generations of readers. Her efforts have turned The Beacon into the largest free community newspaper in Ottawa County and across much of northern Ohio, and she’s not done building the Beacon into an even more relevant and impactful source of local good news.
“We serve the community that we live in with pleasure with our positive newspaper,” Hermes said. “Our team is focused on making The Beacon even more valuable to the community since we are the only positive news outlet from the village of Genoa to Lorain County.”