A group of community members visit in a board room
The Beacon's community representatives first convened in May, 2022. From left, Anita Easterwood, Ben Keefe, Estrella Gonzalez and Gary Bradley-Lopez met at The Beacon's offices in Plexpod Westport Commons. Credit: (Zachary Bauman/The Beacon)

Kansas Citians shaping the future of community information

The Kansas City Beacon’s Community Engagement Bureau is a journalism lab reimagining local media. We do this by equipping people with skills and resources, engaging in critical public conversations and producing information that directly addresses people’s needs.

Our ultimate goal is to equip communities with the tools to eliminate information inequity.


Meet our Community Engagement Bureau Manager

GARY ENRIQUE BRADLEY-LOPEZ  is The Kansas City Beacon’s Community Engagement Bureau manager. Previously, Gary worked as a Director of Communications and Outreach as well as a Community Organizer for two local non-profits that serve the greater Kansas City region. Gary earned a Master of Professional Studies in organizational leadership from Fort Hays State University and is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Education in organizational leadership and development.  In his free time, he enjoys reading, playwriting and making people laugh through stand-up comedy or just being around.

✉️ gary@thebeacon.media

The Kansas City Beacon’s Community Advisory Board

The Beacon’s Community Advisory Board plays a critical role in advising the organization with a focus on improving our journalism, reaching underserved audiences and improving our public service to the community.

Community input is vital to our success. The advisory board is made up of a representative group of volunteer members who live and work in the Kansas City region and advises The Beacon’s staff on issues of interest to the broader community and providing feedback to inform decisions about our journalism. Details here.


A network of community representatives

ANITA EASTERWOOD is a professional fine artist and muralist, drawing since she was a child. A Wyandotte County native, she is passionate about service and enjoys giving back and advocating for her community.

INAS YOUNIS resides in Johnson County, KS, and is an Independent journalist, playwright and published author of three children’s books featuring children of differing faith minorities. She is a mother of two adult children with disabilities and is a disability activist.

IRA BOYDSTON is a Kansas City, MO, native and former Center School District board candidate with a deep desire to see conversations happen across communities to ensure access to needed resources.

YAZMIN VALDEZ is heavily involved in community organizing. As a Latinx queer woman in the Kansas City metropolitan area, she would like to use news and information as a tool to expose what roles are played in the advancement of social issues.

BEN KEEFE, a graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, hopes to help working-class individuals find their voices. For over a decade, he has coached and programmed recreational sports in the Northland.

ESTRELLA GONZALEZ is excited to grow her experience and knowledge in journalism while connecting with underserved communities. Since coming to Kansas City, she has been connected to organizations moving communities forward.

EDEN BARNES grew up with continuous interaction and engagement within the community, having been raised in the AME church in Kansas City, KS. As part of the LGBTQ+ community she hopes to expand community education and ensure her community is informed and supplied with the resources to prosper.


Community Engagement Bureau values

The Kansas City Beacon’s vision for community engagement is ambitious. Here are some of the values you’ll see reflected in the work ahead.

Impact
Traditional media metrics (clicks and page views) don’t tell the complete story. Our engagement work centers positive change in our community as the most important impact.

Power in listening
Our paid community representatives will explore neighborhoods, conduct interviews and host gatherings to further community understanding.

Strengthening information
Listening efforts from the Community Engagement Bureau surface story tips, neighborhood concerns, good news and questions that go straight to our newsroom so we can see where our attention is most needed.

Addressing real issues
Networked with beat reporters, neighborhood groups and community services, community representatives can help the newsroom track down answers, publish information and relay answers to the community.

Developing solutions
As we uncover news preferences and accessibility barriers, we’ll develop necessary materials — for example, audio recordings, social media posts, flyers — to distribute to people who need information.