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.

The Beacon is looking for Kansas Citians to become community representatives for our Community Engagement Bureau. Learn more about this paid opportunity.

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

Eden Barnes (She/Her) 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.

Max Sheffield (They/He) resides in Kansas City, Mo., and brings a decade of healthcare experience into their career as a speaker and copywriter who believes every person has a unique and powerful story the world needs to hear. 

Gabby Moore (She/Her) is a native of Wyandotte County and a professional tattoo artist who has always held a strong desire to further the community and uses her platform to do so. 

Clay Marcusen (He/Him) resides in Midtown Kansas City and is a retired registered nurse who has been very active in community nonprofits, specifically around social justice issues as they relate to public health.

Lisbeth Ureña (She/Her) is originally from the Dominican Republic but resides in Johnson County, Kan. She is a recent graduate of Wichita State University and is involved in her community through volunteerism.

Shakina Shelby (She/Her) is from South Kansas City but resides in Lee’s Summit, Mo. She is a mother of one and has her own party and event balloon decorating business. 

Ben Keefe (He/Him) is 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.

Rosana Polanco (She/Her) was born and raised in Kansas City and is a mother of three daughters who loves being involved in her community and helping underserved residents. 

Isaac Young (He/Him) has held leadership positions as a student at Kansas City Kansas Community College. Since then, he has worked in the local food industry supporting a small black business.

Asia Jones (She/Her) is a Kansas City, Mo., native and content creator with a passion for connecting people through better communication. Her previous experience includes supporting city government communications efforts through print and digital content.

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.

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.