Len Downie and Two Prominent Business Leaders Join the CIR Board of Directors

CONTACT: Robert Rosenthal 510-809-3162

Berkeley, CA – Len Downie, who as Executive Editor led the Washington Post to 25 Pulitzer Prizes in 17 years, has joined the Board of Directors of the Center for Investigative Reporting, CIR Executive Director Robert Rosenthal has announced.

Downie, who is currently a Post Vice President at Large, joins two other newly named CIR Board members, veteran media executive Susan Sachs and private equity firm founder Stephen Davis, according to Rosenthal. The announcement comes at a time of unprecedented expansion for the respected 32-year-old organization, even as investigative journalism faces a period of crisis and transition with the contractions at major metropolitan newspapers.

Most recently, CIR received major funding from several foundations to launch California Watch, the new statewide watchdog reporting project, and has formed several critical partnerships with other news organizations to ensure the continuation of high-quality investigative reporting.

“The expertise and career experience that Len, Susan and Stephen bring to the CIR board come at an opportune time,” said Rosenthal. “I am thankful to have their support and knowledge available to CIR during this time of growth.”

As executive editor of the Post from 1991-2008, Downie directed one of the largest newsroom staffs in the country. The paper’s Pulitzers during that period included three Gold Medals for Public Service. In addition to his ongoing Post role, Downie is Weil Family Professor of Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Downie also serves on the Board of Directors of Investigative Reporters and Editors.

"I'm looking forward to assisting the expansion of CIR and its mission at a critical time for investigative journalism in California and the rest of the nation. California Watch is particularly promising as a model for non-profit investigative reporting on public affairs at a time when commercial news media are being forced to reduce their role."

Susan Sachs has more than 20 years of top-level management experience in media. She spent 17 years at Time Warner in a myriad of executive roles. Most recently she was COO of Common Sense Media, the nation’s leading non-profit organization that rates and reviews media to help parents make better choices about the content their kids consume; she remains on its Board. Her online experience began in the mid 90s, advising start-ups on successful business models and transaction-based content and licensing components.

Former investment banker and corporate lawyer Stephen Davis co-founded Vista Equity Partners in 2000 with $300 million of committed capital. Today, his company and affiliates run two private equity funds with total equity funds exceeding $2 billion. Davis currently sits on the boards of directors of Petroleum Place, Ventyx, Inc., BigMachines, Inc. and Craig I/S. He is a member of the Software and Information Industry Association.

Downie, Sachs and Davis each bring particular expertise to CIR as the organization seeks to fill a growing need for journalism that focuses on accountability in public life, and the means to sustain it.

“Len brings his vast experience at exactly the right moment for the organization,” said CIR Board Chair Jonathan Logan. “We’re expanding both in terms of our own projects and in our role in the larger future of journalism in this country. Susan provides us with great expertise on the business side of media, and Stephen has been enormously successful in the world of finance. We can’t imagine three people, so committed to our mission, who are better equipped to help CIR support the work we do. They will also play a key role in CIR leading the way in developing new models for sustaining journalism in the digital age.”

Founded in 1977, CIR is the nation's oldest nonprofit investigative reporting organization. Through in-depth collaboration and multimedia distribution, CIR provides citizens—local and global—with critical, actionable information that impacts their lives.

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