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T-Squared: We've hired Stacy-Marie Ishmael and Millie Tran to lead us in our second decade

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Stacy Marie Ishamel, left, and Millie Tran. Images courtesy of Kevin Abosch and Sharon Attia

As anyone who’s been even a casual observer of The Texas Tribune knows, we’re at an inflection point in the life of our business — the start of a second decade, successful financially, healthy culturally, admired across Texas and around the world for our journalism, our drive, and our willingness to take risks and think differently.

So when Emily Ramshaw and Amanda Zamora stepped aside to pursue their dream of launching their own nonprofit news startup and we began the process of hiring their successors, we had legitimate questions about the road ahead. Safe or risky? Conventional or unconventional? Tactics (a to-do list of tweaks and priorities to be executed upon) or strategy (a vision for what we could become)? Solve the problems of the last 10 years or leverage the possibilities of the next 10?

The biggest question of all: What is the role and responsibility of a news organization at this moment, in this state, in this democracy?

After considering a truly amazing range of qualified applicants to follow Emily and Amanda, including multiple finalists in each case who would have been exceptional colleagues, I’m so excited to tell you that we’ve chosen two people who have changed and challenged our industry — and will change and challenge us.

Our new editorial director will be Stacy-Marie Ishmael, a superlative journalist and inspiring leader, role model and public citizen who, over a stellar career, has been a senior editor at Apple, managing editor for mobile at BuzzFeed News and vice president of communities at the Financial Times. Stacy is among the smartest, most engaging and most passionate people I’ve encountered in more than 30 years of making hires like this one. As she told me when we met, she loves news — particularly local news — and newsrooms, loves building and running teams, loves developing leaders, and is deeply committed to ensuring the business we’re in is representative and inclusive of the people and populations we serve.

Stacy’s values are our values. Her enthusiasms are our enthusiasms. Her strengths complement ours. Her ambitions exceed ours. She will push us every day to work smarter, think more creatively, and produce better and more impactful reporting and events — to reach more people in more places and live more fully into our public service mission. A native of Trinidad, Stacy is a graduate of the London School of Economics.

Our new chief product officer will be Millie Tran, most recently deputy off-platform editor at The New York Times and previously its global growth editor. A superlative journalist and inspiring leader in her own right, Millie, too, is an alum of BuzzFeed, where she was director of global adaptation and editor of mobile news, working alongside Stacy. She has also worked at the American Press Institute, the Council on Foreign Relations and National Journal. When she made a big splash as the keynote speaker at last year’s International Symposium on Online Journalism, Millie explained that she’s obsessed with how people get and share news, likes anticipating change and trends and peering around the corner to see where things are going, and is a systems thinker.

In discussing this job with me and others at the Tribune, it quickly became clear that Millie’s mix of skills, experiences and interests — her intelligence, her empathy, her intuitive sense — set her up for success. She will expertly guide our audience, loyalty, design and technology teams as we work together to engage new readers in new places and new spaces. Born in Vietnam, Millie is a graduate of UCLA.

These are two immensely impressive people. We are so lucky to get to work with them. It’s a measure of how far we’ve come as an organization that we could attract the likes of Stacy and Millie to join us and lead us.

Stacy’s first day is March 23. Millie’s is April 13. Cannot wait! Please join me in welcoming them to the Tribune family.