Director Q and A: NNA’s Lynne Lance

Part of a Monthly Series

The National Newspaper Association is known for its rally-around-the-members conventions, which in 2018 was in Norfolk, VA, where Lynne Lance (right) framed a picture with Linda O’Neil, then the circulation director at the Lancaster (SC) News.

Lynne Lance says she dislikes talking about herself.
But she eventually agreed to participate in this month’s Executive Director Question & Answer feature because it was an opportunity to thank the members of her National Newspaper Association.
She calls the 1,698-member association her second family.
The special relationships that newspaper people cultivate over their careers are often the fuel for national advocacy and educational groups like Lance’s.
After recently reorganizing itself, NNA is still at the forefront of representing community newspapers, whether it be better postal regulations or helping the public to better understand why their support is vital to the success of Relevant local news operations.
The group’s latest readership study, for example, is loaded with facts and figures to help newspapers continue to make a convincing case in the fractured media environment.
In many ways, like the newspapers she represents, Lance is a spirited survivor.
You’ll have to read on to find out one unusual aspect of that fact.

Can you introduce us to your association?
We are the National Newspaper Association and The NNA Foundation. We work on behalf of community newspapers; the NNA is the powerhouse for public policy and the NNAF is focused on training and education.

We’ve been following the major changes involving the Foundation. Can you walk us through the new approach and how it is going? 
Yes, we had lots of changes in 2020. Everything educational moved under the foundation — including contest, convention and Publishers’ Auxiliary. With that, we added several educational series – the Country Editors’ Forum, the Max Heath Postal Institute™ newspaper preparation certification series, and we are launching a journalism education series in May with “Covering Elections.” (
Only public policy and membership remain under the association now. Both boards have been able to hyper-focus on their missions.

Now you: What’s been your career path?
I have an advertising and marketing degree from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Immediately after college, I worked for a communications firm in Atlanta, then as a typesetter and graphic artist for a printer in Birmingham, Alabama, and then Springfield, Illinois.
Once both my boys graduated high schools, I took a job with the Illinois Press Association in Springfield, working my way up from administrative assistant to membership director. Once the IPA contracted management of NNA, I began working as their membership director, then chief operating officer.
Now, I serve as the executive director of both the association and foundation, managing through my own LLC.

How would you describe your position and role to someone outside the newspaper industry?
I do everything from invoicing to answering the phone to managing membership, two boards and several committees. I run the editorial and advertising contest and help plan the annual convention. We are in the business of keeping community newspapers Relevant and sustainable through public policy and education.
NNA has no employees, but has been very fortunate over the years to have the most amazing people contract for them to serve community newspapers. I am not the smartest person in the room, by far, but I work hard to let those that know best be the best.

During the NNA convention in Jacksonville, FL, last year, Rinda Maddox (right), publisher of the Sidell (IL) Reporter, checked in with Lynne Lance. Kate Richardson, NNA Associate Director, joined in.

What do you like best about your job?
The members. I spend a lot of time on the phone every day talking to them and they are my second family. If you haven’t been to one of our conventions, I highly recommend you join us. It’s like coming home. And we LOVE welcoming new family members. 

Minutes. I. Hate. Taking. Minutes. Fortunately, I have the wonderful Carol Pierce who has taken that over for me the past year and made my life so much happier.

What is your proudest career moment?
NNA trusting me to take the reins as executive director.

What are your association’s priorities? (Feel free to add a personal priority.)
For the association, postal issues and First Amendment rights are always in the forefront. This year, we will be concentrating on increasing the visibility of community newspapers in Washington, D.C. –proving their importance in reaching the audiences they need to reach. 
The Foundation’s priorities center on education. With the MHPI certification series, we are hoping to train newspapers to be proficient in U.S. Postal Service matters. Our journalism education series concentrates on the fundamentals in covering democratic processes. 

NNA organized a Zoom meeting with members so they could hear from Postmaster Louis DeJoy on March 15, 2022.

What keeps you up at night when wrestling with challenges?
I get so many emails and calls, I am always afraid I dropped the ball and didn’t follow up with someone. I try to do too many things at once, so my mantra lately has been “one thing at a time.”

What’s your favorite point, philosophy or story about the newspaper business?
I just talked to Mary Huber with the Archbold (Ohio) Buckeye. This past year, Mary told me about how her community came together to celebrate when one of their community’s own was on the TV show, “The Voice.” Well, you can’t clip a TV or radio broadcast. Mary and her staff created something in print that will be shared and enjoyed and cherished. That’s what newspapers do.

If you had unlimited resources to advance the newspaper industry, where would you invest your time and money? 
Educating communities on the importance of their local newspaper, as the watchdog for government corruption to your school’s basketball score.

Lynne Lance was one of the association executive directors to send a salute via video to Allen Beermann during the Nebraska Press Association’s tribute to its former leader. That’s Beermann in the lower left looking up at Lance on the large screen.

What is something most people don’t know about you?
I TWICE applied for the reality-TV series “Survivor.”

What do you like to do outside of work?    
Garden and read.

Finally, what is your best career advice to a newcomer to newspapers? To a veteran with 10 to 15 years until retirement?
Join the National Newspaper Association. 😊

Anything else to add?
Thank you to NAM and The Relevance Project and all community newspapers. 

–As told to Tom Silvestri, Executive Director, The Relevance Project

Note: Previous Q&A interviews are parked on the Relevant Point blog, which is part of

About the National Newspaper Association

The mission of the National Newspaper Association is to protect, promote and enhance America’s community newspapers. NNA protects community newspapers through active and effective government relation programs that address the issues affecting community newspapers.
NNA promotes community newspapers by educating readers, advertisers, and policy officials on the benefits and value of community newspapers.
NNA enhances community newspapers by providing information, solutions and strategies on current and emerging issues affecting the business interests of community newspapers.

The symbol for NNA — and community newspapers — is an individual on a park bench reading a newspaper. It emphasizes and reminds us that the value of community newspapers is in their ability to inform, educate and entertain people. The informed individual is the most elemental building block of our democracy. — From

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