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PD Editorial: Introducing our newest editorial board member

Our community, like the rest of the world, is confronting a public health crisis unlike any other in the past century.

To help explain what's happening, we're hustling to learn about pandemics and incubation periods, contact tracing and hospital inventory systems even as we're changing our regular working habits to lessen the chance of contracting or spreading COVID-19.

So we consider ourselves fortunate to be able to add an expert in health care and health insurance as our newest community editorial board member.

She is Judy Coffey, who retired in 2019 after 15 years as chief executive of Kaiser Permanente in Sonoma and Marin counties.

Coffey was responsible for two hospitals, 16 medical offices and 5,000 employees who provide health care for 316,000 North Bay residents. But she isn't just an executive. As a registered nurse, she has hands-on experience with health care delivery.

Coffey is the 10th person to serve as a community member of The Press Democrat's editorial board, succeeding Ruthie Snyder, a retired businessperson and former Mill Valley councilwoman who steps down after spending about 18 months on the board. We're grateful for her contributions, especially her work on fire prevention and vegetation management, and anticipate that she will continue to contribute ideas and insights.

Lorez Bailey, the executive director of Chop's Teen Club in Santa Rosa, is our other community member. She will remain on the board for several more months.

The permanent board members are Steve Falk, the CEO of Sonoma Media Investments, the parent company of The Press Democrat, and Jim Sweeney, the editorial director for the newspaper.

We started the community editorial board member program in 2014, adapting a successful idea from other newspapers around the country.

Members of the editorial board aren't involved in news reporting. We don't assign or edit news articles. That's the responsibility of the reporters and editors in the newsroom. Our bailiwick is the daily opinion pages and the Sunday Forum section.

The community board members take part in our regular discussions. They help us reach our editorial positions, including recommendations on candidates and ballot measure. If they choose, they're invited to write their own opinions.

Over the next few months, we will be focused on the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on our community and our economy, while working to ensure that the crisis isn't used as an excuse for government agencies to forget their obligation to keep the public fully informed. And we will continue to report and comment on other local issues, including housing, homeless and the fall election.

We're always looking for people who might serve as community board members or contribute to our opinion pages. If you're interested in applying, or if you want to recommend someone, send a cover letter and resume to jim.sweeney@pressdemocrat.com.

As always, our goal is to foster an exchange of perspectives and opinions. We invite readers to share their perspectives, and keep our Let the Public Speak section lively, by sending letters to letters@pressdemocrat.com.

You can send a letter to the editor at letters@pressdemocrat.com.

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