On Friday, four new people joined the nine-member board of directors of Ballantine Communications Inc., The Durango Herald’s parent company.
The board members were introduced at a company celebration marking 60 years since the late Arthur and Morley Ballantine bought The Durango Herald.
Through the years, the Ballantine’s ownership has grown to encompass multiple ventures including the Herald, The Mancos Times, The Cortez Journal, The Dolores Star, Directory Plus and Buzztown.com. Ballantine Communications was created last summer as the umbrella organization over those affiliated companies.
The incoming board members are a new step in the company’s leadership because three of the four – Christopher Ballantine, Morley Healy and William Leavitt – are children of the Ballantine siblings on the board. The fourth appointee, Jan Burnham, is president and co-founder of a management and consulting business based in Chicago.
The presence of a younger generation of board members will add “fresh insight” into the company’s direction, Herald Publisher Richard Ballantine wrote in an email. He said his parents included him and his siblings in the board shortly after they turned 21.
The Ballantine family wants to extend the company’s leadership into the third generation, Ballantine wrote.
Christopher Ballantine, Richard and Mary Lyn Ballantine’s 26-year-old son, is pursuing a graduate degree in telecommunications at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He received his bachelor’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University, in Washington, D.C. He emphasized the importance of his family’s continued involvement in the company’s publications.
“If the family owns the company, it’s important also to be involved in the operations instead of watching from a distance,” he said. “There are certain family values we can more easily pass down.”
Morley Healy, 30, is a program manager for Via Christi Health, Kansas’ largest health-services provider. She received a bachelor’s degree in marketing and finance, and a master’s degree in health care from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She lives in Wichita. She is the daughter of Ed and Helen Healy.
“It’s going to be fun to be part of a multigenerational team,” she said. The newspaper has been “part of our DNA since we were little,” she said.
William Leavitt, 28, graduated from Columbia Law School and practices law in New York City, an experience he hopes will allow him to see the business through a “legal lens.” His focus on investment-banking law gives him a different perspective on how companies raise money, Leavitt said. He is the son of Paul Leavitt and Elizabeth Ballantine.
Burnham, the fourth new board member, works in organizational communication and change management as president and co-founder of the Chicago-based Roc Group. Her parents retired to Durango in 1983, and since then Burnham said she has made regular visits to Durango. Her family became friends with the Ballantines and she remembers many Christmases at their dinner table. Burnham, 56, describes herself as a “devoted reader” of the Herald and plans to move to the area in the future.
She said she is excited to tackle the challenge of bridging the gap between print journalism and the digital information age.
“The relationship to information in print is very different than the relationship to information digitally,” she said. “The question is how do we as a business marry those?”
Though none of the new board members is working directly in the journalism, together they have a variety of experiences in business, communications and law, all of which is a “necessary part of delivering good journalism,” Richard Ballantine wrote in his email message.
Christopher Ballantine, Healy and Leavitt also described memories of working at the Herald for brief periods when they were younger.
The new members join current members Helen Ballantine Healy, Elizabeth Ballantine and Richard Ballantine, who are siblings, and two nonfamily members, Wayne Roth who is president and general manager at KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio and Gary Hook, a former director of editorial operations at USA Today and the company’s executive-in-residence.
The board has had one vacancy since November when William Ballantine, Arthur and Morley’s younger son, resigned from the board. William Ballantine pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion in April.