Herald, Albert Lea Tribune publisher voted in as president of Minnesota Newspaper Association

Published 8:36 am Monday, February 5, 2024

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Crystal Miller, publisher of the Albert Lea Tribune and the Austin Daily Herald, was elected president of the Minnesota Newspaper Association on Friday, Feb. 2, during the association’s annual meeting at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest in Brooklyn Center. 

Miller is the 143rd president of MNA, representing more than 260 newspapers across Minnesota.

She succeeds Chad Koenen of Henning Publications. Koenen will transition to the position of immediate past president on the MNA Board of Directors.

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Justin Lessman of the Jackson County Pilot is the association’s new first vice president, Tara Brandl of the Tracy Area Headlight Herald is second vice president and Kelly Boldan of the West Central Tribune of Willmar is third vice president. Other board members are Steve Jameson of The Free Press in Mankato, Bill Gaier of Finance & Commerce, Ted Almen of the Kerkhoven Banner and the newly elected Tim Douglass, publisher of the Pope County Tribune in Glenwood.

The 157th annual Minnesota Newspaper Association Convention was held Jan. 31-Feb. 2 in Brooklyn Park. MNA hosted Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon and Star Tribune Publisher Steve Grove at its Friday convention luncheon. Child safety advocates Patty Wetterling and Joy Baker gave the keynote address at the Thursday luncheon.
Among several hundred awards presented to journalists, advertising professionals, newspapers and college journalists at Thursday’s Better Newspaper Contest Awards Banquet were the Vance and Mills trophies, which recognize the state’s best weekly and best multi-day publications. The Brainerd Dispatch was honored with Vance Trophy, The Globe of Worthington took home the Mills Trophy.

The MNA directors also serve with two at-large members as the board of the Minnesota News Media Institute, MNA’s 501(c)3 nonprofit that works to provide training and professional development for MNA members. MNI also provides funding for internships and programs for student journalists,and works to expand public understanding of where Minnesota newspapers fit into the state’s civic landscape.

“I had no idea how important serving on the MNA board would turn out to be,” Miller said. “I’m proud of the work we have accomplished and will continue to do. It is with great privilege that I assume the role of president. In 2024 I look forward to continuing work on filling gaps in our newsrooms with internship scholarships and the Citizen Journalism University program.” 

She also said the MNA board of directors and staff will continue connecting with members through the Every Member Visit program.

Miller studied graphic design at Minneapolis Business College, graduating in 1997. She worked in graphic design for three years. In 2000 she moved to her hometown and started her career with newspapers as an advertising salesperson at the Owatonna People’s Press. In 2002 Miller moved to Albert Lea and started working with Boone Newspapers as an advertising salesperson, becoming advertising director in 2003. She was named publisher of the Albert Lea Tribune in 2013 and of the Austin Daily Herald in 2020. 

She is a 2015 graduate of the Minnesota News Media Institute and Blandin Foundation Editors & Publishers Community Leadership Program and was elected to the MNA Board of Directors in 2016. Miller has served on the MNA Advertising/Digital Committee. 

In Albert Lea, Miller serves on the board of directors of the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce, serves on the Government Affairs Committee and is treasurer of the Albert Lea Rotary Club. 

Crystal and her husband, David, have two children, Lauren, 21; and Jacob, 16; both of whom have done their time helping insert and deliver newspapers.