Signal Ohio, formerly known as the Ohio Local News Initiative, is a network of independent, community-led, nonprofit newsrooms backed by a coalition of Ohio organizations, community leaders and the American Journalism Project. It’s one of the largest local nonprofit news startups in the country, with a newsroom in Cleveland and a newsroom in Akron.

The newsrooms produce high-quality accountability journalism while working directly with residents to produce and distribute community reporting, employing innovative models for local journalism, such as local affiliates of the award-winning Documenters Network by City Bureau, that are directly responsive to local information needs. Information that is produced for communities by Signal Ohio is free to access and available to partners for republishing.

Signal Ohio receives support from a broad coalition of local and national philanthropies, organizations, and individuals for its mission to ensure every resident of Ohio has the local news and information they need.

The organization is governed by a board that is representative of Ohio’s diverse communities and is an independent 501(c)(3) organization.


People are not engaging. Part of that is because people feel disenfranchised, that their voice doesn’t matter. That’s why local journalism is so critical, because it brings attention to the diversity of stories that are out there, and it validates people’s experiences.”

Victor Ruiz, Executive Director, Esperanza, Cleveland


  • After serving for decades as an attorney, Judge, and civil rights advocate, McNeil Danish leads Signal Ohio in its mission to ensure Ohioans have access to quality, public service journalism. Based in Columbus, McNeil Danish has more than 30 years of professional legal experience there and in Cincinnati, Dayton, and Chicago. She has been involved in a range of industries and business sectors, including service as a Commissioner on the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, as City Attorney for the cities of Cincinnati and Dayton, as a Franklin County Judge, legal counsel in the Ohio governor’s office and the Ohio Department of Commerce. McNeil Danish was appointed Judge by Governor Kasich, and most recently was Partner and DEI Strategic Business Partner at Taft Law, where she provides counsel to municipalities and small, minority, and women owned businesses. Across her many roles, McNeil Danish has been dedicated to building bridges across party, racial, and gender lines, fostering open cultures, dismantling prejudices, and empowering individuals.
  • Mills is the founding editor-in-chief of Signal Cleveland, Signal Ohio’s Cleveland newsroom. Lila, who has experience in community building and journalism, led the launch of Cleveland Documenters in 2020. Formerly associate director at Neighborhood Connections, a Cleveland-based organization that has done groundbreaking work building community networks, Lila has been a newspaper reporter, a student-journalism advisor and a freelance news producer. Born and raised on the southeast side of Cleveland, Lila is a first-generation college graduate with degrees from Columbia University.
  • Zake has deep roots in Northeast Ohio journalism. She was the managing editor for multimedia and special projects at the Akron Beacon Journal, where she began work as a staff photographer in 1986. Over a 20-year career, Zake worked in a variety of roles across departments that all helped inform her current role as Signal Akron’s editor-in-chief. Most recently, she was a journalism professor and student media adviser at Kent State University, where she worked with the next generation of journalists to understand public policy, environmental reporting, data and solutions reporting.