American Journalism Project welcomes Michelle De La Isla, former mayor of Topeka, Kansas, to its board of directors


Washington, DC – The American Journalism Project announced that Michelle De La Isla, former mayor of Topeka, Kansas, and Managing Director at Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation (DRK), a global venture philanthropy firm supporting early stage, high impact social enterprises, has joined its board of directors. 

Michelle has previously served as deputy mayor of Topeka, chief financial officer of a nonprofit financial assistance program for low-income families, and as executive director of Topeka Habitat for Humanity. As a member of DRK’s leadership team, Michelle builds partnerships, sources new investments, and serves as a key contributor to the Foundation’s thought leadership and external outreach efforts. 

“Michelle’s extensive experience in public service combined with her passion for democracy and equity will bring a fresh perspective to the American Journalism Project,” said board chair Joe Natoli. “She has been on the other side of the stories we tell and understands the critical role that local journalism plays in ensuring accountability and fighting against misinformation.”

“Communities need accurate, independent information to build trust and a healthy democracy. When local news declines, so does civic engagement and awareness. Having served in local government and as a nonprofit leader, I can not stress enough the vital importance of local news in preserving communities,” said De La Isla. “I look forward to working with the American Journalism Project as they fulfill their mission to preserve and reimagine local news.

“We work to ensure our board and leadership represents a variety of experts from different backgrounds, and Michelle is no exception,” said Sarabeth Berman, CEO of the American Journalism Project. “Her varied experience brings a deeply personal understanding of the importance of local news to the health of our communities and her vast leadership experience will push the American Journalism Project and our mission to new heights.”

To learn more about the American Journalism Project’s board of directors, visit


About the American Journalism Project

The American Journalism Project is a venture philanthropy dedicated to local news. We believe in civic journalism as a public good and are reimagining its future by building a model to finance and sustain the local news our democracy requires. We make grants to local nonprofit news organizations to build their revenue and business operations, partner with communities to launch new organizations, and mentor leaders as they grow and sustain their newsrooms.