Foothills Forum

Foothills Receives Statewide Awards for its Journalism

MAY 2, 2022 — Foothills Forum, in partnership with the Rappahannock News, has won a total of 21 awards from the Virginia Press Association (VPA) for original reporting about our community in 2021. The recognition from VPA — including eleven first-place honors, five second-place awards, and four third-place prizes...

Foothills Insider Winter 2022

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the new Foothills Forum newsletter for supporters and friends. In the emerging world of nonprofit journalism, Foothills is widely admired, producing award-winning stories. Foothills’ publishing partner is The Rappahannock News which runs Foothills stories, articles that can take weeks – even months – to research and write. Each year, Foothills holds a strategic planning retreat where board members, our journalists and others set goals for the coming year. At this year’s gathering in March, we’ll focus on how to sustain and expand our award-winning journalism. Foothills’ coverage of Rappahannock is made possible by financial support from you. Thank you.
Picture for Foothills Insider Winter 2022

Andy Alexander is Foothills’ new board chair

A constant in the growth of Foothills and its support for local news has been the steady hand of founding board chair Bud Meyer. Now a page is turning as Bud intentionally steps aside, giving way to new chair Andy Alexander, former ombudsman of The Washington Post and long-time county resident.

Cultivating citizen journalists

Today is Giving Tuesday: Please give to Foothills during NewsMatch. “In Rappahannock, we are so fortunate to have Foothills Forum,” says Patti McGill Peterson of Sperryville. “When newspapers are struggling for survival — and more and more towns and counties have no source of reliable, in-depth local reporting, Foothills Forum is doing the hard work — running down the leads, finding the best sources, and producing high-quality news — news that is focused on Rappahannock. That’s why I support Foothills Forum.”

Turning the page at a community news nonprofit

On November 19, Foothills Forum, a journalism partner of the Rappahannock News, met and selected its new board chair Andy Alexander, long-time Rapp resident and former ombudsman of The Washington Post. Alexander succeeds Larry “Bud’ Meyer, Foothills co-founder and board chair for the past seven years. The Foothills officers are (FROM LEFT): Sheila Gresinger, secretary; Steve Vick, treasurer; Stephen Brooks, vice chair; Alexander; and Meyer.

Extra! Extra! Read all about Citizen Journalism 101

Ever have the itch to report and write? Want to go from news consumer to news provider?. We’re honored that the topnotch leaders of the Rapp Center for Education have accepted our pitch to teach a Lifelong Learning class starting in November for Rappahannock County citizens interested in informing and engaging our community. It’s free — no cost to those who sign up.

August News

The early observations about life and local news from Ben Peters, newly arrived editor of the Rappahannock News, say a lot about our unique county and about Ben himself. Most formerly the associate editor of the weekly Athens (Ohio) News, Ben has hit the ground running, with nuanced coverage in our county’s weekly of the complex path facing Rush River Commons as well as the frustrating-for-all first week of school.

May News

As we head into the Memorial Day weekend and summer 2021 (hopefully featuring long-delayed, in-person gatherings among your families and friends), let us share a few insider news morsels. Detailing a unique partnership in local news. “It’s about collaboration between a business, an important business, a service business like a...

April News

Spring brings to Rappahannock blossoming flowers and seasonal smells, farmers’ markets, hikers and bikers … and Give Local Piedmont!. For eight years, the Northern Piedmont Community Foundation has sponsored this online fundraising campaign, raising millions of dollars for the great nonprofit organizations serving our region. Support for Foothills through Give...

March News

Introducing the Shoe Leather Fund — A new way to support community news. For seven years Foothills has supported in-depth, explanatory reporting while, at the same time, being agile and responsive to changing community needs (see C-19 Daily Update below). Now, in this time of transition at Rapp News —...

January News

Have you noticed the new, enhanced look of Foothills on Facebook and Instagram? We have Jennifer Tepper to thank for revamping our social media presence. Many of you already know the highly creative Jennifer, who splits her time between Rappahannock and southwestern New Mexico. She is an originator of websites and a social media marketing specialist for several local organizations.

December News

“The one consistent thing is that the weather is more inconsistent”. The final installment in the Foothills Forum-Rappahannock News special report on our county’s glorious natural environment was a probing article by Randy Rieland on “the new abnormal” of local climate change impacts. Unpredictability and extremes in weather patterns, encroaching invasive plant and insect species, and ever greater challenges for farmers … Randy explored it all thoroughly and concluded with suggestions on practical steps to take offered by six environmentalists.

September News

Housing in Rappahannock is limited and expensive. Rentals are even more limited in supply than houses, and home values are higher than in most neighboring counties and (far above) the national median. These are among the key findings in Home Sweet Home? a three-part (so far) Foothills Forum series published...

Margaret Sullivan Discussion

On September 11th, we were delighted to host a discussion between author and columnist Margaret Sullivan and our own Andy Alexander. Sullivan, Washington Post media columnist and former New York Times public editor, is one of the nation’s leading voices championing local newspapers across the U.S. Andy Alexander is a longtime Foothills advisor and former Washington Post Ombudsman. Our discussion with Margaret on the plight of local news and her new book, Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of American Democracy (2020) can be found below.

Welcome Andy!

Washington, Va. (May 15, 2020) – Andy McLeod, who has served in an array of nonprofit and public leadership positions, has been named the executive director of Foothills Forum.

We’re here.

Here’s the new game plan: provide resources to the Rappahannock News to help it serve as our community’s 24/7 reliable news outlet during the COVID-19 situation. Sara Schonhardt is reporting for the paper on a daily basis and her articles are being posted on as soon as they’re available. Read Sara’s article on how Rappahannock farmers are responding to changing community needs.

We’re here.

(Pictured at right, Eric of Waterpenny Farm tending to greenhouse seedlings. PC: Waterpenny Farm for Rapp News). Randy Rieland has cut short his leave and Tim Carrington will have stories as soon as next week. Bob Hurley will continue to work on doer profiles and contribute to other projects.

A job. On deadline.

Now’s the time to get your name in the running to fill a full-time Report for America reporting position at The Rappahannock News. Only twist: Applications are open through Jan. 31. Technically, tomorrow. Deadline, right?. The News and Foothills Forum are participants in the prestigious 2020-21 RFA program, and the...


We’ve got big news to share, an ongoing opportunity for community supporters, a peek ahead and a warm reminder of our county’s generosity of holiday spirit. The Rappahannock News will host a full-time emerging journalist focusing on Rappahannock County’s future as one of 164 newsrooms nationwide chosen to host the 2020-21 class of Report for America (RFA) journalists.


We’ve got big news to share, an ongoing opportunity for community supporters, a peek ahead and a warm reminder of our county’s generosity of holiday spirit. The Rappahannock News will host a full-time emerging journalist focusing on Rappahannock County’s future as one of 164 newsrooms nationwide chosen to host the 2020-21 class of Report for America (RFA) journalists.