WyoFile has hired Patrick “Padraig” Sheehy as its executive director, a Laramie resident who has career experience in both journalism and nonprofits.
In the face of a changing media landscape and across Wyoming’s demographic tapestry, Sheehy will connect residents with WyoFile’s independent online news reporting and enable them to support free access to WyoFile stories. Sheehy, 64, began work this week.
“The role of online news sites is becoming more and more important,” Sheehy said. WyoFile ranks among the larger independent nonprofit journalism sites in the country and fills a critical need statewide, he said.
Board chair Anne MacKinnon welcomed Sheehy, saying his decades of experience in the two related fields — especially while working in Wyoming and Montana — make him a great fit.
“Sheehy brings a great combination of interests and skills to WyoFile,” she said. “In his new position he will be responsible primarily for broadening and deepening WyoFile’s funding base, to ensure WyoFile’s long-term future as Wyoming’s best independent, in-depth source of news and analysis.”
WyoFile’s editorial staff will continue in its current configuration, as adjusted for the recent legislative session. Matthew Copeland will remain interim editor. Former editor Dustin Bleizeffer will continue reporting, as is his desire, focusing on energy, policy and other topics. Angus Thuermer will cover natural resources and take on other assignments.
Sheehy served most recently as development director for The Eppson Foundation in Laramie, supporting the Eppson Center for Seniors. Before that he had been a consultant and worked as development director for the College of Education Health & Human Development in Bozeman. He was development director of Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota and worked for other institutions and healthcare groups in Kansas, Idaho and Montana before that.
Sheehy’s newspaper experience began at the University of Montana School of Journalism and included stints as a reporter at the Montana Standard and as city editor at the Havre Daily News. The twin careers exposed Sheehy to the eye-opening experiences of covering local governments as a reporter and editor. He worked in healthcare public relations before taking on the challenges of developing nonprofits.
Sheehy’s family has deep roots in Montana and Wyoming. The family owned and operated a General store in Powell — Sheehy and McWilliams — around 1900.
Rural Wyoming still appeals to him. “Our readers are distributed across urban and rural settings,” he said, causing WyoFile to be conscious how it serves an audience that’s spread out with sometimes limited technology.
Sustaining the organization will be a focus for Sheehy.
“I expect to begin traveling the state and visiting with our patrons to gain a better understanding about why they support WyoFile,” he said. “Through their past support our donors have made it clear that WyoFile is important to them. Given the kind of people who support and read WyoFile we must create new opportunities for business enterprise to find our readers and tell their story through underwriting.”
Making the organization a fit nonprofit also is important, he said. “As a nonprofit it is important to us to make WyoFile itself transparent and to that end we will be working toward achieving the highest rating possible from nonprofit rating organizations.”
Sheehy and his wife, Wendy, have a daughter, Mariah, of St. Paul, Minnesota, and a son, Dylan of Laramie. Dylan Sheehy will graduate this spring from the University of Wyoming with a BA in computer science. Wendy Sheehy is a native Montanan and teaches at Cathedral Home for Children in Laramie.
Sheehy spoke with Cassandra Lee at KHOL 89.1 in Jackson about his new role, Tuesday Mar. 22. Listen to their interview below.