Former Asheville Citizen-Times publisher Hammer to lead new civic org with journalistic bent


Randy Hammer, the former publisher of the Asheville Citizen-Times, is heading up an interesting new organization in Pensacola, Fla., called the Pensacola Institute, an organization that is part civic organization and part journalism start-up. You can read the press release below, but here’s a little more insight.

Quint Studer is a deep-pocketed philanthropist who is the former president of Baptist Hospital and founder of the Studer Group, a health care consulting company that works with hospitals across the U.S. He and his wife, Rishy, have donated millions of dollars to various social, civic and nonprofit organizations in the Pensacola area. The Studers are co-owners of Pensacola’s Double A Affiliate baseball team, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. He was a principal in the construction of a new ballpark, Community Maritime Park, a venue that cost $23.8 million.

Quint Studer, a public speaker and author, talks and writes about leadership and organizational issues. Studer had a public speaking engagement in Asheville in 2008.

It’s my understanding that the Pensacola Institute seeks to improve a community’s health by creating a list of benchmarks to gauge a community’s health, then write and report in-depth stories about those issues. The stories will be delivered in print and online.

Here’s the press release:

PENSACOLA, FL, (Feb. 28, 2014) — Local entrepreneurs Quint and Rishy Studer announced today they are funding a nonprofit institute to sponsor research into the development of strategies and tools to help cities evaluate and address the health of their economy, government and quality of life.

“We’re going to work to identify benchmarks, create assessment tools, and highlight best practices from across the nation to help cities address the challenges they face,” said Quint Studer. “Our goal is to work with communities to significantly improve life for people.”

The Studer Institute will be led by former Pensacola News Journal Executive Editor Randy Hammer. During his tenure at the PNJ, the newspaper won the National Headliner Award and was a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Hammer, who was twice named Gannett Company’s editor of the year, left the newspaper in 2006 to become a vice president at the Louisville Courier-Journal in Kentucky. For the past six years he had been the president and publisher of the Asheville Citizen-Times in North Carolina.

Hammer will serve as president and CEO of the institute. Joining him on the staff:

-Mollye Barrows, longtime WEAR-TV reporter and anchor. Barrows, who also goes by Mollye Vigodsky, joined the station in 1995 as an intern and worked her way up to become an investigative reporter and eventually an anchor.

In 2005, Barrows won second place in the Florida Associated Press Broadcasters competition for an investigative segment called “Secrets in the Schoolhouse.” In 2004, Barrows also wrote a book called “Perversion of Justice,” which chronicled the case of two juvenile boys, the King brothers, who were convicted of killing their father.

-Brian Hooper, who for the past five years has been an attorney at Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon. Last spring the Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce honored Hooper with its Emerging Leader of the Year award.

A native Californian, Hooper is a graduate of Washington and Lee University, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Harvard Law School. Before moving to Pensacola, he was a clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and an associate director of the federal Office of Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism.

-Reggie Dogan, teacher and former PNJ columnist. For the past year Dogan has been a teacher at the Escambia Charter School, an alternative school for at-risk youth. He also taught at the Dixon School of the Arts. Before becoming a teacher, Dogan spent 15 years at the PNJ as an assistant city editor, assistant editorial page editor and columnist.

“Our immediate focus is the Pensacola metro and the West Florida area,” said Hammer. “We are partnering with the Haas Center at the University of West Florida to develop an index of social and economic metrics that we hope people will be able to use to move their communities forward.”

“I’m very excited about the staff Randy is building at the Studer Institute,” said Quint Studer. “As Rishy and I have always said, there is so much talent right here in Pensacola, and we’re proud to have such a passionate group of professionals who care so deeply about making Pensacola a significantly better place to live.”

Quint Studer, a former president of Baptist Hospital and now co-owner of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos with his wife, Rishy, founded the Studer Group in 2000 with four full-time employees. Today it is a healthcare and education consulting firm that employs 205 people across the country.

“Cities are good at building streets, parks, and brick-and-mortar buildings,” he said, explaining his thinking behind the institute. “But Rishy and I have learned over the years that it’s much more difficult to build a community, to improve a community, and to make life better for people. That’s the hard part, and that’s going to be our driving passion behind the Institute.”

In addition to partnering with the Haas Center, the institute plans to collaborate with other local institutions and media outlets to develop the regional index and report on its findings.

1 Comment

ben m February 28, 2014 - 8:03 pm

We miss you Randy … congrats on your retirement

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