The Williamsport Sun-Gazette and www.sungazette.com are pleased to announce the promotion of several veteran and new staff members as the community newspaper strengthens its market reach through robust print and online content, while at the same time saying a bittersweet “happy retirement” to its long-time editor.
L. Lee “Laura” Janssen retires this coming Friday, Oct. 1, after a dynamic 38-year career in journalism.
With Janssen’s departure, Mike Maneval has been promoted to managing editor and Karen Vibert-Kennedy, the Sun-Gazette’s multi-media editor, takes on the additional role of news editor.
Together, the two will lead the Sun-Gazette news team.
Further, Katelyn Hibbard has been named assignment editor, while Marty Weaver and Mallorie McIlwain move up to associate editors.
Maneval earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with minors in political science and religious studies from Penn State University in 2003. As a high school student, he interned at the Mountain Home News and, while in college, he edited the university section for Voices of Central Pennsylvania.
After college and a brief stint in marketing research, he worked as a reporter for The Ridgway Record, The Kane Republican and the St. Marys Daily Press before being named editor of the Ridgway Record. In 2006, he joined the Sun-Gazette’s staff as an associate editor. He was named City and Region Editor in 2018.
He lives with his family — his wife, Alyssa, and 4-year-old son, Stevie — near Brandon Park. He also serves on church council for New Covenant United Church of Christ. He is the son of Mickey and Lois Maneval, who live near Picture Rocks.
“I am excited to work with this group,” Maneval said. “They, along with our Design Editor, Tim Wertz, are hard-working and dedicated to the role of the Williamsport Sun-Gazette in our communities, and our communities are fortunate to have them taking on these new roles.”
News, Assignment editors selected
Vibert-Kennedy, a native of Clarkstown, has been a reporter and photojournalist with the Sun-Gazette since 2013, writing news and feature stories, developing videos for the web and becoming an FAA-licensed drone pilot in 2017.
Last year, she took on the major role of managing the community newspaper’s various digital platforms.
Along with www.sungazette.com, those include Facebook and Instagram, breaking news email blasts and more.
She also has done editing on two books for the Sun-Gazette and has won numerous awards, including a first-place Keystone Award in the Photo Story/Essay category for her photographs from former President Donald Trump’s visit to Montoursville. Her career in newspapers spans 26 years and includes positions with the Press Enterprise, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, the Journal News, the San Francisco Examiner and the Associated Press.
She is a graduate of Muncy High School, Pennsylvania College of Technology and Bloomsburg University. The daughter of Claire and Edward Vibert of Clarkstown, she and her husband, Dave, have a son Tyler, 16.
“My journalism career has taken me from coast to coast, from New York City to San Francisco and back home to Lycoming County,” Vibert-Kennedy said. “I love to share the stories of our friends and neighbors. I am excited to continue to expand our audience across the Sun-Gazette’s print and digital platforms.”
After stumbling upon a love of sharing other people’s stories in her high school student newspaper, Hibbard graduated from Lock Haven University in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in communication, focusing on print journalism and writing for The Express community newspaper. She began her journey with the Sun-Gazette as a part-timer in the sports department while she finished her last semester of college. She joined the news team as full-time in December 2015, first as general assignment reporter and then taking on county beat reporting.
She was the primary writer covering former President Donald Trump’s visit to the Williamsport Regional Airport shortly before stepping up as an associate editor, handling daily news pages as well as the weekly religion and health sections and, for a short time, The Taste.
Born and raised in Montrose, Susquehanna County, her father and stepmother are Chris and Jen Hibbard, and her mother is Sarah Hibbard, all of the Montrose area.
She lives in Williamsport with her partner of six years, Paul Dennis, and their three cats, Roxas, Nami and Gracie.
New associate editors named
The daughter of Denise Young of Jersey Shore, Mallorie McIlwain is from Jersey Shore.
She has worked for the Williamsport Sun-Gazette since June of 2019. She is responsible for weekly The Taste and Education sections, as well as the historic and weekly Muncy Luminary newspaper, a sister publication.
A graduate of Cedar Crest College in Allentown in 2019, McIlwain earned a bachelor’s degree in media studies and a minor in dance. In her free time, she has created two short dance films and designs informational graphics for social media.
Weaver, a Williamsport native, is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where they worked as a writer and copy editor for IUP’s student-run newspaper, The Penn. They wrote nearly 30 articles for the paper before interning with the Sun-Gazette.
At IUP, Weaver earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and public relations.
“My time at The Penn taught me how to work both in a newsroom and remotely. I love nothing more than sitting down with someone and learning about what makes them tick,” Weaver said.
“Being born and raised in Williamsport gives me an inside look at the issues local people care about,” they added. They spent time working as an intern at the Thomas T. Taber Museum, helping to archive letters and with exhibits, and searching artifacts.
Meanwhile, copy editing, Weaver said, is their forte as they take on the task of editing and layout for the Sun-Gazette.
A 2017 graduate of Williamsport Area High School, Weaver is the daughter of Gretchen and John Weaver of Williamsport.
The promotions were announced by Bob Rolley, Sun-Gazette publisher.
“It is an honor to have the opportunity to empower people, in this case, a strong group of journalists who want to do their best to inform and improve their communities,” Rolley said.
“We have a wonderful family of dedicated employees here as we work together to bring readers a daily forum of information for public discussion and opinion, and to connect those readers to advertisers and community organizations,” Rolley said.
“We are honored and take seriously our role in the civic, cultural and economic life of the communities we serve.”