Our Board of Directors
Who guides Copper Beacon?
Joshua Vissers (President & Editor)
Joshua Vissers moved to the Keweenaw area from Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2018 to work at the Daily Mining Gazette. While other options were available, the natural beauty and community atmosphere of the Keweenaw area drew him and his fiancée north.
Vissers holds a Bachelor of Arts in multimedia journalism from Grand Valley State University, and an associate degree in organizational leadership from Grand Rapids Community College, where he was news director and editor-in-chief for the school paper, The Collegiate, and then communications director for the Student Alliance, GRCC’s student government. Before graduating from GVSU, Vissers completed an internship with the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and toured China with the International Scholar Laureate Program. He also worked for more than ten years as an audiovisual technician, which provided income to support himself through college.
After being disappointed in the management of other local news media, Vissers left the Daily Mining Gazette in early 2021 and immediately began working to launch Copper Beacon as a reader-centric news source. In exactly one year, nonprofit incorporation was achieved, and tax-exempt status is in the works for 2022.
Vissers hopes to establish Copper Beacon as a self-sustaining community news source that works to educate students and adults alike in news interpretation and creation. He also works with the Center for Collaborative Investigative Journalism on the production of their two podcasts, Waterless and Transparency Talks.
Outside of work, Vissers also enjoys hiking, photography, motorsports, and video games.
Dillon Geshel (Secretary)
Dillon Geshel is the Director of the Superiorland Library Cooperative, where he helps facilitate shared services, continuing education opportunities, and administrative support for 35 public libraries in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Michigan.
Dillon spent nearly 6 years working as a Library Director at the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton, Michigan, where under his leadership the library received accolades and awards from local school districts, the Upper Peninsula Region of Library Cooperation, the Library of Michigan, and the Michigan Library Association.
Dillon is passionate about the transformative power of public libraries and thinks they're well-positioned to lead on information and media literacy education in their communities. He believes that public libraries and journalism share a resolve to ensure communities have free and equal access to information, and that parallel piqued his interest in serving on the board of The Copper Beacon.
He also serves on the boards of the Michigan Library Association, the Friends of Michigan Libraries, and the Keweenaw Family Resource Center. Dillon graduated from Michigan Technological University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and received his master's in library and information science from Wayne State University.
Dillon enjoys skateboarding, writing, and spending time outdoors with his family.
Allison Mills (Treasurer)
Allison Mills is a writer, dancer, farmer, and occasional rock licker. She has lived in the Keweenaw for almost a decade and works remotely as the communications manager for a nonprofit called Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP), which brings together data professionals working with technology, datasets, and collaborative teams to better steward our home planet. She also works as a dance instructor at the Superior School of Dance and performs with the dance troupe she co-founded, 47 North.
Along with her partner, Mills runs Ghost House Farm where she is the lead goat snuggler and flower wrangler. Mills is a meditation instructor at Fresh Coast Yoga as well and regularly practices yoga, meditation, and breathwork as part of ongoing healing and management for chronic pain and illness. She believes words, movement, attentive listening, and getting outside all have healing powers and can build resilient communities.
Serving on the Copper Beacon board is an opportunity to give back to the community, offer advice as a communications professional, and enjoy an extra reason to read all of the outlet's stories. Mills holds a master's degree in journalism from the University of Montana and a Bachelor's of Science in geoscience from Northland College.
She grew up as a logger's daughter in Montana, cultivated her nerdiness at the School of Environmental Studies at the Minnesota Zoo, and was born in Nevada, where geologists were known to lick rocks while seeking gold in stone made sticky by traces of arsenic.
Born and raised in Dollar Bay, Todd Gast’s dream of becoming an art director in New York City seemed literally and figuratively far-fetched. Desire, perseverance, and hard work made that dream a reality.
Gast attended both Michigan Tech University and Michigan State University, graduating from Michigan State’s College of Arts & Letters with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design, with additional studies in advertising, journalism, metallurgy/jewelry design, and art history [emphasis in Japanese art and culture].
His lifelong goal to become an award-winning art director was realized receiving national and international accolades in typography, feature design, and photography with his 10+ years of experience in editorial publishing. He successfully transitioned as Global Art Director with 10 years of mentoring talented, in-house, multi-media design staffs for marketing and public relations departments for major multi-national companies.
In 2017, Gast relocated back to where it all began — back to the Copper Country. He is the current Marketing/Outreach Manager at Keweenaw Co-op, he also teaches Graphic Design classes at Finlandia University and runs his own home-based company with clients on the east coast of the US and the fresh coast of the Keweenaw. He is also on the Board of the Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce, the Board of the New Power Tour, and the board of the Copper Beacon. He also serves on the Canal Run Committee and the Bridgefest Committee.
Kathleen Smith is an enrolled tribal member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She earned her associate degree in Environmental Science at the Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College (KBOCC) where she currently serves on the KBOCC Board of Regents, as secretary. She is also a member of the KBIC Youth committee.
She is presently working in the Division of Biological Services at the Great Lake Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC). Her job title in Ojibwemowin is the Ganawendang Manoomin, which translates to, ‘She who takes care of the wild rice’. She implements the GLIFWC wild rice stewardship plan and works with 11 member tribes in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Wild rice is of great cultural significance to its member tribes, and GLIFWC focuses on the preservation and enhancement of wild rice in ceded territory lakes. She provides expertise and public information to partners and supports tribal members to ensure treaty rights are exercised.
Prior to GLIFWC, she worked 6 years with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Natural Resources Department as the Habitat Specialist in native plant restoration, wild rice restoration, invasive species program, and youth initiative. Before returning to the Anishinaabeg homelands, she spent a 16-year stint with the Bureau of land Management as a Fire Engine Captain with the California Desert District in Southern California.
Currently, she is a member of the Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge. Where she incorporates her culture and teachings from her mide family and traditional knowledge holders, in her everyday work. She helps promote food sovereignty and loves to gather medicines and seeds. She lives with her 13-year-old twin boys Caleb and Jacob, and she teaches them hunting, fishing, and gathering medicines. They also have been on many water walks. As an Anishinaabekwe water walker, she facilitates two annual water walks, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Annual Water Walk and the People of the Heart Water Walk where she advocates for Nibi through ceremony and prayer. She gives a voice to those that cannot speak.