Longtime Lafromboise Communications employee Kim Proffit has been promoted to chief operating officer of the company, which publishes The Chronicle, Nisqually Valley News and The Reflector and also owns and operates Sign Pro.
Proffit’s promotion comes following the departure of Publisher and President Michael Wagar, who parted ways with the company last week and is pursuing other journalistic opportunities.
She’ll lead the company’s financial and day-to-day operations as Regional Executive Editor Eric Schwartz absorbs Wagar’s editorial duties and oversight of the company’s three newsrooms.
“Michael and I have worked side by side for eight years and I consider him one of my best friends and the greatest journalist I know,” Proffit said. “He leaves behind a great legacy of incredible community journalism that we will work hard to maintain and grow in the years ahead. Our closeness and commitment to the same vision for the company will allow for a smooth transition.”
Proffit first joined the company in January 2011 when she went to work for the Nisqually Valley News in Yelm. She was promoted to office manager in 2013 before becoming the director of human resources for the entire company in May 2017. After Wagar became publisher and president in 2018, she became vice president of operations for the company.
Wagar came to work for Lafromboise Communications in 2001 when he was hired as executive editor at The Chronicle, a position he maintained through 2011. After a brief departure, he returned in 2013 as regional executive editor for the company and publisher of the Nisqually Valley News. He was promoted to president and publisher in March 2018.
In his time as president, The Chronicle won four C.B. Blethen Memorial Awards for Distinguished Reporting while the Nisqually Valley News and The Reflector each earned first-place General Excellence Awards for the first time in the history of those newspapers.
The company is also in better financial standing than it was when he became president in 2018.
“After a year where The Chronicle and its two sister papers won top awards at the highest levels in decades, I believe it is the right time for me to step down from my post as president and refocus on what I enjoy the most — running a newsroom and reporting,” Wagar said. “I want to thank ownership for the past opportunity, and especially the staff, which has worked so hard during my tenure. This continues to be a great team. I also want to thank the greater Lewis County community for all their support.”
Schwartz, who was first hired by Wagar as an intern in 2004, said Wagar’s leadership will be missed but that a strong editorial team and a shared mission of producing excellent and important community journalism remains in place at Lafromboise Communications.
“The Chronicle remains unique in a national newspaper landscape that has presented well-documented challenges for local publications in that all of our newspapers have continued to publish a rising amount of award-winning content, and much of that is due to Michael’s guidance and leadership,” Schwartz said. “I’m proud to be part of this company and excited to build on its legacy of success. I’m thankful for Michael’s guidance and leadership both personally and professionally over nearly two decades of involvement with the company.”
Schwartz noted that Chronicle Editor Natalie Johnson will continue to lead that newsroom.
“Michael may be moving on to new opportunities, but his leadership over The Chronicle’s newsroom taught us all to strive to produce the best newspaper we possibly can for our readers, and that commitment isn’t going anywhere,” Johnson said.