Tamra Lambert / For The Ark, December 2019
The Ark is an independent, locally owned subscription newspaper that covers the people and activities of the greater Tiburon Peninsula, which includes Tiburon, Belvedere and Strawberry. It has twice been named the nation's best small community weekly newspaper, honored as the winner of the 2018 and 2019 General Excellence award from the National Newspaper Association.
The paper is published once a week, arriving in our subscribers’ mailboxes on Wednesdays. With newsstand sales and a pass-on factor (to account for more than one person reading the paper per home), The Ark reaches a paid readership of more than 6,000 people. From our subscribers to the residents who pick up the paper at The Ark’s office on Tuesdays so they can get the news early, our readers are devoted to the paper, reading it cover to cover.
Kevin Hessel serves as The Ark's executive editor. He joined The Ark in June 2011 and directs the paper's journalistic mission and vision in the community. Hessel came from the Marin Independent Journal, where he had been since 1998, most recently as assistant news editor, design chief and online editor. He studied journalism at San Francisco State University, trained in newsroom leadership at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., was a Knight Digital Media Center fellow at the University of California at Berkeley, and he guest lectures in newspaper design each semester at S.F. State.
Hessel heads a dedicated team. On the editorial side, Emily Lavin serves as assistant editor and reports on youth and education, as well as the community of Strawberry. Our beat reporters include Deirdre McCrohan, who covers Tiburon, and Katherine Martine, who covers Belvedere and public safety — as well a long list of talented writers who contribute on topics from the environment to art appraising, finance to features. Copy editor Diana Goodman helps ensure our editorial perfection while also acting as calendar editor.
On the business side, Director of Business & Advertising Henriette Corn joined The Ark in January 2006, managing all operations, revenue and marketing strategies. Accounts Manager Leigh Pagan takes care of subscribers along with classified and service guide advertisers — and the office.
Owner-Publisher Alison T. Gray entrusts day-to-day operations to her staff.
History of The Ark
The Ark was founded in 1972 — with its first regular weekly issue in January 1973 — by a group of local Tiburon Peninsula people who were upset The Ebb Tide, the local paper at the time, would not publish a promotional article about an annual Belvedere-Tiburon party planned for Angel Island called Ayala Day. They decided to start their own newspaper, The Ark, which suffered financial difficulties until James B. McClatchy, of the McClatchy Co. newspaper chain, bought it out of bankruptcy in 1975.
McClatchy hired Brad Breithaupt to steer the ship as editor-publisher. Breithaupt not only made the paper profitable, he hired Marilyn Kessler and Barbara Gnoss as feature writers in 1979, laying the groundwork for a generation of readers. When Breithaupt went on to the Marin Independent Journal, where he spent the rest of his career, Kessler and Gnoss in 1985 started job-sharing the editorship, each one working four months and then taking four months off. The arrangement, which was the envy of the community, allowed both Kessler and Gnoss flexibility to travel.
Two years later, Kessler, Gnoss and Steve McNamara, the former owner of the Pacific Sun, bought The Ark from McClatchy. The Ark enjoyed a productive run under their joint leadership. Kessler and Gnoss bought out McNamara’s share in 1999, continuing their unusual job-sharing arrangement as joint publishers and editors.
Unfortunately, Gnoss became ill in 2007. When her Ark responsibilities became too great, Judith Wilson took on Gnoss' editorial role. Wilson had been at The Ark as a reporter-editor since 1998, and special sections editor since 2003. To the dismay of the crew at The Ark and our community, Gnoss passed away in July 2009.
In January 2010, a four-partner ownership group was formed when George Gnoss, Barbara’s husband, sold her stake in The Ark. Gray and husband Arthur H. Kern, as AMMI Publishing Co. Inc., and Wilson joined Kessler as owners. Under the new leadership arrangement, Kessler and Wilson shared editorial responsibilities and Gray joined the team as publisher.
After more than 32 years of writing for and leading The Ark, Kessler retired in February 2011. Her retirement marked the end of a remarkable era under the partnership of Kessler and Gnoss. Kessler and Wilson sold their stake in The Ark to Gray and Kern. Kessler passed away in November 2018. Kern died in November 2022.
Through it all, The Ark crew has been the heart and soul of the paper: filling the pages with excellent articles and photographs, and supporting the editorial content with advertising sales, subscription sales and fast-turn-around graphics.