Lee Enterprises, Incorporated has announced that Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal Star President and Publisher Ava Thomas will succeed Julie Bechtel as president and publisher of the Omaha (Nebraska) World-Herald. Thomas also was named group publisher for Lee properties in Nebraska and Iowa, and she’ll remain president and publisher in Lincoln.
“Time and time again, Ava has succeeded in key leadership roles within our company,” said Nathan Bekke, Lee operating vice president and vice president — consumer sales and marketing. “She has consistently demonstrated that she has the talent, energy and experience to lead our digital media organizations at a very high level, and I know that our properties in Omaha, Lincoln, the rest of Nebraska and Iowa are in great hands.”
Bechtel, who is leaving Lee to pursue ownership and operation of a business founded by her family in 1967, has been president and publisher of the World-Herald since 2018. The transition is effective Nov. 1.
Thomas joined Lee Enterprises in 1995 and advanced to several leadership positions at the Lincoln Journal Star, including advertising director and general manager, before being named publisher in 2014. She was named a senior corporate sales executive by Lee in 2015.
“As a native of Nebraska, I have always admired the World-Herald’s commitment to Omaha and the state,” Thomas said. “I look forward to working with this great team and contributing to its long legacy of civic leadership and business innovation.”
Bechtel was named a Lee Enterprises group publisher in 2014 and served as president and publisher of The Pantagraph in Bloomington, Illinois, and the Herald & Review in Decatur, Illinois. Her career also includes appointments as Lee regional executive and publisher of the Lincoln Journal Star; and publisher of the Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa.
“Julie Bechtel has been an outstanding leader for Lee,” Bekke said. “Her experience will be missed, and we wish her the very best in her business ventures moving forward.”