Lisa Nellessen-Lara, a native Midwesterner with deep roots in com­munity journal­ism, is the new executive editor of the Pensa­cola (Fla.) News Journal.

Nellessen-Lara most recently was executive editor of the Star Press (Muncie).

Both properties are owned by Gannett Co.

The 41-year-old, who began her news career as a reporter in 1997, will oversee a staff of 32 editors, reporters and photographers, as well as the contributions of dozens of freelance writers.

She succeeds Richard Schneider, who retired as the News Journal’s executive editor in August.

Nellessen-Lara, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, is credited by Gannett with improving its Muncie news operation in a range of areas from video offerings and updated content to watchdog reporting.

Newspapers under Nellessen-Lara’s leadership have won general excellence and most-improved newspaper awards.