Former Sun Sentinel managing editor Willie Fernandez has joined the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting’s Board of Directors.

Willie Fernandez

He replaces Jim Baltzelle, the Florida bureau chief and Caribbean sales manager for the Associated Press, who is stepping down after serving on FCIR’s Board of Directors since 2011.

Fernandez’s 35-year career as a journalist has been spent primarily in South Florida. He started with the Sun Sentinel in 1980 as a suburban reporter and then rose through the editing ranks from an assistant city editor to managing editor.

Fernandez was the senior editor in charge of the Sun Sentinel’s reporting on off-duty police officers who recklessly speed and endanger citizens, which won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service. His other notable accolades include two regional Emmy nominations.

Fernandez retired from the Sun Sentinel in February. He now divides his time between South Florida and New York, where he is an investor/producer on Broadway. His Broadway productions include Anastasia and Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.

“Even though I’ve retired from the newspaper business, I deeply believe in the power of the press in keeping a democracy alive,” Fernandez said. “FCIR has taken on important projects on a shoestring budget. I applaud those efforts, and feel that with my strong journalism background, I can be of help.”