The Choxis founded Montclair Local in 2017, believing the community needed a news organization devoted only to the issues and people here. They personally funded Montclair Local in the initial years, contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours to launch the Local.
They continued to provide significant contributions after the Local became a non-profit, supported entirely by the community, in 2021. Heeten also led the Local’s first Board of Trustees. In 2022, Heeten and Thalla-Marie relocated to North Carolina with their five children and concluded their financial support of the Local.
The Choxis commitment to local journalism in Montclair stems from their deep belief in keeping communities connected, a tenet of their Bahai faith. “Humanity needs mechanisms that help people from different backgrounds, with different perspectives, work together,” Heeten said, underscoring the value of local journalism this way: “There is no more powerful force for creating a collective and united identity for a town.”
Their vision gave Montclair Local the mission that endures today: Connect people in a community by offering factual information and a platform for local people and ideas.