City Pages, the Twin Cities’ largest alternative weekly newspaper, on Thursday named Emily Cassel as the first woman editor-in-chief in its 40-year history.

The 28-year-old Pennsylvania native has led the publication’s 12-person editorial team since the departure of its previous top editor Pete Kotz in November. City Pages is owned by the Star Tribune.

“It feels very cool,” Cassel said. “I am so honored and so proud of us as an organization for finally having someone in a leadership role who’s a woman.”

Cassel joined City Pages as food editor in 2017, writing and editing blog posts, a weekly print feature and a newsletter, and most recently served as managing editor. She also spearheaded several new initiatives, including the Final Four Guide and CP Beer Issue.

After three years in the City Pages newsroom, Cassel said she wants to revisit the publication’s digital and print brand.

“It can be really tough to look at the big picture and not get bogged down in the day to day of just making sure that you’re getting the paper out and getting the stories online,” she said.

Cassel said she plans to push City Pages journalists to explore different story mediums, especially video, to present stories that are more than just standard text and photo packages.

Keith Harris, City Pages’ music editor, said Cassel’s promotion is long overdue.

“City Pages has had a lot of great women in editorial roles who made incredible contributions and never got the big prize,” Harris said.

In 1997, then-City Pages managing editor Monika Bauerlein was named interim editor after the resignation of editor-in-chief Steve Perry, but she was never awarded the top job permanently. Bauerlein is now the chief executive of Mother Jones.

The Star Tribune purchased City Pages in 2015 from Denver-based Voice Media Group. City Pages occupies a portion of the Star Tribune’s office space in downtown Minneapolis, but operates independently. Both publications are owned by businessman Glen Taylor, who also owns Taylor Corp., the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Minnesota Lynx.

City Pages’ news employees are represented by the Minnesota Newspaper and Communications Guild, which also covers journalists at the Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press.

City Pages began in 1979 as a music-oriented publication called Sweet Potato. It was renamed City Pages in 1981 when it became a news and entertainment weekly.

Its website averaged 1.7 million monthly visits in 2019, up from 1.4 million the previous year.

Cassel said she wants her time as City Pages’ editor-in-chief to be marked by its diverse coverage.

“It’s not lost on me that we live in a time where people still don’t really trust journalists,” Cassel said, “There’s almost an open animosity towards journalists in a lot of places.”

She said her solution is to just do good work.

CLARIFICATION: This article has been updated to note that former City Pages managing editor Monika Bauerlein was named interim editor in 1997, but never became the permanent editor-in-chief.