Donald A. Baer Elected Chair of PBS Board of Directors
Burson-Marsteller Worldwide Chair & CEO to Lead PBS Board
ARLINGTON, Va., October 29, 2014 – Donald A. Baer, Worldwide Chair and CEO of global public relations and communications firm Burson-Marsteller, has been elected to chair the PBS Board of Directors. He formerly served as Vice Chair of the Board and chaired the Board’s Finance Committee. Mr. Baer will continue to be a member of the Executive Committee.
A member of the Board since 2011, Mr. Baer has been an important part of public media since 2008, when he joined the Board of the PBS Foundation, which supports PBS and works collaboratively with member stations to enhance system sustainability by cultivating philanthropic giving. His career has spanned leading roles as a media and communications executive for a wide range of important business, government and non-profit organizations. He has had extensive strategic, creative and operational experience at the White House, major global companies and media organizations.
“The members of the PBS Board of Directors are hard-working, committed and talented professionals, and Don is the perfect individual to chair this outstanding group of leaders,” said PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger. “PBS is experiencing an outstanding level of success – both in terms of audience reach and meeting our mission. Don understands both PBS and the complex, rapidly evolving environment in which we operate. He will be an indispensable guide in helping PBS strategically navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”
The 27-person PBS Board includes both Professional Directors, who are station leaders, and General Directors, who serve as lay members of the Board, as well as the PBS President. The PBS Board of Directors is responsible for governing and setting policy for PBS. General and Professional Directors of the PBS Board are elected to three-year terms and serve without pay.
PBS member stations elect the Professional Directors. The General Directors are elected by the Board, which also appoints the PBS President and Chief Executive Officer. The entire Board of Directors elects its officers.
“It is an honor to work with Paula Kerger, her outstanding team and our member stations as they continue to serve PBS viewers,” said Mr. Baer. “PBS has earned a reputation for providing educational, insightful and exciting content. As digital media continues to provide new ways to share content with millions more around the country and the world, PBS has an extraordinary opportunity to build upon public television’s legacy, and our Board looks forward to supporting that effort.”
From 1998 to 2007, Mr. Baer helped lead global media company Discovery Communications. As Senior Executive Vice President for Strategy and Development and an executive committee member, reporting to the CEO, he led worldwide marketing efforts; business development including new ventures and acquisitions; new media strategy/operations; and corporate-level business development, communications, research and public policy. He drove significant growth in Discovery’s online offerings, including acquisitions of digital businesses and the launch of its first mobile video services, and oversaw the Discovery/New York Times Company joint venture in the Discovery Times Channel. As a producer, he supervised Discovery’s public affairs content, including the 2004 Emmy Award-winning series Decisions That Shook the World and a documentary series with Thomas Friedman of The New York Times. Mr. Baer managed Discovery’s partnership with the American Film Institute to create the documentary festival Silverdocs.
From 1994 to 1998, Mr. Baer was a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton. As an Assistant to the President and White House Director of Strategic Planning and Communications and, before, as Chief Speechwriter/Director of Speechwriting and Research, Mr. Baer was widely recognized for his key role in the Clinton Presidency, including the historic 1996 re-election. In addition to managing an integrated message strategy across domestic and foreign policy agencies, he led the development of many major Presidential addresses and worked on every State of the Union from 1995 to 2000.
From 1985 to 1993, Mr. Baer was a journalist. For seven years, at U.S. News & World Report, he covered politics and the White House and, as an assistant managing editor, oversaw national and international coverage. He also worked at The American Lawyer, has written for publications including The New York Times and POLITICO, was a CBS News on-air analyst and has appeared on many TV news shows. Since 2000, he has helped write the annual Kennedy Center Honors TV production, winning two Writers Guild of America awards. In the 1980s, Mr. Baer was a media lawyer at New York’s Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler.
In addition to his new role as Chair of the PBS Board of Directors, Mr. Baer serves on the Boards of the Urban Institute, the News Literacy Project and digital media business Fora.tv. He is also a member of the Reuters Editorial Advisory Board. In 2013, he was inducted into the North Carolina Halls of Fame in Journalism, Advertising and Public Relations.
Mr. Baer received a B.A. from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Phi Beta Kappa), a Master’s in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a J.D. from The University of Virginia School of Law. He lives with his wife, Nancy Bard, and two sons in Washington, D.C.
PBS, with its over 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches nearly 109 million people through television and over 28 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and its website, pbskids.org, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the Internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.