PBS Diversity Task Force Announces Members of the Leadership Development Program Class of 2009

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Annual Year-Long Program to Provide Leadership Development Opportunities for 10 Public Broadcasting Professionals from Across the Nation

ARLINGTON, VA, July 1, 2008 - Building upon the success of its 2006 pilot and the first full class that graduated earlier this month, PBS today announced the participants of the 2008-2009 Leadership Development Program. The PBS Diversity Task Force Leadership Development Program is an initiative designed to develop a diverse new generation of system leaders. The program provides management development and networking opportunities to promising talent in the public broadcasting system, targeting individuals who are ready to move into a station general manager or other senior level position. The class has grown from six members last year to 10 candidates for 2008-2009. This initiative is made possible by a generous grant from the Ford Foundation.

The annual Leadership Development Program was created by the PBS Board of Directors Diversity Task Force. In June 2005, the Board adopted a "Resolution Promoting the Cultivation of Excellence and Diversity in Leadership within the Public Broadcasting System." The Leadership Development Program grew out of that resolution, and the goals of the program are to create a national leadership track in public broadcasting, providing both recognition and support for new leaders; to provide opportunities for upcoming leaders to acquire the new skills and perspectives essential to leadership in a changing media environment; and to build a network of supportive relationships across the industry.

"The Leadership Development Program is only in its second full year, but it is already playing an essential role in helping public television cultivate a new generation of diverse leaders. Through this initiative, we are identifying key talent and investing in those who will help shape our future. I congratulate this year's participants, and I look forward to working with each of them for many years to come," said Paula A. Kerger, PBS President and CEO.

"I am tremendously proud of the progress this program has made since the 2006 pilot and of all the outstanding professionals who have participated in it and made it such a success," said Eugene Williams, PBS Board Member and Chairman of the PBS Diversity Task Force. "Thanks to the Ford Foundation grant, we have been able to increase the size of the class this year and provide even more opportunities for mentoring and hands-on learning. Given this exciting momentum, I know the graduates of this initiative will continue to make tremendous contributions to public broadcasting for years to come."

The 2008-2009 class includes:

  • Anthony Casaus, Director of Development, KRWG/Las Cruces, NM
  • Jeffrey Davis, Vice President, Communications, Association of Public Television Stations
  • Daphne Dowdy-Jackson, General Manager, KPBT/Midland, TX
  • Suzanne Hudson-Smith, Vice President, Development, WNIN/Evansville, IN
  • Eric Hyyppa, Interim General Manager, Montana PBS/Bozeman, MT
  • Valerie Linson, Series Producer, WGBH/Boston, MA
  • Patrick Ramirez, Account Manager, History Programming, American Experience, WGBH/Boston, MA
  • Nancy Southgate, Program Director, Associate General Manager of Content (Interim), KAET/Tempe, AZ
  • Valerie VanDerSluis, Programming Director, KTWU/Topeka, KS
  • Stacey Wiggins, Development Manager, Georgia PBS/Atlanta, GA

Beginning in July, the participants will take part in a number of activities that will build their management and leadership skills. The official "kick-off" will be the five-day NAB Management Development Seminar for Television Executives at Northwestern University. The NAB seminar will provide an overview of topics needed to lead a media organization and enable program participants to interact with media executives from different industry segments. Other sessions are planned around national PBS events such as the annual Development Conference in October and PBS Showcase in May 2009.

In addition to these activities, the program will include interactive leadership development training, teleconferences and informal mentoring opportunities with station general mangers and other key public television professionals.

Participants were selected by the members of the PBS Diversity Task Force, which is chaired by Eugene Williams, General Manager, KTWU/Topeka, KS. Task Force members include Jennifer Lawson, General Manager of WHUT/Washington, DC; Jon Abbott, Executive Vice President and COO, WGBH; and Jose Fajardo, President and CEO, WMFE-TV/FM. Rick Schneider, President and CEO, WPBT, Miami, Florida and Ms. Kerger serve in an ex officio capacity.

To qualify for consideration, each candidate must have at least five years' senior level experience with broad and significant levels of responsibility related to public broadcasting, be perceived as a viable candidate, within the next three to five years, for a GM or similar senior level position, and have demonstrated leadership ability and a long-term commitment to public broadcasting. The program is open to all public broadcasting-related organizations.

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Contact: Jennifer Daddura, 703/739-5223, jedaddura@pbs.org