PBS Member Stations Vote Four Professional Directors to Serve on the PBS Board in National Election

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ARLINGTON, VA, September 9, 2013 – Today, PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger announced the results of the 2013-2014 voting that elected four station leaders to serve as Professional Directors on the PBS Board of Directors. Throughout the month of August, member stations from across the country cast their ballots for these key positions. 
Each of the directors will serve a three-year term that begins on November 6 at the fall meeting of the PBS Board.

The PBS station executives chosen in the 2013-2014 election are:

- Tom Axtell, General Manager of Vegas PBS, Las Vegas, NV
- Rich Homberg, President & CEO, Detroit Public Television, Detroit, M
- Shae Hopkins, Executive Director and CEO, Kentucky Educational Television
- JoAnn Urofsky, General Manager, WUSF Public Media, Tampa, FL

Mr. Homberg and Ms. Hopkins, will be serving on the Board for the first time. Mr. Axtell and Ms. Urofsky will each be returning for a second term.
PBS and our member stations are in the midst of an exciting moment in our shared history – with the reach of our content and our system’s ability to impact lives continuing to grow,” said Ms. Kerger. “At the same time, our country’s still recovering economy and the media landscape’s ongoing evolution challenges us to work in new ways. We are extremely fortunate to have these outstanding individuals join our Board, which is composed of extraordinary leaders who give generously of their time, energy and expertise to guide our public service enterprise.”

The PBS Board includes both professional directors, who lead public television stations, and general directors, who represent the general public. The membership of PBS elects the professional directors. The general directors are elected by the Board, which also appoints the PBS president and CEO.

The directors are responsible for governing and setting policy for PBS. In total, the Board comprises 27 members: 14 professional directors; 12 general directors; and the PBS president. All PBS Board members serve three-year terms without pay.

Biographical Information 

Tom Axtell (Returning Director)

Tom Axtell has served as general manager of Vegas PBS since 1994. In Las Vegas, he has reinvigorated local programming, integrated emerging technologies, developed new fee for service business models, and created community partnerships to expand the range of sustainable public media services offered locally. His prior service includes public radio stations in Minneapolis/St. Paul and Fargo, and public television stations in Spokane and Milwaukee. He has experience working for nonprofit, college, and school district licensees as well as markets where the stations operated in sole-service, duopoly and multi-market situations. He has left the industry a few times to work as a College Vice President for Development and State Senate Legislative Aide.

Vegas PBS moved into its new Educational Technology Campus in 2009 following a successful $72 million capital campaign. The building is the nation’s first LEED Gold television facility, and first post-Katrina, post 9-11, FCC Media Security and Reliability Commission compliant studio. Vegas PBS operates a multi-cast television service; programs four additional cable and five EBS channels; manages a media library with over 210,000 online and 16,000 on the shelf titles; an emergency communications data-casting service for police, fire fighters, hospitals, and schools; and a statewide Described and Captioned Media Center. An extensive Ready To Learn outreach program hosts over 600 workshops a year attended by over 100,000 people. Vegas PBS produces 20 local TV series and specials annually, plus extensive web content. Its Global Online Advanced Learning (GOAL) program offers 330 professional certifications and 5,000 personal improvement courses for high school students, teachers, medical professionals, workforce training programs, and returning veterans. Over 115,000 students successfully completed courses last year. The station routinely ranks in the top ten PBS stations in the Nielsen overnight metered market reports for sign on to sign off gross rating points.

Mr. Axtell is active in Las Vegas community affairs, serving on the boards of the Atomic Testing Museum, United Way of Southern Nevada, Nevada Development Authority, Green Chips, Utah Shakespeare Festival Board of Governors, and Las Vegas Rotary. He has served on several industry boards including the Nevada Broadcasters Association, PBS, and NETA. Mr. Axtell graduated from Gonzaga University Law School, Spokane, Washington, and also holds a bachelor's degree in history from Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota. He has been married for 35 years and has twin daughters.

Rich Homberg (New Director)

Rich Homberg is President and CEO of Detroit Public Television, a position he has held since 2008.

Despite significant challenges in the Michigan and national economies, Mr. Homberg led to a successful conclusion a $22 million capital campaign for a state-of-the-art broadcast facility in 2009 and the organization was named “Best Managed Non-Profit” of 2010 by Crain’s Detroit Business. The station was honored with a DuPont-Columbia Award in 2012 for innovative documentary programming and recognition the same year from the Association of Public Television Stations for its Great Lakes environmental programming.

A strong advocate for the value of a “collective impact” blueprint for aligning efforts across the public media system to strengthen our service, Mr. Homberg has been an active participant in the Major Market Group’s efforts around the Community’s Agenda and the PBS Community Connection initiative. He also serves on the PBS Interactive working group.

In Detroit, DPTV’s television and radio stations have greatly improved their operating results and audience reach, while increasing local content and community engagement during Mr. Homberg’s tenure, surviving a particularly difficult economic environment. The radio station, WRCJ, operated in partnership with the Detroit Public Schools, brought classical music back to Detroit, serving over 100,000 listeners each week. In 2011, the station opened a new TV studio in the heart of Detroit, in partnership with Wayne State University.

Mr. Homberg joined Detroit Public TV after a successful career in commercial broadcasting for CBS, Viacom and Westinghouse Broadcasting.

An active member of the Metro Detroit community, Mr. Homberg is currently the Chair of the Cultural Alliance of South Michigan and serves on multiple boards for nonprofit organizations. He resides in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan with his wife and son.

Shae Hopkins (New Director)

Shae Hopkins is the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of KET, Kentucky Educational Television, and oversees a statewide network with three production facilities and 16 transmitters that reach more than 5.5 million people in eight states, as well as an extensive digital education service utilized by every school district in the commonwealth. KET is a national leader in local content and educational resource production, including early childhood, P-16, teacher professional development, adult education, and adult literacy.

A 27-year veteran of KET, Ms. Hopkins served in progressive management positions, including Deputy Executive Director, where she was responsible for day-to-day operations and oversaw the development of a wide range of content and production, as well as the network’s digital transition for production and distribution systems. She previously led KET’s private fundraising for more than a decade and was the founding president of the Commonwealth Fund for KET.

Ms. Hopkins has been recognized with various industry awards, including the 2011 National Advocacy Award from the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS). In addition to APTS, she is active in several public media organizations, including the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA), Organization of State Broadcast Executives Board (OSBE), Affinity Group Coalition (AGC), and the PBS LearningMedia Station Advisory Board.

Appointed by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to the inaugural board of Digital Promise (National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies), Ms. Hopkins also serves on the Governor’s Post-Secondary Education Nominating Commission, Collaborative Center for Literacy Development Advisory Committee, Kentucky Blood Center Board of Directors, Central Bank Advisory Board of Directors, and the University of Kentucky College of Communications and Information Studies National Advisory Board.

JoAnn Urofsky (Returning Director)

JoAnn Urofsky has been general manager of WUSF Public Media, Tampa, since 2002, but her career with WUSF began in 1992 as station manager for the Fort Myers public radio station also licensed to the University of South Florida. In 1997 she transitioned to Tampa to become the station manager for WUSF 89.7 and then took on the top management role for WUSF Public Media.

During Ms. Urofsky’s tenure as GM, she has strengthened the focus of WUSF Public Media on producing significant multimedia journalism and community engagement through education. She expanded WUSF’s media properties by acquiring a new radio station and translator. With the addition of the new station, WUSF now has WUSF TV, and two radio stations; one is all news and jazz and the other is devoted to classical music. This year, WUSF’s multimedia news team was honored with numerous awards for their local coverage of the RNC, for education reporting and for the TV documentary Uniform Betrayal: Rape in the Military.

Ms. Urofsky is involved with several public television boards and organizations in addition to completing her first term on the PBS board. She’s chair of the Florida statewide organization FPBS; a member of the NETA executive committee; and the Beta Station Group and University Licensee Association executive committees.

Ms. Urofsky received a B.S. from Penn State in communications and an M.A. from Syracuse University in broadcasting.

About PBS

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 120 million people through television and nearly 29 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.

Jan McNamara, jmcnamara@pbs.org, 703-739-5028