32 Public Media Leaders Graduate From National Diversity Program

GREENVILLE, S.C. — As public media leaders navigate how to best foster diversity and equity in their workplaces and boards while making content inclusive for a wide array of audiences, a program is providing them with tools and perspectives that they can apply in their efforts.

Thirty-two public media professionals from across the country were part of the third class to graduate from the Public Media Diversity Leaders Initiative (PMDLI), a program of the Riley Institute at Furman University, on June 8. It is offered in partnership with South Carolina ETV and modeled after the Institute's award-winning South Carolina Diversity Leaders Initiative.

Over the course of five months, participants took part in a highly interactive curriculum comprising scenario analyses and other experiential learning tools that supports public media leaders in their efforts to apply diversity, equity, and inclusion principles to behaviors, systems, and cultures within their organizations.

“Today’s heightened awareness of racial and other inequities in American institutions has magnified and accelerated organizational and stakeholder expectations that public media leaders establish diversity, equity, and inclusion as core values within their organizations,” said Anthony Padgett, president and CEO of South Carolina ETV. “Recognizing that, we are proud to partner with the Riley Institute to offer this unique virtual program to our peers from across the country.”

Graduates of PMDLI become Public Media Diversity Fellows and will help identify future program participants. Collectively, they reflect a vast public media ecosystem, representing both television and radio as well as a variety of geographic regions, audiences, affiliate organizations, and diversity dimensions. A fourth PMDLI class will start the program in September. 

“The Riley Institute is proud to play a role in connecting a network of public media professionals who are committed to managing, leading, and meeting the needs of increasingly diverse workers, clients, and audiences,” said Dr. Don Gordon, executive director of the Riley Institute. “We look forward to seeing the positive impact this program will have in communities across the country.”

Below are the graduates of the third PMDLI class. For more information about PMDLI, visit furman.edu/public-media-dli.

Jorge Briseño Director, Instructional TV KLCS Public Media  Los Angeles, CA

Bob Culkeen  President/CEO WTCI  Chattanooga, TN

Heather Daniels-Whitson Director of Education Media Alabama Public Television Birmingham, AL

Gavin Felix  Director of Television Production Nebraska Public Media  Lincoln, NE

Ron Hetrick  President and CEO  WITF  Harrisburg, PA

Dani Iannelli  Director, Immersive Learning PBS HQ  Arlington, VA

Rachel Knight  General Manager  Ozarks Public Broadcasting Springfield, MO

Katie Koskenmaki  Director of Station Relations & Communications ITVS  San Francisco, CA

Tony Martin  Senior Manger, Development Operations WETA  Arlington, VA

Suzanne Masri  VP of Marketing, Communications & Engagement  Fred Rogers Productions  Pittsburgh, PA

Thom Mayer  Director of Human Resources  South Carolina Educational Television Columbia, SC

Heather Mazzoni  Chief Content Officer  WHRO Public Media  Norfolk, VA

Mallory Mbalia Director of Education  PBS NC, Education and Innovation RTP Research Triangle Park, NC

Carla McCabe  President and CEO  WVIA  Pittston, PA

Rachel Morrison Parsons  Senior Director, Education Strategy NETA  Columbia, SC

Roger Mukasa  Finance Manager  PBS Wisconsin  Madison, WI 

Tom New  President/CEO  WQLN Public Media  Erie, PA 

Staci Orlando  Assoc. GM-Operations / CFO  PBS KVIE  Sacramento, CA 

Sonja Pasquantonio  VP/Human Resources, Training, and Development  Connecticut Public Broadcasting, Inc Hartford, CT 

Kristen Penczek  Managing Director, Audience Engagement Maryland Public Television (MPT) Owings Mills, MD 

Molly Phillips  Executive Director and General Manager Iowa PBS  Johnston, IA 

Stephen Schram  Executive Director - General Manager Michigan Radio - WUOM - University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 

Julie Sochay  Senior Director of Content and Communication  WKAR Public Media  East Lansing, MI 

Jayme Swain  President and CEO  VPM  Richmond, VA 

Julie Thomsen  Chief Administrative Officer  Nebraska Public Media  Lincoln, NE 

Aaron Turner  Development Director  WGVU Public Media  Grand Rapids, MI 

Brad VanOsdel  Director of Content for Entertainment South Dakota Public Broadcasting Vermillion, SD 

Stephen Wilkins  SVP for HR and DEI Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) Washington, DC 

Susan Wolfinger Schmitt  Managing Director, Human Resources Maryland Public Television (MPT) Owings Mills, MD 

Olivia Wong  Vice President, Marketing & Communications  American Public Television  Boston, MA 

Tara Wren  Deputy Director of Education  Mississippi Public Broadcasting  Jackson, MS 

Randy Wright  Executive Director  WUFT-TV/FM, FPREN  Gainesville, FL