NPR board of directors to expand, add public directors

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NPR’s board of directors has added six seats after a majority of member station representatives voted to amend the network’s bylaws.

The change was approved earlier this month, expanding the board from 17 to 23 members. More than 85 percent of the 196 station leaders who participated approved the expansion, and nearly three-quarters of all representatives voted.

Four of the new members will be public directors, while the other two will come from stations. Paul Haaga, new vice chair of the NPR board and former interim c.e.o. of NPR, said during a meeting of the NPR Board’s membership committee Nov. 2 that the board should first focus on filling the public director seats. “It will be the most important thing we can do,” Haaga said.

Before the vote, NPR’s board consisted of 10 member directors, five public directors, NPR’s president and the chair of the NPR Foundation.

Roger LaMay, the new chair of NPR’s board and g.m. of WXPN in Philadelphia, said after the meeting that he agreed recruiting public directors would be crucial, but also difficult. The new public directors will bring diversity and skills to the board, he said.

“Being able to bring in those new skill sets into the mix is really important to us,” LaMay said.

The bylaw change came after 26 station representatives filed a petition with NPR to expand the board. The petition followed a discussion about board composition and governance at NPR’s annual membership meeting Sept. 11.

Prior to the vote, LaMay said, board members tried to reach all 264 NPR member station leaders to explain the plan. “We wanted to make sure the system had a full understanding of why we wanted to do this,” he said.

Seats can be filled immediately, but board members are unlikely to appoint any new members until early next year, according to LaMay.

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