The Senate Commerce Committee recommended to the full Senate Wednesday the nominations of two CPB Board members.
The proposed additions to the board are Ruby Calvert and Laura Gore Ross. Their nominations were announced April 3 by the White House.
Calvert, a lay delegate on the board of America’s Public Television Stations, retired from Wyoming PBS in 2015 after 10 years as GM and 24 years as director of programming. APTS gave her a National Advocacy Award in 2013 for her work with Wyoming’s congressional delegation. Calvert also served two terms on PBS’ board from 2008–14.
In her questionnaire for the Senate committee, Calvert wrote, “As a former General Manager of Wyoming PBS, I understand the history, contracts and rules that CPB has developed over time and requires of stations. … While I think CPB has done an outstanding job in providing leadership and supporting public television and radio stations over the last 50 years, the media environment is changing rapidly. I believe I can offer valuable insight and guidance to CPB as it plans for the next 50 years.”
When asked what she believed to be the top challenges facing CPB, Calvert pointed to public media’s aging infrastructure and the lack of resources to replace equipment. She also replied that the uncertainty of federal, state and local funding “is always a challenge,” and that public media must “develop new ways to merge and leverage the power of the individual stations and the larger system” to strengthen its services.
If the Senate approves her nomination, Calvert will serve as a public TV stations representative for the remainder of a six-year term expiring in 2022.
Ross was a trustee at WNET in New York from 2015 to this year and at WNYC from 1997–2003.
Ross said that if confirmed, she would establish benchmarks to ensure that recipients of CPB grants are achieving the Corporation’s goals. She pointed to her prior experience as the chief of staff of the New York State Attorney General’s Office, where she managed 1,100 employees and oversaw 14 regional offices, as qualifications for overseeing a large organization.
“I have served as a Trustee for more than a decade in public radio and in public television and believe I know the needs and value of public broadcasting first hand,” Ross wrote in her questionnaire. “Having served in the premiere public broadcasting arena, I recognize quality programming both in adult and children’s education. Finally, having had more than three decades of experience in government across the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches as well as at the Federal, State, and Municipal levels, I am aware of the limitations of the role of government and the benefits it can bestow to individuals and communities.”
Ross has been an active Democratic donor and party leader. She was a member of the National Finance Committee for the Obama for America campaign in 2012 and national chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee from 2006–08. She has donated $247,696 in political contributions since 2008, according to filings Ross shared as part of her application.
In 2009, President Obama nominated Ross as an alternate U.S. Representative to the 64th Session of the U.N. General Assembly from 2009–10.
Ross said she considers CPB’s top three challenges to be supporting content that is relevant to today’s young audiences to enhance learning outcomes; adhering to the goal of informing the public with news and information that is accurate, fair and balanced to enlighten civil discourse; and bolstering innovative use of digital platforms to reach broader audiences.
If Ross is approved by the Senate, her six-year term would expire in 2022.
Three CPB directors will see their terms expire this year: Chair Lori Gilbert, Vice Chair Bruce Ramer and Howard Husock.