Comings and goings: PBS announces new board members, Rob Hilbert named Iowa PBS Foundation president …

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Leaders of PBS’ member stations elected three new board members and reelected one member, the network announced Wednesday.


Elected as new professional director members were Jon Abbott, CEO of GBH in Boston; Michael Isip, CEO of KQED in San Francisco; and Sandra Cordova Micek, CEO of WTTW in Chicago. Molly Phillips, GM of Iowa PBS, was elected to a second term as a professional director. In addition, Mildred García, president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, was elected as a general director.

Leaving the board are Lisa Shumate, GM of Houston Public Media; Neal Shapiro, CEO of WNET in New York City; Becky Magura, CEO of WCTE in Cookeville, Tenn.; and Evan Smith, CEO and editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune.


Donald A. Baer, founder and CEO of Palisades Strategic Advisors, was reelected as board chair, and Kevin Martin, CEO of ideastream in Cleveland, was reelected as professional vice chair. Maxine Clark, founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop and CEO of the Clark-Fox Family Foundation, was selected as the new general vice chair of the board. Clark replaces Afsaneh Beschloss, the founder and CEO of RockCreek, who will chair the PBS Foundation.

During a board meeting Wednesday, Mary Bitterman was named chair emerita. Bitterman is president of the Bernard Osher Foundation and former president of the James Irvine Foundation and KQED in San Francisco. She is also a former PBS board chair and former chair of the PBS Foundation.

Debasish Mishra was hired as CTO for WNET in New York City and its sister stations effective Monday.


Mishra previously worked as a VP and chief architect for NBC Universal. He has also been an IT director for Corning Inc., a director of sales and marketing for Microsoft and a senior analyst for Merck. Mishra replaces Siroui Mushegian, who left the organization in June.

“Debasish has an incredible depth of technology expertise and leadership experience,” said CEO Neal Shapiro in a news release. “Given the increased reliance on technology to create and distribute content, particularly during the global coronavirus pandemic, we are confident that Debasish will be a tremendous asset to the organization.”

The board of the Iowa PBS Foundation named Rob Hilbert president.


Hilbert joined the foundation in 2002 as a major and planned gifts officer. He was promoted to VP in 2014 and was named the national PBS development professional of the year in 2019, according to a news release. Hilbert replaces Susan Moritz Scharnberg, who is retiring next month. 

“Rob has worked tirelessly and creatively to secure transformational gifts for the Iowa PBS Foundation,” said Board Chair Cathie Whiteside in a news release. “He has built nurturing and enduring personal relationships across the state and across the industry which uniquely positions him to not just sustain but grow the Foundation’s future success.”

“Rob is not only a tremendous fundraiser, he understands and loves the mission of Iowa PBS,” said Executive Director and GM Molly Phillips in the release. “He is highly respected and trusted across the PBS and philanthropic communities. He continually brings people together to work towards a common goal. I am excited for our future as we work together for the mutual benefit of our organizations and for the people of Iowa.”



Gabriela Saldivia left NPR this month to become an English teacher in Spain. Saldivia, who in 2014 was part of NPR’s Next Generation Radio Project and an intern, most recently worked as a reporter and producer for NPR One, Coronavirus Daily and Consider This. She has also worked as an assistant producer for Hidden Brain, Up First and Morning Edition. The network also hired Cynthia Betubiza to work in its podcast department. She previously worked as a research assistant for Marketplace.


Esther Ciammachilli will be the new local host of Morning Edition for WAMU in Washington, D.C. She will succeed Matt McCleskey, who is leaving the station to relocate to Ann Arbor, Mich. Ciammachilli’s first day as host is Oct. 1. She joined WAMU in 2018 as a host and reporter. She previously worked as a reporter and local host of All Things Considered for WBHM in Birmingham, Ala., and as an afternoon host for KUNR in Reno, Nev.


Bria Lloyd was hired as an associate line producer for PBS NewsHour, produced by WETA in Washington, D.C. Lloyd previously worked as a digital producer for the Al Jazeera Media Network and as a reporter for WDVM, an NBC affiliate in Hagerstown, Md.

Jeanette Woods left her position as storytelling and talent curator for the Association of Independents in Radio to take on several producing roles for Germantown Info Hub, a journalism project focused on residents in a Philadelphia neighborhood. 

Arfie Ghedi was hired as a part-time assistant producer for Minnesota Public Radio. She will work on MPR News with Angela Davis. Ghedi will keep her position as a producer for 1A at WAMU.


Carla LynDale Bishop is the inaugural recipient of a fellowship created by Black Public Media, the MIT Open Documentary Lab and the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology. The fellowship was created to support Black people who are using emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and 3D printing to tell nonfiction stories. Bishop is a documentary filmmaker and assistant professor of digital storytelling and distribution at the University of Oklahoma. For one semester, she will be a remote fellow researching and developing “Mapping Blackness,” a digital archive about the history of predominantly Black towns in the U.S.



John F. Salveson was elected board chair for WHYY in Philadelphia. He succeeds Fred Sutherland, who completed seven years as chair, the maximum allowed under WHYY’s bylaws. Salveson is the co-founder and principal for the Salveson Stetson Group, an executive search firm, and president of Salveson Leadership Advisors LLC, which consults for nonprofits. The board also elected Barbara Bisgaier, a retired managing director of the PFM Group, as vice chair; Steven Scott Bradley, CEO of Bradley & Bradley Associates, as secretary; and Barbara Austell, a retired SVP for finance of Aramark, as treasurer.

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