Comings and goings: PBS board names new chair, NPR makes changes to longform audio team …

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PBS welcomed new members to its board of directors.

Larry Irving was unanimously elected board chair. Irving is CEO of the Irving Group, a consulting firm focusing on telecommunications and information technology, and is former VP of global government affairs for the Hewlett-Packard Company.

Irving has also held positions within the Clinton Administration and as senior counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on telecommunications and finance. He was on the PBS board of directors from 2009–19.

Irving succeeds Donald A. Baer, who joined the board in 2011 and was first elected chair in 2014. He has also been on the PBS Foundation board since 2008. Baer, a former journalist and executive for Discovery Communications, is senior partner for the Brunswick Group.

During a board meeting Thursday, PBS President Paula Kerger praised Baer’s tenure and announced that PBS will name a studio at its headquarters in honor of him.


Jorge A. Plasencia and Holden Thorp joined the PBS board for three-year terms ending in fall 2024. Plasencia is co-founder, chairman and CEO of Republica Havas, a communications company. Thorp is editor-in-chief of Science.

Also leaving the board are Afsaneh Beschloss, founder and CEO of investment firm RockCreek, and Robert Sachs, principal of Continental Consulting Group.

In addition, Maxine Clark, CEO of the Clark-Fox Family Foundation and founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop, was elected to a third term on the board, ending in fall 2023. Clark was also reelected to her second term as general vice chair.

Vivian Riefberg, professor of practice at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia and emeritus director at McKinsey & Company, was elected to a second term, ending in fall 2024.

Tina Sharkey was elected to her first full term on the board, ending in fall 2024. Sharkey is a co-founder and former CEO of Brandless, a company that relaunched under new leadership last year. 

And Molly Phillips, executive director and GM for Iowa PBS, was elected to her first term as professional vice chair.

In a staff memo, NPR announced changes to its Enterprise Storytelling Unit.

Pathak, Yan and Lancianese

Neena Pathak will join the unit as a supervising editor, working primarily with the Invisibilia team. Pathak most recently worked as a producer for The Daily and Still Processing for The New York Times. She has also been a producer for BuzzFeed and an associate producer for American Public Media.

Justine Yan became an assistant producer and will work on Rough Translation and special Up First episodes. Yan joined NPR as an intern last year and most recently worked as a news assistant for Embedded, Invisibilia and Rough Translation.

Adelina Lancianese was hired for a yearlong assignment as a Producer II. She most recently worked for NPR’s Content Development division, where she assisted with new podcast ideas and helped manage the annual Story Lab Workshop. She was also a producer for the first season of On Our Watch and Louder Than a Riot, the special radio series I’ll Be Seeing You and, most recently, two episodes of Invisibilia. She came to NPR as a 2017 Kroc Fellow.

PRX announced a promotion and two hires in its development department.


Gina James was promoted to VP of strategic impact, a newly created role. James previously worked as senior director of development and operations. She joined PRX as manager of development and operations in 2015.

Melissa Srbinovich was hired as senior director of institutional fundraising. She most recently worked as director of institutional giving for the Sundance Institute. She has also held institutional funding positions with the Lincoln Center, New York University and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Brian Teague joined the organization as director of prospect research. He previously worked as manager of development, prospect research and strategy for the Greater Boston Food Bank, a nonprofit he joined in 2015.

James, Srbinovich and Teague report to Janetta Stringfellow, PRX’s CDO.



Melanie Figueiredo left her position as senior account director of client services for GBH in Boston to join URL Media, a group of Black- and brown-owned media organizations, as VP of sales and sponsorships, according to a company newsletter. Figueiredo joined GBH in 2013 as national account director and was also director of member services for the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.



Israel Smith, managing director of programming and audience development for WBEZ in Chicago, will become a strategic advisor for the station next month. In an interview, Smith said he will continue helping the station with audience development and growth but will work beyond broadcasting initiatives. “I’m [grateful] for the pivot, and for time to help my wife and explore other projects. Onward at listenagaintomorrow@gmail,” Smith said on Twitter. Smith joined WBEZ in 2018 after working as director of programming for NPR. He has also been president and founder of a consulting firm and held positions at PRI and WBUR in Boston.


Andrew Yeager became managing editor for WBHM in Birmingham, Ala. Yeager will work closely with the Gulf States Newsroom, a NPR collaboration based at the station. Yeager joined the station in 2007 as a host and reporter and most recently worked as interim news director. Before WBHM, he worked as a reporter and producer for WNIN in Evansville, Ind.

Lucia Benavides was hired as a foreign correspondent for The World and will be based in Spain. Benavides previously worked as a freelance journalist. She has also been a production assistant for KUT in Austin, Texas, and a reporter for ¡ahora sí!, a Spanish-language newspaper produced in association with the Austin American-Statesman.

Joy Diaz left her position as a reporter and producer for Texas Standard, a show produced by Texas public media organizations, to run for governor of Texas as a Democrat, according to a campaign video shared this month.


Jon Town, host of Classical Happy Hour for KBAQ in Tempe, Ariz., retired from the station last month. Town worked in radio for more than 50 years. “Jon’s classical music knowledge and calming presence were a mainstay of the afternoon drive home for KBACH listeners for many years,” said PD Matt Rogers in a news release. In retirement, Town plans to get back to his hobbies, including welding, photography and keeping up with Formula One auto racing.


Joni Deutsch, who left her positions at WFAE in Charlotte, N.C., became VP of marketing and audience development for The Podglomerate, a podcast group that works with PBS, NPR stations and other organizations. “Joni is an accomplished leader in the audio world,” said Podglomerate CEO Jeff Umbro in a news release. “Her wealth of media knowledge, passion for audience development and innovative mindset will elevate the Podglomerate and the services we provide to our industry-leading clients.”

Christy McDonald, a journalist for WDET in Detroit, announced that she’s leaving the station in January. On her website, McDonald said she “had a little too much change for my liking these past 3 years. Cancer, a pandemic, grief, all the while parenting three teenagers is pretty heavy.” Jamie Samuelsen, a sports personality and McDonald’s husband, died last year from colon cancer, according to The Detroit News. McDonald is managing editor and anchor for One Detroit, a public affairs program, and hosted the opinion program MiWeek.


Jason Saldanha is among the 24 fellows selected for the Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Saldanha is chief of business development and content for PRX. During the 21-week program, fellows will create strategic projects that are central to the missions of their organizations, according to a news release.

Send news of “comings and goings” to [email protected]

Corrections: A previous version of this column incorrectly said that Tina Sharkey was CEO of a defunct company, Brandless. The company ceased operations before relaunching with new leadership. The column also incorrectly said Andrew Yeager will help lead the Gulf States Newsroom. Yeager will work closely with the initiative, according to a news release.

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