American Public Television CEO Cynthia Fenneman to retire

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Cynthia Fenneman, president and CEO of American Public Television, a syndication and program exchange service, will retire from the organization next year.


Fenneman plans to step down from APT in May 2023 while the board of trustees searches for her successor.

“APT and public media stations around the country have been the beneficiaries of Cynthia’s strategic leadership over the course of her tenure as president and CEO,” said Mary Mazur, board chair for APT and GM for Vegas PBS, in a news release. 

“Because of Cynthia’s tireless dedication and rigorous pursuit of excellence, APT enjoys both a national and international reputation as a creative and forward-thinking business partner for independent producers and providers across the globe. The board and I congratulate Cynthia on her numerous achievements and are grateful to her for establishing APT as a nimble and thriving enterprise in this ever-changing media landscape.”

Fenneman became CEO of APT in 2001. During her tenure, she led APT through the transition from analog to digital, helped launch the multicast channel Create in 2006 and assisted in distribution of the World channel in 2010, partnering with the WNET Group in New York and GBH in Boston.

In 2018, Fenneman premiered the APT PitchFest, in which filmmakers vie for production support at APT’s annual Fall Marketplace. Last year, she started an initiative to get APT content on PBS Passport, a streaming service for station donors.

Additional initiatives she led included co-developing Voces, the documentary series from Latino Public Television, assisting in the launch of Pacific Heartbeat from Pacific Islanders in Communications and supporting AfroPoP from Black Public Media.

“Cynthia applied her vast range of experience from the worlds of broadcasting and cable and took APT to a new level,” said Neal Shapiro, CEO of the WNET Group, in the release. “She and team have been laser-focused on serving stations and their audiences. Cynthia has been a tireless advocate, a skilled operator and a visionary leader.”

Before APT, Fenneman was a major projects executive for the Discovery Health Channel, a special projects director for PBS and CEO of her independent production company. She was also an EP and director of broadcasting for New Hampshire PBS and worked in commercial media for Westinghouse Broadcasting.

Fenneman currently serves on the PBS interconnection committee. Her past board service includes the executive committee for Latino Public Broadcasting. She has also been a mentor for Public Media Women in Leadership.

“What an absolute privilege it has been to lead American Public Television. I have had the great fortune to enjoy a most satisfying, highly stimulating career in media,” Fenneman said in a news release. “… After working on strategic plans at numerous media companies, I am excited to work on fulfilling my personal one. There’s a big world out there that beckons me, and a vibrant local community to enjoy. I look forward to having the gift of time to invest in interests, learning, family, friends, travel, and possibly select consulting. I know APT has a terrific future ahead with the savvy executive team in place, a great staff, and the dynamic APT trustees who I am confident will select a very strong successor.”

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