Comings and goings: NPR hires senior director, will launch Climate Desk …

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NPR hired Gordon Synn as senior director of partnership development.


Synn, who will be based in Los Angeles, will help NPR create new content opportunities, negotiate intellectual property deals and “help us go where NPR has never gone before,” according to a memo from Anya Grundmann, SVP of programming and audience development.

Synn previously worked as chief content and program officer for Fathom Events. He was also head of international television for DreamWorks Animation and VP of legal affairs and worldwide television distribution for 21st Century Fox.

Kristen Hartmann, senior manager of business development, and Christina de Quadros, senior manager of business partnerships, will officially move into the programming department and report to Synn. Hartmann will focus on exploring content-based IP optioning and franchise expansion opportunities, while de Quadros will manage contracts and negotiations for acquired shows, content vendors and content partnership opportunities, according to Grundmann.

NPR will launch a Climate Desk Oct. 1.

The climate desk will be led by Andrea Kissack, currently chief science editor. Kissack joined NPR in 2016 after working as a senior editor for KQED in San Francisco. Vikki Valentine, a senior supervising editor, will step into the role as acting head of the Science Desk.


In addition, Neela Banerjee, deputy climate editor, will join Kissack and four climate-focused journalists from the Science Desk. Banerjee joined NPR in 2020 after working for InsideClimate News, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

“Climate might be the most important story of our time and we need a dedicated team of journalists to cover it and work across desks in our newsroom and with our international bureaus,” said NPR SVP of News and Editorial Director Nancy Barnes in a news release. “The new climate desk will collaborate with Member stations to do ambitious work that builds on their deep local expertise.”

“NPR will coordinate training for station and network journalists, and convene an annual national symposium on climate change for public media, as well as scientists, industry, policy makers and community advocates,” the release said. The expanded coverage is funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Business development


Laura Taylor was hired as business development manager for Current. Taylor will work on growing subscriptions and donations to Current. She previously worked as development director for community station WMNF in Tampa, Fla., and will continue to host a weekly music show for the station. She has also been marketing and development coordinator for mid-level giving at GBH in Boston and a reporter, anchor and interim news director for WUSF in Tampa, Fla. “I began in print journalism in 1988 and switched to public media in 1989,” Taylor told Current. “I remember getting my first issue of Current. I felt I had arrived! Now I’ve come full circle, returning to a publication while remaining within the public media sphere.”



Susannah Winslow was hired as senior director of innovation and partner services for Contributor Development Partnership. Winslow most recently worked as VP of communications and development for Austin PBS in Texas. She is a member of the PBS Development Advisory Council and the Passport Station User Group. “From customer service and gift entry to major gifts and strategic planning, my work at Austin PBS has given me a deep appreciation for the challenges faced by local public media stations,” Winslow said in a news release. “I look forward to developing innovative solutions and partnering with stations to help them find fundraising success in the months and years ahead.”



Matt Hoffman steps up from interim to permanent host for KPBS Roundtable, a weekly half-hour radio program discussing top stories produced by KPBS in San Diego. Hoffman joined the station as a newsroom assistant in 2013 while attending San Diego State University. He was hired full-time as a general assignment reporter in 2017 and became a health reporter last year. He will retain his health reporter position while hosting the program.


Brianna Kirkham announced that she’s leaving her position as digital editor for Texas Public Radio in San Antonio to become a senior digital content producer at the UT Health Network, owned by the University of Texas System. “I am guilty of making my work my entire personality, and I’m going to stop doing that. Instead I’m going to have hobbies and volunteer and read and swim and play tennis and go on doggy playdates. It’s gonna be great,” she said on Twitter. Kirkham joined the station in 2019.


Scott Maucione was hired as a health reporter for WYPR in Baltimore. “Thrilled for this opportunity and can’t wait to keep delivering quality journalism,” he said on Twitter. Maucione previously worked as a senior digital and radio reporter covering national security issues for the Federal News Network. He has also been a reporter for Inside Washington Publishers and the Frederick News-Post in Maryland.


Marysol Castro, co-host of Connecticut Public’s weekly radio cooking show Seasoned, is leaving the program to become a co-host of New York Living, a television program produced by commercial station WPIX in New York City. As part of the changes, Connecticut Public announced that Seasoned will transition to a monthly podcast debuting Dec. 1. Kristopher Plummer, known as “Chef Plum,” will remain as the host of Seasoned and will be joined by a rotating cast of co-hosts.



Deanna Mackey, GM of KPBS in San Diego, was appointed to the Contributor Development Partnership board of directors. Mackey rejoined KPBS as GM earlier this year after working as president of the Public Television Major Market Group. She is also a co-founder for Public Media Women in Leadership. “I have followed CDP’s work since its inception and been an advocate for its focus on encouraging stations to lead and strategize by using data as a guide,” Mackey said in a news release. “I am excited to join the CDP board … to continue to advance adoption of best practices and innovation in fundraising, station collaboration/modeling and data strategy.”

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