Comings and goings: NPR board elects Jennifer Ferro as chair, network names chief arts editor …

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NPR announced results Friday of recent board of directors elections.


Jennifer Ferro, president of KCRW in Santa Monica, Calif., was elected chair. She previously served as vice chair and succeeds Jeff Sine, whose term expired.

“I am honored to take on the role of Board Chair and to help guide this critical organization to meet and serve the American people along with over 200 community public media organizations,” said Ferro in a news release.

Catherine Levene, a public director and former president of the National Media Group at Meredith Corporation, was elected vice chair.

Ciera Crawford was promoted to chief arts and culture hub editor for NPR.


Crawford joined NPR as a producer for All Things Considered in 2019. She later worked as a supervising producer for ATC and most recently served as deputy culture editor.

“Everything I’ve done in my career has prepared me for this opportunity,” said Crawford in a staff memo. “As a longtime NPR listener and Virginia State University alumna, I’m truly honored. I look forward to partnering with my colleagues across the network to elevate NPR’s culture coverage.”

Peter Clowney was appointed COO for Nebraska Public Media.


Clowney most recently worked as VP of content for Pushkin Industries, an audio production company. He also worked as VP of podcasting for SiriusXM, VP of content and strategy for Stitcher, and head editor for Gimlet Media.

Clowney’s new appointment marks his return to public media. From 1993–2015, he worked for WHYY in Philadelphia, WBEZ in Chicago, Illinois Public Media, Public Radio International and American Public Media.

“We are pleased to welcome Peter to our team,” said Nebraska Public Media GM Mark Leonard in a news release. “He has a strong background in media management and will be a key player as we implement our strategic priorities in the future. His commitment to content and journalism is strong, as is his belief in the essential nature of public media.”

Rocky Mountain Public Media announced leadership hires.


Ayana Contreras became assistant GM of radio and PD for The Drop. Contreras most recently worked as content director for Vocalo, owned by Chicago Public Media, and also hosted Reclaimed Soul, a music program on the station. She has been a contributor to NPR Music and DownBeat magazine.

As part of the hire, Tosh Jackson moves into the role of production director.

“I’m over the moon to embark on this new journey. My passion for jazz and urban alternative music finds a unique home here at Rocky Mountain Public Media — one of the only places in the country where both formats coexist in one forward-leaning organization,” said Contreras in a news release. “I’m elated to connect to Colorado’s vibrant cultural scenes and I look forward to our stations continuing to mirror and amplify the richness of this region.”

Maribel Perez Wadsworth became president and CEO of The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.


Wadsworth succeeds Alberto Ibargüen, who announced his decision to retire in March. She starts the role in January.

Wadsworth is a former president of Gannett and was publisher of USA Today. She has served on the boards for the Associated Press and the Pew Research Center.

“Throughout my career as a journalist and executive, I have sought to make a difference in people’s lives. No organization embodies that ideal more closely than the Knight Foundation,” she said in a news release. “I’m proud to follow in the footsteps of Alberto Ibargüen, a visionary leader, with a multitude of accomplishments over the past two decades. It is an honor to build on his considerable legacy.”


Kurt Lanning was named chief engineer for North Country Public Radio in Canton, N.Y. Lanning most recently worked as director of engineering for Mountain Lake PBS in Plattsburgh, N.Y. Longtime Chief Engineer Bob Sauter, who stepped down from the full-time role in 2021, has been serving as interim engineer since Keith Smeal left the station in September to take the chief engineering job at Bonneville International in Seattle.



LaDawn Lee Fuhr became corporate relations director for KASU in Jonesboro, Ark. Fuhr is already heard on KASU’s airwaves as creator and host of 6 Degrees of the Delta, a weekly music program. “LaDawn has a long history with KASU, as a listener, a fan, a contributor and a volunteer program host,” said Station Manager Mark Smith in a news release. “She is enthusiastic about the station, and we are excited to see her foster the support we already have, and to develop more partnerships with local businesses and organizations in our region.”

Tyler Flanagan was hired as giving manager for North Country Public Radio in Canton, N.Y. Flanagan previously worked as annual giving coordinator for Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y. Earlier in his career, Flanagan interned with the station’s “North Country at Work” photo project that collected stories from the surrounding community.



Bill Thomas, director of radio for Prairie Public Broadcasting in North Dakota, is retiring. Thomas has worked in public media for 55 years. He joined what was then called North Dakota Public Radio in 1999 and helped start Dakota Datebook, a daily history program. He also helped lead the daily interview program Main Street. “I do want to retire before I’m decrepit,” Thomas said in an interview with the Grand Forks Herald. “I feel like now we’re in the midst of reshaping public radio, if we can call it radio. I’m glad to be a participant, but someone who would be around for a little longer may be better suited for this new world.”


Helen Krohn joined PBS Reno in Nevada as content resource coordinator. Krohn will be responsible for maintaining the station’s content schedule, ensuring that staff have the necessary equipment for local productions, assisting with cataloging metadata. Krohn, who is from Bradford, England, most recently worked as executive assistant and operations coordinator for Provenance Hotels, based in Portland, Ore. “Since moving to the United States, PBS has been a constant companion,” Krohn said in a news release. “It has taught me with Ken Burns and American history. Sesame Street and Curious George have helped me in raising my children. Watching Downton Abbey has aided in suppressing my homesickness. Now I find myself a part of it and living it here at PBS Reno. I now have the opportunity to give back what PBS has given to me.”


Michael Elizabeth Sakas announced on X that she left her position as a climate and environment reporter for Colorado Public Radio to become a Colorado River communications specialist for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. Sakas joined the station in 2016 as a news fellow and also worked as a producer.



Valerie Kipnis is the twelfth recipient of the Above the Fray Fellowship, jointly awarded by NPR and the John Alexander Project. As part of the international reporting program, Kipnis will spend six months in Uzbekistan to report on the “human impacts of a human-caused ecological crisis: the disappearance of the Aral Sea — which was once the fourth largest lake in the world but has been disappearing since the 1960s — with economic and public health consequences still playing out today,” according to a news release. Kipnis currently works as an associate producer for This American Life. She was also a producer and reporter for Vice News Tonight and received a Fulbright Scholarship in 2021 for travel in Ukraine and Poland.


Jessica Mador, a health reporter for WABE in Atlanta, was awarded a reporting fellowship from the Association of Health Care Journalists. The fellowship supports five mid-career journalists as they pursue a yearlong reporting project examining health-care systems and equity. Mador’s project will be about “connecting the dots underlying Georgia’s maternal mortality crisis and efforts underway to address it,” according to a news release. The program, supported by The Commonwealth Fund, is in its 14th year. The fellowship covers the cost of attending seminars and AHCJ events, as well as a $4,000 project allowance to defray the cost of field reporting, health data analysis and other project-related research. Each project includes a $2,500 award upon completion.


The Lenfest Institute for Journalism selected Vicky Díaz-Camacho, a multiplatform producer for WHYY in Philadelphia, as one of eight participants in the 2023–24 class of the Constellation News Leadership Initiative. The program provides career coaching and executive leadership training for Philadelphia-area media professionals of color. Two of the executive advisors in this cycle’s program work in public media: Bobbi Booker, host and producer for WRTI in Philadelphia; and Madhusmita Bora, managing editor for WHYY.

Current reporter Tyler Falk contributed reporting to this column.

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