Jeff Aiello will step down as CEO of Valley PBS

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Jeff Aiello is leaving his position as president and CEO of Valley PBS in Fresno, Calif.


Aiello confirmed his departure with Current in an email. He will continue as CEO until a successor is named.

“My contract was through June of 2025 but my family and I made the decision to step down a year early,” he wrote. Due to health concerns, his doctors advised him “to ease back on work load.”

“I am working with the board on succession and we have a great team in place to help with the transition,” he added. “I’ve been [asked] to stay on as a consultant by the board after my term as CEO ends which I’m considering now.”

Laura Goodreau, Valley PBS administrative support specialist and executive assistant, also sent an email to the station’s community advisory board about the CEO switch, according to the nonprofit news outlet The San Joaquin Valley Sun.

“After careful consideration and discussion within the Executive Board, we have collectively decided to initiate the search for our next CEO,” Goodreau wrote in the email. “Jeff has been an integral part of our journey, and he will continue to support us during this transition period until we find the right individual to lead us forward.”

“This decision has been made with the best interests of our station in mind,” Goodreau wrote. “We believe that bringing in fresh perspectives and leadership will help propel us toward our goals and further enhance our station’s impact within our community.”

Aiello joined Valley PBS in May 2021, succeeding Lorenzo Rios. He previously worked as EP of Valley PBS local programs while operating his production company 18THIRTY Entertainment. His productions for Valley PBS, American Grown: My Job Depends on Ag and Outside Beyond the Lens, have continued to air on the station while he has been CEO. Aiello also directed the 2022 documentary Afterburn: The Creek Fire Documentary for Valley PBS.

Before joining Valley PBS. he was EP for programs that aired on ABC’s Live Well Network, now known as Localish. He previously worked as a producer for commercial TV stations in San Francisco, Dallas, Phoenix and Charlotte, N.C.

When Aiello became CEO, the station was struggling financially. Valley PBS had cut jobs in 2020 and had come under scrutiny for its financial reporting to CPB.

In April 2023, a CPB audit recommended that Valley PBS pay a fine of $38,946 and return $294,457 in Community Service Grant money. Management before Aiello had overstated the station’s nonfederal financial support, according to a letter from CPB Deputy General Counsel Jackie Livesay. The letter also noted that Valley PBS “did not comply with certain Communications Act transparency requirements, and did not fully comply with CPB’s diversity statement, annual harassment and bias prevention training, and discrete accounting requirements.”

Aiello told The Fresno Bee that most of the issues identified by auditors “revolved around a lack of understanding of the rules set forth by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”

“As I’ve said to our friends at the CPB in charge of this audit, I’m personally thankful Valley PBS went through this process,” he said in the Bee’s report on the audit. “It needed to happen. Weak management and outdated business practices needed the full focus of an audit like this to get Valley PBS back on the right track.”

Valley PBS’ editorial practices also brought criticism from the community. PBS Public Editor Ricardo Sandoval-Palos told local outlet GV Wire in September 2023 that he had looked into complaints that local viewers sent to him. The issues centered on perceived bias in Valley PBS’ agricultural series, potential conflicts of interest involving the role of Aiello’s production company in local programming, and the board of trustees’ rejection of a community advisory board candidate.

Critics noted that the agricultural programs were underwritten by the agricultural industry. For example, American Grown: My Job Depends on Ag had underwriting from GAR Bennett, a provider of water systems to farmers, and Brandt, a seller of agricultural products.

The community advisory board candidate who was rejected in May 2023, Gunnar Jensen, criticized the station’s editorial practices and local programming in columns for The Fresno Bee in September 2022 and March and November 2023.

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