Oregon Public Broadcasting taps CNN’s Rachel Smolkin as CEO

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Rachel Smolkin was named president and CEO of Oregon Public Broadcasting.

OPB CEO Rachel Smolkin

Smokin, who starts the job in September, will succeed longtime leader Steve Bass, who announced plans to retire last year.

“As we celebrated our first 100 years, we were looking for a dynamic leader to chart the way forward during this time of transformational change in media,” said Rukaiyah Adams, chair of OPB’s board of directors and CEO of the 1803 Fund, in a news release. “Rachel will advance our work with deep experience in journalism, wide professional networks and adaptive leadership skills.”

Smolkin has spent the last decade working for CNN. She is currently SVP of global news for CNN Digital, overseeing breaking news, politics, and U.S. and international teams across digital platforms.

Before joining CNN in 2014, she held several positions with Politico, including managing editor of news and White House editor. She was also a news assignment editor for USA Today and managing editor of American Journalism Review. She has completed the Sulzberger Executive Leadership program at Columbia University.

OPB’s search committee was led by John Tapogna, vice chair of the organization’s board. Tapogna, president emeritus at public policy consulting firm ECOnorthwest, said Smolkin is both a “visionary” journalist and “strong business strategist.”

“I am honored to lead OPB in its next chapter serving Oregon and the Pacific Northwest,” Smolkin said in the news release. “I am energized by the commitment the board has shown for building news and public affairs programming for all Oregonians and Southwest Washingtonians, for leading conversations about solving our most urgent challenges and for innovating new ways to connect with communities.”

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