I am pleased and excited to be joining all of you here at the U.S. Agency for Global Media as Chief Executive Officer. I think we all agree the agency has an important mission, and we are being called on to perform it at an historically important time. My goal is to provide leadership that will help each of you further that mission.
I have dedicated much of my career to international and public broadcasting. I served as Director of WorldNet under President George H.W. Bush, a position in which I reported to both the Director of the U.S. Information Agency and the Director of Voice of America and managed a large staff of civil servants, contractors, and Foreign Service officers. I learned the importance of building a team that works toward a common purpose.
After WorldNet, I took what I had learned about international broadcasting to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and launched the International TV Council, which aided the transition to independent, free media within the former Soviet Union by arranging co-productions between American and Russian producers.
Years later, in 2003, I returned to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as the Senior Vice President of Television Production. My colleagues and I launched new programming initiatives. The first was America at a Crossroads, a series of prime-time documentaries examining challenges facing America after September 11, from a variety of perspectives. The second was the History and Civics initiative, employing all media – from traditional TV to video games – to address middle and high schoolers’ declining knowledge of our national past. Both these initiatives, in their way, focused on telling America’s story.
In between and after those jobs, I have run Manifold Productions and produced over 15 documentaries that have aired nationally on PBS, the most recent just last month. These films were also my way of telling America’s story. Although making documentaries is very satisfying work, I was eager to return to international broadcasting at this critical juncture in our history.
America’s adversaries have stepped up their propaganda and disinformation efforts. They are aggressively promoting their very different visions of the world. Consider this famous quote from Abraham Lincoln’s first debate with Senator Stephen Douglas, “Public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail; against it, nothing can succeed. Whoever molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces judicial decisions.”
Although Lincoln had democratic America in mind, in today’s interconnected age, shaping global public sentiment matters. As Lincoln would have counseled, we need to counter lies with the truth. We need to make clear to the world the ideals that inspire America. That is the mission of the U.S. Agency for Global Media.
I have three broad goals as I join you at the USAGM.
- The first is to raise employee morale at the agency. USAGM consistently ranks at the bottom in surveys of mid-sized Agencies in terms of morale and job satisfaction. I will make it a priority to improve morale here.
- Second, I intend to examine some of the problems that have surfaced in the media in recent years. I have no preconceptions – I simply intend to make sure there are no issues getting in the way of your ability to report the news.
- Third, and most importantly, my mission will be to make the agency more effective. Bi-partisan support created this new CEO position. My hope is that as CEO, I will provide the leadership and vision to ramp up the impact of the five broadcasting entities and to create a more effective U.S. international broadcasting effort on the world stage. To ensure that this happens, I will confer extensively with you – the talented and dedicated men and women of USAGM – and I will consult with all stakeholders, including Congress.
Beyond these three goals, I am fully committed to honoring VOA’s charter, the missions of the grantees, and the independence of our heroic journalists around the world.
For understandable reasons, current circumstances will limit the kind of outreach and contact we have for a while longer. I look forward to the day when we can have face-to-face communication and give-and-take listening sessions. I want to consult with you and learn more about your ideas to improve our performance.
I am committed to maintaining the agency’s independence and adhering to VOA’s charter and the principles guiding all the grantees. Until then, I want you to know how proud I am to be joining USAGM and working with you on our joint mission.
Chief Executive Officer