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Brand Builders: Paula Kerger

Paula A. Kerger is president and CEO of PBS, the nation’s largest non-commercial media organization with more than 350 member stations throughout the country.

Kerger joined PBS as its sixth president and chief executive in March 2006. Since her arrival, Kerger has made particularly strong commitments to the arts, news and public affairs, high-quality content for education, diversity and the use of new technology to bring public media into the lives of all Americans.

Among her accomplishments are Ken Burns’ and Dayton Duncan’s fall 2009 12-hour documentary, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea; the debut of such acclaimed children’s programs as The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That, Dinosaur Train, CuriousGeorge (the No. 1 show for kids 2-5 since 2006), Word World, Super Why!, Martha Speaks and Sid the Science Kid; new primetime science and arts series; the new PBS ARTS Website and ARTS Festival; and comprehensive online sites for parents and caregivers. PBS has also developed PBS LearningMedia, which provides educators with strategies, tools and professional development resources needed to fully utilize digital learning in the classroom.

For the 2010-11 season, PBS programs were honored with 14 primetime Emmy awards, the highest number of primetime Emmy award wins for public television in more than 25 years. PBS was also honored with 12 daytime Emmy awards and six news & documentary Emmys. PBS was also honored with nine George Foster Peabody Awards; two Golden Globe nominations; one Academy Award nomination; two Television Critics Association awards; four IDA Documentary Awards; three Writers Guild of America Awards; four Webby Awards; and 15 Parents’ Choice awards.

Under Kerger’s leadership, PBS has developed critically praised online video portals for general audiences ( and children ( and, as well as innovative digital partnerships with iTunes, YouTube, Microsoft’s Xbox, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Comcast’s On Demand service, ensuring that PBS programming is accessible across multiple platforms and, increasingly, to a global audience.

In addition to leading PBS, Kerger is president of the PBS Foundation, an independent organization that raises private sector funding for PBS. Kerger is regularly included in The Hollywood Reporter’s “Women in Entertainment Power 100,” an annual survey of the nation’s top women executives in media. In 2005, she was named to the Women’s Forum, an organization of 300 leading women in New York’s arts and business scenes. In 2008, Kerger received the Woman of Achievement Award from Women in Development, New York.

Prior to joining PBS, Kerger served for more than a decade at Educational Broadcasting Corp., the parent company of Thirteen/WNET and WLIW21 New York, where her ultimate position was executive VP and chief operating officer. Her tenure boasts many achievements, including WNET’s completion in 1997 of the largest successful endowment campaign ever undertaken by a public television station.

Kerger graduated from the University of Baltimore, where she serves on the Merrick School of Business Dean’s Advisory Council. She is a director of the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and a member of the boards for both the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Kerger and her husband, Joseph Kerger, live in Washington, D.C. —biographical info provided by PBS