Written by The Business Journal Staff
President & CEO
Education: Master of Arts in English Literature from Fresno State
Bachelor of Arts as a University Scholar at Baylor University with an emphasis in English, Spanish, and telecommunications
Family: husband Mike, who’s a high school counselor, a 10-year-old son, and four rescue dogs
WHAT WE DO: ValleyPBS is the only PBS station in Central California, formerly known as Channel 18, serving Merced to Kern counties. We’re a member-supported non-profit public television station and content producer, increasingly focused on telling the Valley’s stories in an in-depth, meaningful way. As the “Valley’s preschool and classroom,” we have 12 hours of educational kids programming each weekday on our main channel, and our “Ready to Learn” program provides hands-on workshops for parents to help them get their kids ready for school or life, mainly offered through school districts. We also have the “Family Circle,” which offers events for the whole family for just $10 per month. We’re the “Stage for the Arts and Lens for Exploration,” so our shows inspire while focusing on our five pillars of cultural arts, education, veterans, agriculture and public affairs.
Tell us a little about your career to your current position.
In college, I was preparing to either be a professor, go to divinity school, do political communications, or news. They seem disparate, but they all have a heart for helping others and making a difference. I studied the basics of journalism but also got a broad liberal arts education, so that I understood the world around me. I spent a semester in New York City and worked with the No. 2 producer at Good Morning, America, and I interned at the local station for three years, so that when I graduated and moved to Fresno, I got a job at KSEE24. I worked my way up as a breaking news reporter and weekend weather anchor before becoming a morning news and weather anchor at CBS47 for seven years, where we had a blast while highlighting stories and events that impacted a lot of people. When I could no longer wake up at 2 a.m., I moved to public relations and University Advancement at Fresno State where I ended up coordinating 200 social media accounts across campus, doing online fundraising campaigns, and working with cabinet on policy, emergency preparedness, and crisis management. I was fortunate to learn from some top leaders there, and its professional development program taught me about the best way to inspire a team and get others to work together. It prepared me well for when the opening came at ValleyPBS.
What prompted you to get into broadcast news?
I was always a writer at heart, and I grew up in D.C. where local news was national news, and I was surrounded by politics. I was fascinated with hearing why people believed the way they did – especially a differing opinion – and presenting both sides accurately is the role of a good journalist and the heart of education. We watched 20/20 every Friday night, and I loved longform storytelling, but I never really wanted to do broadcast (I was scared of being on TV) until Peggy Wehmeyer spoke at Baylor. She was a religion correspondent for ABC News, and she examined how religion affected social issues in our country – which was especially relevant after 9/11 – and I was hooked. Plus, it was a way to get paid to be a writer.
My parents moved here when I was in college, and as someone who grew up in big cities, I loved Fresno. I could appreciate the affordable cost of living, lack of traffic, friendly people, and no humidity – especially after Texas. Plus, I love the mountains, warm nights, and have always lived in a coastal state. I found my place on the morning show. I loved debunking the idea that there’s “nothing to do here” by featuring all of the great events and new businesses, and working with local organizations and elected officials to make this a great place to live. That’s how I really got tied into our community.
How did the position with ValleyPBS come about?
A couple of people reached out to me about applying, and the more I looked into it, the more I realized my experiences had perfectly prepared me for this position. It builds off my time in television, communications, education, development, my love of the arts, heart for our community, and all the work I’ve done in leadership development. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to make somewhere a great place to work, the ways to create an amazing team, and finding out what people were born to do. When you align a person’s passion with how that can support the station, amazing things can happen. I’m grateful for the opportunity to impact the lives of 30 people and support them, so that the station can impact the whole Valley. I’m also a “big vision, strategic thinker,” so it excites me to think about how to take ValleyPBS to the next level.
What was the best advice you ever received?
It all started with, “Dress for where you want to be.” When I began at KSEE24, I was on the weekend assignment desk, so I could have worn jeans. But I wore a suit every day and did my hair and makeup, so that people would ask, “Do you want to be on air?” and they would help me find opportunities, and they were open to them when I asked for them. Now I realize it’s about so much more than just your dress. By having a vision and setting your intention, you keep it top of mind and see those opportunities. Following a vision will work as we move ValleyPBS into the future.
What causes and/or organizations are close to your heart?
I’ve worked with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for a long time, since the idea that blood cancer can strike anyone at anytime is so scary to me. I have close friends who lost children to leukemia, and lymphoma hit someone in our family, but I really believe in their work because I have interviewed kids who wouldn’t have survived ten years ago. They’re here today because someone gave money back then to develop new treatments. That’s powerful. Plus, the groundbreaking work they’re doing on cancer research will help all types of cancer.
What are your roots in the Central Valley?
My dad bought an allergy practice here when I was at Baylor, and the second day after I graduated, I came home and met Mike. His grandfather and his brothers came to the Valley from the Azores and started dairies, so they’ve been here about four generations. When I was helping my parents build their house, I was driving on the freeway, looking at the snow-capped mountains, and out of nowhere, “I could live here one day” came into my brain. Sure enough, I got the “Fresno calling” – as have so many others – and I know it’s where I’m supposed to be.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love going to Shaver with my boys. We love to ski, play tennis, fish, and look at trees. We live out in the country, so I try to garden and grow an orchard with my son, who wants to be a farmer and loves to experiment (he’s trying to convince me to get bees right now!). I’d love to play more golf with my husband if I had time. And I love going to music events or plays, reading and writing, meditating, and attempting yoga.