President & CEO
Paula A. Kerger is president and chief executive officer of PBS, the nation’s largest non-commercial media organization with nearly 350 member stations throughout the country. Ms. Kerger joined PBS in March 2006, and is the longest serving president and CEO in PBS history. Since her arrival, Ms. Kerger has made particularly strong commitments to the arts, news and public affairs, high-quality educational content for children and the classroom, diversity, and the use of new digital platforms to bring public media into the lives of all Americans.
Under Ms. Kerger’s leadership, PBS has grown its audiences across genres and platforms. In the course of a year, eighty-two percent of all television households in America watch PBS, and nearly seventy percent of all children watch PBS. And online, in 2016, Americans viewed 4.4 billion videos across all PBS digital platforms.
Among her accomplishments are the pop-culture phenomenon “Downton Abbey” on MASTERPIECE, Ken Burns’s and Lynn Novick’s THE VIETNAM WAR, the original American drama series MERCY STREET, the documentary “Hamilton’s America” about the Broadway smash hit musical, acclaimed children’s programs such as DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD and CURIOUS GEORGE, and award-winning apps and online sites. PBS has also developed PBS LearningMedia, which provides educators with digital resources for the classroom. In addition, Ms. Kerger led the historic launch of PBS KIDS 24/7 broadcast and streaming channel in January 2017, ensuring that PBS’ educational programming can reach children anytime and anywhere through local stations.
During Ms. Kerger’s tenure, PBS has launched critically praised online video sites for general audiences (pbs.org) and children (pbskids.org) and created new digital partnerships with companies like iTunes, YouTube, AppleTV, Microsoft’s Xbox, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and Comcast’s On Demand service to ensure that PBS programming is accessible across multiple platforms and, increasingly, to a global audience. PBS has also created PBS Digital Studios, which produces high-quality original content exclusively for digital platforms.
In addition to leading PBS, Ms. Kerger is president of the PBS Foundation, an independent organization that raises private sector funding for PBS, and has become a significant source of revenue for new projects at PBS. Ms. 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. She is also regularly included on Washingtonian Magazine’s Most Powerful Women in Washington. In 2008, Ms. Kerger received the Woman of Achievement Award from Women in Development, New York. She was honored by Promax/BDA, B&C and Multichannel News with their 2012 Brand Builder Award, and was the 2015 recipient of the National Education Association Friend of Education Award. In 2017, she received the Advancing American Democracy Award from the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.
Prior to joining PBS, Ms. Kerger served for more than a decade at Educational Broadcasting Corporation (EBC), the parent company of Thirteen/WNET and WLIW21 New York, where her ultimate position was executive vice president 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.
Ms. Kerger received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Baltimore, where she serves on the Merrick School of Business Dean’s Advisory Council. She has received honorary doctorates from Washington University in St. Louis, Grand Valley State University, and Allegheny College. She is a member of the Women’s Forum, director of the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and Chair of the board of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.
Ms. Kerger and her husband Joseph Kerger live in Round Hill, VA.