Chairman of the Board since 2014 and director since 2011. Don Baer is Worldwide Chair and Chief Executive Officer of the global strategic communications firm Burson-Marsteller, a WPP company. Don has been a member of Burson-Marsteller’s senior leadership since 2008 and has led major client engagements in every sector and part of the world, especially for top technology, communications and media companies.
Don’s career has spanned leading roles as a media and communications executive for a wide range of important business, government and non-profit organizations. He has had extensive strategic, creative and operational experience in corporate and media roles as well as in the U.S. Government.
From 1998 to 2007, Don helped lead global media company Discovery Communications. As Senior Executive Vice President for Strategy and Development and an executive committee member, Don was a principal deputy to CEO, leading worldwide new ventures and acquisitions; marketing, corporate communications, research and public policy, and digital media strategy and operations. He drove significant growth in Discovery’s online offerings, including acquisitions of digital businesses and the launch of its first mobile video services, and he oversaw the Discovery/New York Times Company joint venture in the Discovery Times Channel. As a producer, he supervised Discovery’s public affairs content, including the 2004 Emmy Award-winning series Decisions That Shook the World and a documentary series with Thomas Friedman of The New York Times. Don led Discovery’s partnership with the American Film Institute to create the documentary festival Silverdocs.
From 1994-98, Don was a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton, as Assistant to the President and White House Director of Strategic Planning and Communications and, before, as Chief Speechwriter/Director of Speechwriting and Research. Don played key roles in the Clinton Presidency, including the historic 1996 re-election, helping drive integrated communications strategy across domestic and foreign policy, and developing major Presidential speeches and policy iniativies.
From 1985-93, Don was a journalist. For seven years, at U.S. News & World Report, he covered politics and the White House and, as an assistant managing editor, oversaw national and international coverage. He also worked at The American Lawyer, has written for publications including The New York Times and POLITICO and was a CBS News on-air analyst. Starting in 2000, he was a writer for the annual Kennedy Center Honors TV production, winning two Writers Guild of America awards.
In the 1980s, Don was a media lawyer at New York’s Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler. Don is Chair of the Board of Directors of PBS, the U.S. Public Broadcasting Service, and is a member of the Board of Directors of Meredith Corporation. He also serves on the Boards of the Urban Institute, the News Literacy Project, the Reuters Editorial Advisory Board and Fora.tv. Don served as a member of the Board of Visitors at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was inducted into the North Carolina Halls of Fame in Journalism, Advertising and Public Relations.
Don received a B.A. from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Phi Beta Kappa), a Master’s in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a J.D. from The University of Virginia School of Law. He and his wife, Nancy Bard, have two sons and live in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Baer Chairs the PBS Executive Committee and serves in an ex officio capacity on the National Policy Advisory, Nominating and Corporate Governance, Finance and Diversity Advisory committees. He also serves on the PBS Foundation Board and PBS Foundation Endowment Fund Committee.