Skip to main content
About PBS

2018 PBS Development Award Winners Hail From Ohio, Oregon, Arizona, Oklahoma and Chicago

Email share

CHICAGO, IL; July 10, 2018 Ohio’s CET & ThinkTV, Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), Arizona Public Media and the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA) Foundation were named today by PBS as the category winners for the 2018 PBS Development Awards. In addition, Nathan Armstrong, associate director of foundation and corporate relations of Chicago’s WTTW, was recognized with an individual achievement award. Presented at the Public Media Development and Marketing Conference (PMDMC) conference in Chicago, the awards recognize outstanding achievement and innovation in various aspects of fundraising in local communities.

“Since our founding, development has served as the backbone of public media, ensuring that we have the resources and capacity needed to deliver on our mission today and in the future,” said Paula Kerger, PBS President and CEO. “We are thrilled to recognize CET & ThinkTV, OPB, Arizona Public Media, the OETA Foundation and Nathan Armstrong of WTTW as innovative leaders who are fostering deep local support for stations and their work in communities.”

CET & ThinkTV, which are based in Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, respectively, were honored with the Corporate Support Award. The Membership Award was presented to OPB, which serves most of Oregon and Southern Washington State. Arizona Public Media, a statewide licensee, was named the Philanthropy Award winner. The OETA Foundation won the Special Achievement Award, and Nathan Armstrong of WTTW won the Development Rising Star award. Descriptions for each award and the notable achievements for each recipient are included below, along with honorable mentions.

“In many ways, public media is about meeting viewers where they are, whether that’s over the air, via the internet or increasingly over mobile devices,” said Betsy Gerdeman, PBS Senior Vice President for Development Services. “The most effective fundraiser does the same thing for donors, reaching both longstanding and future donors with care and consideration for their time and what matters to them most: the impact of their giving on the community. This year’s recipients – CET & ThinkTV, OPB, Arizona Public Media, the OETA Foundation and Nathan Armstrong – each embody that aim with community-driven strategies, successful fundraising tactics and creative initiative.”

The Corporate Support Award recognizes leaders in public media for their success in securing new sources of corporate revenue, incorporating new techniques, or developing innovative strategies and targeted marketing efforts. CET & ThinkTV were named the Corporate Support winners for their project “Teamwork Creates Partnerships That Benefit All.” Through this project, both groups leveraged strong internal collaborations across a variety of departments – corporate relations, development, education, digital, art, production and business development – to secure new corporate partners, accounting for a 57% increase in overall revenue in 2017. It was this approach combined with innovation and creativity that established CET & ThinkTV as trusted brands throughout their respective communities.

A Corporate Support Honorable Mention was given to KSPS Public Television in Spokane.

The Membership Award recognizes successful membership strategies that have led to increases of net revenue, donor files or prospect pipeline, or the incorporation of new engagement activities resulting in increased giving. This year’s Membership Award was awarded to OPB for successfully transforming a mature membership program into one that can continue to grow in a changing media landscape. OPB changed the culture of the entire membership department in a way that all stations can model and learn from – shifting the focus from generating immediate revenue to member acquisition and retention, relying on data to drive decisions, testing new strategies, and promoting collaboration. In the past six years, OPB has seen a 30% increase in members, a 600% increase in new sustainers and an overall retention rate of 77%. All of these improvements have contributed to a 65% increase in revenue.

A Membership Honorable Mention was given to KPBS in San Diego.

The Philanthropy Award recognizes successful fundraising efforts that directly strengthen a station’s financial sustainability. Arizona Public Media was awarded the Philanthropy Award. A few years ago, the station faced a budget cut of $2 million, which could have been catastrophic. The development department responded by further cultivating its strong support in the community, instilling “pride of ownership” in its Leadership Society and motivating its members to build a better southern Arizona. AZPM engaged, empowered and mobilized key stakeholders to raise more money. From 2015 to 2017, AZPM increased fundraising revenue 103% to $2.5 million. As a result of these efforts, AZPM continues to benefit from a stronger bond between donors, station volunteer leaders and the community at large.

A Philanthropy Honorable Mention was given to Wisconsin Public Television.

The Special Achievement Award recognizes successful projects that have a broader organizational or community reach, or outside a single discipline. The OETA Foundation was this year’s Special Achievement Award winner. The DAC was inspired by the hyper-localism of OETA Foundation’s “Mosaic Oklahoma” series, which travels the state to piece together its mosaic of people and cultures. The success of this initiative stems from the team approach to build multiple revenue streams and strong relationships. As producers shot a sunrise with cowboys on horseback, the development team got to know major donors and prospects in town. The underwriter met with local business owners while the pledge producer scouted locations for a preview event. This is an excellent example of how stations can make sure they remain relevant in their communities. When the production premiered during pledge, it generated $17,000 in one hour, and 40% of these were new donors. The foundation secured $150,000 through two corporate sponsors and continues to build the series to tell the stories of Oklahoma.  

The Development Rising Star Award was established this year to recognize up-and-coming development leaders in our system. In a large pool of outstanding professionals, Nathan Armstrong, associate director of foundation and corporate relations at WTTW in Chicago, stood out. In just three and a half years at the station, Nathan has raised $3 million annually in foundation, corporate and government support toward the major giving annual fund, and has secured six-figure major gifts from corporations whose support had lapsed. He has doubled support from existing corporate donors and brought new corporations into the WTTW donor family. He quickly learned how to articulate the case for support and the halo effect that comes with aligning with the PBS mission. Nathan has also contributed significantly to WTTW’s Imagining More campaign, a $65 million capacity-building effort. Nathan not only enriches the community through his fundraising, he also gives back to his development colleagues at WTTW. He puts in long hours and mentors his direct reports. His team coined the term “Nathan-isms” to describe his positive, collaborative responses: “I’ve got this!” What’s next?” “How can I help?” “We can do this!”


About PBS
PBS, with nearly 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches over 90 million people through television and 30 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. Decades of research confirms that PBS’ premier children’s media service, PBS KIDS, helps children build critical literacy, math and social-emotional skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality educational content on TV – including a 24/7 channel, online at, via an array of mobile apps and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, or by following PBS on TwitterFacebook or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.


Aparna Kumar, PBS, 703-739-5028,