Association of Public Television Stations Elects New Board Leaders, Members

WASHINGTON — February 23, 2014 — The Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) today announced the election of new leadership positions to its Board of Trustees, the election of five new members to its Board of Trustees and the re-election of two current members to its Board of Trustees.

The new leadership of the APTS Board of Trustees is: Chair: John Harris, President and Chief Executive Officer, Prairie Public Broadcasting, Fargo, North Dakota; Professional Vice-Chair: Eric Hyyppa, Director and General Manager KUSM-TV, MontanaPBS, Bozeman, Montana; and Lay Vice-Chair: Edmund Driggs, Lay Trustee, WTVI PBS Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina.

The newly-elected trustees are: Deborah Acklin, President and Chief Executive Officer, WQED Multimedia, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Mendy Elliott, Chair, KNPB Public Broadcasting, Reno, Nevada; Kliff Kuehl, President and Chief Executive Officer, KCPT, Kansas City, Missouri; Bert Schmidt, President and Chief Executive Officer, WHRO, Norfolk, Virginia; and Gail Mendelson Sterman, Board of Trustees, WJCT, Jacksonville, Florida.

The re-elected current board members are: Jo Ellen Chatham, Ph.D., Lay Trustee, PBS SoCal, Los Angeles, California; and Pat Moody, At-Large Trustee, Director of Market Development for Mid-West Family Broadcasting, Benton Harbor, Michigan.

The following are the bios of the newly-elected board members:

Deborah Acklin is president and chief executive officer of WQED Multimedia in Pittsburgh, PA. WQED Multimedia is the nation’s first community-owned public media company, also known worldwide as “Mister Rogers’ station.”

Acklin has served in multiple executive roles in public broadcasting, the cable television industry and commercial broadcasting. At WQED Multimedia, she manages or has managed the operations, strategies and fundraising to create original multi-platform content distributed across four television channels, three radio signals, an interactive Web-based learning channel, an interactive global media distribution portal, an education department, a publishing division, and PBS, NPR and their member stations.

Acklin’s tenure includes many achievements, including two consecutive Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards for Station Excellence, given by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to a general manager of a commercial or public television station in Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia and New Jersey. She also helped launch the first public television channel in Bermuda (CTV).

Mendy Elliott is currently the Managing Partner with Capitol Partners, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in lobbying and governmental affairs. Additionally, she serves as Chairman of the Board for KNPB Public Broadcasting in Reno, NV.

Before establishing her consulting firm, Elliott served the citizens of Nevada beginning in January 2007 when she was appointed by Governor Jim Gibbons as director of business and industry, a post she held until July 2008 when the Governor promoted her to the serve as his deputy chief of staff.

Elliott was recruited into State service after a 30-year career in the financial services industry, making her keenly knowledgeable in policies and regulations governing the financial services industry. Elliott spent 24 years of her financial career with Wells Fargo Bank. Among her various positions, she served as a personal banking officer, branch manager and commercial loan Officer. Her most recent posts included senior vice president of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. and private banking manager. Additionally, Elliott served in the capacity of senior vice president, community and government relations department at Wells Fargo where she oversaw all aspects of the bank’s government relations and community relations/foundation programs including serving as the main liaison with the Nevada legislature and the state’s University System.

Kliff Kuehl is president and chief executive officer of KCPT in Kansas City, MO. He joined KCPT in April 2009.

Kuehl’s vision for the station is to transform public media as a better and more sustainable service, with increased viewer engagement. In an era of declining local coverage by newspapers and commercial television, he wants KCPT to bridge the gap by growing its local content services and connect content to audience segments. KCPT has added a vice president for digital & social media, is building a center for new media and is acquiring an AAA radio station.

Kuehl worked as a film and video producer in his first career. He advanced to production supervisor and operations manager before becoming president and chief executive officer of KWBU-TV and KWBU-FM, the public broadcasting stations for central Texas. From December 2004 through March 2009, Kuehl served as the president and CEO of KNPB-TV, public television for northern Nevada.

Bert Schmidt is president and chief executive officer of WHRO in Norfolk, VA. Under Schmidt’s leadership, WHRO has continued to be recognized as a leader in the field of educational telecommunications. The station has been the recipient of several national grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and is currently one of a handful of public media affiliates working under the American Graduate umbrella, an initiative focusing on the national dropout crisis. 

Schmidt is passionate about the dual roles public media plays: in education and in broadcasting. He began his career in public media as executive vice president and chief financial officer of WCNY in his hometown of Syracuse, New York. Schmidt served as president and general manager of WVPT in Harrisonburg, Virginia for five years before being tapped to join WHRO as its president and chief executive officer in May of 2007.

Schmidt’s been instrumental in the development of education content, particularly in the online platform, as well as a vibrant digital distribution for educational content that is now available to every student in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Throughout his career, he’s been a strong proponent of local programming that serves the community. Schmidt developed and served as executive producer of 11 local television productions during his tenure at WVPT, and three local television programs and one local radio program at WHRO.

Gail Mendelson Sterman is a member of the Board of Trustees of WJCT in Jacksonville, FL. She has worked for over 30 years in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors in the areas of public relations, marketing and development. Mendelson Sterman began her career in West Virginia as host of a local television talk show, and went on to become a reporter/anchor for WWVA, a 50,000 watt radio station.

While working with private schools, colleges and health care institutions, Mendelson Sterman developed and implemented local, regional and national media and public relations programs. She coordinated events honoring regional, national and international dignitaries; organized and led national media advisory boards; edited and produced promotional brochures and videos; conducted public relations audits; and directed feasibility studies as prelude to capital campaigns.

While working in higher education, Mendelson Sterman was a member of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). She served on the CASE/Europe Task Force, helping establish a CASE presence in Europe. Mendelson Sterman also helped coordinate district meetings and, in 1990, was invited to be a participant in the CASE Leadership Conference.

In 1990, Mendelson Sterman received a Fulbright Fellowship, Academic Administrators Award, to the United Kingdom. She was the first woman from the U.S to receive this award. While there, she was affiliated with the University of Kent, Canterbury and the London School of Economics and Political Science.

About APTS
The Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) is a nonprofit membership organization established in 1979. The mission of APTS is to conduct – in concert with member stations – advocacy, planning, research, communications and other activities that foster a strong and financially sound public television system providing essential public services to all Americans. Its affiliate APTS Action Inc. promotes the legislative and regulatory interests of noncommercial television stations at the national level through direct advocacy and through grasstops and grassroots campaigns designed to garner bipartisan congressional support. For more information, visit