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PBS SoCal and KCET President/CEO Andrew Russell Receives 2021 Pillar of Public Service Award From America’s Public Television Stations (APTS)

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JP Shields
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Los Angeles, Calif. – Feb. 23, 2021 – Public Media Group of Southern California, the parent company of PBS SoCal and KCET, today announced that the organization’s President and CEO Andrew Russell was presented with the Pillar of Public Service Award by America’s Public Television Stations (APTS). APTS is the nonprofit membership organization that ensures a strong and financially sound public television system and helps member stations provide essential public services to the American people. This award recognizes the contribution of an extraordinary leader and innovator in one or more of public television's three essential public service missions: education, public safety and civic leadership.

When schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic last year, PBS SoCal and KCET immediately partnered with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the nation’s second largest district, to launch the At-Home Learning Initiative, a free educational resource both on-air and online, reaching 700,000 suddenly homebound students. This collaboration that included KQED in the San Francisco Bay Area combined the rich content and expertise of public television with the instructional expertise of LAUSD. Families, educators and students were provided with an engaging daily educational TV schedule targeted to Pre-K through the 12th grade students that featured original, high-quality, short-form content and corresponding state standards curriculum-approved online resources.

Following the leadership of PBS SoCal and KCET, local public television stations from nearly 100 stations in over 40 states began providing similar remote learning resources to families and school superintendents nationwide to ensure that all students had free access to on-air and online educational programming.

“We are honored to be recognized by APTS with the Pillar of Public Service Award for our At-Home Learning Initiative. Education is of highest priority for our organization, and we harnessed the power of public media to bring equity to students across our region in order to keep their learning process from stopping during the outbreak of the pandemic,” said Andrew Russell, President and CEO of PBS SoCal and KCET. “The initiative was created in just one week of collaboration and preparation by the organizations involved. But it was built on groundwork laid for years by local PBS public media stations that served their communities for decades. We knew we needed to create something special and valued in these days where timely, accurate and trusted information means everything. We were ready to go above and beyond when the pandemic circumstances demanded it. By working together with our community, we are much more than just a television station.”

“Over the last year, Andy Russell has pursued public television’s public service mission in education in extraordinary ways under extraordinary circumstances,” said APTS president and CEO Patrick Butler. “Under Andy’s inspiring leadership, PBS SoCal and KCET immediately built an at-home learning initiative at the very beginning of the pandemic. Working from home and without any financial resources budgeted for addressing a national emergency, Andy and his team stood up a broad range of standards-based, curriculum-aligned educational services to help students, teachers and parents continue the learning process at home. And this critical initiative served as a turnkey service for public television stations across the country. PBS SoCal and KCET are doing what public television stations do best: educating our children and serving our communities. We are all immensely grateful for Andy’s dedication and innovative leadership when our country needed it the most, and I’m honored to present him with the well-deserved 2021 Pillar of Public Service Award."

Andrew Russell is a 25-year veteran of public broadcasting, having held senior executive leadership positions at both PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Russell joined PBS SoCal as COO in 2013 and played a key role in building PBS SoCal as it grew into the role of flagship PBS station for California. Named CEO in 2015, Russell has driven rapid growth in the station’s membership and revenues, increased content distribution, and forged new partnerships with major Southern California arts and cultural institutions. In 2018, PBS SoCal merged with KCET (and Link TV) to produce more original programs for seven Southern California broadcast channels, one national satellite channel and a dynamic library of programs that viewers love and trust available for streaming on any internet-connected screen. The new organization addresses the diverse community of the region and the changing demographic of the nation, as well as creates new community engagement experiences that educate, inform and inspire. Russell assumed the role of President and CEO of the three content channels and has been responsible for the third-most-watched PBS station in the country as well as a continued commitment to community engagement, early childhood education and social impact services.

A California native, Russell holds an MBA from Stanford University, an MPA from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis. He is a Member of the CEO Roundtable at UC Irvine and serves on the Board of the Los Angeles City Club.

The 2021 Pillar of Public Service Award was presented to Andrew Russell during the APTS Public Media Summit on Monday, February 22, 2021.

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About APTSAmerica’s Public Television Stations (APTS) is a nonprofit membership organization ensuring a strong and financially sound public television system and helping member stations provide essential public services in education, public safety and civic leadership to the American people. For more information, visit www.apts.org.

About PBS SOCAL and KCET
PBS SoCal and KCET are both part of the donor-supported community institution, the Public Media Group of Southern California. PBS SoCal is the flagship PBS station for diverse people across California and delivers content and experiences that inspire, inform and educate. PBS SoCal offers the full slate of beloved PBS programs including MASTERPIECE, NOVA, PBS NewsHour, FRONTLINE, and a broad library of documentary films with works from Ken Burns; as well as educational content including PBS KIDS programs like DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD and CURIOUS GEORGE. KCET is on-air, online and in the community, and plays a vital role in the cultural enrichment of Southern California. KCET offers a wide range of award-winning local programming as well as the finest public television programs from around the world. Throughout its history, KCET has won hundreds of major awards for its local and regional news and public affairs programming, its national drama and documentary productions and its website, kcet.org. For additional information about both KCET and PBS SoCal productions, web-exclusive content, programming schedules and community events, please visit kcet.org and pbssocal.org KCET Originals and PBS programming are available to stream on the FREE PBS App on iOS and Android devices, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV, and Chromecast. KCET is also available to watch live on YouTube TV.

About the Public Media Group of Southern California
The Public Media Group of Southern California (PMGSC) tells stories that matter through original programs that reflect the diversity of our region, and through the full schedule of trusted PBS programs. Our Southern California content channels PBS SoCal and KCET are available over-the-air in the Los Angeles market with programming available to stream on the free PBS App. Our Link TV channel is available nationally on DirecTV and Dish Network. A donor-supported community institution, PMGSC sparks the sharing of ideas at in-person cultural events and community conversations and delivers social impact through a variety of services including those that prepare our most vulnerable children for school.

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