Deborah L. Acklin, President and CEO of WQED is retiring today after 12 years, citing the need to focus on medical treatments following a diagnosis of lung cancer in non-smokers.
“Deborah Acklin led WQED through difficult years, including historic financial constraints and a pandemic,” WQED Board Co-Chair Mildred S. Myers said in a statement. “Through it all, she has consistently guided WQED’s clear commitment to local community service and excellence. Deb’s shoes will be hard to replace, but her legacy of nationally recognized achievement will help us attract top-notch candidates.
In a statement, Acklin said, “To lead WQED – my hometown PBS and classical music station – has been a singular professional honor. Growing up, these were almost the only channels we watched and listened to. The first day on the job, I met Fred Rogers, and everything crystallized instantly for me. I hope I was a student worthy of his life’s example. Thank you, Pittsburgh!
Lilli Mosco, chief revenue officer, and Mike Waruszewski, chief financial officer, will lead the nonprofit media company as interim co-chief operating officers while the organization conducts a national search for its next president and chief executive officer. The direction.
Acklin was the first woman to hold the post, taking the job after George Miles retired in 2010. The board, which announced her departure at its annual board meeting on Thursday, said said one of his accomplishments was to lift WQED out of “crushing debt and functional bankruptcy” to operate on more stable footings.
Staff have tried to maintain quality programming as the organization has experienced a financial rollercoaster ride over the years, resulting in some restructuring. Among these, in 2014, WQED Multimedia made adjustments to its weekly broadcasts on its public 24/7 classical music radio station. Later in 2015, he cited the need to cut up to 17 jobs and impose pay cuts as part of further restructuring.
Then, two years later, WQED raised $9.9 million from the sale of its broadcast frequency through the FCC’s broadcast spectrum auction. This was enough to completely pay off his long-term debt.
“Whether managing operations and strategy implementation or fundraising, Deb has never lost sight of WQED’s fundamental role as a community resource and educator,” added the co-chair Jonathan Rosenson, who, along with Myers, will provide guidance during the transition.
WQED’s statement states that its “mandate is also marked by unprecedented professional recognition for producing meaningful content locally, nationally and internationally, and for building and nurturing an education department nationally recognized.