Thursday, February 11, 2010

Public Broadcasting Leader Mary Bitterman Named Commonwealth Club Board Chair

Nation’s Premier Public Affairs Forum Appoints Former KQED Chief to Lead Club

Dr. Mary Bitterman, president of The Bernard Osher Foundation and former president and CEO of KQED, has been named the 2010-2011 chair of the Board of Governors for The Commonwealth Club of California, the nation's oldest and largest public affairs forum. Dr. Bitterman succeeds Mary Cranston, leading attorney and senior partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, to become the ninth woman to head the Board of Governors of The Commonwealth Club since its inception in 1903.

"It is a privilege and challenge to lead such an important public service organization at this critical juncture in the history of our state and nation," said Bitterman. “Now more than ever, our democracy depends on an informed public -- knowledgeable of the affairs of our society and of the world in which we live.”

Dr. Gloria Duffy, president and CEO of The Club, noted, “Mary Bitterman’s rich leadership experience in public broadcasting, philanthropy, higher education, and corporate governance will prove invaluable to The Club. Our board and staff look forward to working closely with her.”

Born in San José and daughter and sister of Santa Clara County Superior Court judges, Dr. Bitterman is a fourth-generation Californian who has demonstrated unwavering dedication to the public good in her native state. She recently was commended by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors for her work with the Osher Foundation on its $50 million pledge to the California Community Colleges Scholarship Endowment, the largest single gift to a community college system in the nation’s history. During her tenure as president of KQED from 1993 to 2002, she was credited with restoring fiscal integrity, rebuilding board and staff morale, and undertaking KQED’s Campaign for the Future which raised funds for conversion to digital systems and for a Program Venture Fund to support local production. She significantly expanded the stations' local programming, beginning with KQED Public Radio’s “Pacific Time” and “The California Report,” now in its 15th year of broadcast. KQED Public Television produced such programs as “The Neighborhoods of San Francisco,” with “The Castro” earning the Peabody Award, and started the arts magazine, “Spark.” She has also produced several documentaries for public television and has written about the role of media and telecommunications in developing societies.

Before coming to KQED, Dr. Bitterman headed the Hawaii Public Broadcasting Authority, the Voice of America, the Hawaii State Department of Commerce, and the East-West Center’s Institute of Culture and Communication. Her board service has included chairing the boards of PBS and the East-West Center and membership on the Board of Trustees of Barclays Global Investors, purchased recently by BlackRock.

Currently, as president of The Bernard Osher Foundation, Dr. Bitterman focuses on the foundation’s national priorities (postsecondary scholarships; lifelong learning institutes for seasoned adults; and integrative medicine programs) and on its local arts and humanities grant-making that benefits organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area and the State of Maine. A trustee of the foundation, she serves also as lead independent director of Bank of Hawaii and board chair of the PBS Foundation. Additionally, she is a member of the advisory councils for the Bay Area Council Economic Forum, Pacific Forum/CSIS, the Public Policy Institute of California, and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.

Dr. Bitterman is an honorary member of the National Presswomen's Federation, a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, and a recipient of the Ralph Lowell Award for national leadership in public broadcasting. She received her B.A. from Santa Clara University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Modern European History from Bryn Mawr College. She is the recipient of honorary doctoral degrees from Dominican University of California, Santa Clara University, and the University of Richmond.

--By the Commonwealth Club Media & Public Relations Staff


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