2017 Advancing American Democracy Award

September 26, 2017

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INDIANAPOLIS (September 26, 2017) —The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2017 Advancing American Democracy Award. This year’s honor goes to two of the most influential and respected figures in public media today: PBS president & CEO, Paula Kerger and Indiana’s own Lloyd Wright, president & CEO of WFYI Public Media.

The Advancing American Democracy Award is given annually by the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site to “an individual who, in an exemplary way, advances the values of American democracy by encouraging citizen participation in self-government and in greater civic society.” Past award recipients include Senator Richard Lugar, Representative Lee Hamilton, Judge Sarah Evans Barker and award-winning Hamilton biographer, Ron Chernow.

Paula Kerger joined PBS in March 2006, and is the longest serving president and CEO in PBS history. She is recognized for making a strong commitment to the arts, news and public affairs, with emphasis on high-quality educational content for children and the classroom, diversity, and the use of new digital platforms to bring public media into the lives of all Americans.

“Paula spearheads a non-commercial media organization with a monthly reach of more than 100 million viewers and 28 million digital followers,” said Charles Hyde, President and CEO of the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site. “She has helped shape a half-billion-dollar organization into one of our country’s most trusted public institutions.”

Kerger’s reputation as an inventive leader is recognized nationwide and globally. “I’ve known all the presidents of PBS back to Larry Grossman, and they’ve all been different,” says Ken Burns, the award-winning documentarian whose relationship with PBS spans almost 40 years. “I would say unhesitatingly and without a doubt, Paula’s the best of them all.”

Lloyd Wright has more than four decades of service in public media, and is the longest-serving station manager in Indianapolis. In his current role as President and CEO of WFYI Public Media in Indianapolis, he oversees Indiana’s flagship PBS and NPR member stations, which includes WFYI Productions — a full service media production facility; WFYI’s Community Engagement and Learning Services; Indiana Reading and Information services (IRIS) — a free service for Indiana’s print impaired; as well as the WFYI Foundation.

“Lloyd is an exceptional servant leader who not only understands the importance of strong civic partnerships, but actively invests in them. Under his leadership, WFYI has grown and flourished into a vital community resource fully integrated into the cultural fabric of our community,” said Hyde.

Wright is one of the most accomplished media executives in Indiana. A member of the Indiana Broadcasters Association Pioneers Hall of Fame since 2013, he has grown WFYI’s annual operating budget from $2.5 million in 1988 to more than $11 million today. He helped lead two successful capital campaigns totaling $29 million, one of which allowed for the organization’s move into a state-of-the-art facility on Meridian Street in 2008. During his tenure, WFYI has been honored with multiple PBS Development Awards and has received the prestigious Station of Excellence Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Science four years in a row, something no other station has done. A two-time recipient of the Sagamore of the Wabash, the highest award given by the Governor to recognize distinguished service to the state of Indiana, Wright has received numerous other broadcast awards and serves on many local civic boards. He has also served on boards of directors for PBS and American Public Television.

Wright and Kerger will personally accept the Advancing American Democracy Award at the 12th Annual Mary Tucker Jasper Speaker Series, the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site’s largest annual fundraiser.

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“An American citizen could not be a good citizen who did not have a hope in his heart.” ~ Benjamin Harrison

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