Jones steps down from helm of National Black Programming Consortium

By Dru Sefton

Jacquie Jones, executive director of the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) since 2005, has resigned, effective immediately, but will continue to produce for public media.

Jones

Jones

Stepping in as interim is Leslie Fields-Cruz, programming director, who has supervised distribution of programs to PBS since 2001.

NBPC, a 35-year-old nonprofit that is affiliated with the CPB-backed National Minority Consortia, develops, produces and funds public media content focusing on the African American experience, such as the Peabody-winning documentary, 180 Days: A Year Inside An American High School. The 2013 film, which Jones directed and produced, portrayed day-to-day challenges of students and educators at an alternative high school in in Washington, D.C.

Jones will return to film production with the follow-up, 180 Days: Hartsville, a coproduction of South Carolina ETV and NBPC. Her previous television production credits include 1998’s Africans in America— another Peabody winner — and Matters of Race in 2003 for PBS; From Behind Closed Doors: Sex in the 20th Century for Showtime; and The World Before Us for History Channel.

“Walking away from the day-to-day management of an organization that has personified for me the very best in black media has been a difficult, bittersweet decision,” Jones said in Thursday’s announcement. “It has truly been my honor to have led NBPC during the last exhilarating, tumultuous, revolutionary nine years as we’ve watched the media landscape be taken apart wholesale and recreated in ways simply not imaginable a decade ago.”

During her tenure, Jones expanded NBPC’s focus from public television to digital media. She founded the New Media Institute, which has trained more than 500 professionals in using digital and web tools. She also established Public Media Corps, which connected minority and low-income communities with broadband public media resources and social media tools.

Fields-Cruz

Fields-Cruz

Jones also faced challenges in securing funds for NBPC. CPB cut its aid to each of the five organizations that make up the National Minority Consortia, reducing funding by 10 percent in fiscal 2013. Last year CPB and the consortia agreed to hire a consultant to explore cost-saving measures, including a possible merger.

“While I’m sad to see her step down as the executive director of NBPC,” said PBS President Paula Kerger in the announcement, “I am confident that she will continue to make a significant impact on the future of public media in her role as an award-winning producer.”

CPB President Pat Harrison called Jones “one of our system’s most visionary leaders.”

“Her deep commitment to the proposition that our work will reflect all American voices has brought a series of ground-breaking initiatives to public media,” Harrison said.

And filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris said Jones “has been an invaluable advocate, adviser and funder, without whom our job as independent producers of color would have been so much harder.” His latest film, Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People, was funded in part by NBPC.

Questions, comments, tips? sefton@current.org

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