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PBS North Carolina Welcomes New Leadership to Its Board of Trustees, Including FWV’s Rick French as Chair

by | Jun 18, 2024

Rick French and Seth Bennett have been elected to serve as the board’s chair and vice chair.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC, 6/18/2024PBS North Carolina’s Board of Trustees has elected Rick French of the marketing agency French|West|Vaughan and Seth Bennett of Hornets Sports & Entertainment as its new chair and vice chair. Their exceptional leadership and extensive professional expertise have proven to be a vital resource to PBS North Carolina, whose mission is to provide transformational experiences and trusted content to the people of the state. Mr. French and Mr. Bennett begin serving their two-year terms on July 1.

PBS North Carolina’s Board of Trustees serves in an advisory role to the statewide public media organization and is its most vital link to the public.

Rick French of Cary is chairman and CEO of French|West|Vaughan, one of the country’s largest independently held PR, public affairs, advertising and digital media agencies. He has been named one of NC’s Most Influential Individuals four times by Business North Carolina and Business Leader of the Year twice by North Carolina Business Leader Magazine. In 2018 he was inducted into the North Carolina Media and Journalism Hall of Fame, and in 2019 he was the recipient of the Watt Huntley Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Raleigh Public Relations Society. He holds a BA in journalism from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, which awarded him its Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award in 2012. An accomplished film and television producer, Mr. French has four major films slated for release later this year. He is also a longtime national trustee of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and is chairman of The Buddy Holly Educational Foundation.

“It’s an honor to assume the chairmanship of North Carolina’s largest broadcast network,” said Mr. French. “PBS North Carolina is an essential part of the fabric of this great state, and we will continue to produce and distribute programming that enlightens and entertains the citizens of NC and beyond.”

Seth Bennett of Charlotte is the chief marketing officer for Hornets Sports & Entertainment, where he is responsible for the Charlotte Hornets’ marketing strategy and brand identity as well as overseeing departments including marketing and advertising, campaigns and activations, creative services, youth programs, event and game presentation, technical operations, retail and team ambassadors. He also supports the business operations of the Greensboro Swarm, the organization’s NBA G League franchise. In 2023 he was named one of BizBash’s Sports Power Players as well as Brand Innovators’ CMO of the Week. Mr. Bennett has more than 30 years of experience in a variety of areas across sports and entertainment. As owner and founding principal of The Event Authority, he produced over 400 live events for college and high school athletic programs and entertainment entities. He also spent eight years working in NCAA Division I athletics. He serves on the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance Board of Trustees, the Board of Directors for First Tee Charlotte and the African American Leadership Academy of Charlotte Governing Board. In addition, Mr. Bennett represents the Greensboro Swarm as an alternate on the NBA G League Board of Governors. He earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations from North Carolina A&T State University.

“It is a privilege to be appointed and serve citizens across our state as vice chair of the PBS North Carolina Board of Trustees,” said Mr. Bennett. “For more than six decades, PBS has been a tremendous resource for millions of North Carolinians, and I look forward to working alongside Rick French and other exceptional leaders across our great state to ensure we continue providing trusted, inspiring content for many years to come.”

Jack Clayton of Raleigh and Anne Mayo Evans of Fayetteville previously served as chair and vice chair of PBS North Carolina’s Board of Trustees. PBS North Carolina thanks them for their loyal service and unwavering dedication.

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors holds all of PBS North Carolina’s broadcast licenses and is legally responsible for the organization. In May, it appointed two new members to PBS North Carolina’s Board of Trustees: Johnny Burleson of Lansing and Rodney Hood of Durham. They begin serving their four-year terms on July 1.

Johnny Burleson of Lansing currently serves as principal, Mid-Atlantic, at Creative Fundraising Advisors (CFA), a national fundraising consulting practice. Prior to his tenure at CFA, Mr. Burleson was chief advancement officer at the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA), where he orchestrated a successful overhaul of development and membership operations, instilling a culture of philanthropy throughout the organization. Prior to his time at NCMA, he served as the director of strategic partnerships at the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation. His extensive career also encompasses 17 years in higher education philanthropy and advancement, including at his alma mater, NC State University, where he earned a BS in textiles with a specialization in the Italian textile industry. He subsequently assumed leadership roles at Appalachian State University and the UNC School of Government in Chapel Hill.

Rodney Hood of Durham most recently served as the corporate responsibility manager at JPMorgan Chase & Company. From 2004 to 2005, Mr. Hood served as associate administrator of rural housing service at the United States Department of Agriculture. He has experience serving on the board of the National Credit Union Administration, the Zest AI Board of Directors, the Posh AI Board of Directors, the ModernFI Board of Directors and the Strategic Resource Management advisory board. He previously served on the UNC Board of Governors from 2013 to 2017. Mr. Hood has a BA in business administration, political science and speech communication from UNC-Chapel Hill.

PBS North Carolina’s Board of Trustees membership reflects a cross-section of the state. The UNC Board of Governors appoints 11 members; the governor appoints four members. The president pro tempore of the Senate and speaker of the House appoint one member each. Six members serve ex officio: the president of the University of North Carolina System, the secretary of Health and Human Services, the president of the Community College System, the superintendent of Public Instruction, the secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural & Cultural Resources and the secretary of Public Safety. Ex-officio members may name proxies to represent them on the board.

Board of Trustees (as of July 1, 2024)

  • Chair: Rick French, Cary
  • Vice Chair: Seth Bennett, Charlotte
  • Jimmy Broughton, Winston-Salem
  • Eddie Buffaloe, Raleigh
  • Johnny Burleson, Lansing
  • James P. Cain, Raleigh
  • Culley C. Carson IV, Raleigh
  • Dr. Jeff Cox, Raleigh
  • Anne Mayo Evans, Fayetteville
  • Brenda C. Gibson, Raleigh
  • Duane Hall, Raleigh
  • Peter Hans, Chapel Hill
  • Rodney Hood, Durham
  • Kody H. Kinsley, Raleigh
  • Pat Rodgers, Charlotte
  • Dr. Charles A. Sanders, Durham
  • Michael Schoenfeld, Durham
  • Russell Smith, Washington
  • Catherine Truitt, Raleigh
  • Catherine K. Watts, Raleigh
  • Bill R. West, Fayetteville
  • Reid Wilson, Raleigh
  • Don Woodard, Asheville 

PBS North Carolina’s Board of Trustees meets quarterly, and its meetings are open to the public. The next meetings will be held Tuesday, September 10, and Tuesday, December 10, 2024. Unless otherwise noted, all meetings begin at 11 AM and are held at PBS North Carolina, located at the Joseph and Kathleen Bryan Communications Center, 10 UNC-TV Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709.

For more information about PBS North Carolina’s Board of Trustees, visit pbsnc.org/about/board-of-trustees.

About PBS North Carolina

As North Carolina’s statewide PBS network serving the country’s third largest public media market, PBS North Carolina educates, informs, entertains and inspires its audience on air, online and in person. Through its unique partnership of public investment and private support, the network includes in-person engagement, digital-first social and online content delivery and four over-the-air channels: PBS NC, the North Carolina Channel, Rootle 24/7 PBS KIDS channel and the Explorer Channel. Its transformational events and content spark curiosity and wonder for all North Carolinians. Additionally, PBS North Carolina serves as the backbone for North Carolina’s state emergency services. To learn more about PBS North Carolina, visit pbsnc.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Bulldog Reporter
Bulldog Reporter is a leader in media intelligence supplying news, analysis and high-level training content to public relations and corporate communications professionals with the mission of helping these practitioners achieve superior competitive performance.

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