Courtney Pledger is Executive Director & CEO of Arkansas PBS, the statewide public media network serving Arkansas’ more than three million people. Pledger joined Arkansas PBS in 2017, bringing with her broad experience in content creation and distribution and media management. She has instilled a fresh vision for Arkansas's only statewide network with increased impact in education, a focus on deeper community connection and essential daily value, digital content production and distribution across multiple platforms, increased volume of local content, innovation in public affairs, increased transparency for state government and strength overall in storytelling.
Under Pledger's leadership, Arkansas PBS has reshaped production and provided increased opportunities for Arkansas stories to be told for a national audience; created an inventive ‘school on the air’ and VOD; launched the online network hub AR-CAN (Arkansas Citizens Access Network) for live-streaming coverage of state government proceedings and the promotion of civic literacy; and brought communities together in support of student athletes through the broadcast of high school sports championships statewide. In 2021, she is leading an expansion of the Arkansas PBS broadcast infrastructure to extend OTA coverage to all Arkansans and building a growing partnership with the Arkansas Department of Education in the creation of original children’s content to address learning loss and content in support of a statewide early childhood curriculum.
Prior to joining Arkansas PBS, Pledger worked for more than three decades in the international film and television community in creative development, production, and management. She began her career at Hearst Entertainment and has had senior leadership roles at multiple film and television organizations including Rastar, IndieProd Company, Universal's Illumination Entertainment, London-based Jigsaw Films/Miramax, Radical Pictures and the U.K.'s Aardman Animations where she served as a creative consultant. From 2012 through early 2017, Pledger was executive director of Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, where she revitalized the longest-running nonfiction festival in North America, earning designation for the festival as an Oscar-qualifier in Documentary Short Subject for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Pledger currently serves on the national PBS Board of Directors, is co-chair of the Organization of State Broadcasting Executives (OSBE) and is a member of the executive committee of the National Educational Television Association (NETA). Pledger has been the recipient of Women in Film’s Lillian Gish Producing Award and is on the advisory board for Arkansas Women in Film.Courtney Pledger
Ed Leon is Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Director of the Arkansas PBS, where he helps guide multiple operational areas related to strategy, content and media operations. Leon joined Arkansas PBS in 2018 and has been instrumental in executing new Arkansas PBS initiatives in digital content expansion, statewide sports coverage and governmental transparency. He brings more than three decades of diverse experience in broadcasting, digital media, marketing, product development and creative television production to further Arkansas PBS's mission to educate and inspire.
Prior to Arkansas PBS, Leon served as Chief Brand Officer and SVP of Product Development for The Great Courses, leading an award-winning content studio that produced hundreds of video series on a spectrum of subjects; created content partnerships with National Geographic, Mayo Clinic and Smithsonian; expanded multiplatform distribution to Amazon Video, Netflix, Audible, Roku, Facebook Live, and SiriusXM; and launched The Great Courses Plus, a proprietary subscription video-on-demand streaming platform for mobile apps and connected media devices.
His deep media background in Los Angeles includes: SVP of Programming & Production of cable network SiTV (now FUSE), where he created original programming for multicultural audiences; senior producer of "Dr. Phil," where he earned multiple Emmy nominations; supervising producer of "The Other Half" starring Mario Lopez on NBC; creator and EP of the daily ensemble news show "That's Life" for FOX; producer-director for "Caryl and Marilyn: Real Friends" on ABC; writer-producer of the Emmy-winning "Good Day Live" on FOX; creator and executive producer of the animated "IQ Kitties" for Kids WB; producer-director of Disney's "One Saturday Morning" on ABC; producer of "Jones & Jury" with Star Jones; and producer of "The Montel Williams Show" for Viacom.
Leon has been a member of the DGA and WGA and has been awarded multiple honors including the Emmy and Golden Mike for news, multiple Telly Awards for digital media, and multiple Promax/BDA Awards in video marketing. A native of Havana, Cuba, The Imagen Foundation named him as "One of the Most Influential Latinos in Entertainment."Ed Leon