Courtney Pledger is Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Arkansas PBS, the statewide public media network serving Arkansas’s more than 3 million people. Pledger joined Arkansas PBS in 2017, bringing broad experience in strategic media management and content creation. Her bold vision for Arkansas PBS has driven a future-facing transformation of the network with a focus on storytelling for local and national audiences, deepening community relevance, transparency in state government, and the development of nimble skills to bring essential content and services to Arkansans every day.
Under Pledger’s leadership, Arkansas PBS has seen exponential growth in the network’s pre-K-12 education impact through innovations in school on the air, extensive summer learning content and classroom tools in partnership with Arkansas Department of Education, local production of multiple original kids’ series, Ready to Learn and Read to Succeed: Reading in the Delta initiatives, as well as consistent growth in the state’s top quality teacher professional development effort, ArkansasIDEAS.
Arkansas PBS has experienced significant audience growth through multi-platform content distribution, bringing communities together around live broadcasts of high school sports championships, hyper-local community stories, and live streaming of must-see community events, yielding an ever-increasing number of community partnerships. Adapting to the digital environment, the network’s capacity has grown significantly through efforts with independent makers and producers. Innovation in public affairs is one of the organization’s most recent priorities.
Pledger has led a significant expansion of Arkansas PBS’s over-the-air broadcast signal, moving from delivery to 76% of Arkansans to over 96%, reaching more rural Arkansans and boosting public safety measures.
Prior to joining Arkansas PBS, Pledger worked in the international film and television community, moving into senior leadership roles at multiple organizations including Rastar, IndieProd Company, Universal's Illumination Entertainment, London-based Jigsaw Films/Miramax, Radical Pictures, and as a consultant for the U.K.'s Aardman Animations. She has been the recipient of the Women in Film’s Lillian Gish Producing Award and has shepherded or produced multiple projects recognized by the Emmy Awards and Golden Globes. 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 the festival designation as an Oscar-qualifier in Documentary Short Subject for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Pledger serves as professional vice chair of the PBS Board of Directors, is the current past chair of the executive committee of the National Educational Television Association and is a former chair of the Organization of State Broadcasting Executives. Currently serves on the board of American Public Television. She is on the advisory boards for the Brent Renaud Foundation and Arkansas Women in Film.