WQED President and CEO Deborah Acklin is stepping down after 12 years of leadership and success to focus on essential medical treatments following a diagnosis of non-smoker's lung cancer.
As the first woman President and CEO of WQED, Deb has served in her current role since 2010, and prior to that held leadership roles across a broad range of organizational operations -- from Executive Producer to Executive Vice President and General Manager. Among her many achievements, she led WQED out of crippling debt and functional bankruptcy to become a financially-thriving multimedia powerhouse. Her tenure is also marked with unprecedented professional awards recognition for producing meaningful content at the local, national and international levels, as well as building and nurturing a nationally recognized education department.
A public media champion, Deb's production and distribution experience ensured that WQED Pittsburgh remains a national and international content creator, distributing The Pittsburgh Symphony Radio series, and epic documentaries including August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand; Harbor From The Holocaust; and The War That Made America, the latter, for which she served as Executive Producer. She also envisioned the potential for Doo Wop music showcases, which raised many millions and became a favorite of PBS pledge shows nationwide.
A storyteller, dating back to her early broadcast news days, Deb brought poignant Pittsburgh stories to life, with some of her favorite local documentaries being The Great Ride, Pittsburgh From the Air, and Rick Sebak's Pittsburgh History Series. Also under her direction, WQED boldly branched into producing the local nightly news magazine show, "On Q," which ran for a decade.
The Pittsburgh native has also amassed a multitude of accolades and awards throughout her career at WQED, including six Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards® for Station Excellence, given by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to a general manager of a commercial or public television station in a four-state region. These are in addition to many other awards to the station, including Mid-Atlantic Regional Emmy®, Golden Quill, Robert L. Vann Media, and Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters awards for the station's body of work under her leadership.
Deb Acklin was named a Carlow University 2018 Woman of Spirit®, 2018 Pittsburgh Business Times Woman of Influence and was the recipient of American Public Television Stations 2018 National Public Media Advocacy Award.
Nationally, Deb was elected by her peers to serve on the boards of PBS, America's Public Television Stations, and the PBS Major Market Group. Locally, she was sought after to provide leadership and guidance to Pittsburgh community boards including the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Pittsburgh Symphony, Carlow University, Winchester-Thurston School, and the Kelly Strayhorn Theater. As Chair of the Three Rivers Arts Festival Advisory Board, she was responsible for reviving the Festival by transferring its oversight to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.
In her own words, "Leading WQED - my hometown PBS and classical music station - has been a singular professional honor. Growing up, these were almost the only channels we watched and listened to. Day one on the job, I met Fred Rogers, and it all instantly crystallized for me. I hope I've been a worthy student of his life's example. Thank you, Pittsburgh!"
We love you Deb and wish you the speediest of recoveries!