Advisory Board Members
VP, News, Public Affairs & Independent Film
Marie Nelson is a seasoned media executive and content developer with experience across all media platforms at public media, commercial broadcast and cable organizations. As the Vice President for News, Public Affairs and Independent Film at PBS, she leads programming strategy for PBS news and documentary film series, including PBS NewsHour, PBS NewsHour Weekend, Frontline, Charlie Rose, Washington Week with Gwen Ifill, The Tavis Smiley Show, Independent Lens and POV. In partnership with 350 PBS member stations, Nelson develops and directs innovative approaches to engage audiences that currently reach 100 million people through television and 33 million people online each month. For the second year in a row, under Nelson’s tenure, PBS has received 54 news and documentary Emmy nominations – the highest of any other organization.
Prior to joining PBS, she served as executive producer of national programs at PBS lead producing station, WGBH in Boston. At WGBH, she helmed several national productions, including America by the Numbers, a documentary series that explored the impact of America’s changing demographics. She also piloted Point Taken, a weekly late-night debate show hosted by Carlos Watson, which has just completed its first full season on PBS and was the first national broadcast to launch simultaneously with a live stream on Facebook.
Before joining WGBH, Nelson served as Vice President of News & Original Programming at Viacom/BET Networks, where she built a long-form news unit and served as creative executive on a range of television and digital projects, including Battleground 2012 – a yearlong cross-platform politics initiative. The Annenberg School of Communications at USC recognized BET News with the 2013 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism.
Nelson served as an appointee during the first term of the Obama Administration, directing the communications and outreach efforts of the Office of the President's Special Envoy to Sudan at the U.S. Department of State. She was the architect of a groundbreaking Elections SMS/Text Messaging project with Secretary Clinton’s Innovation Team, Sudanese mobile operators and civil society groups that enabled Sudanese voters to report election irregularities during the historic South Sudan referendum.
Prior to government service, she launched Tell Me More, NPR's daily news program that brought new voices and diverse perspectives to public radio. During the first two years on-air, Nelson drove the show's double-digit audience growth in key target markets and led the broadcast to national recognition as "Best Public Affairs Program.”
Nelson was an off-air reporter at ABC News, producing for World News Tonight with Peter Jennings andNightline with Ted Koppel. Her work has been recognized by the Emmy and Peabody Awards, the Asian American Journalists Association, and the National Association of Black Journalists.
Prior to joining ABC News, Nelson served as Vice President for Business Development of AllAfrica Global Media, where she was responsible for building marketing campaigns and strategic alliances to increase audience and usage for the largest pan-African news portal, allAfrica.com, to more than 60 million monthly hits. She also established the organization's non-profit foundation and launched the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Fellowship for African journalists.
Nelson also served as the Washington, D.C., Bureau Chief and International Affairs Director for the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition (RPC). At RPC, she was the principal advisor and speechwriter to RPC founder, Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., during his tenure as President Clinton's Special Envoy for the Promotion of Democracy and Human Rights in Africa. She oversaw the advocacy campaign and international mission that resulted in the release of 3 U.S. POWs during the war in Kosovo.
In addition, Nelson has held several international development positions overseas. Notably, in the aftermath of South Africa's historic post-apartheid national election, she directed an USAID-funded governance training initiative for newly elected officials and a professional and educational development program for South African college students.
Nelson holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and an A.B. in political science and women's studies from Duke University. She serves on the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s Next Generation Leadership program and the Independent Television Service. Nelson is a former term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is an active member of the National Association of Black Journalists.