Let Go & Lead
Patricia Harrison President & CEO
Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Speaking with Patricia Harrison is a super charged experience. Her enthusiasm is contagious! She crackles with energy, enthusiasm and passion for the mission of The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the leading funder of U.S. public radio and television programming. Their mission is more than just delivering beloved content like Sesame Street™ and Downton Abby™; it’s about helping enrich our sense of community across the nation by listening to who we are, by illustrating the fabric of American life. In fact, Pat is so convinced that stories are the glue that binds our communities that CPB has launched multiple initiatives to encourage people everywhere to share their story.

Pat knows all about building strong leadership communities to effect change. Before joining CPB, Pat served as Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs and Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. She is also the chairman of the Advisory Board of Women and Girls Lead, an innovative public media initiative designed to focus, educate and connect women, girls and their allies across the globe to address the challenges of the 21st century.

To continue innovating public radio and television, Pat assembled her current team who not only share her passion for public media but are diverse thinkers encouraged to engage in healthy debate and “disruptive” conversations. It takes courage – and trust – as a leader to surround yourself with strong-minded people and open yourself up enough to listen to things you may not want to hear. But Pat believes this kind of authentic, human leadership brings forth the best perspectives and ideas, strengthening the community within CPB as well as their diverse audience of listeners and viewers.

On Communities (3:08)

I think that’s at the heart of who we are as people and sometimes we wander away from it but it’s always there. It goes back to that old idea of barn raising and people coming together, and we’re doing it now online and we’re doing it now in real time, and that is really at the heart and soul of public media.

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On Confident Leadership (1:42)

Do whatever it takes. Be strong because at the end of the day it’s going to be up to you. You’ve got to be kind of brutal about yourself.

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On Creating Dialogue (3:07)

We came up with a strategic framework, and when you do that, that could be very artificial. That’s like the message coming out of the office and then disseminated. But we used it almost as a mnemonic to remind us every day and we call it the three Ds, it’s digital, diversity, and dialogue.

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