January 9,  2023



By Leslie Fields-Cruz

Wow! If you were fortunate enough to have a holiday break last month, I hope it was joyful and restful. If you worked your way through to the end of the year, be proud of what you accomplished. Once again, here we all are at the start of a new year. I’ve no doubt 2024 will be lively and I look forward to the compelling Black stories that will emerge from it. I also look forward to engaging with you around the Climate Change content theme that we’re prioritizing this year. We’ll disclose more details about that in the months to come.

Black man in black sweater seated at a table with his hands folded in front and turned sideways to face the camera
Sam Pollard

Just before the winter break, we announced that acclaimed filmmaker Sam Pollard is our 2024 BPM PitchBLACK Trailblazer. We will present the award to him during our annual PitchBLACK Award ceremony at Lincoln Center’s Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse on Thurs., April 25. That month, we will also host a retrospective of his work as part of the tribute. Watch this newsletter, our Weekly Dispatch and our social media channels for details about how you can participate. 


A Fresh Take on Reparations

collage of black historical figures with title of film emblazoned across the front

I’m also thrilled to congratulate former BPM Board Chair Darryl Ford-Williams and BPM’s 2023 PitchBLACK Trailblazer Yoruba Richen on the  premiere yesterday of their latest film, The Cost of Inheritance. The documentary, which offers a timely exploration of the complex issue of reparations in the U.S., is available to stream on PBS.org, WORLD and YouTube.


Welcome New Board Members

Succeeding Darryl as the new BPM board chair is Deniese Davis, a multiple Emmy-nominated producer and the founder/CEO of Reform Media Group. BPM also welcomed three new board members last fall: Adrena Ifill, CEO and founder of DoubleBack Global Group; Travis Mitchell, who serves as senior vice president and chief content officer at Maryland Public Television; and Jon Walls, whose experience working with Fortune 500 companies includes holding a senior VP position at Lehman Brothers. BPM is fortunate to have these and the seven other committed professionals who serve on our board. We look forward to benefiting from their guidance. 


Farewell Alisa!

smiling black woman with curly dark hair wearing a black blouse
Alisa Norris

Change is an inevitable part of any journey, and as we navigate these transitions, it’s with mixed emotions that we announce the departure of Alisa Norris, Black Public Media’s manager of corporate sponsorship. 

In late 2017, our strategy consultant P.S. 314 emphasized the need for someone to assist my vision to grow the resources at Black Public Media. P.S. 314’s CEO Pi-Isis Ahnkra said she thought she found someone for me and sent over Alisa’s resume and contact info. After a zoom phone call, I knew I needed to meet Alisa in person. We realized we would both be in Los Angeles at the same time, so we scheduled a lunch meet-up. I left that afternoon confident she was the right person for the job. 

Alisa’s dedication and commitment significantly contributed to attracting new funders, corporate sponsors, and individual donors. Eventually, as is always the case with a talented and driven employee, Alisa outgrew her position as my assistant and created a new role as our corporate sponsorship manager, a job she’s held for the past two years. Her exquisite events management and board coordination skills have allowed me to trust that the logistics of these affairs are always under control. And her sharp wit and convivial personality make her a joy to have around. 

Thanks, Alisa, for all you have done to make BPM a more stable and resilient organization than it was when you first joined us. And thank you for your friendship. Though we will miss you sorely, I know you will soar in your future endeavors. 

To learn more about what BPM has planned this month, consult the January edition of our monthly newsletter and follow us on social media. Happy New Year!

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BPM is supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting with further funding from the MacArthur Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts. BPM is the only nonprofit that offers training, funding and distribution for projects solely about the Black experience. We welcome foundations, corporations and individuals to help with our work. For more information about underwriting and contributions, contact Alisa Norris (alisa@blackpublicmedia.org).

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