Black Public Media Executive Director Leslie Fields-Cruz has joined media leaders from across the country to participate in the Public Media Diversity Leaders Initiative (PMDLI).

The program comes from the Riley Institute at Furman University and is offered in partnership with South Carolina ETV. It’s modeled after the Institute’s award-winning South Carolina Diversity Leaders Initiative.

Fields-Cruz, a Cortlandt Manor resident heads up BPM, a Harlem-based national media arts nonprofit dedicated to creating and producing media content about the Black experience. She is one of 33 individuals selected to participate in the initiative’s second cohort. PMLDLI launched over the summer. Participants will take part in a highly interactive curriculum comprising scenario analyses and other experiential learning tools that supports public media leaders in their efforts to apply diversity, equity, and inclusion principles to behaviors, systems and cultures within their organizations.

“Addressing public media’s diversity, equity and inclusion has long been a priority of mine,” said Fields-Cruz. “Participating in the Riley Institute’s Fellowship program is an opportunity to help accelerate the remaking of the public media ecosystem so that it more accurately represents the rich diversity of our nation and emboldens our sector to distribute the array of content that more Americans want and need to see.”

“Today’s heightened awareness of racial and other inequities in American institutions has magnified and accelerated organizational and stakeholder expectations that public media leaders establish diversity, equity, and inclusion as core values within their organizations,” said Anthony Padgett, president and CEO of South Carolina ETV. “Recognizing that, we are proud to partner with the Riley Institute to offer this unique virtual program to our peers from across the country.”

Collectively, PMDLI participants reflect a vast public media ecosystem, representing both television and radio as well as a variety of geographic regions, audiences, affiliate organizations, and diversity dimensions. Upon graduating from the program in December, members of the class will help identify future program participants.

“The Riley Institute is proud to play a role in connecting a network of public media professionals who are committed to managing, leading, and meeting the needs of increasingly diverse workers, clients, and audiences,” said Dr. Donald Gordon, executive director of the Riley Institute. “We look forward to seeing the positive impact this program will have in communities across the country.”

Under Fields-Cruz’s tenure at BPM, the organization has granted more than $14 million dollars in production support to films about people of African descent. She also serves as executive producer of BPM’s anthology series AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange and was a co-executive producer for the Peabody Award-winning documentary 180 Days: Inside An American High School. A board member of New York Women in Film & Television, Fields-Cruz is a Ford Foundation JustFilms Rockwood Fellow and was named among Crain’s New York’s Notable Black Leaders and Executives in 2021.

For more information about PMDLI, visit furman.edu/public-media-dli.