ITVS Names New Director of Communications

Communications Professional to Oversee Acclaimed Public Television Production Company's Media Relations, Station Relations, Outreach and Interactive Teams

CONTACT: Randall Cole, 415-356-8383, ext. 254 

Wilson Ling, 415-356-8383, ext. 231 

(San Francisco, California)— The Independent Television Service (ITVS) announced that Jim Sommers has assumed the role of director of communications for the organization. Sommers has been employed with ITVS in San Francisco for four years. In his most recent position as national outreach manager, he developed comprehensive educational outreach campaigns and established partnerships with diverse national and community organizations across the country. Sommers was a founding member of ITVS's Community Connections Project (CCP), which maximizes media as a tool for civic engagement and community development. The CCP collaborates with local field organizers, community-based organizations and public television stations to foster dialogue and implement positive action. Sommers has worked on a variety of ITVS campaigns including those for THE NEW AMERICANS, THE FARMER'S WIFE, DIGITAL DIVIDE, LA CIUDAD and SCOUT'S HONOR, and for select programs in the acclaimed Independent Lens series. Sommers also sits on the Advisory Board for the National Center for Outreach. 

Prior to joining ITVS in 1997 as a CCP field organizer based in Chicago, Sommers co-founded CoCo Arts, an arts education program for at risk teens and people with disabilities. He was also artistic director of Little City Foundation's Media Arts Center for five years, providing fine arts programs for people with developmental disabilities. At the Center, he produced an award-winning monthly video magazine The Kiss My TV Show. His own independent productions have won international recognition, including Gold Apple Awards from the National Education Film and Video Festival and have screened at the Berlin Film Festival. 

In his role as director of communications at ITVS, Sommers is responsible for overseeing a ten-person department comprised of four teams—Station Relations, which oversees ITVS's program carriage within the public television system; ITVS Interactive, which produces dozens of ITVS-funded companion websites each year; Outreach, which conducts national community engagement campaigns for ITVS programs; and Program Publicity, which carries out national promotional and media relations campaigns as well as institutional PR. 

“We are delighted that Jim has come forward to fill this vital role at ITVS,” said Sally Jo Fifer, ITVS president and CEO. “Jim has a long record of service and commitment to public media and the arts. His abilities in organizing and team-building will help us to continue providing excellent service to the independent film community, to our colleagues within the public television system and to the many diverse communities we serve through our Community Connections Project, which Jim helped to create." 

Sommers holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. 

About ITVS 

Independent Television Service (ITVS) funds and presents award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television, innovative new media projects on the Web and the weekly series Independent Lens on Tuesday nights at 10 P.M. on PBS. ITVS is a miracle of public policy created by media activists, citizens and politicians seeking to foster plurality and diversity in public television. ITVS was established by a historic mandate of Congress to champion independently produced programs that take creative risks, spark public dialogue and serve underserved audiences. Since its inception in 1991, ITVS programs have revitalized the relationship between the public and public television, bringing TV audiences face-to-face with the lives and concerns of their fellow Americans. More information about ITVS can be obtained by visiting ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American People.

Posted on September 14, 2004