Republica Havas CEO Jorge A. Plasencia Joins PBS Board of Directors

ARLINGTON, VA; December 9, 2021— Today, PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger announced the results of the PBS Board elections, in which six individuals were elected to serve as General Directors on the PBS Board.

Maxine Clark, CEO of the Clark-Fox Family Foundation and Founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop, has been elected to serve a third term of two years in length (ending in fall 2023);

Vivian Riefberg, Professor of Practice at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia and Emeritus Director at McKinsey & Company, has been elected to serve a second term of three years in length (ending in fall 2024); and Tina Sharkey, co-founder and CEO of Brandless, has been elected to serve a first full term of three years in length (ending in fall 2024).

They will be joined by Larry Irving, President and CEO of the Irving Group; Jorge A. Plasencia, Co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Republica Havas; and Holden Thorp, Editor-in-Chief of the Science Family of Journals, each of whom has been elected to serve a new term of three years (ending in fall 2024).

“We are fortunate that the PBS Board of Directors includes such an extraordinary group of leaders representing a diversity of perspectives and experiences,” said Kerger. “With the Board’s ongoing leadership, guidance and dedication, public television will continue to serve as a beacon of inspiration and education for generations to come.”

During this meeting, Board officers were elected as well. Larry Irving was elected to serve as Chairman of the Board, Maxine Clark was elected for a second term as General Vice Chair, and Molly Phillips, Executive Director and General Manager of Iowa PBS, was elected to serve a first term as Professional Vice Chair.

The 27-person Board includes both Professional Directors, who are station leaders, and General Directors, who serve as lay members of the Board, as well as the PBS President. The PBS Board of Directors is responsible for governing and setting policy for PBS. General and Professional Directors of the PBS Board are generally elected to three-year terms and serve without pay.

PBS member stations elect the Professional Directors. The General Directors are elected by the entire Board, as are the PBS President and the Board officers.


Biographical Information

Maxine Clark, CEO of the Clark-Fox Family Foundation and Founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop

Maxine Clark is the CEO of the Clark-Fox Family Foundation and Founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop. She is one of the true innovators in the retail industry. During her career, her ability to spot emerging retail and merchandising trends and her insight into the desires of the American consumer have generated growth for retail leaders, including department store, discount and specialty stores. In 1997, she founded Build-A-Bear Workshop®, a teddy-bear themed retail-entertainment experience.

In June 2013, Clark stepped down from her Chief Executive Bear role to apply her entrepreneurial skills to her passion for improving K-12 public education and to invest in and mentor women and minority entrepreneurs. She credits her teachers as her foundation for success—classroom teachers and mentors alike. To honor them, she gives back. Her next “act” is to make public education much more consumer friendly by creating more access for families and students to systems and supports to enrich each child’s learning experience. Launched in 2015, her first product,, is a free and easy-to-use mobile app designed to help ALL families navigate the best summer activities, pre-college programs and career options for their family. Her latest venture is the Delmar DivINe™—the transformation of a neighborhood eyesore into a multi-use real estate development. Clark is also a Managing Partner of Prosper Women’s Capital, a St. Louis-based fund created to invest in women owned businesses and a member of the Board of Advisors of Lewis & Clark Ventures, a St. Louis-based private equity firm.

In 2008, Clark was named one of The 25 Most Influential People in Retailing by Chain Store Age; in 2006, she was inducted into the Junior Achievement National Business Hall of Fame. She was named one of the Wonder Women of Toys by Playthings magazine and Women in Toys and was also one of the National Finalists in Retail for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2004. In 2005, the National Association of Small Business Investment Companies made Build-A-Bear Workshop Portfolio Company of the Year; it was named one of the International Council of Shopping Centers “Hottest Retailers of 2004” and the Retail Innovator of the Year for 2001 by The National Retail Federation. In 2018, Build-A-Bear Workshop was named to the FORTUNE Best Companies to Work For® list for the 10th year in a row. In 2017, Clark was named to the Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame and in 2019 was given the Missourian Award for her outstanding public service to Missouri

In addition to her seat on the Build-A-Bear Workshop Board, Clark is a past member of the Footlocker, Inc. Board, the national Board of Trustees of Teach For America and is on the local St. Louis regional board, the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee of Washington University in St. Louis, The Board of Directors and Executive Committee of Barnes Jewish Hospital and its Goldfarb School of Nursing, the Board of Directors of Beyond Housing, the national Board of PBS and the local Nine Network of Public Media Board of Directors. She is also a board member of Parents As Teachers, New America and a member of the Committee of 200. Maxine is a graduate of the University of Georgia and holds an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Saint Louis University and a Doctor of Humane Letters in Education from the University of Missouri St. Louis and an Honorary Associates degree from St. Louis Community College. In 2006, she published her first book, The Bear Necessities of Business: Building a Company with Heart.

Clark is General Vice Chair of the PBS Board and Chair of the Finance Committee. She also serves on the Executive Committee.


Vivian Riefberg, Professor of Practice, Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia and Emeritus Director, McKinsey & Company

Vivian Riefberg is a Professor of Practice at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia where she holds a David C. Walentas Jefferson Scholars Chair. For over 31 years, she was with McKinsey & Company, where she is now an Emeritus Director. She is also a board member of Signify Health, Johns Hopkins Medicine, K Health as well as an advisory board member to the National Education Equity Lab.

In her time at McKinsey, Riefberg held a variety of senior positions including as leader of the Public Sector Practice for the Americas, and co-leader of the US Health Care Services practice. She served on McKinsey & Company’s global Board of Directors and on committees evaluating and helping develop the global senior partners.

Riefberg has led major strategy development, performance improvement, organizational and operational programs across various participants in the private, public and non-profit sectors. She has worked across a range of public and private sector arenas including healthcare, security, infrastructure and commerce.

She is a frequent keynote speaker at numerous conferences and contributor to leading industry publications authoring many articles on government productivity and improving US healthcare. She has been active in initiatives and research on women’s leadership in the workplace and gender diversity. Most recently, the Virginia Economic Review published a piece authored by Riefberg, “Potential permanent health care changes: Covid-19 longer term impact.” She has also been part of several Darden Ideas to Action articles including, “4 Vaccine Rollout Challenges and Recommendations.” She is also a co-author on the McKinsey Global Institute Report: “The power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in the United States,” and an op-ed in Time magazine, “5 Myths about America’s gender gap.”

In 2018, Riefberg was elected as a general director to the board of the Public Broadcasting System (PBS). In the past she served as a founding board member on the Board of Directors of the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), an independent, nonpartisan organization that mobilizes support for efforts to solve the child obesity challenge as an outgrowth of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign.

In addition, she served from 2000-2004 on the NIH Clinical Center Board of Governors and from 2004-2006 as a member of the NIH Advisory Board for Clinical Research. She also served on the Board of Directors of Mentors, Inc., a program for D.C. public high school students.

Riefberg has a B.A., magna cum laude in history from Harvard-Radcliffe College and a M.B.A. with distinction from Harvard Business School.

Riefberg is Chair of the PBS Investment Committee and Vice Chair of the Strategic Planning Advisory Group. She serves on the Executive Committee, Finance Committee, and Audit Committee.

Tina Sharkey, Entrepreneur and Co-founder and CEO of Brandless

Tina Sharkey has driven innovation in media, commerce and community for more than two decades, pioneering the development and adoption of pivotal consumer brands and platforms that bring data and technology together. A C-suite executive, entrepreneur, investor and change agent, she has created, led, and scaled global brands and businesses transforming the way we communicate, shop and share.

As its co-founder and former CEO, Sharkey built and operated the consumer products company Brandless, assembling and leading the team that developed from scratch a direct-to- consumer powerhouse named one of Fast Company’s most innovative retailers two years in a row. She scaled Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter to become the largest platform in the world for new and expectant mothers; oversaw AOL’s defining transition from a closed network to the open web; served as President of the renowned Sesame Street Digital Group, and co-founded iVillage, a pioneering online destination for women that became one of the most popular sites on the internet.

Her success in creating relatable brands and vibrant, engaged communities has been a throughline in her otherwise diverse career. Sharkey advises C-suite executives of Fortune 500 companies on investments, M&A, strategic partnerships and incubation, and mentors founders and business leaders. She is also an investor focused on disruptive companies—and their founders—and has worked extensively with technology-enabled consumer and enterprise startups, including Conde Nast, eBay, DreamWorks and Salesforce.

Recognized as one of the top 100 People Transforming Business by Business Insider, named by Fast Company as one of the Top Women in Technology, and chosen as one of Entrepreneur’s Most Daring Entrepreneurs, Sharkey has delivered keynote and mainstage speeches on brands that scale, harnessing the power of community, entrepreneurship, purpose-driven disruption, and digital transformation at events including Milken Global Conference, TechCrunch Disrupt, NRF, Wall Street Journal D Live, and TEDx. She lectures at universities including Harvard Business School, The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, The Marshall School at USC, and Stanford. A Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute, Tina served on the Board of Directors of HomeAway until its successful sale to Expedia.

Sharkey serves on the PBS Finance Committee, Investment Committee and the Strategic Planning Advisory Group.


Larry Irving, President and CEO of the Irving Group

Larry Irving is the president and CEO of the Irving Group, a consulting firm providing strategic advice and assistance to international telecommunications and information technology companies, foundations and nonprofit organizations. In addition to leading the Irving Group, he currently serves as an operating partner and Chief Public Policy, ESG and DEI advisor to ZMC, a private equity investment firm. From 2009–2011, Irving served as Vice President for Global Government Affairs for the Hewlett-Packard Company, the world’s largest technology company.

Prior to founding the Irving Group in 1999, Irving served for almost seven years as assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information and administrator of the national telecommunications and information administration (NTIA), where he was a principal advisor to the president, vice president, and secretary of commerce on domestic and international telecommunications and information technology issues. Irving was one of the principal architects and advocates of the Clinton Administration’s telecommunications and internet policies and was a point person in the successful efforts to reform the United States’ telecommunications laws. Those efforts resulted in passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the most sweeping change in America’s telecommunications laws in 60 years. Irving was also the senior counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on telecommunications and finance, where he helped draft and negotiate the Cable Television Consumer Protection Act, the Children’s Television Act, and Television Decoder Circuitry Act.

Internationally, Irving is an ardent advocate of regulatory reform. He represented the United States government as sherpa (lead coordinator for the U.S. Government) at the G7’s first ministerial meeting on the Global Information Society in Brussels and at the Information Society and Development Conference in South Africa, the first ministerial meeting between developing and developed countries to discuss the emerging global internet. Irving was also a key member of the U.S. team that negotiated the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement on basic telecommunication services. Irving is widely credited with coining the term the “digital divide” and sparking global interest in the issue. In large part due to his work to promote policies and develop programs to ensure access to advanced telecommunications and information technologies, Irving was named one of Newsweek’s 50 most influential people in the “Year of the Internet.”

Jorge A. Plasencia, Co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Republica Havas

Jorge A. Plasencia is co-founder, chairman and CEO of Republica Havas, one of America’s leading and fastest-growing creative, media, and communications agencies. Since its launch in 2006, the award-winning firm has partnered with numerous Fortune 500 and blue-chip clients, including Walmart, Google, and Toyota. In 2018, Republica joined forces with global conglomerate, Havas Group, a division of Paris-based Vivendi.

Previously, Plasencia was Vice President and Operating Manager at Univision Radio, leading the integration and cross-platform strategies of Univision’s television, audio and digital properties. Earlier, he was Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Public Affairs. Prior to Univision, Plasencia was Vice President at Estefan Enterprises, Inc., overseeing marketing, strategy, and communications, and serving in management and business affairs for major recording artists, including Gloria Estefan and Shakira.

A former board member of TotalBank, he has been named one of the most influential U.S. Hispanics by PODER magazine and one of the most influential Floridians by Florida Trend magazine. Plasencia is a recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and has been named CEO of the Year by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and Ultimate CEO by the South Florida Business Journal.

Before Estefan Enterprises, Plasencia was the first Director of Hispanic Marketing for the Florida Marlins. The Marlins won their first World Series championship and were named Hispanic Marketer of the Year during his tenure. At age 17, he co-founded Amigos For Kids, a Miami-based nonprofit working to prevent child abuse and serving under-resourced children and families — an institution he has nurtured to national prominence. This lifelong philanthropic work earned him the March of Dimes Humanitarian of the Year Award, among others.

A full member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Florida Council of 100, Plasencia served as board chair of UnidosUS, the nation’s largest, nonpartisan Latino civil rights and advocacy organization.

 At age 29, he was nominated by President George W. Bush — and confirmed by the U.S. Senate — to serve on the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ OCB advisory board. He currently serves on several boards, including the Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino and the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

Plasencia graduated with honors from Barry University and completed an advanced management program at the Kellogg School of Management. He began his career as an intern in radio and television.


Holden Thorp, Editor-in-Chief of the Science Family of Journals 

Holden Thorp became Editor-in-Chief of the Science family of journals, which are published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in October 2019. He came to Science from Washington University in St. Louis, where he was provost from 2013-2019 and where he is Rita Levi-Montalcini Distinguished University Professor and holds appointments in both chemistry and medicine.

Thorp joined Washington University after spending three decades at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), where he served as the 10th chancellor from 2008 through 2013.

A North Carolina native, Thorp started at UNC as an undergraduate student and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry in 1986. He earned a doctorate in chemistry in 1989 at the California Institute of Technology, working with Harry B. Gray on inorganic photochemistry. He completed postdoctoral work at Yale University with Gary W. Brudvig, working on model compounds and reactions for the manganese cluster in the photosynthetic reaction center. He holds an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from North Carolina Wesleyan College and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Inventors, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In his research career, Thorp studied electron-transfer reactions of nucleic acids, developed technology for electronic DNA chips, and cofounded Viamet Pharmaceuticals, which developed oteseconazole, now held by Mycovia Pharmaceuticals and preparing for launch in early 2022.

Thorp is a venture partner at Hatteras Venture Partners, a consultant to Ancora, and is on the board of directors of the College Advising Corps and Artizan Biosciences. Thorp is the coauthor, with Buck Goldstein, of two books on higher education: Engines of Innovation: The Entrepreneurial University in the Twenty-First Century and Our Higher Calling: Rebuilding the Partnership Between America and its Colleges and Universities, both from UNC Press.


Molly Phillips, Executive Director and General Manager for Iowa PBS

Molly Phillips is Executive Director and General Manager for Iowa PBS, where she has been responsible for leading Iowa’s only statewide broadcast network since 2013. She has served Iowa PBS since 1990, devoting her career to the advancement of public television and Iowa PBS’s mission to educate, inform, enrich, and inspire Iowans. She was previously the Director of Communications and Community Engagement at Iowa PBS, where for nearly 15 years she was responsible for the network’s state and federal public policy advocacy. America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) presented Molly with its National Advocacy Award in 2010.

Phillips has volunteered her time and talents to a long list of organizations advancing the vision and goals of public media. She was elected to and served as chair on the APTS Board of Trustees and is an active member of the Organization of State Broadcasting Executives (OSBE). She also chairs the Diversity and Inclusion Committee for APTS. Phillips was elected to and currently serves on the Public Broadcasting Service Board of Directors where she was co-chair of the PBS Diversity Advisory Committee. She serves as past chair on the National Education Telecommunications Association (NETA) Board of Directors. She previously served NETA as chair and secretary. As past chair, she also serves on the Affinity Group Coalition of Public Media Organizations where she is leading an initiative to create professional development training opportunities for public media employees.

Phillips completed the PBS Executive Leadership program in 2015. She is frequently invited to speak on the value, education benefits and opportunities offered by public media. She presented at the 2019 and 2020 NETA conferences, the 2018, 2019 and 2020 APTS Public Media Summits, and the 2017 Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) Board Meeting.

Phillips holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business degree from Grand View University in Des Moines. She is currently Vice Chair of the Station Services Committee. She serves on the Executive Committee, Audit Committee, and Diversity Advisory Committee.


About PBS

PBS, with more than 330 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches over 120 million people through television and 26 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’s broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. Decades of research confirms that PBS’s premier children’s media service, PBS KIDS, helps children build critical literacy, math and social-emotional skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality educational content on TV – including a 24/7 channel, online at, via an array of mobile apps and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, or by following PBS on TwitterFacebook or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at or by following PBS Communications on Twitter.