February 29, 2008

Boero Ushers in Latino Public Broadcasting’s Next Decade

José Clemente Orozco's mural Struggle in the Orient. Artist: Photo: Rick Tejada-Flores

Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB; www.lpbp.org) started the school year with a new executive director when Patricia Boero took the reins from Luca Bentivoglio this past August.

Boero brings an enticing mix of experience to LPB, including stints in both the nonprofit and corporate sectors. She was the first director of the Sundance Institute’s International Programs and the senior program officer at the MacArthur Foundation, where she managed media programs, including funding for major public radio and television series. Corporate experience includes working as the senior manager for global public affairs at the Levi Strauss Foundation and, most recently, as the director for international corporate social responsibility at the Starbucks Coffee Company in Seattle. Nearly all her positions have placed her at the crossroads of philanthropy, filmmaking and socially responsible business, making her the perfect leader to guide LPB into its second decade.

 “I think that it’s been a very interesting education to be able to switch back and forth between the for-profit and the nonprofit worlds,” Boero notes. “Sundance has had an extraordinary impact on filmmaking around the world, and I was very happy to bring more of a global vision to all the work that they were doing. It is so exciting to see how they’ve grown. Now, instead of having a separate international department, every single one of their initiatives has a global reach or component. I think that’s the way that PBS can also grow. That kind of diversity is still developing and I think that the Minority Consortia can certainly accelerate the process and show the complexity of the community.”

Boero also believes that both LPB and all filmmakers can learn from skilled, socially responsible corporations in terms of their marketing strategies. She cites both Starbucks and Levi Strauss as two entities that have been very smart about branding themselves in ways that don’t necessarily imply a big financial investment, but are rather about quality of products, word-of-mouth and creative thinking. “We’ve got to be realistic,” says Boero. “We’re never going to have those gigantic promotional budgets that Hollywood has. So you have to really think of other ways of establishing yourself and creating that kind of visibility that some of these high quality brands have.”

Boero began her new job at a time when Latino communities have been more critical of PBS, wanting to see greater representation of themselves on screen, such as with Ken Burns’ The War. This is both exciting and challenging for her. She wants to continue with established initiatives and hopes to renew the series Voces, a 13-part series showcasing Latino culture, which in its first season covered everything from music to portraits of Latino and Chicano icons to suburban ethnicity. She is also looking forward to working with LPB’s ongoing workshops for new talent and its collaborations with other filmmaking and community organizations such as NALIP and ITVS. New projects that will hopefully come to fruition during her tenure include two collaborations with the other Minority Consortia. One is centered around the 2008 election and the other looks at how health issues affect minorities.

Looking ahead, Boero would like the organization to be more proactive, and will use LPB’s upcoming 10th anniversary as an opportunity for reflection on the past ten years and goal-setting for the future. “In a sense, the way we are structured is that we are reactive,” says Boero. “We’re reactive to proposals that are out there and projects that end up being quite dissimilar to each other thematically. Then we have to try to piece them together.” She also cites frustration with the LPB’s flat budget, when the community, the pool of talent and the number of media outlets have grown. She’d like LPB to be able to fully fund a project and shepherd it through from beginning to end, rather than just fund a phase such as development or outreach.

“We get over 100 proposals and we can barely fund 10 or 12 of them,” Boero explains. “I really think that we have a very important mission to fulfill in the next decade ahead of us, in terms of all that potential and all that talent. We could bring it into the public television system and help it diversify in a more deep and serious way.”

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