Feb. 3, 2020 — DENTON — An award-winning broadcasting executive with a history of forging strong partnerships among businesses, institutions, foundations and public-service entities has been tapped to lead the Jane Nelson Institute for Women’s Leadership at Texas Woman’s University.
Following a national search by its 23-member Advisory Council, the institute selected Mary Anne Alhadeff, the former CEO of Dallas-based North Texas Public Broadcasting, Inc., to serve as executive director beginning Feb. 11. The institute’s three specialized centers — the Center for Women in Politics & Public Policy, the Center for Women Entrepreneurs and the Center for Student Leadership — serve Texas as a resource for scholarship and research focused on advancing women’s leadership through education, mentoring and networking.
“Mary Anne is a dynamic executive and revered thought leader with a proven track record of bringing together high-impact influencers who have meaningfully elevated the profiles of their respective communities,” said TWU Chancellor Carine M. Feyten.
As CEO of North Texas Broadcasting for 14 years, Alhadeff led KERA, one the country’s most successful public broadcasting radio and television stations. She also held top executive posts for outlets in Maine and North Dakota, a senior management position in New Hampshire and production posts in Washington and Minnesota.
At KERA, Alhadeff and her team instituted a process for content creation that has become a national model and resulted in record levels of financial support. During her time there, the station’s operating budget increased by more than 250%, and the number of women in management positions grew to its highest level in the organization’s 60 years.
“As a graduate of a women’s university, I am a passionate believer in TWU’s mission to provide a woman-focused education,” Alhadeff said. “During this ‘Year of the Woman,’ it is clear that TWU’s commitment to preparing women to be leaders in business and public service is more important than ever before.”
Alhadeff succeeds U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Mary Saunders (Ret.) in leading the institute, beginning with a transition period that will include the April 2 opening of its new home in TWU’s historic Old Main Building in Denton. The renovated space will feature the Sue S. Bancroft Women’s Leadership Hall with an interactive digital exhibit showcasing pioneering Texas women in politics and public policy.
After 34 years of distinguished leadership in the Air Force, where she became the Pentagon’s highest-ranking African-American woman, Saunders retired in 2005. She returned to her alma mater to create TWU’s student leadership institute, which became part of the Jane Nelson Institute for Women’s Leadership that she has led since 2018.
“Mary has been a tireless leader and generous supporter of TWU and the community for decades, and we will miss her immensely when she retires from her ‘second career,’” Feyten said. “We are proud to have her as a distinguished alumna, and we look forward to her continued engagement and friendship in the years ahead.”
Since returning to TWU, Saunders has augmented her military career with numerous distinctions, including induction into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame in 2012. She has created a number of scholarships for TWU students and has provided financial support for the institute and the social work program from which she earned her bachelor’s degree.