There’s a lot in a name, and because of this, perhaps Amanda Mountain (MS ’14) was always destined to take the reins of Rocky Mountain PBS (RMPBS). But of course, it wasn’t just her name—it was her 20 years of experience in media, education at the University of Denver, and commitment to the community—that landed her the role of President and CEO; she is the first female to hold the title in RMPBS history and one of the youngest public media CEOs in the country.
What role does public media play in today’s political and cultural climate?
It’s an extraordinary time for public media. We can prove the more public media the community consumes, the more likely they are to vote, to attend community events, to donate or volunteer at a non-profit.
What are some of the challenges of running a media company today?
Technology is always a challenge in a media organization, specifically a non-profit organization. The audience expects us to be wherever they want us to be, so we need to invest in delivering content for free over the air, but also to invest in building our digital infrastructure. My degree at DU focused on innovation and change, and the skills I learned through my program helped prepare me to navigate change management processes at a large organizational scale. Not only did I learn to describe a vision for the future, but also how to ensure our employees were engaged in the change.
Tell us about the strategic direction of RMPBS and how it serves the Colorado community.
We’ve evolved our mission from entertaining and enthusing Colorado through public media to strengthening the civic fabric of Colorado through public media. In everything we do, we think through the lens of how it can get people more engaged in their communities and make Colorado a better place to live and work. We are playing a role in bringing more statewide voices to the forefront.
What would be your advice to those aspiring to leadership roles?
I am very privileged to be the first woman CEO in our 62-year history, and I got this opportunity because many people along the way helped open doors for me, and I wasn’t afraid to walk through them. Honor the people along the way. When building your career, I also recommend taking risks—especially women. Don’t be afraid to step into an opportunity even if you don’t feel 100% ready. You never get to dictate the timing of some of the greatest opportunities in your life. When women get into leadership roles, it’s up to them to create an accepting culture for everyone to thrive.I’m a first-generation college graduate, and getting the opportunity to put myself through undergrad and take on a graduate degree was something I never thought I would do. Now that I was able to accomplish that part of my education, everyone who comes after me—whether it be my sister or my daughter—has a better chance to do the same. I firmly believe my education has helped me get to where I am in my career, and it will continue to help me reach my fullest potential. I loved my time at DU because it helped me prepare for today and my future.
Amanda Mountain graduated from University College with her MS in Leadership and Organizations (Strategic Innovation and Change) in 2014.