Webster School of Communicstions advisory board member Amy Shaw has worked at the Nine Network for 17 years. Now, she’s the network’s first female CEO and president.
Amy Shaw has been part of the Nine Network of Public Media for 17 years. In its 65-year history, the St. Louis PBS affiliate has never had a female CEO and president. But Shaw changed that in 2020. For Shaw, becoming the network’s leader offered insight into the station’s attention to diversity in the workplace.
“I think [becoming CEO and president] will have important ramifications for the future in terms of being a more open and inclusive organization,” Shaw said.
Before becoming CEO and president, Shaw’s role at the Nine Network allowed her to engage and connect with the community, including the community at Webster University. Shaw said her past experience will allow her to see where the network is headed in the future.
When Shaw began in 2003, she could not have imagined herself leading the Nine Network. She was drawn to public television initially because she felt it would allow her to work with the community.
“I liked the mission of public television and public media being very connected to communities and having a mission of really educating people, making people aware of important issues,” Shaw said. “So that became the anchor for my career path.”
Seventeen years later, Shaw has led many community-based projects at the Nine Network. Her position also allowed her to serve on various boards in the community, including the advisory board at Webster University.
Eric Rothenbuhler, dean of the School of Communications, said the university connected him to Shaw and her predecessor, John (Jack) Galmiche III, before he arrived in St. Louis in 2012. He said the university felt as though she would be a valuable resource for connecting him with the media and communication industry in St. Louis.
After they met, Rothenbuhler asked Shaw to serve on the new advisory board he formed when coming to Webster. Shaw has since served on the board as the committee chairman. Rothenbuhler noted he often relies on Shaw’s organizational and management skills. Her managing skills, however, were not the only thing Rothenbuhler noticed.
“Amy is one of the smartest and hardest-working people I know,” Rothenbuhler said. “What really makes her valuable is that she combines that with niceness… [Shaw is] very thoughtful about other people’s needs.”
In this role, one of Shaw’s primary responsibilities is to think of people’s needs. Shaw and 15 other media experts and alumni meet twice a year to discuss trends they see in the media industry. Shaw said the goal of these meetings is to make sure Webster is preparing students for what they will find when they leave college.
For Shaw, preparing students for their future career does not only serve the Webster Community. She feels as though her work with Webster is also important to the community of the Nine Network.
“We’ve had such a great experience with Webster students,” Shaw said. “We’ve had a steady stream of Webster students who have been our interns, and we’ve had the ability to hire a number of those folks who have been incredibly talented.”
Along with advising the university of how to best prepare students for their future careers, Rothenbuhler said Shaw helped connect him to others within the community. Rothenbuhler said Shaw put him into contact with the Nine Network’s resources when it came to deciding what technology to add to the newly renovated Sverdrup Building.
During her time at the Nine Network, Shaw also led several initiatives, including “Facing the Mortgage Crisis” and “American Graduate.” In this role, Shaw helped design various aspects of the initiatives. She also oversaw progress once the initiatives began.
The purpose of the initiatives was to bring understanding to the community about major issues like the 2008 mortgage crisis and the high school dropout crisis. According to Shaw, the network worked closely with partners in the community to provide those in the St. Louis region with further resources on the issues.
Ryan Barker serves on the Nine Network’s community advisory board and worked closely with Shaw when she led the initiatives. He said feedback from the community was very important to Shaw.
“Amy is just really great at engaging community members and really listening to what they have to say,” Barker said, “and then responding and taking that back and working with the team.”
Shaw’s experience and insight into Nine Network and the community as a whole have made her excited to lead the network into the future. She added while the months following Galmiche’s death have been a difficult transition, the team at the Nine Network has pulled together. This makes her confident they will be able to overcome challenges they may face in the future.
Moreover, Shaw said she has found strong support from organizations in the community. Shaw said public broadcasting, as a whole, has also received much support from local individuals.
“There’s something incredibly joyful about being in a position to lead an organization that has such incredible support from across the community,” Shaw said. “To be a public media organization serving a local community with the equity of that kind of trust is incredibly humbling but also incredibly empowering.”
For those who have worked with Shaw in the past, her new role is a positive thing for the network and the community. Barker said he has still seen her at meetings, despite her new position. To him, it is clear Shaw’s engagement with the community will continue to be one of her priorities.
“I think Nine Network made the right decision in bringing her on in that role,” Barker said. “She is passionate about all of the members and viewers of the Nine Network.”
For Rothenbuhler, this dedication to the community is crucial to her new role.
“Amy Shaw is all about engagement with the community and leading Nine as a resource,” Rothenbuhler said. “The philosophy that she and Jack Galmiche embody there is that if you do what is good for the community, it will also be good for Nine, and I think that is a beautiful example for all of us to follow.”