Courtney Pledger joined the Arkansas Educational Television Network as executive director in 2017. As AETN's chief executive, she is responsible for policy implementation, strategic planning, budget preparation and operations and management of the statewide educational network. Pledger has instilled a fresh vision for Arkansas's only statewide network with a focus on digital storytelling and distribution, universal elements in stories for broader appeal, refreshed local broadcast and education efforts, fundraising strategies and community connection.
Under Pledger's leadership, AETN has launched AR-CAN (Arkansas Citizens Access Network), a hub for live-streaming coverage of state government proceedings and civic literacy; brought support to student athletes and their communities through the broadcast of high school championship football, basketball, baseball and softball games statewide on AETN Sports; and has driven digital production and engagement, as well as producing for national PBS distribution with "State of the Art," telling the personal stories of diverse artists at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
Prior to joining AETN, Pledger worked for more than three decades in the film and television industry in story development, production and management. She began her career at Hearst Entertainment, Rastar and the IndieProd Company and has had senior leadership roles at multiple film and television organizations including Universal's Illumination Entertainment where she focused on IP for family-friendly films, London-based Jigsaw Films/Miramax, Radical Pictures and the U.K.'s Aardman Animation where she served as a creative consultant. From 2012-2016, Pledger was director of Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, where she revitalized the longest-running nonfiction festival in North America, earning designation as an Oscar-qualifier in Documentary Short Subject for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Pledger is member of the PBS Board of Directors, a member of the Executive Committee of the National Educational Television Association (NETA) and serves as co-chair of the Organization of State Broadcast Executives (OSBE). She is on the advisory board for Arkansas Women in Film.Courtney Pledger
Ed Leon is Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Director of the Arkansas Educational Television Network, where he helps guide multiple operational areas related to strategy, content and media operations. Leon joined AETN in 2018 and has been instrumental in executing new AETN initiatives in digital content expansion, statewide sports coverage and governmental transparency. He brings more than three decades of diverse experience in broadcasting, digital media, marketing, product development and creative television production to further AETN's mission to educate and inspire.
Prior to AETN, Leon served as Chief Brand Officer and SVP of Product Development for The Great Courses, leading an award-winning content studio that produced hundreds of video series on a spectrum of subjects; created content partnerships with National Geographic, Mayo Clinic and Smithsonian; expanded multiplatform distribution to Amazon Video, Netflix, Audible, Roku, Facebook Live, and SiriusXM; and launched The Great Courses Plus, a proprietary subscription video-on-demand streaming platform for mobile apps and connected media devices.
His deep media background in Los Angeles includes: SVP of Programming & Production of cable network SiTV (now FUSE), where he created original programming for multicultural audiences; senior producer of "Dr. Phil," where he earned multiple Emmy nominations; supervising producer of "The Other Half" starring Mario Lopez on NBC; creator and EP of the daily ensemble news show "That's Life" for FOX; producer-director for "Caryl and Marilyn: Real Friends" on ABC; writer-producer of the Emmy-winning "Good Day Live" on FOX; creator and executive producer of the animated "IQ Kitties" for Kids WB; producer-director of Disney's "One Saturday Morning" on ABC; producer of "Jones & Jury" with Star Jones; and producer of "The Montel Williams Show" for Viacom.
Leon has been a member of the DGA and WGA and has been awarded multiple honors including the Emmy and Golden Mike for news, multiple Telly Awards for digital media, and multiple Promax/BDA Awards in video marketing. A native of Havana, Cuba, The Imagen Foundation named him as "One of the Most Influential Latinos in Entertainment."Ed Leon