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Valley PBS' Top 2 Executives Departing. Were Their Resignations a Surprise?
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By Nancy Price, Multimedia Journalist
Published 4 weeks ago on
May 2, 2024

Valley PBS is losing its two top executives, Jeff Aiello, left, and Nancy Borjas. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)

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Another shakeup of Valley PBS’s top leadership is underway as both the chief executive officer and chief operations officer are leaving their jobs.

“We very much want to keep him engaged and helping us continue to do the local storytelling that we are really working on that he is so very good at.”Jonathan Graves, Valley PBS board chair, speaking about departing CEO Jeff Aiello

Local filmmaker Jeff Aiello, who was appointed the station’s interim president and CEO in May 2021 and was later hired fulltime for the job, and Nancy Borjas, who took the newly created job of chief operations officer at the same time of Aiello’s 2021 appointment, have submitted their resignations.

GV Wire first reported Aiello’s departure on Tuesday.

Aiello, who declined Tuesday to be interviewed by GV Wire, told Current.org that he is leaving for health reasons. Current is a nonprofit news organization that covers public media.

Aiello told Current that his doctors have advised him to “ease back on work load” due to health concerns, but that he was considering a request from the Valley PBS board to remain on the payroll as a consultant. He said he will remain as CEO while the board searches for his successor and to assist with the transition.

On KMJ radio on Thursday, Aiello said the consultant contract has not been finalized. He said on the radio show that the search might take anywhere from one to four months.

Two Resignations ‘Not Connected’

Board Chairman Jonathan Graves told GV Wire on Thursday that he had known for some time that Aiello was planning to step down. The board was notified of Aiello’s decision on April 22, he said.

Graves said he’s hopeful that Aiello can stay connected to the station as a paid consultant.

“We very much want to keep him engaged and helping us continue to do the local storytelling that we are really working on that he is so very good at,” he said. “And so, yes, we want to have an arrangement to hopefully allow him to continue to mentor and to help the staff that will be hopefully taking on these productions.”

Graves said there is no connection between the two top executives announcing their departures nearly simultaneously, and he described Aieillo’s departure as “not a resignation. It’s essentially planning a transition.”

By contrast, Borjas’ decision to resign was “not anticipated,” he said.

Robert Mollison, the station’s membership and marketing director, will take on the chief operations officer role, Graves said.

Splitting Station Leadership Duties

The COO job was created by the board when it hired Aiello so that he could continue to focus on producing documentaries and shows for the station such as “Beyond the Lens” and “American Grown: My Job Depends on Ag” while performing his CEO duties.

Borjas, who had resigned her job as the station’s membership and marketing director in 2021, returned weeks later to take on the COO job and was responsible for the station’s day-to-day operations.

Borjas did not return a phone call from GV Wire seeking comment Thursday.

Graves praised Borjas as a longtime station employee whose services has been greatly appreciated. “And so we just wish her well in what she takes on next,” he said.

While the station has advertised the president/CEO job opening on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s national jobline website, the chief operations officer job is not on the jobline site.

“I don’t think that decision has been been made, that staff decision,” Graves said. “My focus is the CEO.”

Priorities for Selecting Next CEO

He said his hopes for the next Valley PBS president/CEO will be for someone with proven, executive-level leadership experience either in business or nonprofits, who has some knowledge of the Central Valley, the station, and the Valley’s various constituencies, and who will bring an energetic and enthusiastic approach to the job.

“We’re eager to talk with folks that hopefully come with lots of experience and ideas,” he said.

Valley PBS has been through a series of leadership changes starting in 2015, when Phil Meyer was hired after a national search but departed two years later. Local newswoman Jenny Toste took the helm in December 2018 but was ousted by the board seven months later and was replaced by Lorenzo Rios, a board member who continued to lead the Clovis Veterans Memorial District.

Rios’ resignation in April 2021 led to Aiello’s appointment as interim CEO, which sparked criticism from current and former station officials about the potential for conflict of interest in having Aiello continuing to produce programming content through his company, 18THIRTY Entertainment, while serving as the station’s top boss.

In 2023 the station was hit with its first-ever penalties by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting after a federal audit found it had failed to comply with grant requirements and required Communications Act public records disclosures.

In September the PBS public editor confirmed that he was looking at concerns raised by Valley PBS viewers about political bias in local programming and the rejection of a Community Advisory Board applicant who had criticized the station’s direction in public forums.

Thus far, there has been no follow-up report from the public editor, Ricardo Sandoval-Palos, as to his review.

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Nancy Price,
Multimedia Journalist
Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email

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