Before there was Sesame Street on PBS, there was Donna Sanford. From 1969 onward, Donna has devoted her entire career to public television on both the local and national levels. As a college grad in Richmond, Virginia, she got her first job at WCVE, working in production, then in programming. She moved to Denver in 1989 and currently serves as Director of Programming and Production for Rocky Mountain PBS, a state-wide network. She has been instrumental in the transformation from the early days of educational television to today's high-definition, digital, multi-channel broadcasts.
Donna understands the importance of networking, mentoring, and leadership and serves as a model for other women in Colorado broadcasting who manage positions of increased challenge and responsibility. She is a past-president of the Public Television Programmers Association and a recipient of their Programmer of the Year award and Golden Grid award. As a member of numerous PBS advisory councils and committees, Donna is a respected voice offering concise evaluation and recommendations that have led to stronger programming and streamlined procedures.
Colleagues around the country enjoy her wicked sense of humor, her wealth of experience, her willingness to try new things, and her selfless leadership; she avoids podiums and pedestals but is quick to share her time and expertise for the good of the PBS system. She believes in the PBS mission and is motivated by the strong PBS community.
Locally she is responsible for the programming choices on 5 stations around Colorado, for new productions, and she oversees the award-winning RMPBS production team. In her moments of spare time, Donna enjoys kicking up her heels with the Rocky Mountain Square Dancing Club and volunteering with the Crochet Club for the Denver Health Baby Blanket Initiative.
Mitch Jelniker has served the Heartland region for over 28 years, not only with his dedication to high standards of journalistic integrity on camera and in the newsroom but also with a remarkable commitment to integrity in his relationship with his community. He chooses to be involved, to be engaged, and to value each person as an individual in all his endeavors. His reputation exemplifies the utmost in caring and trust.
A graduate of Colorado State University, Mitch started work at KWTV in Oklahoma City in 1982. He moved back home to Denver in 1995 with KMGH, where he continues in a variety of functions: anchor, reporter, and producer. His body of work includes some of the most horrific news stories in recent history – the Oklahoma City bombing and the subsequent trial coverage, the massacre at Columbine High School, the tragedy at Platte Canyon High School. His desire to report "on the scene" at these events is an illustration of his willingness to be involved, always with accuracy and truth. His coworkers tell of his passion, his breadth of understanding, his leadership, enthusiasm, and sense of humor.
Many viewers know Mitch as the 7Everyday Hero guy. This weekly program highlights someone in the community who volunteers his or her time to make other people's lives a bit brighter. Since its inception in 1999, the 7Everyday Hero award has recognized over 550 deserving individuals, and Mitch hasn't missed a week. He treats each person not as "just another story" but as an opportunity to make a difference.
Volunteering is important to Mitch, and he is known for this – from the Governor's office to non-profit agencies, to neighbors and friends. He donates his free time and support to many of the causes that he covers and isn't afraid to roll up his sleeves to get the work done. He inspires others to do better and give more.