Anessa Rios-Ezeude

As Director of Membership and Donor Services, Anessa Rios oversees the strategic direction and project implementation of Houston Public Media’s integrated, multi-media (on-air, digital, mail) fundraising efforts and campaigns. Through her approach to cohesive campaigns, sustainable member cultivation, community-first messaging, comprehensive analytics, and process improvement, she has helped raised more than $8MM in Membership revenue. Anessa has developed strategic plans that have resulted in the highest digital fundraising revenue to date. She oversees the teams responsible for the Studio Society (major membership gift club), Member Relations, Young Leaders Council, and Mission Ambassadors (social media brand ambassadors). Houston Public Media (NPR and PBS for Greater Houston) includes the nation’s first educational television station TV8 (PBS), KUHF News 88.7 (NPR), and their digital subchannels. Anessa is also a member of the PBS YoPro group, participates in the Public Media Women in Leadership mentorship program, and is a graduate of the Greater Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GHHCC) Emerging Leaders Institute.
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Authentic Representation Through On-Air Fundraising

Membership, email, on-air drives, engagement

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“If you can see it, you can be it.” 
– Elizabeth Marvel

I met Jamie Green, Multi-Platform Senior Producer at Public Broadcasting Atlanta, at an on-air fundraising conference in 2018. While we connected on strategy and being from similar markets, it was also noticeable that there weren’t many people in attendance who were African American or Latinx. Jamie and I shared our dreams for a future in public media where diversity, equity, and inclusion would be embedded in all fundraising efforts for the entire system. In the time since, we’ve both worked to make that vision a reality at our respective stations. We now find ourselves with an opportunity to share our stations’ DEI fundraising efforts, and, more importantly, with a public media system that is receptive to learning and committed to growing.  

Authentic representation and building diverse community connections is important for all stations, regardless of the market. It is even more essential in the Greater Houston area, where I serve as Director of Membership and Donor Services at Houston Public Media. Houston has been named the most diverse city in America, and based on demographic studies, we can see that our youth is predominantly BIPOC.

It’s not uncommon to hear public media professionals expressing concerns about alienating their current audience with DEI-heavy fundraising. The key takeaway for all stations is if your content and messaging is not reflecting the diverse voices in your community, you’re not going to be prepared for the future.

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