From The White House to Your House: A Latino Social Innovator Goes to PBS


@giorodriguez Public TV nabs Juan Sepulveda, social engagement strategist extraordinaire

OK, this got my attention the other day. Juan Sepulveda — a man not super well-known in general/generic world of social media, but super accomplished in the more strategic world of social engagement — is now at PBS. As Senior VP of station services, he’ll be bringing his special mix of skills that he honed so well at The White House and then at the DNC.

This is newsworthy, for at least three reasons.

First, there are few people in the engagement market with Sepulveda’s experience and knowledge of how online mixes with offline. After his grueling schooling (stops along the way: Harvard, Oxford, and the Stanford Law School), he got a Rockefeller grant to study best practices and models for community engagement. He did some groundbreaking consulting work, got the attention of the White House, and launched an initiative for Obama that used offline and online organizing to engage more than 10,000 Latino leaders around the country (disclosure: I had the privilege of assisting Sepulveda on a small piece of that mega project). That plus his most recent stint as Senior Advisor for Hispanic Affairs at the DNC provided Obama a heavy boost of Latino support in an election that truly needed — and benefited — from Latino support.

Second, while known for his work with the Latino community, Sepulveda has expertise in engagement that can extend to many other communities. Before the White House gig, he consulted for many different groups and causes. Yes, Latinos are one of the few ethnic groups that are growing fast in the US, but they are, of course, just one of many groups, and Sepulveda’s ability to navigate both the so-called mainstream and manystreams makes him the man of the moment.

And it’s a moment that could have served many an organization well. Especially media organizations. More than most any kind of business, the media business needs innovators who understand the mandate to engage people both online and offline, and inside the many little worlds in each domain that compete for consumer attention. And more than most any kind of business, the media business needs innovators who understand how to engage the mainstream and the manystreams — the rich and complex aggregation of groups that are redefining America. Finally, more than any kind of media business, the public broadcast business needs help. Not just because it’s come under attack from political interests (a problem that a consensus builder like Sepulveda can no doubt help with). It’s more because public television is truly in need of a refresh. There’s some great programming coming out of institutions like PBS. But when you think of the offline opportunity (think of the New Yorker’s and The Atlantic’s event strategies), and the mainstream + manystreams opportunity, you can see how much more can be done. I’ve got a feeling that Sepulveda will be doing some of that work, and that others will soon follow.

–Courtesy of

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