President and Chief Executive Officer
Bert Schmidt has been a leader in public media for over 28 years.
Bert has passionately sought ways to support local communities through programming and educational services in his fourteen years as president and CEO of WHRO Public Media.
WHRO Public Media is owned by a collaboration of 21 local public school divisions, the only public broadcasting station of its kind in the United States. WHRO actually stands for Home Room One, and while technology has changed dramatically over the years, WHRO Public Media is still in the business of helping schools improve student performance and meet their strategic goals using today’s technologies. Bert has been instrumental in the development and distribution of numerous virtual learning solutions for educators including the production of online courses used in high schools throughout Virginia; eMediaVA, a web-based library of multi-media learning objects available to every student in the Virginia; and SkillsOnline, an online career development and workforce readiness education initiative for adults.
Under Bert’s leadership, WHRO’s educational and entrepreneurial initiatives have generated over 30 million dollars and typically account for 40% of WHRO Public Media's annual revenue, resulting in endowment growth to almost 14 million dollars. WHRO Public Media continues to produce award winning programs of local interest focusing on issues involving veterans (through the Veterans Coming Home initiative), the local arts scene, and improving graduation and employment rates through the American Graduate initiative.
Bert serves on numerous community boards including the Virginia Aquarium, the Virginia Arts Festival, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and the Norfolk Public Library Board. He previously served as the chair of America's Public Television Stations (APTS), and as the chair of the Public Broadcast Management Association (now known as PMBA). Bert was the president and general manager of WVPT in Harrisonburg, Virginia, from 2002 to 2007 and the CFO and executive vice president of WCNY in Syracuse, New York, from 1991 to 2002.
Bert is the father of two adult children: daughter Jillian and son Bertel and is married to Missy Schmidt, retired marketing executive for a global business management software company, and now devoted to kitten rescue and fostering.
Chief Development Officer
Thomas Burton is Chief Development Officer for WHRO Public Media and manages all fundraising and development functions including membership and major giving, program underwriting, grants, and planned giving.
After a decade in the manufacturing sector in a variety of sales, customer service and marketing management positions, his career in non-profits began in 1992 when he became director of development for WCNY TV & Classic FM in Syracuse, New York.
He turned to academia in 2001 as vice-president for institutional advancement at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, where he instituted a comprehensive development and alumni relations plan for that upstate New York center of learning.
Prior to joining WHRO, he served again at WCNY Public Media in Syracuse since 2013 as vice president for development, responsible for development functions including the campaign to fund WCNY's new home.
Burton earned a B.S. in Business Administration from the State University of New York College at Fredonia. He has held various leadership positions on several Central New York non-profit boards of directors including the United Way of Central New York, the Lyncourt Union Free School District, the Central New York Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), the Onondaga Historical Association and Syracuse Behavioral Healthcare.
He and his wife Janet, a retired nurse, reside in Norfolk.
Vice President of Digital Strategies
Dina Dodson joined WHRO Public Media as a Web Designer in late 2000. She is an early adopter of emerging technologies in public media, including online content, digital media platform development, social media strategies and educational technology products and services.
She is responsible for developing and driving strategic initiatives aligned with WHRO Public Media's mission and long-term strategy that are focused on applying and evolving digital and technological innovation to solve current business challenges and find new business opportunities, leveraging WHRO’s existing products, capabilities and customers.
Dina's academic background is in Liberal Arts and Information Technology; she is also a graduate of the Dale Carnegie Leadership program.
She has lived in South America and Europe and enjoys preparing foods from around the globe. Dina is passionate about travel, world cultures and traditions. She lives in Norfolk with her husband Jason and son Justin.
Broadcast and Digital Media Officer
At WHRO Public Media, Jeff is responsible for leading content production for Broadcast Television and Digital Media. He oversees a multidisciplinary staff of producers, directors, writers, editors, videographers and freelance teams to create original programming. Highlights include the Emmy award winning shows, The Scene on TV, Guardians of Jamestown 1619, and Veterans Voices, as well as the nationally distributed Goode Performing Arts programs, Comedy Bootcamp and #YoungSingersProject. Curate, WHRO Public Media's acclaimed arts series, is currently in its third season.
Before joining WHRO, Jeff was an award-winning writer/director/producer with credits on some of the highest rated series for Discovery Channel, National Geographic and PBS. He has also written, produced and directed feature films, including “Cherry” (starring Britt Robertson of “Tomorrowland” and “GirlBoss”) which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival and other major festivals before its U.S. theatrical release.
Jeff is a graduate of Brown University and USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.
He lives in Norfolk with his wife, Diane, an ODU Screenwriting Professor, children Jesse and Maya, and Layla the hound. He enjoys the ocean, photography, travel and independent film.
Vice President of Technology
Chris is the Vice President of Technology for WHRO Public Media, overseeing the Engineering, Information Technology, Master Control and Facilities departments. After completing College in 1989, Chris joined the WHRO team and worked as a broadcast engineer for 5 years before pursuing an engineering and management career in the Wireless Telecommunication Industry.
Prior to returning to WHRO Public Media in 2003, he was Director of Systems Integration with CAI Wireless Systems of Albany New York. After CAI's acquisition by WorldCom in 1999, Chris held the position of Regional Director for Systems Engineering and Integration at WorldCom Broadband Solutions until 2003.
Chris holds advanced degrees in Electrical Engineering and Business Administration. He was the Chairman of Chapter 54 of the Society of Broadcast Engineers for 3 years and is the current membership Chairman for Local SBE Chapter 54. Chris is also a member of various electrical and Information Technology societies and has 24 years of experience in broadcast and telecommunications engineering and management.
Chris lives in the Historic Ghent section of Norfolk with his wife Lizz, daughter Casey and dog Shadow. His interests include home renovation, tennis, biking and relaxing with friends and family.
Director of Marketing and Communications
Amy is the Director of Marketing and Communications at WHRO Public Media, leading in the development of innovative advertising, promotion, communication, social media and community engagement initiatives. Houck is an accomplished senior marketing and communications professional with a passion for education.
Prior to joining WHRO Public Media, Amy served as the Vice President of DIA, Inc., a full-service marketing firm in Norfolk where she led many of the region’s most recognizable marketing and branding campaigns.
Amy holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication from Old Dominion University and is a proud graduate of LEAD Hampton Roads.
Amy lives in Moyock with her husband Trevor, children Lily and River, and two beautiful Chesapeake Bay retrievers Anchor and Mayday. Her interests include pop culture, boating, music, and American history.
Chief Content Officer
Heather Mazzoni came to WHRO Public Media in 1998 as an audience and member services representative and has served many roles throughout the organization over the years. She is a passionate advocate of public media and credits Mister Rogers as an early inspiration for her love of community and making a difference through content production.
As Chief Content Officer she is responsible for local content concepts, creation and initiatives across all platforms as well as distribution of local programs to national platforms. She oversees the strategic direction of Television, Radio, Journalism and multi-platform digital content as well as Traffic. She also serves as host and executive producer of Curate.
Heather holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Christopher Newport University; and in addition, she attended Thomas Nelson Community College where she majored in Fine Arts. Heather is also a graduate of the Dale Carnegie Leadership program and the Bank of America Neighborhood Builders Leadership program.
Heather lives in Norfolk with her husband Matt, sons Julian and Brett, and faithful pets Sonny & Finn. Her interests include culinary arts, travel, art, history and baseball.
Community Engagement Officer
Ms. Nancy Rogan has more than 25 years professional experience in nonprofits, notably in arts, education, and charitable organizations. As a magna cum laude graduate of Old Dominion University with a Bachelor’s degree in special education, she first taught special education for the City of Norfolk Public Schools. Her love for skiing took her to Boston where she later worked as Manager of Office and Information Systems at a private nonprofit special education school in Massachusetts.
She continued her career in nonprofits when she moved to Florida and served as project manager/grants manager for the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Her passion for community involvement and impact led her to join the Community Foundation of Broward in 2007 as Manager of Grants and Initiatives. In this role she also served as program manager for the AIDS United/Elton John Foundation Community Partnership which raised and distributed a minimum of $150,000 yearly to identify and support HIV/AIDS education and prevention initiatives. Her research at the Foundation provided direction to guide development of broad scale Foundation initiatives in education and civic engagement through arts that committed 5 years/$5 million to education and arts programs.
She has served as grant reviewer for United Way of Broward County United Way of South Hampton Roads and is a past appointee to Broward County School Board’s Diversity Committee. Currently, she is the Community Engagement Officer at WHRO Public Media in Norfolk where her work focuses on veterans, education, and community programs.
Vice President of Education Services
As Vice President for Education Services, Elmer Seward is responsible for education programs provided to WHRO Public Media's member owner school divisions. He oversees a staff of dedicated educators working in the areas of early childhood education, professional development, educational programs, and digital resource distribution.
Elmer is a career educator with experience as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and director of technology before joining the WHRO Public Mediastaff. Prior to taking his current position, he worked with two Virginia Department of Education contracts at WHRO Public Media as Instructional Supervisor for Virtual Virginia and as Director of eMediaVA.
Elmer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Christopher Newport University and a Master of Arts degree in Supervision and School Administration from the College of William and Mary.
He lives in Poquoson, the school division where he worked for 20 years. When not at work, he enjoys spending time with his wife and family. During his spare time, Elmer also enjoys writing novels.
Vice President of Digital Learning
Mitzi Fehl-Seward is the Vice President of Digital Learning. In this position, she works with a department of talented people who create quality digital content for teachers and students and provides training about blended and online learning across the Commonwealth. Mitzi first came to WHRO Public Media in 2006 to oversee technology and curriculum with Virtual Virginia, the Virginia Department of Education’s online program.
Mitzi is a career educator and has taught Readiness and Kindergarten/1st Multiage in Georgia. She taught in Virginia as a Kindergarten teacher and an Instructional Technology Specialist. Mitzi has also worked as an adjunct professor for the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, and as an instructor for PBS TeacherLineTM. Mitzi is a published author with Scholastic Inc., where she co-authored a book for teaching math with music and other articles in various professional development publications.
Mitzi holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from Georgia State University and a Master of Arts in Education from Virginia Tech. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Regent University.
Mitzi lives in Poquoson with her husband, children, and dogs. She enjoys time with her family and friends, cooking, swimming, going to the beach, and listening to music. Frequently, you will find Mitzi in the stands supporting any of her three daughters’ sporting or performing arts activities.
Vice President of Finance
Amy Sokol is the Vice President of Finance at WHRO Public Media, overseeing the day-to-day activities of the financial affairs of the organization. Amy joined the station in 2020, after spending nearly two decades in all sectors of the accounting field: public, corporate, and most recently non-profit. Amy is a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a graduate of Old Dominion University.
Amy’s interests in the arts include serving as a Board Member of Ballet Virginia. She enjoys attending the many performing arts performances Hampton Road’s organizations have to offer. Amy is also a proud supporter of JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), and an advocate for Type 1 diabetes education and research.
Amy lives in Norfolk with her husband David, also a proud ODU graduate, their two youngest daughters, and their two dogs. Their oldest daughter recently graduated from ODU and has moved to Austin, Texas as an aspiring film maker. When Amy and her family aren’t cheering on the ODU Monarchs, they enjoy spending time cooking out with family and friends.
Ginny Werner, Administration Officer, oversees human resources, employee initiatives and strategic planning. Throughout her 20 years at the station, she has work in television production, corporate support and executive administration. She is the Assistant Secretary of the Board of Directors and manages board and committee meetings. Focusing the station’s efforts to be an employer of choice, she has been integral in getting WHRO Public Media recognized as a Top WorkPlace in 2019 and 2020. Ginny has held leadership roles in the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Tidewater Appalachian Trail Club, and Cultural Alliance of Hampton Roads.
Ginny received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Communications (Radio-TV-Film) at California State University, Fullerton. After a short period of film and television work, she transitioned into a career in satellite transmissions, working for NBC, Wold Communications, Bonneville Satellite and uplink truck companies. Working for domestic and international clients, she oversaw live broadcasts of news, corporate meetings, and sporting events, including two Super Bowls.
Raised in a household that listened to NPR since the 1970s, and with a childhood steeped in PBS programs like Sesame Street, Zoom and British dramas, Ginny feels working in public media is a dream-come-true. She is a certified yoga instructor, loves traveling, hiking, gardening, cooking and dabbles in the visual arts.