Pat Mitchell, president and CEO of the Paley Center for Media, with headquarters in New York and Los Angeles, was born on January 20, 1943, in Swainsboro, Georgia. She received her BA and a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Georgia, where she also served on the faculty for five years doing postgraduate work and teaching.
Mitchell left academia in 1970 to pursue a career in journalism with a position at Look Magazine, a newsweekly. When Look ceased publication later that year, Mitchell pursued an opportunity to write and produce for NBC, becoming one of the first women to be hired by the networks for broad reporting and producing duties.
During the next twenty years she worked as a broadcast journalist and producer, reporter, and news anchor with prominent positions at NBC, CBS, and ABC. In 1980, she founded her own independent production company, producing documentaries, series, and specials focused on the issues of women and children, culminating in the national series, Woman to Woman, for which Mitchell received an Emmy, and was the first woman to host, produce, and own her own television program.
Lured by the opportunity to work with media entrepreneur Ted Turner, she moved to Atlanta in 1992, becoming the head of Turner Original Productions and after the merger of Turner Broadcasting Company with Time Warner, she became the president of Time Inc. Television and CNN Productions. Programs produced under her direction were awarded forty-four Emmys for journalistic excellence, five Peabody Awards, and two Academy Award nominations.
In 2000, Mitchell was named president and chief executive officer of PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service in the U.S., the first woman and first producer and journalist to hold the position. Under Mitchell’s leadership, PBS led the digital transition for the public service media industry of 355 local public television stations, rejuvenated the National Program Service, oversaw the development of many new projects, including the launch of a high-definition PBS channel and a new cable preschool children’s service, award-winning public affairs series, and the growth of PBS’s website into one of the three most visited sites on the Internet.
In 2006, Mitchell accepted the challenge of renaming and repositioning The Museum of Television and Radio, which is now The Paley Center for Media, a high-level convener of forums and dialogues for global media executives in NY, LA, and around the world.
The Paley Center is also the largest public archive of television and radio programs, with more than 150,000 titles available to the public. Through its public programs the Paley Center offers a unique lens of media—past, present, and future—to better understand the power and influence of media across all sectors of life and society.
Pat Mitchell has received numerous personal awards, including Woman of the Year in Cable and Telecommunications, the CINE Golden Eagle for Lifetime Achievement, the Sandra Day O'Connor Award for Leadership, and was recently named to the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame. She is on the Hollywood Reporter’s Most Powerful Women list and serves on many nonprofit boards, including as vice chair of the Sundance Institute Board; a founding president of former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev’s global environmental organization, Green Cross International; VDay, a global movement to end violence against women; cochair of the Women's Media Center; an advisor to the Center for Public Leadership at the Kennedy School of Harvard University; and a trustee of the Mayo Clinic. Mitchell is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She is also a director on the corporate boards of Bank of America, Inc. and Sun Microsystems, Inc.
She and her husband, Scott Seydel, have six children and eight grandchildren and reside in New York and Atlanta, Georgia.