Who We Are
Adrianne Benton Furniss, Executive Director
Amina Fazlullah, Director of Policy
Kevin Taglang, Executive Editor, Communications-related Headlines
Cecilia Garcia, Senior Advisor
Kip Roderick, Executive Assistant to Charles Benton
Rebecca Ellis, Writing Associate
Jeremy Isett, Chief Technologist
Board of Directors
Charles Benton, Marjorie C. Benton, Adrianne Benton Furniss and Leonard Schrager.
Adrianne Benton Furniss
Adrianne Furniss spent her professional career in the media business, specializing in distribution and marketing strategies, management, strategic planning and acquisitions. For 13 years, she worked at Chicago-based Home Vision Entertainment (HVe), where she rose from Executive Vice President to President/CEO and majority owner before selling the business in 2005. In addition to licensing, publishing, distributing and marketing classic and independent films, Home Vision Entertainment was the distributor of the renowned DVD special edition publisher The Criterion Collection. Before that, Adrianne spent fourteen years in New York City, the last eight travelling the world for Children’s Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) where she served as VP of International Television and Home Video Sales, Marketing and Program Development. Currently, Adrianne serves on three boards. In addition to the Benton Foundation, she is Chair of the Board for the not-for-profit documentary film and media arts company, Kartemquin Films, based in Chicago. KTQ are the producers of the renowned documentary feature HOOP DREAMS and recently released THE INTERRUPTERS. She is also on the board of the National Center for Family Philanthropy, based in Washington, DC, whose mission is to promote philanthropic values, vision, and excellence across generations of donors and donor families. Adrianne received her BA at Yale University in Art History and an MA in Radio, TV and Film from Northwestern University. She lives in Wilmette, Illinois, with her husband, Bob Furniss, Deputy Inspector General for the State of Illinois Department of Human Services. They have two daughters: Lily is 17 and a senior at New Trier High School; Carrie, 21, is a senior at the Frost School of Music, University of Miami, FL.
Amina Fazlullah, Director of Policy
Amina Fazlullah serves as the Benton Foundation's Director of Policy. Ms. Fazlullah works to further government policies which are intended to address communication needs of vulnerable communities. Since 2010 Ms. Fazlullah has led the Benton Foundation's work on USF reform with a specific focus on Lifeline and E-rate programs. She works on the Benton Foundation's efforts to develop and support important consumer protection policies which help vulnerable communities access, adopt and utilize, broadband and voice services. Ms. Fazlullah is also responsible for the Benton Foundation's efforts around spectrum policy and children's online privacy. Ms. Fazlullah, has also testified before and briefed Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, the Department of Commerce, and Federal Trade Commission on consumer telecommunications issues. Prior to working for the Benton Foundation she worked for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, for the Honorable Chief Judge James M. Rosenbaum of the U.S. District Court of Minnesota, and the Federal Communications Commission. She is graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School (2006) and the Pennsylvania State University (Telecommunciations 2000.)
Cecilia Garcia, Senior Advisor
Cecilia Garcia first joined the Benton Foundation in 1997. She most recently served as executive director of Connect for Kids. Her broad range of experience includes work as a press secretary for a Member of the U.S House of Representatives. As communications director for a national Latino nonprofit organization, she worked to create greater avenues of access for the Latino community into the political process through leadership development programs, legislative conferences, a seven-site electronic town meeting and the creation of the organization's web site. Cecilia coordinated state outreach activities, developed teacher training models for classroom use, and worked on the CD-ROM version of "Chicano: History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement," a four-part PBS documentary produced by the National Latino Communication Center. She began her extensive career in communications producing and directing public and community affairs programming at WTVS, Detroit's public television station. Cecilia earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wayne State University in 1988. Affiliations: Media & Democracy Coalition Board of Directors, Foundation Center Advisory Committee, and Council on Foundations Film & Video Festival Task Force.
Kevin Taglang, Executive Editor, Communications-related Headlines
With over 18 years of experience in the field, Kevin Taglang has led Benton’s work monitoring, analyzing and articulating the public interest stake in telecommunications legislation, regulation, and policymaking. Previously, Taglang was Senior Policy Analyst at the foundation, working on educating and engaging the nonprofit sector in communications policy debates. During 1997 and 1998, Kevin staffed Chairman of the Board Charles Benton's participation on the President's Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters.
Kip Roderick works as Executive Assistant to Charles Benton and as Office Manager for the Benton Foundation office in Evanston. He joined the Benton Foundation in 2005 and has previous experience as an Executive Assistant with Public Media, Inc., Home Vision Entertainment, and Near North National Group. Kip earned a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education from the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign in 1999 and has also taught music at both high school and middle school levels.
Rebecca Ellis is a freelance international correspondent, writer, producer and content strategist with a background in investigative reporting, business accountability research, broadcast journalism, and translation/website localization. She obtained her M.S. degree in Journalism at Columbia University. Prior to Columbia, she completed a graduate program in Media Communications at the Polytechnic University of Berlin in Germany, interned at Democracy Now!, and worked for six months as a senior research consultant in Mexico City. In 2009, she traveled to Chile to write her master’s thesis on the topic of dissenting news media and telecommunications in Chile during and after the Pinochet dictatorship. Rebecca is fluent in German, Spanish and her native language, English.
Board of Directors
Charles Benton, Chairman and Trustee
Since 1981 Charles Benton has served as Chairman of the Benton Foundation. Its mission is to articulate a public interest vision for the digital age and to demonstrate the value of communications by solving social problems. Among its current program priorities are projects on Universal Broadband/Universal Service, Community Media/Community Development, and Digital Media Access/Inclusion. Charles Benton has also had a long career in the media education and entertainment businesses as President or Chairman of Encyclopaedia Britannica Education Corporation, Films Incorporated, Public Media Inc., Lionheart Television International, and Home Vision Entertainment. In 1978, President Carter appointed him as Chairman of the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science and as Chairman of the first White House Conference on Library and Information Services, held in November of 1979. In 1997, President Clinton appointed him as a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters. Throughout his career, Mr. Benton has been an active board member and advisor for organizations in the arts, education and communications. Currently these include service as Chairman of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois and as a Board Member Emeritus of the Educational Development Center in Boston and the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. In April 2012 he was nominated by President Obama to the National Museum and Library Services Board. A graduate of Yale University, Mr. Benton did post graduate work at Northwestern University and the National College of Education and taught 5th grade at the Washington Elementary School in Evanston, Illinois. He is married to Marjorie Craig Benton and they have two children and five grandchildren.
Robert A. Cohen
Robert A. Cohen is a leading media management consultant with extensive executive and operations experience. He specializes in developing profitable business strategies for existing digital and print businesses, launching and repositioning media brands, integrating print and digital media, and improving subscription, membership, and retail sales for websites, magazines, newspapers, newsletters and other properties. Cohen has particular expertise with early-stage print and digital businesses, as well as in-depth knowledge of entrepreneurial companies’ approaches to sharpening their competitive edge and reaching their next level of growth through the design and implementation of new content, ad sales, and circulation strategies. Over almost 40 years, he has worked with Rodale Press, Scientific American, Esquire, American Heritage, Scholastic, Audubon, Mondadori (Milan), Groupe Expansion (Paris), International Herald Tribune, New England Journal of Medicine, and Harvard Business Review. He has also held executive positions at LPI Media, the publishing arm of PlanetOut, Inc., Primedia Consumer Magazines, and The New Republic, among others. Born and raised in Chicago, Bob received his BA in Psychology from Yale University and his MBA from the Harvard Business School.
Elizabeth Daley was appointed dean of the USC School of Cinematic Arts in May 1991. She is the inaugural holder of the Steven J. Ross/Time Warner Dean's Chair. Since becoming dean, Daley has strengthened the school's academic programs, infrastructure and ties with the entertainment industry and media arts community. Under her leadership, the school has added two new divisions in animation & digital arts and interactive media, built the Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts, installed 13 endowed chairs and formed successful partnerships with a variety of entertainment and technology companies. Daley also serves on the boards of AVID Technologies, the Center for Governmental Studies, the Digital Coast Roundtable, Operation Smile Board of Governors, the Visual Effects Society Advisory Council, Fondazione Azzurra, The Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts, the Warner Brothers Historical Foundation, and advisory boards at USC for KUSC Radio and the Institute of Creative Technologies. Daley earned a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin and M.A. and B.A. degrees from Tulane University and Newcomb College.
Terry Goddard, currently Arizona Attorney General, was previously coordinator and senior community builder for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In 1983 he was elected mayor of Phoenix and served four terms. Under his leadership, Phoenix won All-America City honors and he speared passage of two significant bond issues totaling nearly $2 billion, including funding for major public cultural buildings in the city.
In 1989, Terry was elected president of the National League of Cities. He currently serves on the boards of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Arizona Theater Company, the Cosanti Foundation, the Arizona Bank Advisory Board and recently completed a four-year term on the board of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco. He teaches a graduate course at the Arizona State University College of Architecture on Urban Housing Policy and is a member of the Arizona Bar Association, formerly a lawyer in private practice.
Austin Hirsch has engaged in the practice of law since 1973. He spent most of his professional career with with Sachnoff & Weaver, rising to CEO and Managing partner. In 2007, Sachnoff & Weaver combined with Reed Smith and Hirsch joined the Executive Committee and Chaired the Finance Committee. His practice, including distribution and technology companies, encompasses all aspects of business law -- such as mergers and acquisitions with both financial and strategic parties, corporate and real estate finance, venture capital transactions, partnership and joint ventures, and international transactions, with particular emphasis advising significant, privately owned companies. Also, he focuses on sophisticated tax and trust planning for business owners, families and individuals. In addition to his legal work, Hirsch is a Member of the Board Executive Committee and Secretary/Treasurer of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, and a Member of the Board Executive Committee and President of SelfHelp Home.
Joanne Hovis is President of Columbia Telecommunications Corp. (CTC), a national, public interest, communications engineering and consulting firm. She is an attorney with a background in communications and commercial litigation. Ms. Hovis is a recognized authority on the broadband market and community broadband topics—and on the evolving role of government in the provision of communications services to the public. Ms. Hovis is widely recognized for her recent policy analysis and recommendations (published by the New America Foundation) regarding the Recovery Act's broadband programs. She has also advised numerous foundations and policy non-profits regarding broadband. Ms. Hovis leads the CTC team that advises the cities of San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Seattle regarding fiber-to-the-premises networking. She also advises a number of universities regarding broadband planning. At CTC, Ms. Hovis leads the company's work for non-profit associations and oversees CTC's educational offerings and training programs, which are offered by several universities. Ms. Hovis has authored extensive white papers on communications topics for government agencies and non-profit organizations. Ms. Hovis serves as President-Elect on the Board of Directors of NATOA, which represents local governments and promotes community interests in communications matters. Ms. Hovis previously worked as an attorney with Jenner & Block, in Chicago, and Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo P.C., in Washington, D.C. At those firms, she worked on complex communications and litigation projects for such clients as Salomon Brothers, AOL, and Turner Broadcasting.
The Benton Foundation is honored to announce that former White House staffer Jim Kohlenberger has agreed to join our Board of Directors. Most recently, Kohlenberger served as Chief of Staff of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) under Director Dr. John Holdren. While in the White House, he helped craft the President’s innovation strategy, advanced policies to help spur a mobile broadband revolution through spectrum reform, worked to secure cyberspace, helped put the U.S. space program on a bold new course for the future, and sought to harness innovation as an engine of economic growth and opportunity for all Americans. From 2004-2008, Kohlenberger was a Senior Fellow at Benton. In that position, he guided Benton's media policy work and strengthened the foundation's collaborations in the field. Kohlenberger headed Benton's advocacy for universal, affordable broadband, tangible public interest obligations for digital broadcasters, diversified media ownership and open communications networks. Previously, Kohlenberger helped shape the Clinton Administration's approach to the Internet. He served as Vice President Al Gore's senior domestic policy adviser and worked to help pass and implement the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Before joining OSTP, Kohlenberger was executive director of the Voice on the Net (VON) Coalition, and ran his own innovation focused consulting practice. In his new role, Kohlenberger will assist in the governance of the Benton Foundation. In addition, he will join the Board's Program Committee, headed by Elizabeth Daley, dean of the School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California.
Woody passed away January 18, 2009, read more