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Senior Management

Bert Schmidt
Bert Schmidt
President & Chief Executive Officer

Bert Schmidt has been a leader in public media for over 30 years.

Bert has passionately sought ways to support local communities through programming and educational services as president and CEO of WHRO Public Media since 2007.

WHRO is the only public media station owned by a collaboration of 21 local school divisions. WHRO actually stands for Home Room One, and while technology has changed dramatically over the years, WHRO 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 and eMediaVA, a web-based library of multi-media learning objects available to every student in Virginia.

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 over 16 million dollars.

WHRO Public Media continues to produce award-winning programs of local interest focusing on issues involving veterans, the local arts scene, and improving graduation and employment rates through the American Graduate initiative. WHRO recently added a newsroom to its operations and seeks to significantly increase its impact with a growing number of local journalists.

Bert serves on numerous community boards including the Virginia Arts Festival, the Virginia Opera, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and the All District Reads 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.

Thomas Burton
Thomas Burton
Chief Development Officer

Thomas Burton is Chief Development Officer for WHRO Public Media and manages fundraising and development functions including membership and major giving, program underwriting, planned giving and and volunteerism.

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.

Dina Dodson
Dina Dodson
Vice President of Digital Strategies

Dina began her career in public media more than 20 years ago, when she joined WHRO Public Media as a Web Designer.

In her current role as the Vice President of Digital Strategies, she is responsible for developing and driving strategic initiatives aligned with WHRO Public Media's mission and long-term digital strategy. She has been an early adopter and advocate for leveraging digital and technological innovation to solve current business challenges in public media, and contributing to advancement of WHRO Public Media’s digital capabilities to better serve its community.

She has lived in South America and Europe and enjoys preparing foods from around the globe. Dina is passionate about world cultures, yoga and meditation. She lives in Norfolk with her family.

Chris Gunnufsen
Chris Gunnufsen
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.

Amy Houck
Amy Houck
Vice President of Marketing and Communications

Amy is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at WHRO Public Media leading a team responsible for brand positioning and identity, product marketing, public relations, reputation management and eminence, marketing operations, social campaigns, promotions, events, internal and external communications, community engagement, and humanities 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.

Maurice Jones
Maurice Jones
Vice President of News

Maurice Jones is the Vice President of News at WHRO Public Media, where he oversees the strategic growth and operations of the newsroom, fostering a culture of innovation and excellence across multiple platforms. His responsibilities include budget sustainability, resource allocation, and talent development, all aimed at ensuring the smooth functioning of the newsroom for the delivery of top-tier content to the WHRO audience.

With a diverse background spanning the public and private sectors, as well as extensive experience in the news industry, Maurice brings a wealth of knowledge to his role. Previously, he held positions such as president and publisher of Pilot Media, deputy secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the Obama administration, and Secretary of Commerce and Trade under the McAuliffe administration.

Before joining WHRO, Maurice served as the President and CEO of OneTen, a coalition committed to upskilling and employing one million Black individuals without four-year degrees in sustainable careers. Under his leadership, OneTen expanded to over 70 companies, partnering with more than 100 talent development organizations and facilitating the hiring and promotion of over 80,000 individuals.

Prior to his tenure at OneTen, Maurice led the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), where he substantially increased the organization's annual investment and diversified its partnerships across various industries.

Maurice also serves as the CEO of the Center for First-generation Student Success and has held leadership positions on several non-profit boards and committees, including Chair of the Board for the Virginia Arts Festival and co-chair for the New Growth Innovation Network.

Maurice earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Hampden-Sydney College, pursued postgraduate studies at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, earning a Master of Philosophy in International Relations, and later obtained a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia.

Heather Mazzoni
Heather Mazzoni
Chief Content Officer

Heather Mazzoni joined WHRO Public Media in 1998, initially starting as an audience and member services representative. Over the years, she has held various roles within the organization, driven by her deep passion for public media. Her early inspiration from Mister Rogers instilled in her a commitment to community and the transformative power of content creation.

As Chief Content Officer, Heather spearheads the conception, development, and execution of local content across all platforms. From television and radio to production and digital media, she ensures a cohesive strategy that resonates with audiences. Additionally, she oversees the distribution of local programs to national platforms and manages Traffic operations.

Beyond her executive duties, Heather also serves as the host and executive producer of Curate, further showcasing her dedication to engaging storytelling.

Heather's educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Christopher Newport University, complemented by coursework in Fine Arts at Thomas Nelson Community College. She has further honed her leadership skills through programs such as Dale Carnegie Leadership and the Bank of America Neighborhood Builders Leadership.

Outside of her professional endeavors, Heather finds joy in family life, residing in Norfolk with her husband Matt, sons Julian and Brett, and their beloved pets, Finn, Barkley, and Heidi. Her diverse interests encompass culinary arts, travel, art, history, and camping.

Elmer Seward
Elmer Seward
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 Media staff. 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.

Mitzi Fehl-Seward
Mitzi Fehl-Seward
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, a Master of Arts in Education from Virginia Tech, and earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Education from 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.

Amy Sokol
Amy Sokol
Chief Financial Officer

Amy Sokol is the Chief Financial Officer at WHRO Public Media, overseeing all Business Office and Human Resources functions. 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 Bernedoodle. Their oldest daughter recently graduated from ODU and is now attending The University of Southern California’s MFA film program. When Amy and her family aren’t cheering on the ODU Monarchs, they enjoy spending time cooking out with family and friends.