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KPBS Bids Farewell to Fundraising Powerhouse

KPBS Associate General Manager Stephanie Bergsma.  Photo taken in 2011.
Spark Photography
KPBS Associate General Manager Stephanie Bergsma. Photo taken in 2011.

Stephanie Bergsma Retires After Stellar 30 Year Career

KPBS Contact

Claudine Casillas | (619) 594-4266

Associate General Manager Stephanie Bergsma will retire from KPBS on December 10. Bergsma has been with KPBS for 30 years having spearheaded the station’s first development department and since then led all major funding initiatives that have helped lift KPBS into the national public media spotlight.

“KPBS is literally the ‘house that Stephanie built,’” said KPBS General Manager Tom Karlo. “From the equipment to the building and the new Jacobs News Center, KPBS would not be what we are today without her passion and dedication to raising the necessary funds for our operation. Stephanie’s work behind the scenes in building relationships has had a tremendous impact on KPBS’ success.”


Bergsma’s leadership of the station’s development department resulted in numerous milestones for KPBS including:

• The Producers Club (a funding level at $1,200 and above annually) was created in the early ‘80s as a way to sustain larger gifts from donors. Today the Producers Club has nearly 900 members.

• Bergsma created and established KPBS’ Corporate Giving program in the ‘80s as a way for corporations and businesses to support the station.

• Bergsma led the “Campaign to Make a Difference” in early the ‘90s to fund the construction and equipment for the KPBS Copley Telecommunications Center. She raised nearly $20 million for that project.

• In 2003, Bergsma cultivated the historic $200 million bequest from the late Joan Kroc to National Public Radio. KPBS also received an unprecedented $5 million bequest.


• In 2006, Bergsma secured a multi-year funding commitment from Joan and Irwin Jacobs to begin the Fund for Reporting Excellence. The project started KPBS’ multimedia training for its reporters and content team and eventually led to complete convergence of all KPBS’ news platforms.

• Bergsma also worked with the Jacobs to secure $3 million to create the Joan and Irwin Jacobs KPBS News Center, the cornerstone of the station and model for newsrooms nationwide.

Among other accomplishments, Bergsma created the opportunity for major donors to support reporting beats; she positioned KPBS to be a leader throughout public broadcasting with Planned Giving; and her efforts recently funded the new radio transmitter atop Mt. Soledad and the KPBS TV Digital Operations Center.

“Stephanie is a dedicated fundraiser,” said longtime KPBS donor Darlene Marcos Shiley. “Her ability to connect people’s passions to the mission of KPBS is what made her so successful – and respected. I always looked forward to a meeting with Stephanie because I knew she would have an amazing opportunity for me to make a difference in KPBS.” Shiley has given more than $4 million to KPBS over the years.

“I have had the best career imaginable,” said Bergsma. “I am so proud of the station and how much we’ve done to strengthen the mission of public broadcasting. We have an amazing team whose talent, energy, and great work is the reason why my career was so rewarding.”

Bergsma first began working at KPBS in 1982. In 1986 she left the organization for a few years to spend time at home with her son David. She returned to KPBS in 1991 to head up the Capital Campaign to build the KPBS Copley Telecommunications Center. She has served as Associate General Manager since 1995.

KPBS is a public service of San Diego State University, serving the region with TV, Radio, and Internet content that educates, inspires, entertains, and advances civic involvement.