via press release:
USA ANNOUNCES PUBLIC AFFAIRS DIVISION
Building on the Success of USA’s Characters Unite Campaign, Department Led By Newly Appointed SVP Toby Graff to Oversee All Pro-Social Initiatives
NEW YORK – August 2, 2011 – USA Network announced today the formation of a Public Affairs division, led by newly appointed Senior Vice President Toby Graff. The Public Affairs division is an expansion of the Network’s commitment to using the power of the media to make a difference in the lives of viewers. The announcement was made today by USA co-presidents Chris McCumber and Jeff Wachtel.
The new Public Affairs department will focus on developing and implementing all pro-social initiatives, creating cause marketing promotions tied to original programming, handling government relations and managing charitable giving for USA and emerging networks (Sleuth/Cloo and Uni HD). Based in New York, Graff will report directly to McCumber.
Graff, who most recently served as senior advisor on USA’s Characters Unite campaign to combat prejudice and discrimination and promote tolerance and respect, will now oversee all of the on-air, digital, community, employee, press and sponsorship elements of the signature public service initiative. In concert with all units of USA, Public Affairs will continue to grow Characters Unite to include more extensive original programming, PSAs, content on charactersunite.com, grassroots outreach and legislative advocacy — all designed to inform, support and inspire audiences to bridge cultural divides and overcome social injustices.
“USA is committed to creating programs and original content through the power of storytelling and the success of Characters Unite has provided an open forum as a means to foster tolerance and respect,” said McCumber and Wachtel. “We saw firsthand the positive effects this program had across the country and will continue to build on its success through this new division, led by Toby with her vast experience and commitment to public service.”
In order to expand the reach and impact of the networks’ pro-social and charitable efforts, Graff and her team will forge partnerships with nonprofit and industry organizations, foundations, talent and business and governmental leaders. Additionally, the department will become the liaison to NBCUniversal in managing USA’s involvement in corporate social responsibility initiatives such as “Green is Universal” and “Education Nation.”
Previously, Graff served as senior vice president, Public Affairs and Corporate Communications, for Lifetime Networks. In this capacity, she oversaw communications strategy; the network’s award-winning public service campaigns on issues such as breast cancer, domestic violence, heart health and women’s political participation; corporate giving; and participation in industry and charitable events. She developed the “Every Woman Counts” initiative to encourage women to vote and lead, and the “Extraordinary Women” weekly vignette series to profile female leaders in many fields. Under Graff’s leadership, Lifetime helped to get five pieces of critical legislation signed into law, including a bill to eliminate the backlog of untested DNA evidence from rape kits and two bills to combat slavery of women.
Prior to joining Lifetime, Graff served as Deputy Press Secretary for then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. She also worked on health care and welfare reform at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and on three presidential campaigns.
Graff and the public affairs initiatives she spearheaded have received numerous accolades including the prestigious Governors Emmy® from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and awards from organizations such as the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the YWCA of the U.S.A, The National Domestic Violence Hotline, the Ms. Foundation for Women, the Association of Cable Communicators (ACC) and more. She was named one of Broadcasting & Cable’s 2005 “Next Wave of Women” in the industry and participated in WICT’s Betsy Magness Leadership Program in 2007. She has served on the Board of Trustees of JWI (Jewish Women International); the Education Advisory Board of New York City League of Women Voters; the Communications Advisory Board of RAINN; and the Advisory Council of the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition. She earned a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and holds a B.A. with Distinction from Boston University.
USA Network is the #1 network in all of basic cable and is seen in over 102 million U.S. homes. A division of NBCUniversal, USA is the cable television leader in original series and home to the best in blockbuster theatrical films, acquired television series and entertainment events. The award-winning USA website is located at www.usanetwork.com. Characters Welcome.
USA Network is a program service of NBCUniversal Cable a division of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience.