US public broadcasting company CPB names first new GC in nearly 20 years

Evan Slavitt will take over from Westwood Smithers, who is retiring this month

Evan Slavitt Photo courtesy of CPB

Taxpayer-funded US media company the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) has hired Evan Slavitt as general counsel, replacing long-time legal chief Westwood Smithers Jr, who is retiring this month.

Slavitt most recently was global chief legal officer at Canadian pulp and paper manufacturer Paper Excellence. At CPB, Slavitt will look after the company’s legal interests, monitor compliance with federal and state laws and help maintain the broadcaster’s ethical high standards.

CPB helps steward government investment in public broadcasting by distributing funds to more than 1,500 local publicly-owned radio and TV stations across the US, ensuring everyone has access to non-commercial media content.

Patricia Harrison, CPB president and CEO, said: “Evan is an accomplished attorney with decades of experience who will be of great value to CPB as we steward the federal appropriation for public media.”

Slavitt was at Paper Excellence for just over a year and a half, having previously spent more than 15 years at electronic components-maker AVX Corporation, six of them as GC. Prior to his in-house career, he was a founding partner of Bodoff & Slavitt, a partner at legacy Boston firm Gadsby Hannah, an associate and then partner at Hinckley Allen & Snyder, and an associate at legacy firm Fine & Ambrogne. 

During his time in private practice, he spent 12 years as GC for the Massachusetts Republican Party. He started his legal career in 1983 as an assistant US Attorney in Boston.

He said: “I am looking forward to working with the board and senior management of CPB to achieve its important statutory mission. I view this position as the capstone of my career.”

Slavitt takes over from Smithers on 11 March, bringing the curtain down on a more than 40-year legal career. Smithers joined CPB in 2005 from the Commonwealth Public Broadcasting Corporation’s Central Virginia TV stations WCVE-TV and WCVW-TV, where he was general manager for business operations and GC and secretary to the corporation’s board of directors. 

Earlier in his career, Smithers spent 14 years in the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia, working his way up to become a senior assistant Attorney General.

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