ABINGTON, Pa. — Pioneering news executive Mary Alice Williams will be the keynote speaker at the Penn State Abington Summer/Fall 2017 Commencement on Dec. 15.
Williams won an Emmy Award for her work on NBC Nightly News and played a major role in the development and globalization of CNN. Formerly one of the highest-ranking female executives in American television, currently she anchors NJTV News on New Jersey’s public television network. Her investigative work on such topics as foreign policy, ethics, technology and health have made her a respected authority and recognized voice for public information.
As one of the primary architects behind the design of CNN, Williams oversaw the construction of its New York City Bureau prior to the launch of Cable News Network (CNN) in 1980 and served as the channel’s principal anchor and vice president in charge of the New York City Bureau until 1989. She was a critical member of CNN’s political anchor team and oversaw the planning and operation of the network’s second largest bureau. In 1982, Williams was appointed vice president.
Williams was an anchor on the NBC News team that won a national Emmy Award for its coverage of the fall of communism. During her tenure with NBC from 1989 to 1993, she also anchored "Sunday Today," "NBC News Special Reports," Y"esterday Today & Tomorrow," and NBC’s extended coverage of "Desert Storm: War in the Gulf." Williams was a frequent anchor and correspondent for "NBC Nightly News," "Sunrise," and "The Today Show."
In the wake of the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, she wrote and hosted a three-hour PBS special, "Reaching Out to Heal." As host of Hallmark’s weekly "True North" program on personal ethics, Williams earned the 2001 Gracie Allen Award and the 2001 Donald McGannon Ethics in Media Award. Her PBS special on alcoholism and addiction, "Within Reach," along with her work as a PBS contributing correspondent and anchor on "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly," have established Williams as a recognized commentator and reporter on broad issues of ethics.
One of the highest rated documentaries ever broadcast on Lifetime Television, "Picture What Women Do," about women, work and the American family, was written and hosted by Williams, winning the 1995 Exceptional Merit Media Award given by the National Women’s Political Caucus.
A published author, Williams adapted her weekly interview program for the Hallmark Channel about strategies for overcoming life’s toughest challenges into a book, “Quiet Triumphs.”
Williams is the recipient of 14 honorary doctorates for her outstanding contributions to journalism and television.
About Penn State Abington
Penn State Abington, formerly the Ogontz campus, offers baccalaureate degrees in 19 majors at its suburban location just north of Philadelphia. Nearly half of its 4,000 students complete all four years at Abington, with opportunities in undergraduate research, the Schreyer honors program, NCAA Division III athletics, and more. Students can start the first two years of more than 160 Penn State majors at Abington and complete their degrees at University Park or another campus. Lions Gate, Abington's first residence hall, opened in August 2017.