Ann Boyd Leaving Post as Participant Media Communications Boss

Ann Boyd Participant
Courtesy of Participant

Ann Boyd is leaving her job as head of communications for Participant Media, two years after she arrived to form the company’s first communications department and at the end of a year in which she helped Participant manage an executive shakeup.

Boyd is moving to Boulder, Colo. with her husband and two children. She plans to continue in the communications field as a consultant and may also teach yoga.

Participant founder and owner Jeff Skoll and CEO David Linde thanked Boyd for her service. They said in an email to employees that Boyd “has driven volumes of press coverage about us and our work; and has greatly contributed at the executive level on strategy, culture and personnel.”

Boyd came to Participant in early 2014 from Sony, where she was initially a communications deputy, before being promoted to head of corporate communications in 2011. She worked closely with Sony’s parent company in Japan and focused on corporate social responsibility and environmental sustainability, among other issues.

That focus made her a natural for Participant, the company founded by billionaire Skoll to try to advance societal good while making films, TV shows and digital content. Participant has made its mark by producing and co-financing acclaimed films like “The Help,” “Lincoln,” “Good Night and Good Luck” and the Edward Snowden documentary, “Citizenfour.” The company backed “Spotlight,” which is a current favorite for awards honors, including the best picture Oscar.

As executive vice president for communications, Boyd also led the team that bolstered programming for Participant’s cable TV channel, Pivot. The channel won a Creative Arts Emmy for Joseph Gordon Levitt’s “HitRecord on TV” and won an International Emmy nomination for “Please Like Me.”

While it has won positive reviews for supporting high-quality content, Participant went through an upheaval this year. Founder Skoll had become unhappy with the pace of progress, particularly on international expansion, brand identification and strategy for Pivot TV. Employees blamed former CEO Jim Berk for failing to implement a strategic vision and for micro-managing. Berk left the company in April, about 10 days after Variety reported about concerns surrounding his management. Boyd had to contend with the fallout from Berk’s departure and the arrival of new CEO Linde, the former chairman of Universal Pictures.

Participant is a company that has pursued a balanced “double bottom-line” of advancing human and political causes, along with profitability. That sensibility informed the executives’ farewell email about Boyd, with Skoll and Linde noting that she was “leaving behind a successful full-time career in entertainment in pursuit of a different balance and new adventures.” They added: “I’m sure many of us can relate to that goal, and we congratulate her and her husband for grabbing the opportunity.”

Boyd will remain with the company full-time through the end of the year. A search is underway for her successor. Boyd is expected back in January to help with the transition to Participant’s next corporate communications chief.

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