Kathy Im, MacArthur Foundation

TITLE: Director of Media, Culture and Special Initiatives

FUNDING AREAS: Documentaries, radio, television, nonprofit journalism, media

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IP TAKE: Im is the Director of the Media, Culture and Special Initiatives program at MacArthur and is on the front line when it comes to their work in support of documentaries for radio and television, nonprofit journalism, and "innovation in public and independent media."

PROFILE: As the Director of Media, Culture and Special Initiatives at the MacArthur Foundation, Kathy K. Im focuses closely on three main programs and projects: the Strengthening American Democracy initiative (this includes support of nonprofit media to educate the public about various core issues facing the country); the Migration Program (issues involving U.S. Immigration Policy and migrant workers rights); and, of course, Media.

Im is well-situated for her role in these areas. She currently sits on the board at the Center for Asian American Media, which is also a supporter of public media and documentary filmmaking, and is a member of Grantmakers in Film and Electronic Media. She is also a previous board chair at Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy and co-founder of Asian Giving Circle, an affiliate of the Chicago Community Trust. In 2007 she was a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow and is also a former Fellow with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Im garnered her bachelor's degree in government from Smith College and her master's in Public Policy from the University of Chicago, where she was a founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Chicago Policy Review.

Her background attests to the diverse experience Im brings to accomplishing the goals MacArthur wants to achieve through their various partnerships and grants. One of the innovative organizations MacArthur supports is the Bay Area Video Coalition. When asked about this partnership, Im explained the motivation behind MacArthur's grantmaking process: "As part of the Foundation's media work, we are pursuing a series of opportunity-based grants to public media organizations that are breaking new ground, solving difficult problems, and looking for ways to use technology effectively and creatively in the context of high-quality, noncommercial, nonfiction programming."

At a recent announcement of over $1 million in support of nine documentary films by the MacArthur Foundation, Im explained the MacArthur ethos even further:

"MacArthur's media grantmaking supports work that explores contemporary social issues with high quality reporting intended to inform, educate, and inspire reflection and action. [These] grantees tackle long-term and difficult issues through in-depth and compelling storytelling, illuminating under-reported domestic and international issues and creating empathy for various points of view."

Together, these explanations provide a succinct outline of what MacArthur seeks to support in its media grants and partnerships and Im remains at the center of this effort.