Leslie Wilcox

Photo from Roberta Wong Murray

Photo from Roberta Wong Murray

Hawaii’s own Leslie Wilcox, president and CEO of PBS Hawaii, recently was honored with a 2013 Women Who Make A Difference Award by the International Women’s Forum for her leadership and public service.

The award presentation took place as part of the International Women’s Forum Global Leadership Conference at a gala in the harbor-side Vancouver Convention Center with more than 1,500 people in attendance, one of them the premier of British Columbia.

“So she was the reason for the guys talking into their lapels near the stage,” Wilcox says.

Wilcox, who was featured on MidWeek‘s cover Feb. 24, 1988, and again July 18, 2007, was nominated by Hawaii Women’s Forum, a group she holds in high regard.

“I admire [them] for their authenticity and ‘can do’ attitude,” she says. “They didn’t mention their nomination to me until I was chosen as one of eight winners internationally, so it came as a complete surprise.”

For Wilcox, the significance of the award was a chance to meet exceptional women from other countries and to see what they’re doing with the professional and personal resources available to them.

“What struck me most in the women I got to know was their comfort level in just being themselves and relating to others from diverse backgrounds,” she says.

The professionalism and positive influence that earned Wilcox this international honor can be seen at PBS Hawaii, where she always is striving to create a better public-service media outlet.

“A key word for PBS Hawaii this year is ‘transmedia,’ as we create or adapt content for different media platforms,” she says. “We’re not just oneway television anymore; there are a lot of digital screens to serve.

“Perhaps the most powerful one is the smallest – the screen on your smartphone, where video use is exploding. We’re thinking a great deal about what people will want and need from public-service media in the future.”

She also praises PBS Hawaii’s statewide student newscast, HIKI NO, a weekly television show in which students learn 21st century skills as they find, research, compile and present stories.

According to Wilcox, under the guidance of the teachers and PBS Hawaii advisers, the students reach for national PBS journalism standards.

“And we’re looking forward to the next season of Downton Abbey debuting in January, a runaway hit with a crazy wide cross-section of viewers, including people you’d never expect,” she adds.