Longtime ABC Family Exec Kate Juergens Exits
ABC Family is making big changes.
Executive vp original programming and development and chief creative officer Kate Juergens is exiting the network after 10 years, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
As part of an internal restructuring of business strategy; planning and development; and scheduling and acquisitions departments, Lynn Stepanian, senior vp acquisitions and scheduling, will also be leaving as the position will be eliminated.
"Kate’s departure is one of two significant organizational changes in our world," ABC Family president Tom Ascheim wrote in an internal memo to staff. "The second shift is based on my reviewing our structure, goals and needs for the past six months. I’ve decided to combine Business Strategy, Planning & Development and Scheduling & Acquisitions under one roof and one leader. I think this blend will make us most ready to take on the challenges of our ever more complex universe."
Juergens has been with ABC Family since 2004, helping create the network's brand-defining scripted programs including The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Pretty Little Liars, Switched at Birth, The Fosters and Chasing Life. She was charged with overseeing and being responsible for the creation of the network's primetime original series, movies and specials.
Prior to joining ABC Family, Juergens was senior vp development at The WB, where she was responsible for series programming and oversaw Smallville, Gilmore Girls, Angel and Reba. She began her career at NBC, where she held various positions, including vp programming, and was involved with Will and Grace, The West Wing and Frasier. She was also a producer at Primary Entertainment. Juergens appeared THR's Women in Entertainment Power 100 list in 2009.
Stepanian was previously vp strategy, acquisitions and scheduling for TV Guide Network and was at The CW as senior vp programming and distribution for The CW Plus. She also served in the same capacity for The WB 100+ Station Group from 1998 through 2006. Stepanian earned a bachelors in communications and Spanish at UCSB and studied at the University of Madrid in Spain.
ABC Family is cable's No. 1 network in primetime among women 18-34, a title the Disney-owned channel has held for two summers in a row. ABC Family is a top five network among women 18-49 and viewers 12-34.
For ABC Family's part, the network has several pilots vying for series orders: Stitchers, Recovery Road, Unstrung and comedy Work Mom. It recently ordered to series hidden-camera prank show Freak Out.
Read the full memos below.
I wanted to let you know about some changes that are happening in our shop. A few months ago, Kate came to talk to me about her future and what she was feeling excited about. Ultimately, she felt that she needed to make a change. She has been here for over ten years and has accomplished much. She has also seen a lot of transition and had decided that she was ready to explore something new. I was disappointed but really understand anyone’s yen for a change of scene. I asked her to please stay on through pilot season and the summer launches and she graciously agreed. Kate just handed me our pilots – her best work she thinks – and so having fulfilled her promise it’s time to let her go and explore.
I want to acknowledge Kate’s tremendous contributions to our network. She steered the team that helped create our brand-defining original programming including “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” “Pretty Little Liars,” “Switched at Birth,” “The Fosters” and most recently, “Chasing Life.“ These shows have put our mark on the cultural zeitgeist -- a legacy of which any of us should be proud.
Kate’s departure is one of two significant organizational changes in our world. The second shift is based on my reviewing our structure, goals and needs for the past six months. I’ve decided to combine Business Strategy, Planning & Development and Scheduling & Acquisitions under one roof and one leader. I think this blend will make us most ready to take on the challenges of our evermore complex universe. Unfortunately this reorganization means that Lynn Stepanian will be leaving us as we eliminate her position. Lynn has always given us her very best and I wish her all the enormous success she deserves. I will be announcing a new leader for this department in the near future. We will also begin to look for Kate’s replacement and I will be back to you with news as we have it.
I know change is hard, and changes in the people that work here are the hardest. However, I remain ever more confident in our future, in no small part because of how skillful and smart all of you are. I hope you will join me in wishing Kate and Lynn well and in helping their teams through this transition and into our new future. My door is (almost) always open. Come by if you have questions or just want to talk.
I know that you’ve already heard from Tom on this, but I wanted to reach out to you directly as well. Several months ago, I spoke to Tom about my decision to move on from ABC Family. At that time, he was relatively new in his role, and while he understood my decision, he asked if I’d stay on through our pilot process and the launch of our summer series. I didn’t want to leave him, or any of you, in the lurch, so I agreed. And here we now are…pilots delivered and series launched. I’m sorry to have had to keep this from you all this time, but I didn’t want any of you to worry or be distracted. You are all too good at your jobs. What we’ve been able to accomplish, from the channel-defining success of Secret Life of the American Teenager to the social media sensation of Pretty little Liars to the ground breaking The Fosters is something of which all of we should be incredibly proud. And I think our just-delivered pilots are some of our best development ever.
Please know that this decision was not arrived at lightly, nor was it done without a lot of soul-searching. But in the end, it was just the right thing for me. And you know, when I make a decision, that’s pretty much that.
Take care. I’ll be rooting for you, and for ABC Family.