Nancy Hammond, BS ’92, never planned on attending college, let alone rising to the C-suite.
Hammond was the youngest of five children in a one-income family, and after sacrificing to give all their children a Catholic high-school education, her parents couldn’t afford to send her to college. So, despite the advice of her guidance counselor, she didn’t take college entry courses and instead planned for a career as a secretary.
Her first full-time job out of high school was as a stenographer in the Buffalo Public School system. But she quickly realized this wasn’t the career path for her, so she enrolled in evening courses at UB.
“I wanted to do more,” she says. “The evening schedule allowed me to continue to work full time, while giving me the opportunity to begin working in entry-level accounting positions as I progressed through the program.”
After graduating, she worked for the City of Buffalo Accounting office, later moving to the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library where she served as supervising accountant.
“I was fortunate to be doing a job I enjoyed for an institution that was near and dear to my heart, and was a pillar of my upbringing,” says Hammond. “It’s important for me to believe in the mission of the organization I work for.”
In 2005, Hammond was looking to take the next step in her career, but there weren’t any near-term growth opportunities at the library. So one day, as she was streaming the local NPR station, she saw the job posting for controller at the WNY Public Broadcasting Association, decided to apply — and got the job.
That’s when her career in public broadcasting skyrocketed. In 2009 she was promoted to vice president of finance and chief financial officer, became senior vice president of finance and chief financial officer in 2015, and was named to her current position of executive vice president and chief operating officer in 2017.
In this role, she’s responsible for the oversight and management of all financial, human resource and building facilities functions of the Association, which operates PBS member television station WNED, as well as NPR member radio station WBFO and the noncommercial classical radio station, 94.5 WNED-FM.
Hammond says she’s proud to be part of an organization that is a trusted community asset.
“We are much more than a television and radio station and have developed important partnerships with other nonprofits and businesses,” she says. “We are not afraid to address issues that are important to our community, and we do so in a way that educates and encourages exploration, while being fair and sensitive.”
Along the way, Hammond says her mentors have been invaluable, and advises the next generation of leaders to soak in every bit of knowledge.
“I have been fortunate to have had mentors in every job I’ve held,” she says. “To this day, I still draw on what I have learned from my mentors and try to emulate them in my career.”
Written by Kevin Manne