John Ford is stepping down as general manager of NPACT, the trade association that represents more than 100 companies that produce nonfiction entertainment content. Michelle Van Kempen, the trade group’s head of policy and development, will serve as interim GM.
Ford, who’s been the head of the organization since 2015, said he’s leaving because of “potential conflicts of interest” arising from the recent sales the Justice Network and Quest Network, where he’s been the head of programming since their 2015 launch. He’ll be staying on in that post, but a spokesperson said that since the sale, he now might be in the position of hiring producers, which he hasn’t been until now. According to a statement released by NPACT, “Future plans to engage producers in his new position create a conflict with managing a producers’ association.”
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Said Ford: “It has been an honor to work with the creative entrepreneurs who literally built the unscripted business from scratch. The challenges of independent production are unrelenting, and to see the fellowship among NPACT members is truly humbling. I couldn’t be prouder of my time with NPACT and know Michelle and the team will continue moving the association forward with great energy and innovation.”
In 2015, Ford became the general manager of what was then the Nonfiction Producers Association. In 2017, the NPA merged with producers’ organization PactUS, creating NPACT.
“John has been a peerless leader, helping transform a nascent organization with big dreams – and many strong, rowdy opinions – into a mature powerhouse association,” the NPACT executive committee said in a statement. “With some exciting opportunities on the horizon, John made the difficult decision to step down; he has our immense gratitude and best wishes for the future. During the transition, we know NPACT will be in great hands with Michelle Van Kempen, whose contributions have encompassed not just outreach to the community and expanding our membership, but creating opportunities and access to innovative companies and services from which we all benefit.”
Said Van Kempen: “In five short years,” the organization’s roster has grown from the eight founding members of the NPA to the force it is today, with more than 100 NPACT member companies. John brought invaluable leadership and insights to NPACT through this period of tremendous growth. We’re bullish on the future as we build on John’s accomplishments by continuing to expand our services and to welcome new creators and entrepreneurs into the fold.”