Janet Tobias


Janet Tobias is an Emmy award-winning director/producer with 20 years experience working in television for all three American networks, PBS, Discovery, and MSNBC. Ms. Tobias started her career at 60 Minutes as Diane Sawyer’s Associate Producer. She distinguished herself while working on a wide range of domestic and international stories: from a portrait of Japanese organized crime syndicate Yakuza, to investigations into the lack of regulation in infertility treatment and the abuse of boys in a Guatemalan orphanage.

Ms. Tobias moved with Ms. Sawyer in 1989 to ABCNews to launch Prime Time Live. At ABC she produced/directed both domestic and international ranging from investigations of alcohol abuse by pilots and sex tourism in Thailand, to a portrait of the Kuwaiti royal family after the first Gulf War. In 1992, Ms. Tobias took a hiatus from the networks to write a screenplay “THE VOLUNTEER” based on the life of a former member of the IRA who ultimately decided that the price of violence was too high. In 1993, she returned to the networks and moved into management at Dateline NBC. She also continued to produce/direct her own stories ranging: from examinations of environmental damage by the oil industry in Ecuador; to a historical look back at Soviet misinformation campaigns, to the murder of street kids in Rio De Janiero. Ms. Tobias left NBC News in 1995 to become an Executive Producer at VNI (which became New York Times Television.) There she supervised the production of a weekly foreign news program, distributed globally, as well as individual documentaries including an award-winning piece on rape as a war crime in Rwanda that appeared on Nightline. Ms. Tobias then returned to ABC News to head up editorial activities at its newly created Law and Justice Unit where she developed, directed and supervised legal and criminal justice stories for all ABC News programs: Nightline, 20/20, World News Tonight, and Good Morning America.

In 1998 Ms Tobias begin working as an executive with PBS, where she developed and produced programming not only for PBS but also joint projects with ABC and Discovery. She continued her directing and writing career winning two American Bar Association silver gavels for a four hour Frontline/Nightline series on the California juvenile justice system. In 2001, she launched Life 360, a weekly PBS series that combined documentary pieces with dramatic and comic monologues. Life 360 won an Emmy in its first season. In 2002, Ms. Tobias joined Sawyer Media Systems, a Sequoia Capital backed creator of video technology for the web. At Sawyer, Ms. Tobias was Vice President of Production, and a member of the executive team. Clients at Sawyer Media Systems included: Cisco, Genentech, Purina, Nextel, and Autodesk. At the same time, Ms. Tobias continued to be involved in documentary production through Sierra/Tango Productions, which developed and produced documentaries on a variety of social issues ranging from problems faced by returning Iraq war veterans to conflicts surrounding illegal immigration and border security.

In 2004, Tobias branched further into new media working as a founding partner of Ikana Health + Media. Ikana is a healthcare company that focuses on using technology, social media/networks, and storytelling to measurably improve people’s health. In addition to her National Emmy and Bar Association awards, other awards include:  2 Cine Golden Eagles, 2 Casey medals for meritorious journalism, a National Headliner Award, a Sigma Delta Chi Award, and honorable mention Robert F. Kennedy Journalism and Overseas Press Awards. Janet Tobias is a graduate of Yale University and a member of the Writers Guild of America. She serves on the boards of Healthright International, Healthbuilders/Rwanda Works, and on the advisory board of the East Harlem Health Outreach Partnership. In 2009, she served as a senior fellow at the Center for Sustainability and Social Innovation of the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, and is currently an adjunct assistant professor of medicine in the department of health evidence and policy at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and research professor of global public health in the NYU Global Institute of Public Health (GIPH).

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