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Allison J. Davis

Television and non-profit executive Allison Jeanne Davis was born on April 7, 1953 in New York City, New York to Doris Nelson and Walter Davis. She graduated from Boston University with her B.S. degree in journalism in 1975.

Upon graduation, Davis was hired as a writer and producer for WBZ-TV in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1978, she was hired at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she worked as an on-air reporter. From 1981 to 1998, Davis was employed at NBC, where she served as a writer-producer and as an executive producer for NBC News and MSNBC.com. At NBC, Davis built the original team of “cyberjournalists” overseeing the first original news content on the internet. She also helped launch MSNBC and, from 1994 through 1997, she served as the first executive producer of MSNBC on the Internet. Davis developed, wrote and produced The Scholastic-NBC News Video from 1993 until 1997. She also worked as a writer and producer for NBC News’ Today, as well as a producer for the NBC News broadcasts Monitor, First Camera, and NBC Nightly News.

From 1998 to 2004, Davis served as senior vice president/creative of CBS and Dunbar Productions. At CBS, she created and executive produced the public television series “The Reading Club”. Then, from 2004 until 2009, Davis worked as vice president, chief operating officer, and special assistant to the Jackie Robinson Foundation's chief executive. In 2008, she founded Coopty Productions, which provides organizations with video production services. Davis was then appointed director of communications and media at New York’s Riverside Church in 2009, and, in 2011, she returned to the Jackie Robinson Foundation, where she was hired as director of communications and worked on the promotion for the Jackie Robinson movie 42. Davis has also been an adjunct professor at CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism, Howard University’s School of Communications and the City College of New York.

Davis was a founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists, where she served as its first parliamentarian, and later as its vice president. She was also on the founding board of the National Visionary Leadership Project, an oral history project established by Camille Cosby, and serves on the board of Poets & Writers.

Davis has received numerous awards and honors, including two Women in Communications Awards and several Emmy nominations. She also received Boston University’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009, has received the University’s Alumni Award for Service to Profession twice, and has been a National News Emmys judge since 2009. Davis also contributed to the 2001 book Global News Perspectives on the Information Age, edited by Tony Silvia.

Davis and her husband, Robert G. Wright, live in Teaneck, N.J. They are the parents of two sons: Tyler and Cooper.

Allison Davis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 13, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.002

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/13/2014

Last Name

Davis

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Jeanne

Schools

Bryant School

Benjamin Franklin Junior High School

White Oak Junior High School

Springbrook High School

Boston University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Allison

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

DAV30

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

Success Is Your Best Revenge.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Jersey

Birth Date

4/7/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Englewood

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Lobster

Short Description

Television executive and non-profit executive Allison J. Davis (1953 - ) was an executive producer for NBC News and MSNBC, and senior executive of CBS, Dunbar Productions and the Jackie Robinson Foundation. She was one of the founding members of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Employment

WBZ TV

KDKA TV

NBC

CBS

Jackie Robinson Foundation

Coopty Productions

Riverside Church

City University of New York

Howard University

City College of New York

Favorite Color

Royal Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Allison J. Davis' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Allison J. Davis lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Allison J. Davis describes her mother, Doris Nelson

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Allison J. Davis talks about tracing her maternal ancestors

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Allison J. Davis describes her paternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Allison J. Davis talks about how her parents met and her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Allison J. Davis describes her earliest memories including having tuberculosis

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Allison J. Davis describes moving to Teaneck, New Jersey in 1958

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Allison J. Davis describes the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up in Teaneck, New Jersey

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Allison J. Davis talks about the busing program in Teaneck, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Allison J. Davis shares her school memories

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Allison J. Davis talks about her relationship with her brothers

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Allison J. Davis shares her holiday memories

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Allison J. Davis describes her parents

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Allison J. Davis talks about her Caribbean ancestry

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Allison J. Davis describes the food she ate while growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Allison J. Davis describes her personality

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Allison J. Davis talks about her father's political activism

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Allison J. Davis talks about the telegram that President John F. Kennedy sent to her father

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Allison J. Davis talks about moving to an all-white neighborhood in Silver Spring, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Allison J. Davis talks about her mother's social life

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Allison J. Davis remembers when her father discovered her brother's baseball talent

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Allison J. Davis talks about the relationship between her father and President Richard Nixon

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Allison J. Davis remembers her family's political discussions and her involvement with the Black Panther Party

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Allison J. Davis talks about her father's concerns about the labor movement

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Allison J. Davis describes attending Springbrook High School in Silver Spring, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Allison J. Davis talks about her brother's education

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Allison J. Davis talks about attending Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Allison J. Davis describes how her studies at Boston University prepared her for the working world

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Allison J. Davis describes joining the Black Panther Party at Boston University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Allison J. Davis talks about her brief involvement with the Nation of Islam

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Allison J. Davis recalls her parent's reaction to her graduating from college early

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Allison J. Davis describes working at WBZ-TV in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Allison J. Davis talks about her mentor and the lack of African Americans at WBZ

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Allison J. Davis describes her preference for being a news producer

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Allison J. Davis tells the story of how she became a founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ)

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Allison J. Davis describes the original members of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ)

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Allison J. Davis describes Chuck Stone's leadership of the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Allison J. Davis describes the vision of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ)

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Allison J. Davis shares her memories of HistoryMaker Vernon Jarrett

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Allison J. Davis talks about her husband, Robert Wright, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Allison J. Davis talks about her husband, Robert Wright, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Allison J. Davis talks about producing a story on lottery corruption at KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Allison J. Davis talks about producing a story on overweight cops at KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Allison J. Davis talks about working at NBC Nightly News from 1981 to 1983

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Allison J. Davis talks about producing the television news program, "Monitor"

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Allison J. Davis talks about producing "Summer Sunday"

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Allison J. Davis describes what she learned in her early career as a television news producer

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Allison J. Davis describes her schedule while producing "Summer Sunday"

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Allison J. Davis talks about becoming a producer for the "Today Show" in 1984

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Allison J. Davis describes her schedule as a working mother at the "Today Show"

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Allison J. Davis tells the story of the births of her children while working at the "Today Show"

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Allison J. Davis remembers producing stories in Africa and Cuba for the "Today Show"

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Allison J. Davis describes the audience's reaction to "Today in Africa"

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Allison J. Davis talks about General Electric's takeover of NBC News

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Allison J. Davis comments on racial representation in news reporting

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Allison J. Davis remembers Bryant Gumbel's interview with Ike Turner

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Allison J. Davis describes Bryant Gumbel's personality

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Allison J. Davis talks about Bryant Gumbel's leaked memo in 1989

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Allison J. Davis talks about Today Show hosts Deborah Norville and Katie Couric

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Allison J. Davis talks about producing Scholastic-NBC News Video

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Allison J. Davis talks about helping NBC News transition to the digital realm

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Allison J. Davis describes the beginning of cyberjournalism at NBC Supernet

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Allison J. Davis talks about backlash from the development team after she was featured on The New York Times business page

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Allison J. Davis talks about MSNBC

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Allison J. Davis talks about her work with Bryant Gumbel's Dunbar Productions

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Allison J. Davis recalls witnessing the events of September 11, 2001

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Allison J. Davis describes her husband's health problems

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Allison J. Davis talks about her sons

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Allison J. Davis describes her frustration with nonprofit work, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Allison J. Davis describes her frustration with nonprofit work, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Allison J. Davis describes her nonprofit work

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Allison J. Davis describes working on the movie 42 for the Jackie Robinson Foundation

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Allison J. Davis talks about her desire to continue telling stories

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Allison J. Davis talks about her lack of career regrets

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Allison J. Davis comments on the current state of television news

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Allison J. Davis comments on the success of online journalism

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Allison J. Davis talks about her parents' deaths

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Allison J. Davis describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Allison J. Davis reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Allison J. Davis talks about her pride in her family

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

10$6

DATitle
Allison J. Davis talks about the busing program in Teaneck, New Jersey
Allison J. Davis tells the story of how she became a founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ)
Transcript
I was also a part of the first sixth grade school because as the, we started to matriculate through elementary school, we discovered that the schools now were becoming a little bit more segregated than--so we segregated, there was a, segregated elementary schools. And we'd all meet up in junior high school. And we didn't know each other. So they decided to bus all the black kids (laughter) to the various white schools in town and then bring all of the sixth graders to one central sixth grade school. And that's been written about, you know, because it was an inter--it was a voluntary busing program that was so very successful back then. And so I was part of that sixth grade.$$So describe it? So the busing, how was the busing?$$The busing, so they took the black kids from my side of town from kindergarten through fifth grade, and they dispersed them to the various elementary schools in town of which, at that time there were seven. And then they took the sixth grade, they took the school which was my home school and made it into a central sixth grade school and bused all the whites to that sixth grade school (laughter). So we all went to the sixth grade together so it eased the, what could have been a tense environment when we all got to middle--seventh grade, junior high school because that's when things can get a little nasty with kids. And so, and everybody's feeling their oats. And so they decided to get us all familiar with each other in sixth grade.$Now, around this time, I also see that--let's see, you joined in 19--you joined WBZ in 19--$$Seventy-five [1975].$$--seventy five [1975]. Now, what about this, what about NABJ [National Association of Black Journalists] and you serving the role as parliamentarian? Is that in 1975?$$It is. So I'm in, we have a small group of media workers in Boston [Massachusetts]. And I'm a part of that, but not, you know, not a big part of that. And it was just fledging. And in December of 1975, December 15th, I guess, I'm in Washington [D.C.] and at home, visiting with my parents. Number one, because I would have to work Christmas in Boston. And you kind of forget that news happens at Christmas, (laughter) on Christmas day and Thanksgiving. I was the low person on the totem pole. So I was gonna be, I was gonna be in Boston in Christmas. So I'm there a week before or ten days before, and a friend of mine, Bonnie Nance (ph.) from Chicago [Illinois], she is in Washington working as a, the PR person for U.S. News and World Report. And she's there with a woman named Jeanie Thornton, and she says that the black elected officials are meeting. And there's a party. Why don't you come into the city? And I said, yeah, what the hay? I'm not doing anything. So I asked to borrow a car, and I get there at about 4:00, you know, 'cause we're all gonna meet for drinks, and then we're gonna go to this black elected officials event, and I don't remember if it was the Shore Room, the Sheridan, it starts with a--so I get there. And both of the ladies are there, Jeanie and Bonnie. And they said, oh, by the way, there's this meeting that they've asked a lot of black journalists to come to. You have a couple, an hour or so? And I said, I don't want to go to a meeting, but, you know, fine. So I get to the conference room where this meeting is held, not knowing anybody but Bonnie and Jeanie. And Chuck Stone [HM] who was at the Philadelphia Bulletin [Philadelphia Daily News] at the time is chairing this meeting. And so I'm sitting there, and I'm somewhat looking like the sullen teenager because I'm all anxious to get to the party. And I'm sitting there and finally, they're voting on things, and they are messing up Robert's Rules of Order. And I said, "Mr. Chairman", and I said, "point of order". Now, Chuck is smart. He knew what "point of order" was, but nobody else knew. And he said, "your point?" And I gave whatever point it was, and he looks at me and he says, "and what's your name?" And I said--"and your affiliation?" I said, "my name is Allison Davis, and I'm at WBZ Television in Boston." And he said, "well, Ms. Davis"--no, I said, "and so and what is this we're doing here?" And he said, "we're starting an organization." And I said, "what's the name of this organization?" And he said, "everybody, what's the name? Are we gonna call ourselves the National Association of Black Journalists?" And everybody said, "yeah, yeah, yeah." And then I said, "okay." And he looks over, he looks over to me, and he goes, "and by the way, Ms. Davis, you are our parliamentarian." And I said, "of what again?" (Laughter) And he said, "the National Association of Black Journalists." And from there, I became the parliamentarian. I wrote the original constitution. And I am now rewriting the constitution for consideration this year.