Knight Foundation Names New Program Director for Tallahassee

MIAMI — J. Michael Pate has joined Knight Foundation as program director for Tallahassee. As the former president and publisher of the Tallahassee Democrat, and chair of Knight’s local advisory committee, Pate brings a wealth of knowledge about the Tallahassee community and grant making.

As program director, Pate will work with local leaders as well as the advisory committee to find the most innovative opportunities for grant making. “We know that Mike Pate‘s close ties to Tallahassee will drive our transformational work, and his experience with our community advisory committee there will be an asset to us,” said Susan Patterson, director of Knight’s Community Partners Program.

Pate is immediate past chair for the Community Foundation of North Florida, a member of the board of trustees for the Florida State University Foundation and a member of the Board of Visitors for the Florida A&M University School for Journalism and Graphic Communication. He is a graduate of Florida State University.

Knight Foundation also welcomes another new program director, Suzanna Valdez, who will oversee grant making in Miami. Valdez comes to Knight with an extensive background in public affairs, most notably serving in the Clinton Administration, where she was special assistant to the president and later deputy chief of staff at the Department of Labor. Most recently, she served as an executive director of the Task Force on Television Measurement, where her duties included evaluating the impact of measurement technology on minority audiences.

Valdez is a graduate of the University of Texas Pan American in Edinburg, Texas, and holds a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

“A combination of entrepreneurial spirit and experience implementing big ideas will drive these new program directors, who will no doubt be effective leaders in our communities,” said Patterson.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes journalism excellence worldwide and invests in the vitality of Tallahassee, Miami and other communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. To see and hear stories of Knight’s transformational funding, visit