Brookline Interactive Group (BIG) Executive Director to Depart

(Brookline, Mass. September 5th, 2023) After nine years of serving at the helm at Brookline Interactive Group (BIG), executive director Kathy Bisbee is departing to take a job closer to home. Bisbee previously ran two community media centers for seven years in central California, developing youth media programs and bridging the digital divide, a field she will be rejoining at the end of this month to facilitate a regional coalition throughout four counties focused on digital equity in western Massachusetts.

While she’s looking forward to her shorter commute, she says she’ll deeply miss the Brookline community and working closely on television, virtual reality, filmmaking productions and training with BIG’s staff and members, as well as working with local government, youth and BIG’s nonprofit partners in Brookline.

“It’s been an incredible honor to serve the community of Brookline, facilitating the community’s dialogue with itself, expanding the transparency and accessibility of local government, and amplifying voices we don’t hear enough in mainstream media or in town leadership,” Bisbee shared.

Bisbee feels confident that BIG’s diverse leadership team of staff and board will be effective at continuing the work. Support from donors and recent grants helped to develop new civic information programs like Civic Brookline, and media educational programs and partnerships that brought in over $117k in grants in 2022-23, three times as much as the organization had ever raised in a single year. In 2022, BIG was awarded two ARPA grants totaling over $1.3 million towards a town wide hybridization project, building seven public locations that can be used for hybrid meeting coverage, and conducting a community listening project. The listening project, in partnership with, is interviewing hundreds of residents and is aimed at understanding the media and technology needs of Brookline residents, and improving current digital equity resources through media and Internet literacy, youth programming, and access to tools and equipment.

Heather Hamilton, former Select board member and chair, has been named as interim director, and Bisbee thinks with Hamilton’s help, BIG is well positioned to build a sustainable future even as the traditional funding from cable fees drops.

“With past support from Town Meeting and during the upcoming contract negotiations with the Town, I hope that the community will support BIG through both donations and greater funding from the Town.” BIG currently receives just 2% of the available cable fees to the Town, which is rapidly declining due to cord cutters.”

“The Town receives 3% of these funds, about $550K that goes directly into the general fund of the Town of Brookline,” Bisbee said. “I think BIG has proven its worth and I hope that the partnership with the Town and community continues to be mutually-beneficial.”

Bisbee cited other possible funding sources that could supplement support from the town, such as a bill in the state legislature that could fund community media throughout the state with a fee on streaming subscribers, similar to the way that cable fees have funded 38 years of BIG’s community media work in Brookline. Other sustainability initiatives can be made via a statewide budget appropriation to fund civic media organizations like BIG, such as the one championed for the past two years by State Representative Tommy Vitolo.

During Bisbee’s tenure, BIG provided essential communications services during the pandemic and added new programs providing online and on site media programs for seniors, youth, and families. BIG developed content that educated, entertained and supported the needs of residents and kept the community informed by airing meetings of town wide committees such as the pandemic small business meetings aired by BIG and archived on their channels.

She was also the founder of the Public VR Lab, the first ever publicly-accessible virtual reality lab and education center, and was a two-year fellow at MIT’s Open Doc Lab. She and her team co-produced a virtual reality storytelling initiative and presented it to world leaders at the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA) in December of 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya.

A proponent of creating a more welcoming and diverse organization, Bisbee co-led a committee to fund a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) commitment. BIG will begin working this fall to explore ways to remove any barriers to participation and to reach a broader network of community members who have a story to tell or use new technology.

Bisbee leaves behind a solid track record of reinventing community media, both in Brookline and beyond. “I think our XR and Covid times work created a culture of innovation and adaptive leadership at BIG, and I think that will continue. Community television isn’t television anymore, it’s all forms of media making, journalism, storytelling, AI, XR, social media, podcasting, and helping folks understand how to use these new technologies. It’s community photo nights at Brookline Housing. It’s a sports journalism program for high school students, or a community hackathon event on a Saturday. It’s an intergenerational project for seniors, and coverage of Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day events. I hope Brookline sees this innovative approach and funds this work for decades to come.”

BIG’s board of directors is currently finalizing their national search process for an executive director, and the announcement will posted soon at