Documentary non-profit Better Angels Society appoints new CEO


To Build Out Funding, Civic Outreach, and Education for American History Documentary Films

Washington, DC – June 29, 2023 – The Board of The Better Angels Society, the non-profit dedicated to sharing American history through documentary films, today announced the appointment of Katherine Malone-France as the next President and CEO, effective August 15, 2023. Malone-France will succeed Amy Margerum Berg, who has served as President since 2016.

Malone-France was selected following a national search led by trustees Peter Thoren and Greg Golkin. She is currently the Chief Preservation Officer at the National Trust, where she has successfully expanded the scope of preservation efforts and fostered stronger connections between historical knowledge and civic engagement. Under her leadership, the National Trust launched regranting initiatives worth over $18 million annually, developed programs like Backing Historic Small Restaurants and the Telling the Full History Fund, and established partnerships with artists and scholars to activate historic sites in innovative ways. She is also a Trustee of the International National Trusts Organization, a trustee of the Architects Foundation, and sits as an ex-officio Trustee of the White House Historical Association and the Filoli Center. She serves on the America250 Task Force on Parks, Preservation, and Public Spaces, and is a member of the First Ladies Association for Research and Education.

“We live at a moment when history is critically important to understanding who we are as a people and the future we will build together,” said Malone-France. “The Better Angels Society believes in the power of storytelling, based on in-depth historical research, to inform conversations about our past and write our next chapters of our shared stories. Film is a uniquely powerful tool that allows talented artists to uncover and tell riveting stories that can educate all of us, while also entertaining and engaging learners of all ages. I’m honored to step into this role as a continuation of my lifelong passion for exploring American history and building stronger connections between historical knowledge and civic engagement.”

Ken Burns, whose films are supported by The Better Angels Society and whose legacy serves as the underpinning of the Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film, said, “I applaud what Amy has accomplished over the last eight years. She has taken an idea about the power of filmmaking and engagement supported by patriotic philanthropists, and created an organization that each year provides a wide range of filmmakers with the critical support they need to bring their stories to life. This includes the organization’s efforts to encourage the next generation of filmmakers who are just developing their work. We’re very excited to have Katherine take the organization to the next level, working with its extraordinary board, staff, and dedicated partners, to continue to support new work and ensure that these important stories reach as many people as possible.”

“Katherine’s passion and expertise is strongly aligned with the mission of The Better Angels Society,” said Bobby Stein, Chair of The Better Angels Society Board of Trustees. “She has a ferocious appreciation for the power of history to engage diverse audiences and understands fully how stories anchored in our past help us to engage in productive conversations about the challenges we face today. We’re very excited to have her join us. We also applaud Amy for what she’s accomplished throughout her tenure, increasing the strength and reach of the organization that she is handing over to Katherine.”

Since it was founded, The Better Angels Society has raised $116.7 million to support the completion and distribution of American history documentaries. Over the last four years, the Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film has awarded $1.6 million to filmmakers, making it one of the largest award programs in documentary film. Through the Better Angels Lavine Fellowship and The Next Generation Angels Awards, they’ve provided young filmmakers and students with mentorship, education, and opportunities to advance their work.

About The Better Angels Society

The Better Angels Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating Americans about their history through documentary film. Their mission is to be the preeminent organization supporting American history documentary filmmakers, advancing the use of their body of work to promote civic engagement and educate generations of students and lifelong learners. They work to ensure historically significant films are completed, broadcast, promoted, and shared in ways that reach and inform as many people as possible through robust educational and civic outreach. The Society is currently raising funds for the films of Ken Burns and his team, as well their Better Angel Stories initiative, which provides funding for films on public media through partnerships with American Experience (GBH), American Masters (WNET), and WETA.