Management shake-up at ABC Family; Kate Juergens departs

Kate Juergens, who has served as ABC Family's chief creative officer, was passed over for the cable network's top job, which apparently contributed to her decision to step down.
(Craig Sjodin / ABC Family)

Kate Juergens, a key architect of the programming renaissance at ABC Family, is leaving the popular cable network.

The Walt Disney Co. owned channel announced Juergens’ resignation Tuesday afternoon. It was part of a management restructuring following the December hiring of Tom Ascheim, a former Sesame Workshop executive, as president of ABC Family.

Juergens, who has served as the channel’s chief creative officer, was passed over for the top job, which apparently contributed to her decision to leave the network.

“Several months ago, I spoke to Tom about my decision to move on from ABC Family,” Juergens wrote in a memo to the staff. “He asked if I’d stay on through our pilot process and the launch of our summer series. I didn’t want to leave him, or any of you, in the lurch, so I agreed.”


After delivering this year’s crop of new shows, she said, it was time to go.

Juergens has long been an influential member of the channel’s creative team. She was one of the first high-level television executives to understand the nuances and sensibilities of young viewers commonly known as millennials -- a recognition that allowed ABC Family to outpace its more established competitors.

Millennials generally exhibit a softer edge than predecessors in Generation X, which gravitate to snarky humor and brash reality shows. Millennials, in contrast, seem just as comfortable with scripted dramas and comedies with heart-warming characters -- which became ABC Family’s specialty.

Juergens’ programming tastes have been on prominent display for many years. While at the WB network she helped develop the popular “Gilmore Girls.”


Juergens joined ABC Family in 2004. There, she helped mold such shows as “Pretty Little Liars,” “The Fosters,” “Switched at Birth,” “Melissa & Joey,’ “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” and “Lincoln Heights.”

“These shows have put our mark on the cultural zeitgeist -- a legacy of which any of us should be proud,” Ascheim said in an email to the staff.

Ascheim said a search was on for Juergens’ replacement.

Lynn Stepanian, senior vice president of acquisitions and scheduling, also is leaving the network. Her position was being eliminated, Ascheim said.


“I’ve decided to combine business strategy, planning and development, and scheduling and acquisitions under one roof and one leader,” Ascheim said. “I think this blend will make us most ready to take on the challenges of our evermore complex universe.”

Twitter: @MegJamesLAT