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Ben Sherwood Names 3 to Executive Team; Barbara Fedida, Susan Mercandetti return to ABC News

Four months into the top job at ABC News Ben Sherwood is building his executive team, and he’s tapped two former colleagues for leadership roles.

As we’ve been reporting, and is now official, Barbara Fedida is making a return to ABC News as SVP of talent and business. Fedida was talent VP at CBS News until February, departing amid an executive shuffle there. Fedida joined CBS News from ABC News in 2006, where she’d spent the previous 17 years, rising from production associate to producer to talent recruitment and development director.

Susan Mercandetti is also returning to ABC, after a run as executive editor at Random House. Mercandetti spent more than a decade at ABC News on “Good Morning America” and “Nightline.”

Sherwood is also bringing on Aol executive Joe Ruffolo as Senior VP of ABC News Digital. At Aol, Ruffolo was VP of AOL.com and Head of Current Programming. Ruffolo replaces Paul Slavin who, after 33 years with ABC News, left the company last week.

Fedida takes over for Amy Entelis who is leaving ABC News for Sucherman Consulting where she will be EVP of talent.

Fedida and Ruffolo start tomorrow. Mercandetti joins May 2.

> Update: Sherwood’s letter to staff, after the jump.

I’m happy to share news about new members of my senior team.

Barbara Fedida is returning to ABC News on Wednesday as Senior Vice President for Talent and Business. Many of you already know Barbara from her many years at ABC News as an award-winning producer for Peter Jennings both at World News Tonight and his documentary unit.

During her time at ABC, Barbara worked on virtually every major story. She covered the first and second Gulf Wars, the Timothy McVeigh execution, the Northridge earthquake, Pope John Paul’s visit to Cuba, and the drug war in South America. Barbara was also a key senior producer on many ABC News efforts including the Millennium broadcast, the attacks of September 11 and Peter Jennings’ 9/11 children’s special.

Barbara moved on to work in our standards and practices department and then became a talent executive who helped hire and advise many of you.

For the past several years, Barbara worked as the top talent executive at CBS News where she tried hard to compete with ABC News; she will be the first to tell you that it wasn’t easy.

The hiring and development of the very best journalists is a top priority for our news division. Barbara is a thoughtful, energetic and creative executive who will be charged primarily with attracting the finest reporters and producers in the world. She will also ensure that we do everything we can to develop and nurture the considerable talent already working within this organization.

Barbara is well known for her instincts and judgment. Her advice and counsel will be of great value to me – and all of you – in every aspect of our work and business.

Joe Ruffolo joins us Wednesday as Senior Vice President, ABC News Digital.

Specifically, Joe will be charged with building on the success of ABC News Digital and charting a bold course to greater impact, reach and revenue.

Joe is a proven leader, strategist and team player with valuable experience in key roles across the media landscape. From 1996 to 1998, Joe worked on the team that helped build CNN Interactive in Atlanta. He earned an MBA from Emory, worked at MTV Networks and AOL, negotiating and planning online content distribution and licensing partnerships around the globe. He also played a leading role developing new programming and launching sites.

Most recently, Joe served as vice president of AOL.com, one of top providers of news and information, and headed current programming. In that role, he managed homepage operations serving 15 million users per day and supervised daily video series.

Joe has roots in journalism and with our parent company. At Brown University, he worked in news at ABC-6 in Providence, Rhode Island. In graduate school, he interned for The Walt Disney Company. A news and media junkie, Joe is an avid runner, swimmer, and boxer – pursuits in which he has honed skills that will surely help him lead ABC News Digital into the future.

Susan Mercandetti returns to ABC News as Vice President for Business Development and Partnerships. I’ve known Susan for many years and have asked her to help lead our efforts finding new business opportunities and forging new alliances to expand our reach and distribute our high-quality content.

Susan has ABC News in her blood. She spent more than a decade at our news division, first as a producer for Good Morning America and then as a producer for Nightline from its very inception during the Iran hostage crisis. Over the years, Susan produced long form broadcasts, started a production company with Ted Koppel, and more recently, served as a consultant to us on various projects. Susan’s professional focus has always involved generating great ideas and developing excellent content. She left network news to venture into print, first as an editor at Vanity Fair and then at The New Yorker under Tina Brown.

She then moved to publishing, first as an editor at Miramax Books and then, most recently, as an executive editor at Random House. Many of her authors hail from television: she edited two New York Times number one best sellers with the late Tim Russert and a New York Times number one best seller with our own Bob Woodruff and his wife Lee. Last week, she published a book with Katie Couric of CBS News.

Susan is a rare talent with an outstanding record of bringing people and projects together for mutual advantage. She will play an essential role forging powerful new business relationships and helping to write the next chapter of this news organization.

Susan will come aboard on May 2nd.

Please join me in welcoming Barbara, Joe and Susan.

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