Dee Bagwell Haslam (’86)

Category: Awards | Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna

2013 Distinguished Alumna Award Winner

Dee Bagwell Haslam fell in love with television when she first sat in the peanut gallery on The Howdy Doody Show. After graduating from what was then UT’s College of Education, Haslam started her career in advertising but transitioned to production at her father’s company, Cinetel Productions. After Cinetel was sold to Scripps in 1994, she and Rob Lundgren launched RIVR Media.

As executive producer and chief executive officer of the RIVR Media companies, Haslam led the team in the production of more than 80 series and documentaries. In addition, RIVR Media Interactive was formed and launched Moving Picture Books—an award-winning line of animated children’s books. In June 2012, she and her father started Nest Features, an independent film company that produces films in and about the American South.

Throughout her career, Haslam has received many awards and honors, including Emmy nominations for Whale Wars and Trading Spaces, and a Parents’ Choice Award for Moving Picture Books as well as a Television Academy Honors Award and The New York Festivals World Medal. The company has also received numerous Telly and Addy awards for long- and short-format programming. She is a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Women in Cable Television, the Society of International Business Fellows, C200, and the International Women’s Forum.

She and her husband, Jimmy, purchased the Cleveland Browns football team in 2012. The pair have focused on reinvigorating the Browns and have become active members of Cleveland’s philanthropic community. In 2019, the family invested in Major League Soccer (MLS) with the purchase of Columbus Crew Soccer Club, one of the founding MLS teams. She and Lori Stryer partnered at RIVR Media as executive producers, ensuring excellent content for years to come.

Haslam currently serves on the Haslam College of Business Dean’s Advisory Council. She is a past member of the UT Development Council, the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences Board of Visitors, the Alumni Legislative Council, and the UT Foundation. She, along with her husband Jimmy, served as vice chairs for the Campaign for Tennessee. Their personal investments have strengthened UT’s academic reputation by establishing the Haslam Scholars program, a premier honors program that provides unprecedented opportunities for some of the best and brightest students. Further investments strengthened top-ranked academic programs such as the Marco Institute, the Forensic Anthropology Center, and the Cinema Studies program.

In the community, Haslam is chair of the board for Lakeshore Park. She volunteers as a board member of the Emerald Youth Foundation and the State Collaborative on Reforming Education. She serves on the boards of the United Way of Greater Cleveland, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, University Hospital Systems, the Greater Cleveland Partnership, the Greater Columbus Partnership, and the Cleveland Orchestra. She also serves on ExcelinEd, the national board for education reform, and is a member of the MLS Board of Governors.