About Us

The Nonfiction Producers Association (NPA) is the first and largest professional body created to serve the non-fiction TV business in the US, offering vital information and assistance to production companies and production employees. NPA conveys the strength and value of the industry, promoting best practices that ensure production employees, independent contractors, vendors and other stakeholders have a voice and platform for meaningful discussion, which promotes the continued success and welfare within the nonfiction television industry. 

The NPA has fifty-seven member companies as of March 2017, based across the United States and Canada.  Each member pays annual dues to support the Association’s staff and activities, and members are actively involved in running their Association.  Production companies serve as executive board, board and task force members, lending their expertise to the lasting good of the entire industry. Associate Members provide services to production companies and lend their expertise to the membership. Qualifying companies interested in joining the association are invited to contact us here.


Meet The Team


John Ford

John is General Manager of the NPA, overseeing its strategy and daily operations.


From 1989-2003, John Ford held senior executive positions at Discovery Networks (US), including president of new media, president of content for Discovery Networks, US, founding president of Discovery Health Channel and Discoveryhealth.com; he also served as executive vice president and general manager of TLC (acquired by Discovery in 1991) and led TLC from 1991-99.

From 2003-2007, he served as executive vice president of programming at National Geographic Channel, leading the network’s total programming and ratings turnaround.

Ford was named president and general manager of Discovery Channel in 2007 and served through the end of 2009, and served as president and general manager of Discovery’s Military Channel and Discovery Times Channel, whose conversion to Investigation Discovery (ID) he initiated.

Since 2011 Ford has run John Ford Media, LLC. He served as head of creative at the short-form content advisor SyncSense, whose clients included TNT, ABC, NGC and Travel Channel. Ford Media's clients have included WE tv, Travel Channel, RLTV and NGC, as well as several non-fiction production companies.

Under his leadership, Ford’s channels earned numerous primetime, and news and documentary Emmy awards, and two Peabody Awards. As a network executive, he has garnered hundreds of production credits as executive producer and executive in charge of production.

In January 2015, Ford and a team of partners launched Justice Network, a digital multicast network devoted to true-crime programming. He remains head of programming at Justice.

Since July 2015, Ford has also served as general manager of the Non-Fiction Producers Association (NPA), the first professional body created to represent the non-fiction content production business in the United States. Launched in 2014, the NPA’s membership currently includes 38 US production companies.

Ford began his cable career as a vice president at Discovery Channel. Prior to that he worked for public television in Dallas, Washington, DC and Philadelphia.

Michelle Van Kempen

Michelle is Head of Policy and Development for the NPA, involved in policy issues, strategy and operations, industry events, and member services.

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A veteran television production executive, Michelle was co-principal and executive producer at Film Garden Entertainment in Los Angeles for 20 years, where she oversaw all business, production and daily operations of the prolific production company, and served as executive producer on over 600 hours of content, including such diverse series as Platinum Weddings and Amazing Wedding Cakes [WEtv], and Hogs Gone Wild [Discovery Channel]. During her tenure, Film Garden pioneered a wide array of nonfiction genres, from the groundbreaking 1995 formatted docusoap series A Wedding Story [TLC]; to weight-loss competitions like Body Challenge [Discovery Health]; food travelogues like Taste of America [Travel Channel]; stunt/docudrama mash-ups like Carpocalypse [Spike]; and a wide range of character-driven reality such as Keeping Up with the Joneses [BET]; to name just a few.

Prior to her career in television, Michelle was an orchestral flutist, and she continues to perform today. Currently, in addition to her responsibilities with the NPA, Ms. Van Kempen serves as Founder and Executive Director of the Youth Orchestra Project, a non-profit organization that provides classical music education, instruction and performance opportunities to young people.

Katy O'Connor

Research Analyst and Member Services, Katy assists in day to day management, operations, industry events, research, and member services.

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Katy graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University, majoring in Telecommunications and Psychology. While attending school, she worked as a Segment Producer for WTIU-PBS’s program, The Friday Zone, producing educationally centered and entertaining content for children.

Katy moved to New York, interning simultaneously with Parts & Labor Films and Intrinsic Value Films providing script coverage and performing administrative duties before landing an internship with Lincoln Center Festival. While at Lincoln Center Festival, she worked primarily in artist services such as applying for work visas on behalf of visiting performing artists as well as coordinating transportation and hospitality. She eventually worked her way up to the Assistant to the Director. She joined the NPA in December 2015.

Leslie Oren

Leslie spearheads public relations for the NPA - from press communications on NPA initiatives and membership to creating messaging for all relevant issues and handling crisis management. 

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For nearly two decades, Leslie Oren has been a public relations and image-management executive and consultant in Los Angeles, working primarily in television.

Babygrande PR, founded by Leslie in 2008, specializes in entertainment public relations, with an emphasis on content creation.

Orchestrating campaigns that encompass corporate strategy and communications, as well as development, distribution and programming, clients include Pilgrim Media Group; the Leftfield Entertainment group (including Leftfield Pictures, Loud TV, Outpost Entertainment and Riot Creative); True Entertainment; Original Media; 3 Ball Entertainment; A+E Networks/FYI; the Z Living network and the Non-Fiction Producers Association (NPA), with longtime/project clients including Fox Television Studios and Game Show Network, among others.

In addition to representing television studios, production companies, producers and networks (as well as select non-television corporate clients), Babygrande also has handled personal PR for key television and film executives, as well as for various entrepreneurs across multiple disciplines.

Prior to forming Babygrande, Leslie was senior vice president, publicity and corporate communications, for Fox Television Studios, where she oversaw publicity for all of the studio’s development and current programming, as well as all corporate communications. Leslie served as vice president, publicity, at Warner Bros.’ Telepictures Productions, where she launched and oversaw publicity for the Emmy award-winning The Ellen DeGeneres Show and ABC’s The Bachelor, as well as various syndicated series.

She also ran publicity for Disney Interactive, and was on the launch team of the Comcast-owned cable network, G4 (now Esquire). Leslie’s agency background includes Edelman Public Relations Worldwide, Cohn & Wolfe and The Bohle Company.

Leslie is also the author of the book Fine, I’ll Go Online! The Hollywood Publicist’s Guide to Successful Internet Dating (St. Martin’s Press, November 2007).


J. Patrick Butler

Patrick is the Legal Counsel for the NPA. He has represented the NPA since its inception.

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Since his graduation from the George Washington University Law School in 1998, Patrick has represented clients in a wide variety of labor management and employment matters, including those related to union organizing campaigns, collective bargaining negotiations, employee discharge and discipline, discrimination and retaliation claims, wage and hour complaints, contract interpretation, strikes and reductions in force. He has served as the chief spokesperson and strategist in numerous collective bargaining negotiations. He also has handled complex labor and employment matters before the National Labor Relations Board and labor arbitrators, and in various federal and state courts.