Helen Whitney Helen Whitney has worked as a producer, director, and writer for documentaries and feature films since 1971. Her documentary work has appeared on ABC's "Closeup" and PBS's American Masters, as well as on FRONTLINE. Her documentaries have ranged over a wide variety of subjects, among them: youth gangs, presidential candidates, the mentally ill, a Trappist Monastery, Pope John Paul II, the class structure of Great Britain, homosexuals, and the photographer Richard Avedon. Whitney maintains a passionate personal interest in the religious journey. Her 90-minute ABC News "Closeup" documentary, "The Monastery," about the Cistercians in Spencer, Mass., left her searching for other projects about spiritual life. This passion was also evident in FRONTLINE's "John Paul II: The Millennial Pope", a film for which she and her team conducted more than 800 interviews in six countries. Whitney's documentaries and features have received many honors, including an Emmy Award, a Peabody Award, an Oscar nomination, the Humanitas Award, and the prestigious duPont-Columbia Journalism Award. Her latest PBS film Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time to Hate, explores the concept and practice of forgiveness through a compelling range of stories, from personal betrayal to global reconciliation after genocide. The film was aired on PBS on April 17 and 24, 2011.

Work Experience

  • Feature Director for American Playhouse, HBO, ABC, Group W, The Odyssey Project
  • Documentary Director, Producer and Writer for PBS and Turner Broadcasting
  • Documentary Director, Producer and Writer for ABC Close- Up
  • Associate Editor, The New York Times, 'Arts and Leisure' Section
  • Researcher and Associate Producer, NBC White Paper Series 
  • Instructor in Victorian Literature, Roosevelt University, Chicago


University of Chicago, Victorian Literature, Honors Master Thesis, MA. Sarah Lawrence College, B.A.