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Joanna Bistany (1947-2002) was a native of New York City (Brooklyn). She received her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Kentucky. She then did postgraduate work and taught at the University of Cincinnati. While in Cincinnati, she was a staff member of the developmental diagnostic center at the Children's Hospital Medical Center. Moving on to do more post-graduate work in clinical behavior management at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, she became involved in the Reagan presidential campaign beginning in October 1979. Through the campaign, Bistany met David Gergen and became his assistant for the 1980-1981 transition period. When Gergen joined the White House staff in 1981, he brought Bistany in as his assistant. In mid-1983 Bistany left the Reagan White House staff for a position with ABC News.
Ms. Bistany spent 17 years at ABC News, as senior vice-president from August 1998 until she left in June 2000 to become an independent program developer. Previously she was vice president at ABC News, and from 1986-1998 was chief deputy to Roone Arledge when he was president of ABC News.
Bistany died of cancer at her parent's home in Pennsylvania in May 2002.