‘CNN This Morning’ Taps Lauren Mensch, Chris Russell as Co-Executive Producers

The pair will report to Ryan Kadro, the network’s senior vice president of content strategy

cnn this morning
"CNN This Morning" hosts Poppy Harlow, Don Lemon and Kaitlan Collins (CNN)

Lauren Mensch and Chris Russell will take over the reins of “CNN This Morning” as the flagship program’s new co-executive producers, the network announced Monday.

According to a press release from the network, Mensch will “lead editorial direction and oversee control room execution to bring the show to air every weekday morning from 6-9 a.m. ET.” Meanwhile, Russell joins CNN to executive produce during the dayside and evening hours, “bolstering the show’s 24-hour infrastructure and editorial operations so it’s best positioned for the following morning.”

The pair will report to Ryan Kadro, CNN’s senior vice president of content strategy, and will both be based out of the New York Bureau.

“In just over four months, ‘CNN This Morning’ has become a destination for top newsmakers and is well positioned to grow under the leadership of Lauren and Chris, who bring years of experience producing exciting and relevant morning television,” Kadro said in a statement. “With the recent additions of broadcast producers Carolyn Cremen and Rachid Haoues to our talented senior staff, we’re building a dynamic team to help the show evolve and succeed heading into a major election news cycle.”

Mensch joins “CNN This Morning” after nearly a decade at the network, where she was most recently the executive producer of “CNN Newsroom” with Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell, leading coverage of some of the biggest stories of the last decade including the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the aftermath of January 6th insurrection.

Additionally, she executive produced the Emmy-nominated CNN/Sesame Street Town Halls aimed at helping kids and families understand complicated news issues like the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccinations, and race protests. She was also the executive producer of CNN’s weekly primetime shows “The Van Jones Show” and “The Axe Files.”

Mensch joined CNN in 2013 as senior producer for “New Day. Prior to CNN, Mensch was a producer for the Emmy-nominated, nationally syndicated talk show “Anderson Live.” 

Russell will join CNN on March 13 from NewsNation, where he was the executive producer for “On Balance with Leland Vittert.” Previously, he was the senior executive producer at NBC Universal, overseeing the network’s daily lifestyle programming on Quibi.

 Russell joined NBC from CBS, where as co-executive producer he built ET Live, a pop culture streaming service rooted in the Entertainment Tonight brand. As senior producer he spearheaded the construction and launch of CBSN, the network’s 24/7 streaming news network.

Before moving to streaming, Russell spent a decade at CBS News, including at “CBS This Morning” where he joined the senior staff that created and launched the broadcast. While there, Russell filled a number of roles including managing the signature “Eye-Opener” franchise and serving as broadcast producer.

The shakeup at the morning program follows the departure of executive producer Eric Hall in January.

“CNN This Morning” has struggled to gain momentum in the ratings since its launch on Nov. 1.

Last month, host Don Lemon faced backlash after saying 2024 presidential hopeful Nikki Haley “isn’t in her prime.” He later apologized for the remark and said he was “committed to doing better” after a temporary absence from the show. Lemon’s return following his remarks resulted in an 18.2% uptick in “CNN This Morning” viewership.