WASHINGTON (Oct. 26, 2010)—Gilbert M. Grosvenor has announced his retirement as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the National Geographic Society, effective the end of this year, stepping down after 23 years of service in that capacity and a career at the Society that spans nearly six decades. John M. Fahey, president and chief executive officer, has been named chairman and chief executive officer, and Timothy T. Kelly, president and chief executive officer of the Global Media Group, will become president of the National Geographic Society, with both appointments effective Jan. 1, 2011. Grosvenor will become chairman emeritus and will continue to serve as chairman of the National Geographic Education Foundation.
“It’s hard to overstate how important National Geographic has been in my life, and that of my family,” Grosvenor said. “I have been blessed by an extraordinary lifelong association with an organization that has had the power to attract the most interesting and intriguing people on earth and engage them in finding new ways to better understand and appreciate the world around us. John Fahey’s 1996 transition to president has been flawless, despite great turbulence in the print media and global economy, and I have every confidence in John and Tim as they take on these new roles. The future of the Society could not be brighter, or in better hands.”
A native of Washington, D.C., Grosvenor has spent his entire professional career in service of the Society. After graduating from Yale University in 1954, he joined the Society staff as a picture editor. He was editor in chief of National Geographic magazine from 1970 to 1980, when he became the Society’s 14th president, and the fifth generation of his family to serve in that capacity. Concerned about the lack of geographic knowledge among students, Grosvenor created National Geographic World, now known as KIDS, and launched an effort to improve geography education in the nation’s classrooms in 1985.
Now in its 22nd year, the Society’s Education Foundation and its partners have invested more than $160 million to improve geography education in classrooms. Grosvenor is a director or trustee of numerous foundations and corporations, including the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and the National Wildflower Research Center. In 2004, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, by President George W. Bush.
As chairman and CEO, Fahey will continue to oversee the overall strategy of the Society as well as the day-to-day operations of the organization, and his direct reports will include Kelly, Mission Programs and School Publishing, as well as several corporate staff functions, including finance, legal, communications and human resources.
“Gil Grosvenor has been the very embodiment of the National Geographic spirit for me and countless others for more than half a century,” Fahey said. “My own serendipitous encounter with him about 15 years ago led to my embrace of this Society and its mission to inspire people to care about the planet. While I’m grateful to him for his leadership as well as his faith in me, I’m especially pleased to see talented, committed executives like Tim stepping up and into larger roles. We’re also delighted that Gil himself will continue to lead our efforts to improve geographic literacy in this country.”
Fahey joined the Society in 1996 as the first president of National Geographic Ventures, a wholly owned taxable subsidiary of the Society, and became president and chief executive officer in March 1998. The Society has evolved dramatically during his tenure, entering into cable television with the National Geographic Channels, currently airing in 34 languages in more than 330 million homes in 166 countries, and the international expansion of National Geographic magazine, now published in 33 local language editions.
Prior to joining the Society, Fahey was chairman, president and CEO of Time Life Inc. A graduate of Manhattan College with a masters in business administration from the University of Michigan, Fahey began his career as a circulation manage for TIME magazine before moving to HBO, where he was instrumental in the launch of Cinemax. He serves on the board and the executive committee of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and represents the Society on the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO. He is also a member of the boards of directors of Johnson Outdoors Inc. and Exclusive Resorts.
In the newly defined role of president of NGS, Kelly will add oversight of National Geographic Enterprises, which includes the organization’s licensing, retail and travel programs, to a portfolio composed of the National Geographic global media properties: National Geographic Publishing, which includes National Geographic magazine, National Geographic Traveler, National Geographic Kids, and Little Kids; National Geographic Books; National Geographic Television and Television International, NG Feature Films, NG Entertainment and NG Digital Media. He will also become of member of the Society’s Board of Trustees.
A native of Colorado and a finance graduate of the University of Colorado, Kelly has worked for National Geographic for more than 25 years. He played a central role in the development of the joint venture that launched the National Geographic Channels, and he has overseen the organization’s expansion into feature and large-format films. Under his direction, National Geographic Television productions have won more than 130 Emmy Awards and over 1,000 other industry accolades.
“Every day that I have had the good fortune to work as part of National Geographic has been a privilege and an honor, and I want to thank Gil, John and the Board of Trustees for entrusting me with this new role. With healthy publishing, television and digital operations working in unison, National Geographic is poised to continue to grow and flourish in this new media world, with our mission of adventure, exploration, education and conservation that is even more compelling today than it was when we were founded in 1888,” Kelly said.
About National Geographic
The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” the Society works to inspire people to care about the planet. National Geographic reflects the world through its magazines, television programs, films, music and radio, books, DVDs, maps, exhibitions, live events, school publishing programs, interactive media and merchandise. National Geographic magazine, the Society’s official journal, published in English and 33 local-language editions, is read by more than 38 million people each month. The National Geographic Channel reaches 330 million households in 34 languages in 166 countries. National Geographic Digital Media receives more than 15 million visitors a month. National Geographic has funded more than 9,400 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program promoting geography literacy. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com.