WASHINGTON (Jan. 6, 2014)—The National Geographic Society starts the year with a new leader at the helm. Gary E. Knell takes over today as president and CEO from John M. Fahey, who will continue to serve as chairman of the National Geographic board of trustees.
Knell has been a member of the Society’s board of trustees since April 2013 and has served on the board of governors of the National Geographic Education Foundation since November 2003.
“I am honored to have been chosen to lead this incredible organization celebrating 125 years of scientific research and meaningful exploration along with extraordinary media assets that have educated and inspired generations to care about our planet,” Knell said. “I am looking forward to building on the momentum of expanding National Geographic’s global footprint throughout our rapidly changing digital world.”
“Gary is the right leader at the right time for the Society, and I am pleased that my successor is someone who has close ties to this institution — along with a wealth of knowledge and global experience that will serve us well,” said Fahey.
Knell comes to National Geographic from National Public Radio, where he was president and CEO from 2011 to 2013. Under his leadership, NPR solidified its position in the rapidly changing media environment due to Knell’s ability to drive cross-platform journalism and cultural programming, grow philanthropic and corporate underwriting support and draw new audiences.
Knell’s career in media spans nearly three decades, including 22 years at Sesame Workshop. During Knell’s 12-year tenure as CEO, Sesame expanded its revenue base, worldwide audience and global recognition. Knell was instrumental in focusing the organization on Sesame Street’s worldwide mission, including the creation of groundbreaking co-productions in South Africa, India, Northern Ireland and Egypt. He also oversaw the creation and launch of two cable networks, Noggin and Sprout.
Prior to joining Sesame Workshop, Knell was managing director of Manager Media International, a multimedia publishing company based in Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore. He also served as senior vice president and general counsel at WNET/Channel 13 in New York, was counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary and Governmental Affairs Committees in Washington, D.C., and worked in the California State Legislature and Governor’s Office.
Knell is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the boards of Heidrick & Struggles, an executive search firm; the Jacob Burns Film Center; and Common Sense Media. He is an adviser to the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California and to the Military Child Education Coalition.
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 member-supported Society’s mission is to inspire people to care about the planet. Through its online community, members can get closer to explorers and photographers, connect with other members around the world and help make a difference. National Geographic reflects the world through its magazines, television programs, films, books, DVDs, maps, exhibitions, live events, school publishing programs, radio, interactive media and merchandise. National Geographic magazine, the Society’s official journal, published in English and 39 local-language editions, is read by more than 60 million people each month. The National Geographic Channel reaches 440 million households in 171 countries in 48 languages. National Geographic’s digital media receive around 27 million visitors a month. National Geographic has funded more than 10,000 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program promoting geography literacy. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com.