John Fahey

Chairman, National Geographic Society

John Fahey

John M. Fahey is chairman of the National Geographic Society, a position he has held since January 2011. He also serves as chairman of the National Geographic Education Foundation board of governors. Fahey was chief executive officer of the National Geographic Society from March 1998 to December 2013 and president of the organization from March 1998 to December 2010.

During his tenure as president and CEO, Fahey led an evolution of the National Geographic Society, including its entry into cable television with the National Geographic Channels, currently available in more than 440 million homes in 171 countries in 48 languages; the international growth of National Geographic magazine, now published in English and 39 local-language editions; and the extension of National Geographic content into virtually every aspect of digital media. In addition to continuing the Society’s efforts to improve geographic literacy, Fahey guided the significant expansion of the Society’s Mission Programs during the past decade, including the creation of the National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence, Fellows and Emerging Explorers programs and the Genographic Project that is charting, through DNA analysis, the migratory history of humans. Fahey also spearheaded the Society’s move into the creation of regional grant-making programs around the world, beginning in Northern Europe and Asia.

In 2011, he received Peru’s highest civilian award, “Orden del Sol del Peru,” for his and National Geographic’s role in helping retrieve a collection of ancient artifacts taken from Machu Picchu in 1912.

Fahey joined National Geographic on April 1, 1996, as the first president and chief executive officer of National Geographic Ventures, the nonprofit Society’s wholly owned, taxable subsidiary. Prior to that, he was chairman, president and CEO of Time Life Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Time Warner Inc., for seven years. He worked previously for Home Box Office, where he was instrumental in the startup of CINEMAX. He also was a circulation manager for Time magazine.

In February 2014, President Obama appointed Fahey to a six-year term on the Smithsonian Board of Regents, the governing body of the Smithsonian Institution. He also serves on the board and executive committee of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History as well as the boards of Johnson Outdoors Inc., Exclusive Resorts and Great Plains Investment LLC.

Born in New York City, Fahey received his bachelor’s degree in engineering from Manhattan College and his master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan. In 2008, he received the David D. Alger Alumni Achievement Award from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

Fahey was selected as one of Advertising Age’s top 100 marketers and by Irish American magazine as one of the top 100 Irish Americans. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Founded in 1888, the National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. With a mission to inspire people to care about the planet, the member-supported Society offers a community for members to get closer to explorers, connect with other members and help make a difference. The Society reaches more than 500 million people worldwide each month through its magazines, cable channels, TV documentaries, films, books, DVDs, radio, maps, exhibitions, live events, school publishing programs, interactive media, merchandise and digital partnerships. National Geographic has funded more than 11,000 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program promoting geographic literacy. Education activities include National Geographic Explorer classroom magazine, national and international geography competitions, state geographic alliances and professional development resources for teachers. For more information, visit

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