Chairman and CEO
John Fahey was appointed chairman of the National Geographic Society in January 2011. He has also been chief executive officer since March 1998. He is chairman of the executive committee of the Society’s board of trustees and chairman of National Geographic’s Education Foundation. He served as president of the Society from March 1998 to December 2010.
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.
During his tenure, Fahey has 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 has 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.
From 1989 until joining National Geographic, Fahey was chairman, president and CEO of Time Life Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Time Warner Inc. 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.
Fahey 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. He is a member of the advisory board of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.
In July 2011 he received Peru’s highest civilian award, the “Orden del Sol del Peru” (the Order of the Sun), from the government of Peru for his and the Society’s role in helping retrieve a collection of ancient artifacts taken from Machu Picchu nearly 100 years ago.
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 has been 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, one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations in the world, works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches nearly 500 million people each month through its magazines, the National Geographic Channel, television documentaries, films, radio programs, music, books, DVDs, maps, school publishing programs, interactive media, exhibitions, expeditions, live events and digital partnerships. The Society has funded more than 10,000 scientific research projects and supports an education program promoting geographic literacy. The Society’s education activities include National Geographic Explorer classroom magazine, national and international geography competitions, state geographic alliances and professional development resources for teachers.