Gary Knell CEO for National Geographic Society

The board of trustees of the National Geographic Society announced Monday that Gary E. Knell has been selected to succeed John M. Fahey as president and chief executive officer (CEO).

Fahey will continue to serve as chairman of the board. Knell’s appointment will occur later this year, following a transition from his current role as president and CEO of National Public Radio (NPR) where he has been serving since December 2011.

Knell’s career in media spans nearly three decades, including 22 years at Sesame Workshop. Knell was instrumental in focusing the organization on Sesame Street’s worldwide mission, including the creation of co-productions in South Africa, India, Northern Ireland, and Egypt. He also oversaw the creation and launch of two cable networks, Noggin and Sprout.

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Prior to joining Sesame Workshop, Knell was managing director of Manager Media International, a print and multimedia publishing company based in Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore.

He also has 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.

A Gordon Grand Fellow at Yale University, Knell (pictured above) was a guest lecturer at Harvard University, Duke University, Southern Methodist University, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Puerto Rico.

He has a B.A. in political science from UCLA and a J.D. from Loyola University School of Law in Los Angeles as well as honorary doctorates from Mercy College in New York and Kenyon College in Ohio.

The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations.

Photo courtesy: Mark Thiessen/National Geographic

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Rakesh Raman