Gary Knell is President & CEO at National Geographic Society. His career in media spans nearly three decades, including 22 years at Sesame Workshop. Prior to joining National Geographic Society, Knell was the President and CEO, of NPR’s worldwide media operations, which included partnerships with 900 public radio stations.
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 oversaw the fiscal, operational, and journalistic integrity of NPR and led the building of the organization and its philanthropic base to support and leverage the strength of NPR and its extensive network of stations. As a strong advocate of innovation, he was a key driver in leveraging new technologies to advance NPR’s core mission and grew audiences for all of public media.
Knell joined NPR from Sesame Workshop. During Knell’s 12-year tenure as Sesame’s CEO, the organization 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 ground – breaking co-productions in South Africa, India, Northern Ireland and Egypt. He also oversaw the creation and launch of two cable networks, Noggin and Sprout.
Knell received an Honorary Doctorate from Mercy College in New York and has served as the commencement speaker at Johns Hopkins University, UCLA, and the University of Texas at Austin.