From Fall 2011 to Fall 2013, Gary E. Knell served as President and CEO of NPR, one of the country's most iconic news organizations and the producer of highly regarded programs that include Morning Edition and All Things Considered. He currently serves as President and CEO of the National Geographic Society.
With a career in public media spanning nearly three decades, Knell served as CEO of Sesame Workshop for 12 years before joining NPR in 2011. During his tenure at Sesame, which he joined in 1989 and assumed the role of COO in 1998 before moving into the CEO role in 2000, the organization expanded its revenue base, 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.
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 has 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. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the National Geographic Society and the Board of Governors of the National Geographic Education Foundation. He is also on the boards of Heidrick and Struggles, an executive search firm; the Jacob Burns Film Center; and Common Sense Media. He is an advisor to the USC Center on Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School and the Military Child Education Coalition.
A Gordon Grand Fellow at Yale University, Knell was a guest lecturer at Harvard University, Duke University, Southern Methodist University, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Puerto Rico. He has received Honorary Doctorates from Mercy College in New York and Kenyon College in Ohio and has served as the commencement speaker at Johns Hopkins University, UCLA, and the University of Texas at Austin.
Knell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from UCLA, where he also served as Editorial Director of the UCLA Daily Bruin and was a stringer for the Associated Press. He received a JD from Loyola University School of Law in Los Angeles.