National Geographic Partners Chairman Gary Knell quits post biz integration with Disney

Knell has decided to leave the organisation by the end of May

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: May 7, 2021 11:50 AM
Gary Knell

National Geographic Partners Chairman Gary Knell has decided to leave the Disney-owned organisation by end of May. Knell spent 7.5 years at the iconic organisation first as President and CEO from January 2014 to February 2018 and then as Chairman from March 2018 till date. 
As the Chairman, Knell effectuated the transition of Nat Geo’s media and business entities into The Walt Disney Company. "I wanted to reach out to let you know that I have decided to leave National Geographic at the end of May, having effectuated the transition of Nat Geo’s media and business entities into The Walt Disney Company, cementing the partnership with the Society toward future growth," he said in a LinkedIn post.

"It has been a wonderful journey to reimagine this 133-year-old institution in new structural ways and help unleash the power of its storytelling with the largest media company in the world. With Disney at its back, the National Geographic Society is well positioned to further its mission-driven not-for-profit work with a newly energized purpose and direction."

Knell revealed that he will be engaging in a number of new initiatives with an intention to harness his experiences in global media, education, technology and social impact to continue to help “make a difference”.

National Geographic Partners is the global joint venture owned by The Walt Disney Company and the National Geographic Society, which includes National Geographic television, print and digital assets and related activities in travel and consumer products.

From 2014 through February 2018, Knell served as President and CEO of the National Geographic Society where he oversaw the Society’s vast nonprofit activities in science, exploration, education and media innovation.

Knell’s career in media spans nearly four decades. Prior to National Geographic, he served as President and CEO of National Public Radio. He spent 22 years at Sesame Workshop, where he served as President and CEO for 12 years. Knell was Managing Director of Manager Media International, a multimedia publishing company based in Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore. He also served as Senior Vice President 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 boards of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the Economic Club of Washington and the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. He is also a member of the Cultural Diplomacy Council of Meridian, a nonpartisan diplomacy center, and an advisor to the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and the Military Child Education Coalition.

Knell has a B.A. in political science from UCLA and was Editorial Director of the UCLA Daily Bruin and a stringer for the Associated Press. He has a J.D. from Loyola University of Los Angeles, where he was recently named a Top 50 Alumni. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from Kenyon College in Ohio, Mercy College in New York, and Franklin University in Switzerland, and he has been a commencement speaker at the University of Redlands, UCLA, the University of Texas-Austin, Columbia University and Johns Hopkins University.

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