Gary Knell, president and CEO of National Public Radio (NPR), will step down from the job after just 18 months to take the same role at National Geographic Society. Both organizations are in Washington, D.C.
Knell succeeds John M. Fahey as president and chief executive officer. Fahey will continue to serve as chairman of the board. Knell’s appointment will occur later this year.
He joined NPR during a turbulent time. Vivian Schiller resigned as CEO and president earlier that year, after two high-profile controversies led NPR’s board of directors to conclude that she could no longer effectively lead the organization. The event included the dismissal of popular commentator Juan Williams.
In a letter to NPR’s employees Knell, who became president and CEO in 2011, that he accepted the unsolicited offer from National Geographic after a “great deal of personal reflection,” and that he was confident that NPR will chart an “ambitious path” for the future.
“NPR is and will always be a beacon of journalistic integrity, commitment and courage,” Knell wrote. “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work with you.”
In his two years with NPR, Knell worked with the network’s leadership team to develop a strategic plan to strengthen the organization by engaging NPR’s network of member stations, generating cross-platform journalism and programming, finding new sources of philanthropic and corporate underwriting support, and attracting new audiences.