Gary Knell has four decades of experience in leading some of the world’s most iconic organizations at the intersection of media, education and social impact. He has served as President and CEO of National Geographic, NPR and Sesame Workshop where he led transformational changes for the purpose of achieving their important missions, inspiring global audiences through the power of storytelling.
Among his recent achievements is a breakthrough restructuring of National Geographic, fully endowing the not-for-profit, now providing grants and resources for individuals working on climate, wildlife, oceans and other critical global challenges. At the same time, the reset created a historic partnership with The Walt Disney Company, which manages the brand in commercial settings including prime placement on Disney+, the largest Instagram brand account in the world, and a global publishing empire building on the legacy of over 130 years of success.
Gary led NPR through its digital transformation and expansion into the podcasting space and built bipartisan support for its critical work, and focused Sesame Street, then in its fourth decade, toward using its amazing power with preschool kids to help bridge gaps in respect, tolerance and understanding for military families, ethnic and political rivals in the Middle East, the Balkans and Northern Ireland as well as addressing health challenges around childhood HIV infection, malaria prevention and obesity outcomes.
Today, Gary serves as a Senior Advisor to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in its Media and Social Impact practices, as Executive Chairman of Common Sense Classroom, as Special Advisor to ESRI on consumer applications for its Story Maps products, and Advisor to Honor Ed Technologies, aiming to enable post-secondary education institutions to deliver engaging educational experiences at an enhanced scale. He was also recently appointed to the board of Seven Islands, Inc., a SPAC aimed at the intersection of media, entertainment and technology in South Asia.
He is a sought after board member and counselor to several nonprofit and for profit organizations including the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, where he chairs the Nominating and Governance Committee, the US Global Leadership Coalition,, the Economic Club of Washington, WAMU(public radio in DC), and the University of California Berkeley School of Journalism. He also served on the boards of Save the Children, AARP Services and Heidrick and Struggles, the global executive search firm.
Gary is married to Kim Larson, a passionate advocate for environmental and regenerative agriculture initiatives, and has four adult children, each pursuing careers improving our world. He has deep interests in film, music and soccer, not necessarily in that order.