Gary E. Knell

Gary E. Knell - Society for Science Board Member 2023, Senior Advisor, Boston Consulting Group (BCG)

Gary Knell has been a leader in purpose-driven media for over four decades. Currently serving as Senior Advisor for Media and Social Impact at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Executive Chairman of Common Sense Networks, he is former Chairman of National Geographic Partners, 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 and travel and consumer products.

From 2014 through 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. Prior to that, he served as President and CEO of National Public Radio (NPR), promoting a new era of digital programming and podcasting. He was President and CEO of Sesame Workshop, the worldwide leader in children’s television, focusing on using the power of media to educate children, for 12 years. At Sesame, Knell was instrumental in groundbreaking international co-productions promoting public health, conflict resolution and basic childhood education. He has been a leader in publishing at Sesame as well as Manager Media International, based in Southeast Asia. He also served as Senior Vice President at WNET/THIRTEEN in New York and served as Counsel to the US Senate Governmental Affairs and Judiciary Committees.

Knell currently serves on the boards of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (chair of Nominating and Governance Committee), the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (chair of the Finance Committee), StoryCorps and the UC Berkeley School of Journalism. He was a longtime board member of Heidrick and Struggles, the executive search firm, AARP Services, Inc. and Save the Children.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from UCLA in political science (where he was Editorial Director of the UCLA Daily Bruin) and a JD from Loyola Law School, as well as honorary degrees from Kenyon College, Mercy College and Franklin University in Switzerland.

He joined the Society’s Board of Trustees in 2023.