Gary E. Knell, who has served as president and CEO of the National Geographic Society since 2014, has been named new CEO of National Geographic Partners, succeeding Declan Moore, who is exiting. Knell takes over the position on March 1.
The naming of Knell comes as Nat Geo Partners, the joint venture controlled by 21st Century Fox that includes cable networks and the storied nature magazine, undergoes an overall modernization and streamlining, which has been under way since Fox paid $725 million for control in 2015, and as the proposed Disney acquisition of key Fox assets awaits approval. It also follows the recent layoffs of about a dozen members of the total workforce of less than 900 people, and the termination of former Deputy Director of Photography Patrick Witty amid sexual harassment allegations.
Knell’s appointment was announced jointly today by the Board of National Geographic Partners and the National Geographic Society.
In his new role as CEO, Knell will oversee all of National Geographic’s global storytelling assets, including the television, magazine, print and digital operations, licensing and travel expeditions. As CEO of the National Geographic Society, he was responsible for the society’s nonprofit and educational activities globally, and until the formation of National Geographic Partners, oversaw the organization’s print and digital platforms, travel and consumer products. Knell presently serves as chairman of National Geographic Partners, and has also held various board positions at National Geographic since 2003.
Moore joined National Geographic in 1995, and has been CEO of National Geographic Partners since its formation in 2015. He’s credited with expanding Nat Geo Partners’ global television footprint to 450 million homes, expanding its digital infrastructure and cross-platform storytelling, and cementing its status as the world’s leading social media brand.
“Declan has been a tremendous champion of National Geographic, and his steady leadership in the founding of National Geographic Partners has created a foundation for it to thrive as one of the world’s most iconic media brands for years to come,” said 21st Century Fox president Peter Rice. “Gary is ideally situated to build on that momentum. Nobody understands National Geographic better than Gary, and his breadth of media experience, strategic mindset and global perspective make him the perfect leader of the organization at this exciting time of transformation.”
“I’m grateful for the 23 years I’ve dedicated to this extraordinary organization, and am so proud of the teams, the businesses and the brands that we have developed and nurtured in that time,” said Moore. It’s been immensely rewarding working so closely with Peter and Gary and am happy to be leaving NGP in their extremely capable hands. I know that the work we’ve done to scale and modernize National Geographic Partners has positioned the brand for tremendous future success.”