AT&T announced its plan to elect an independent chairman when Stephenson, who held both positions since 2007, stepped down in April. COO John Stankey stepped up as CEO in July. Splitting the role of chairman and CEO is regarded as good corporate governance.
Kennard was general counsel to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission from 1993 to 1997. He was appointed chairman in 1997, holding the position until 2001. From 2009 to 2013, he served as the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union.
He’s been a director at AT&T since 2014 and currently serves on the board’s corporate governance and nominating committee and the public policy and corporate reputation committee.
Kennard has also held positions at Carlyle Group, a global asset management firm, leading investments in the telecom and media sectors, and the law firm now called DLA Piper, where he was a partner and member of the board of directors. He is co-founder of private equity firm Astra Capital Management.
“Bill’s deep knowledge of communications, media and technology, proven leadership and broad experience across capital markets and government uniquely positions him to serve as AT&T’s new chairman,” Stephenson said. “He is an outstanding choice to lead our board of talented directors who possess diverse expertise and experience.”
“It’s an honor to be selected to serve as chairman of AT&T’s board of directors,” said Kennard. “I look forward to working with our CEO and fellow board member John Stankey and the entire board to continue creating long-term value for all stakeholders – investors, customers, employees and the communities we serve.”
He currently serves on the corporate governance and nominating committee and the public policy and corporate reputation committee.
Kennard serves on the boards of Duke Energy, Ford Motor Company and MetLife.