NPR CEO Gary Knell to Depart

Gary Knell
Gary Knell
 Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

NPR CEO and president Gary Knell is stepping down after less than two years on the job.

Knell will leave this fall to become president and CEO of the National Geographic Society. He will remain with NPR until then as NPR's board of directors searches for his replacement.

"Gary and the management team have worked effectively to strengthen NPR as a world-class media organization, technological innovator and industry leader," said Kit Jensen, chair of the board. "NPR has built a firm foundation for providing the highest-quality journalism and programming. We will be working closely with Gary over the next few months, and deeply appreciate the lasting impact he has made."

"NPR is and will always be a beacon of journalistic integrity, commitment and courage," Knell said in a letter to NPR staff. "Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work with you."

Knell became CEO and president of NPR in late 2011, months after Vivian Schiller resigned earlier that year.

Read Knell's e-mail to staff below, as posted on The Two-Way blog:

Dear Friends,

Before I even started at NPR, I had huge respect for this organization. And from the first minute of my first day at NPR, my respect has only grown. Seven days a week, around the clock, NPR is 'on the story' no matter where it happens. That's because of what each of you make happen. The power of this organization rests in the collective brilliance, courage, and dedication of our staff and our station community – and in our shared commitment to making this institution better each day.

Knowing this makes it a little easier to share a difficult decision I've made. I will be leaving NPR after my term ends in late fall to join the National Geographic Society as its President and CEO. I was approached by the organization recently and offered an opportunity that, after discussions with my family, I could not turn down.

As President and CEO, supporting NPR's success – your success – has been my highest ambition. Working together, we have put NPR on more solid footing to continue to deliver the highest-quality journalism and programming. We have launched innovative new platforms and made meaningful strides in attracting new audiences and new funding. We have promoted a series of collaborations in news gathering, development, and a digital future. And we have an exceptionally strong leadership team in place that is charting an ambitious path for our future.

We also face challenges, including the mandate to bring NPR to break-even cash operations. We are completing a plan to focus our limited resources which support our essential services to stations and audiences. We will present that plan to the Board soon, go over it carefully, and make it a reality.

The Board, under the leadership of Chair Kit Jensen, has been incredibly supportive of my leadership and is more than up to the task of finding a great successor. This is a remarkable organization and being NPR's CEO is a remarkable job, the best part of which has been engaging with each of you and with thousands and thousands of our supporters around the country. This is a job that demands everything of you, but returns more than you'd thought possible.

It has taken a great deal of personal reflection on my part to reach this decision. I will leave with a sense of enormous gratitude to each of you for all you do to make this organization a national treasure.

In the upheaval of today's media environment, you offer something few other media companies can. NPR is and will always be a beacon of journalistic integrity, commitment, and courage. We do what we do so that we can serve our audiences and give them what they need to be informed and connected with their communities, their country, and the world we live in.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work with you.

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