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From Sesame Street to NPR, New CEO sees "Sunny Days" Ahead

Sesame Workshop
Gary Knell

The former head of Sesame Workshop, Gary Knell, takes over as President and CEO of NPR on December 1st. And for his first day on the job, Knell plans to speak directly to NPR's listeners. He will be the featured guest for the first hour of NPR's Talk of the Nation, which airs at 1 p.m. on KASU-FM 91.9. According to an e-mail communication to NPR member stations, Knell will join host Neal Conan for a conversation with NPR listeners about NPR's role in media and the organization's future direction. The new CEO says he's eager to hear from listeners about what they value and want more of from NPR.

Following his appearance on Talk of the Nation, Gary Knell plans to participate in a chat on Twitter, from 2:00 to 2:30 p.m., Central time. Leading up to and during this time, anyone with a Twitter account will be able to tweet a question or comment to Gary at @NPRgaryknell, using the hashtag #nprCEO. 

Gary Knell became CEO of Sesame Workshop in 2000. He first joined Sesame in 1989, and became COO in 1998. During his tenure, the organization expanded its revenue base, audience and global recognition. Knell also was instrumental in focusing the organization on Sesame Street's worldwide mission, including the creation of groundbreaking co-productions in South Africa, India, Northern Ireland and Egypt.

Prior to joining Sesame Workshop, Knell was managing director of Manager Media International, a print and multimedia publishing company based in Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Singapore. He also served as senior vice president and general counsel at WNET/Channel 13 in New York, was counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary and Governmental Affairs Committees in Washington, D.C. and worked in the California State Legislature and Governor's Office.

Knell is a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, serves as a Director of executive search firm Heidrick and Struggles, is on the Board of Governors of the National Geographic Education Foundation and is a Board Member of AARP Services, Inc, the Jacob Burns Film Center, and Save the Children. He is also an advisor to WFUV at Fordham University, the Annenberg School of Communications at USC, and Common Sense Media.

Knell was a Gordon Grand Fellow at Yale University, and a guest lecturer at Harvard University, Duke University, and Carnegie Mellon University. He has served as the commencement speaker at Johns Hopkins University, UCLA, and the University of Texas at Austin. 

Knell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Journalism from the University of California at Los Angeles and a JD from Loyola University School of Law.