National Geographic Society strengthens Board of Trustees with appointment of five new members – National Geographic Society Newsroom


The National Geographic Society today announced the appointment of Ash Carter, Claudia Madrazo, Deborah Lehr, Dina Powell McCormick and Paula Kahumbu to its board of directors. Carter is the director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School. Madrazo is the founder of La Vaca Independiente and Transformation Through Art and Education, as well as the founding member of the Academy for Systemic Change. Lehr is the CEO of Edelman Global Advisory, a strategic business consulting firm. McCormick is the Global Head of Sovereign Coverage as well as the Global Head of Sustainability and Inclusive Growth at Goldman Sachs. Kahumbu is the CEO of WildlifeDirect and a National Geographic Explorer.

“On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I am delighted to welcome these five distinguished leaders to the Board of Directors of the National Geographic Society,” said Chairman of the Board, Jean Case. “Collectively, their expertise and global knowledge will prove invaluable as we pursue our ambitious mission to illuminate and protect the wonders of our world using the power of science, exploration, education and narration.

This announcement marks two milestones for the 134-year-old organization.

For the first time, the Board of Directors has achieved gender parity, building on the Company’s continued commitment to advancing its work on diversity, equity and inclusion, including improvement of the representation of women in management positions. In 2016, Case became the Company’s first woman to serve as President, and in August 2020, the organization appointed Jill Tiefenthaler as the first woman to serve as CEO.

The organization has also created the new role of Explorer Trustee, a position to be filled by a National Geographic Explorer. The organization invests in a global community of explorers made up of scientists, environmentalists, educators, storytellers and technologists. National Geographic Wildlife Conservator and Explorer Paula kahumbu, who has dedicated her career to protecting Kenya’s endangered wildlife and habitats, will become the first female explorer to hold the post. Kahumbu has been part of the National Geographic community for 12 years; in June 2021, she was named Rolex National Geographic Explorer of the Year.

“To illuminate and protect the wonders of our world, we greatly benefit from having diverse perspectives in the boardroom and throughout our organization. I am delighted to welcome Ash, Claudia, Deborah, Dina and Paula, whose range of perspectives, deep expertise and wisdom will strengthen our mission and vision, ”said Jill Tiefenthaler, CEO of the National Geographic Society. “Together, we have a clear vision to generate meaningful impact – and explorers are key. Paula is an extraordinary ambassador for our community of explorers, and her ideas add a vital new voice to our board of directors to ensure we stay at the forefront of exploration and discovery.

Madrazo, Lehr, McCormick and Kahumbu took office on January 1, 2022. Carter will join the board of directors in January 2023.

Learn more about Ash Carter

Carter is the director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School, where he leads the Technology and Public Purpose project. Previously, he served as the 25th Secretary of Defense after serving as Chief Operating Officer and Arms Czar at the Pentagon. For more than three decades, Carter has used his experience in national security, technology, and innovation to lead and enhance the technological capabilities of the U.S. government and investment firms. He launched the “Future Force” initiatives which improved the recruitment, training and retention of DOD personnel, which included the mandate that all military posts be open to women. Currently, Carter is a board member of The MIT Corporation and Delta Air Line, and he also advises MITER Corporation and Lincoln Laboratories on technology matters. Carter received his BA from Yale University and his PhD from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

Learn more about Claudia Madrazo

Madrazo has been interested in learning and exploring the world since his childhood. She founded La Vaca Independiente, a social enterprise focused on innovative education and the promotion of human development through art. She also developed the dia (development of intelligence through art) educational methodology, which has trained over 25,000 teachers and benefited over 500,000 students in Mexico. Madrazo sits on the boards of The Nature Conservancy and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, as well as the Hubbard Council of the National Geographic Society. Madrazo is the author of nine books as well as numerous essays and articles. She received her BA from Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City, and her MA from the University of Essex.

Learn more about Deborah Lehr

Lehr is the CEO of Edelman Global Advisory, a strategic business consulting firm. In addition, she is the Executive Director of the Paulson Institute, a think tank founded by former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. Lehr previously helped major Western and Chinese organizations increase their presence in the world’s most complex markets. In addition, she is the founder and chair of the Antiquities Coalition, which works with governments around the world to combat trafficking in antiques. Lehr sits on the International Advisory Board of the London School of Economics, the Board of the World Monuments Fund and the Board of the Middle East Institute. Lehr is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She received her BA from Trinity University and her MA from George Washington University.

Learn more about Dina Powell McCormick

McCormick is a member of the Board of Directors of Goldman Sachs, where she is Global Head of Sovereign Institution Coverage and Global Head of Sustainability and Inclusive Growth. McCormick held various cabinet positions from 2007 to 2017 before serving as the United States’ Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy from 2017 to 2018. McCormick also served in the United States government in two administrations. Most recently as Deputy National Security Advisor and previously as Deputy Secretary of State and Senior White House Advisor to the President. McCormick is currently a Non-Resident Principal Investigator in the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas.

Learn more about Paula Kahumbu

Kahumbu is a National Geographic explorer and the Managing Director of WildlifeDirect, a Kenyan conservation NGO. She was the spearhead of Hands off our elephants campaign, which is widely recognized for its singular successes in advocating and engaging the people of Kenya in support of elephant protection. Thanks to his work, Kahumbu has reduced elephant poaching by 80% in five years. Kahumbu has won numerous awards and honors, including the Rolex National Geographic Explorer of the Year 2021 and the Whitley Gold Award 2021. She is a director of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and of the Maun Science Park Botswana. Kahumbu obtained his doctorate. in Ecology from Princeton University. Kahumbu will become the first National Geographic Explorer to join the Society’s Board of Directors.

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