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John Fahey

John Fahey

Chairman and CEO
National Geographic Society

John Fahey was appointed chairman and chief executive officer of the National Geographic Society in January 2011. He is also chairman of the executive committee of the Society’s board of trustees and chairman of National Geographic’s Education Foundation. He served as president and chief executive officer of the Society from March 1998 to December 2010.

Fahey joined National Geographic on April 1, 1996, as the first president and chief executive officer of National Geographic Ventures, the nonprofit Society’s separate, wholly owned, taxable subsidiary.

During his tenure, Fahey has led an evolution of the National Geographic Society, including its entry into cable television with the National Geographic Channels, currently available in more than 435 million homes in 173 countries in 37 languages; the international growth of National Geographic magazine, now published in English and 33 local-language editions; and the extension of National Geographic content into virtually every aspect of digital media.

In addition to continuing the Society’s efforts to improve geographic literacy, Fahey has guided the significant expansion of the Society’s Mission Programs during the past decade, including the creation of the National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence, Fellows and Emerging Explorers programs; the Genographic Project that is charting, through DNA analysis, the migratory history of humans; and the arts media initiative featuring programs such as the All Roads Film Project to cultivate and showcase work by indigenous and minority-culture storytellers and National Geographic Photo Camps for young people.

Fahey also spearheaded the Society’s move into the creation of regional grant-making programs around the world, beginning in Northern Europe and Asia.

From 1989 until joining National Geographic, Fahey was chairman, president and CEO of Time Life Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Time Warner Inc. Previously, he worked for Home Box Office, where he was instrumental in the startup of CINEMAX. He also was a circulation manager for Time magazine.

Fahey serves on the board and the executive committee of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. He also is on the board of directors of Johnson Outdoors Inc. and Exclusive Resorts.

Born in New York City, Fahey received his bachelor’s degree in engineering from Manhattan College and his master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan. In 2008, he received the David D. Alger Alumni Achievement Award from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

Fahey has been selected as one of Advertising Age’s top 100 marketers and by Irish American magazine as one of the top 100 Irish Americans. He lives in Washington, D.C.


Founded in 1888, the National Geographic Society, one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations in the world, works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 400 million people each month through its magazines, the National Geographic Channel, television documentaries, films, radio programs, music, books, DVDs, maps, interactive media, exhibitions, expeditions, live events and digital partnerships. The Society has funded more than 10,000 scientific research projects and supports an education program promoting geographic literacy. The Society’s education activities include National Geographic Explorer classroom magazine, national and international geography competitions, state geographic alliances and professional development resources for teachers.

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