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NPR Names Tech Exec Katherine Maher New CEO

NPR has hired Katherine Maher, former CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation and most recently chief exec of the Web Summit conference, as its next president and chief executive officer.

Maher will start at the public radio broadcaster on March 25, taking over for outgoing NPR CEO John Lansing, who announced last fall he would step down from the role before his five-year contract expired.

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Maher currently is the CEO of Web Summit, a position she assumed in October 2023 when the conference’s founder, Paddy Cosgrave, stepped down after a backlash over his criticism of Israel in the wake the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on civilians in the country.

Prior to joining Web Summit, Maher was CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation, the not-for-profit org that hosts Wikipedia. During her seven years there, according to NPR, she “drove unprecedented growth in global readership and impact, doubled fundraising income and raised an endowment “to ensure Wikipedia’s enduring sustainability.” Before Wikimedia, she worked on human rights, democracy and innovation at Access Now, the World Bank, the National Democratic Institute and UNICEF.

“The board searched for a leader with the ability to reach audiences on new and existing platforms and leverage the network of local organizations that are providing high quality, relevant content to 99% of the country,” Jennifer Ferro, chair of the NPR board, said in a statement. “Katherine is an extraordinary leader who has tackled the issues around reliable and accessible information for all.”

Maher, in a statement provided by NPR, said, “NPR has been a lifelong part of my soundscape, expanding my worldview and stoking my curiosity. NPR inspired in me an appreciation for the power of civic institutions and a commitment to free inquiry and information. As NPR’s mission of informing America continues to grow more essential, so too does our need to reinvent and reimagine ourselves in step with our ever-changing world.”

NPR said Lansing led the organization through the COVID-19 pandemic, which included implementing a task force that created NPR’s first organization-wide hybrid and remote work policies. He also oversaw layoffs at NPR last year after it fell short of ad and sponsorship revenue targets.

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