SVP, Business Operations, and D&I Council Chair
As a National Geographic employee who has occupied every position from coordinator to executive, I joined the Council to let others know that finding your voice and being a changemaker are possible. Together, it’s our responsibility to grasp the power of hope to ensure that National Geographic rises to play an active part in this social justice movement, and it starts with our employees. Successful diversity and inclusion give validation to unique experiences and perspectives in all aspects of what we do – hire talented voices to tell amazing stories that reach and impact our diverse planet. My goal is to work with the most talented staff to do more to attract, empower, and retain more diverse talent to expand our content offering to a more inclusive audience.
Business Operations Coordinator and D&I Council Project Coordinator
Media is one of the most powerful tools a society has. The stories told and those who are chosen to tell them have a seismic impact on the way people see and interpret the world around them. As a media company, National Geographic has a platform that can drive instrumental change and it can start with examining inward. The creation of the Diversity & Inclusion Council is a critical first step in bettering our company for both our employees and audience. I joined the council because I wanted to play an active role in this process. Diversity and inclusion are vital to the growth and advancement of our company and are personally important to me because, together, they promote an environment in which everyone’s voice is heard, acknowledged, and valued.
DEBRA ADAMS SIMMONS
Executive Editor, History
Diversity and inclusion means amplifying more voices on our staff and in our work. At this pivotal cultural moment, we are writing the first draft of history and must be ever mindful of who our storytellers are and of whose stories are being told. The Council is a coordinated opportunity to embrace new people, uplift the perspectives of more of our colleagues, and ensure that our practices align with stated priorities.
For more than 130 years, National Geographic has chronicled the human journey. We want to make certain that our storytelling during this moment of pandemic and racial reckoning leaves no one behind. Importantly, the work that needs to happen to break down racial barriers cannot rest on the shoulders of one or two staff members: It’s everyone’s job. The Council can play a key role in holding the institution accountable and supporting an environment where everyone is valued.
EVP, Marketing Strategy & Global Communications
Listening to my colleagues and truly hearing their struggles has motivated me in a way I haven’t felt for years. I don’t think there is anything that requires more attention or is more important to our business today than the work of this Council. I am honored to be a part of it and contribute in even a small way to setting us on the right course.
Director, Legal & Business Affairs
As a first-generation American born to Chilean parents, I’ve never fit neatly into a cultural or demographic box. Looking back, I realize that I was incredibly fortunate to take the first step of my career in a place where that was celebrated (at the Gwen Ifill show). It was a defining moment for me, personally and professionally, and I am keenly aware that not everyone in our industry has had that experience. I have also witnessed firsthand how discrimination can come in different forms. As a lawyer, I understand that people definitely have an idea of what a typical lawyer looks and sounds like (and for the most part I would say I match that image). But throughout my career, I have seen many of my brilliant and talented peers who do not fit some manager’s preconceived notion for a particular role get passed over for career opportunities. I want to make it my mission to keep that from happening again. Finally, as the representative to the Council from HOLA, one of our Business Employee Resource Groups, I feel a specific responsibility to all of the Hispanic and Latinx employees and future employees at Nat Geo to be their voice and to ensure their needs and views are presented to the Council.
SVP, International Media
As an immigrant with an Armenian and Jewish identity, raised by two strong women – my mother and grandmother – I have grown up hearing – and experiencing – many painful stories of marginalization, disenfranchisement, and discrimination. However, I am aware that one of the reasons I was able to succeed, despite difficulties, is largely because I am white. I so much wanted to be a part of the Council to play a part in fostering a culture of true inclusion, respect, economic opportunity, and a better employee experience for all underserved populations, especially people of color.
I am excited to be a part of Council and team of people with real commitment to stepping up for a just and diverse workplace, changing certain unfair practices that inhibit so many to feel proud about themselves and their talents, be their most creative selves, and be able to succeed.
VP, Human Resources
During my career at Disney, I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to work in several different countries and experience many cultures. I started my story in Italy and then lived in England, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States, where I’ve been since 2016. I feel blessed because I had the chance to be exposed to so many diverse cultures and to meet so many incredibly diverse people who welcome me and taught me that the world is open!
I’m proud of being part of the D&I Council and I believe that, together, we can achieve something important.
Director, Internal Communications
As a young adult, my passport was a bit bewildering: Born in South Korea, address in Michigan, residency in Hungary, and a German last name. Living abroad as a “third-culture kid” for much of my teenage years, surrounded by classmates and friends from across the globe, I learned the importance of feeling welcome, respected, and seen. This is the kind of workplace that I hope National Geographic can be. I want all employees to feel like National Geographic is a place where their voices are heard, their views are respected, and they are comfortable bringing their authentic selves into the office each day.
SVP, Digital Experiences
I joined the Diversity & Inclusion Council for two main reasons. First, because I think diversity has many variables that also need to be considered, such as disabilities, that I would like to represent in this discussion. Second, I would like to put my product management and OCD to use and ensure that we deliver actual change inside National Geographic.
Chief of Staff
Identifying as a gay man, and being married to my Hispanic husband, I have been experiencing the effects of inclusion – or the lack thereof – first-hand throughout my adult life. It also means that I have been experiencing the impact of intersectionality up-close. And having grown up in Europe and having worked around the world, I understand the powerful impact of different cultures and how those differences can either enable or hinder the work of creating truly inclusive environments. It is deeply important to me to help create such an environment here at National Geographic and do what I can in my position to remove roadblocks and hold our organization accountable.
VP, Integrated Communications & Brand Management
As the person leading the brand work for NGP, I am committed to making sure our brand represents and fully embodies National Geographic’s commitment to illuminate our incredibly diverse world and everything and everyone in it. Being a part of the D&I Council is an important aspect of that work. I am aware every day of the incredible privilege I have often owing to nothing more than the color of my skin, while simultaneously knowing that I have spent my career pushing boundaries created by my gender. I believe there is nothing more important than the creation of true equality and opportunity for each human being to live their best lives and we have a lot of work to do to get there and I hope to be part of the solution here at NGP.
Deputy Chief Counsel
I joined the D&I Council because the issue of diversity has always been of great importance. As a Hispanic woman I have noticed that diversity is a talking point of organizations I have worked for, but very few of them have worked to create environments welcoming of, and a reflection of the diverse workforce they seek. I would like to be a part of a team that takes an active effort not only to recruit diverse talent, but to create a work environment that embraces and reflects that diverse talent.
WILLIAM PINKNEY III
I joined the Council to provide a perspective that is unique to me and to truly listen to others and the perspectives they bring. I’ve come to understand that when we don’t use our voices, we’re denying everyone else the opportunity to learn from us or hear a perspective that may spark something great. With taking part in the Council, I’m hoping to be a part of that “something great,” the catalyst for change — big and small. For me, diversity and inclusion mean having a seat at the table. It’s also bringing the table and chair I built and placing it next to yours for our discussions and decision making. Diversity is the cornerstone of the nation we all call home, but without inclusion it is a missed opportunity for boundless results. Diversity and inclusion are so important to me because they are what comprised the dreams of so many of my ancestors, and I want to see their dreams realized. I want to be a part of writing this new chapter for our next generation.
Senior Manager, Marketing
Working for the National Geographic television network, I’m always reminded that we reach 172 countries in 43 languages. We haven’t even touched on all of the many different characteristics that make up the individuals in all those countries; those people and places where we can have a relevant voice. Our D&I Council has the opportunity to ensure we dive deeper and think harder about how we can use our platforms to make our business reflect our world.
I’ve been an active member in our Business Employee Resource Group community from day one and it’s been one of the most rewarding parts of my job. As we’re looking to make systemic changes, I feel thatmy experience in this area could be a great asset to keep us accountable in representing the communities that often have to speak louder to be heard.
VP, NG Studios
As a Deaf woman, I am no stranger to adversity. Throughout my entire life, I have often been underestimated, overlooked, and told that I would never be successful. These words were said by people who judged me solely for my deafness or gender without knowing my abilities. I know firsthand what it feels like to be judged based on one thing. It is this personal experience that inspired me to join the Diversity & Inclusion Council. My own journey in life led me to always be curious about other peoples’ stories throughout the world. I thrive on learning about different cultures, religions, struggles people face, and what makes each of us unique. As a Council member, I want to help shine a light on our differences and foster a work culture where others don’t have to face the same type of scrutiny and adversity that I have faced. As a company, we can enhance creativity, innovation, and become better storytellers through diversity and inclusion.
Chief Financial Officer
I’m honored and thrilled to be part of the Diversity & Inclusion Council at National Geographic. Creating the kind of workplace that sets the standard for diversity and inclusion across all industries seems like just the big ambitious goal that National Geographic should own. I’m really looking forward to making meaningful and lasting changes in our workplace that live up to our highest ideals.
JANET HAN VISSERING
SVP, Development & Production
My parent immigrated from Korea to the United States when I was 2. They believed in the American Dream. They believed that if they worked hard enough, they could be successful not only for themselves, but also for their children. Even as they faced tremendous prejudice and scrutiny, they kept working, often taking the job that no other would take. They were treated unfairly just because their bosses knew they could. This always weighed heavily on me. I wondered if this was going to be the standard for my future just because of my ethnicity. I am so grateful for all of those who believed in me and gave me the opportunities that have led me to where I am now. I now have the privilege of having a role where what I do can affect the future of other diverse colleagues. The goal of the Diversity & Inclusion Council empowers our organization to further embrace and encourage different voices to be heard and included.
I’m honored to be part of the amazing team to pave a new and more impactful future.
Director, Program Scheduling
Growing up in China, I learned about diverse people, cultures, and wildlife around the world watching National Geographic programs. Since joining the Nat Geo family eight years ago, I realized Nat Geo has an opportunity to increase the visibility of underrepresented groups both within our organization and in our content.
I joined the Diversity & Inclusion Council in the hope of making Nat Geo a place where people feel welcomed and valued, no matter their background, and where we tell authentic and inclusive stories that inspire our audience. I believe that we are at a historical moment, and we have to be the change that we wish to see in the world.