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BBG Board Meets

New members and chair attend their first board meeting

While August is normally a time of dormancy on the Hill, that was far from true for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, whose meeting at their headquarters Aug. 21 reflected the numerous changes the board has been through in recent weeks.

Three newly appointed members — Jeff Shell, Matthew Armstrong and Ambassador Ryan Crocker — all attended their first open meeting since unanimous confirmation by the Senate, and appointment by President Obama at the beginning of the month.

Jeff Shell, who was approved as the Board’s new chairman, is president of NBC Universal, former president of Fox Cable Networks and an MBA-holder from Harvard. Matthew Armstrong served as executive director of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy and has taught public diplomacy at the Annenberg School of Journalism. And Ambassador Ryan Crocker is dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, from which he took a leave of absence from 2011–2012 in order to serve as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan.

Making his first open meeting remarks as the new chairman, Shell noted that it has been one year since Alhurra TV reporter Bashar Fahmi disappeared in Syria, and expressed condolences for Bashar’s wife and children for “a long year of uncertainty and pain.”

Shell also acknowledged the threats and attacks that have occurred for many journalists working for BBG outlets like Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America over the last year, saying, “Journalists are at the heart of the agency’s mission, and they face risks every day in carrying out their duties.”

More meeting business: The board announced the assignment of International Broadcast Bureau staffer Suzie Carroll to serve as executive director to coordinate communications and operations for the Board.

And in closed session, the board voted unanimously to approve the hiring of Leslie Hyland as chief financial officer for the BBG. Hyland had already started with the agency last month after being interviewed by the board, but her new role could not be officially ratified until the board regained a quorum, according to a release from the BBG.

With the added three seats, they again have quorum. The board will now meet every other month — making their next convening on Oct. 23.