GBH names Susan Goldberg as first female CEO


Goldberg will be the first woman to lead the company in its 71 years of history.

Susan Goldberg will start as CEO Dec. 1. Courtesy of GBH

Susan Goldberg will be GBH’s next CEO, the public media nonprofit announced Monday.

Goldberg is a seasoned journalist whose career spans over 40 years. She recently served for eight years as the editor of National Geographic Magazine, and is currently a vice dean at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. 

Selected by GBH’s Board of Trustees, Goldberg will take over for Jonathan Abbott, who announced his departure in February. She will be the first woman to lead the company in its 71 years of history.

“At a time when the media industry is changing at a rapid pace, Susan is a direct, focused, empathetic, and visionary leader who has the operational and editorial savvy to understand what resonates with our audiences,” Ann Fudge, chair of the GBH Board of Trustees and head of the search committee, said in a statement

As the first female editor-in-chief at National Geographic, Goldberg “reinvented the newsroom and its editorial strategy,” GBH said in a statement. They praised her efforts to diversify staff and coverage, as well as expand the brand’s multiplatform content.

“She’s a champion for diversity, equity, and belonging,” said Lee Pelton, president and CEO of The Boston Foundation and a member of the GBH Board of Trustees. “I prefer ‘belonging’ to ‘inclusion’ because you can be included but not feel as if you belong. I think the record shows that this is something that is important to her, and she will lead us brilliantly in that direction.”

Prior to National Geographic, Goldberg spent four years in Bloomberg’s Washington bureau as an executive editor. She was also the first woman to run The Plain Dealer in Cleveland and The Mercury News in San Jose.

Goldberg joins a roster of newly appointed women in Boston news media — just last week, Nancy Barnes was announced as the editor of The Boston Globe, and Margaret Low took the mantle of WBUR’s CEO in 2020. In a statement, Goldberg said she is grateful for the history-making ‘first,’ but also feels “conflicted.”

“When there are a lot fewer female ‘firsts,’ we are going to be in a much better place as a society because we will have reached a time when having a woman in charge, whether it’s in journalism or banking or law or politics, is just the normal course of doing business. And it isn’t a national news story every time that it happens.”

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