The National Geographic Society announced today the promotion of Brooke Runnette to the newly created position of Executive Vice President, Chief Program and Impact Officer. Runnette will play an instrumental role in helping the 128 year-old Society make a greater global impact through its mission-driven work. Combined with a new organizational structure also announced today, the Society is better positioned than ever to explore and protect the planet by harnessing the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling. The move was announced by National Geographic Society President and CEO Gary E. Knell.
The National Geographic Society has expanded to become one of the largest nonprofits in the world, doing work that supports science and exploration, inspires global citizens and protects the planet. Through a joint venture partnership with 21st Century Fox forged last fall, the National Geographic Society has more than doubled its ability to fund innovative science, exploration and education. Leveraging expanded multimedia platforms that reach more than 700 million people worldwide, the National Geographic Society is perfectly poised to have a greater impact around the globe as stories and images, shows and events are more widely and effectively distributed.
“There has never been a more important time for the National Geographic Society to fulfill its critical mission to explore and protect the planet,” said Knell. “Having spent the better part of the last century providing venture capital for good, we are fortunate to have more resources than ever before to invest in the world’s best scientists, explorers, photographers and educators. Brooke’s new role will unite the Society’s programs into a single, integrated pipeline, helping the organization deliver maximum impact. She has a successful track record of combining creativity and operational efficiency to get the most out of projects.”
An Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning producer, Runnette has a long list of successes as creative executive, with a history of balancing risk-taking with operational discipline. Runnette was previously president of National Geographic Studios, responsible for all television, film and digital video production for the Society. She rebooted the Explorer series for the National Geographic Channel, which premiered with the multiple award-winning Warlords of Ivory, featuring National Geographic Explorer of the Year Bryan Christy. More than just a TV show, the investigation of illegal poaching across Africa became the centerpiece of a new impact initiative around wildlife trafficking for the Society.
Before joining National Geographic, Runnette served for six years on the creative team at Discovery Channel as an executive producer and director of development for special projects. She oversaw cable’s longest-running event, Shark Week, putting a greater emphasis on natural history while simultaneously increasing ratings.
As part of the new structure, Mike Ulica has been appointed Executive Vice President, Chief Operations and Financial Officer. Ulica joined National Geographic in 2006 as the chief financial officer for National Geographic Ventures, the Society’s taxable subsidiary. He was named the Society’s deputy chief financial officer in 2012 and the chief financial officer in 2014. Ulica was previously at Discovery Communications, where he spent 10 years in a wide range of financial roles, including senior vice president and chief financial officer of Discovery’s corporate services division.
“Mike has always been and will continue to be an invaluable resource in keeping the organization running smoothly,” said Knell. “The team we have in place, with Brooke and Mike at the helm, will help us maximize our commitment to exploration, protection and inspiring new generations to care about the planet.”