National Geographic Society Newsroom Press Releases

National Geographic Society Commences Global Search for CEO

Tracy Wolstencroft completes pivotal tenure as president and CEO and will continue service on board; Michael Ulica is promoted to president.

Tracy Wolstencroft completes pivotal tenure as president and CEO and will continue service on board; Michael Ulica is promoted to president.

The National Geographic Society announced a series of moves to build on its storied 131-year legacy and to position it optimally for the future, including the launch of a global search for a new chief executive officer and the promotion of longtime senior executive Michael Ulica to the new joint role of president and chief operating officer. The Society’s current president and CEO, Tracy Wolstencroft, will complete his tenure on Oct. 1, and will continue his long-standing service as a member of the Society’s board of trustees.

 “I’ve never been more excited about the future of National Geographic, and the moves we’re announcing today will ensure that we capitalize fully on the opportunities – and imperatives – that lie ahead,” said Jean Case, chairman of the National Geographic Society. “National Geographic has made significant contributions to the world since its founding in 1888. With our global reach, a trusted brand, exciting strategic opportunities with our new partner, the Walt Disney Company, and a 131-year record of using the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonders of our planet, we are well positioned to further capitalize on our strengths. We are pleased to be working with executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles to find the best leader to extend our reach and impact, and to enable the Society to continue playing an integral role in ensuring a bright future for our world.”

In promoting Ulica to president, the National Geographic Society board recognizes his extraordinary contributions over the past 13 years. His roles have included serving as executive vice president and chief operating and financial officer since 2016; and overseeing the Society’s financial, operational and administrative functions, including accounting, finance, planning, treasury and investments, human resources, legal, technology, facilities and sustainability.

“Mike has proven to be an invaluable leader and has earned the right to have his contributions more fully recognized,” said Case. “His extensive history of service to the Society has afforded him deep understanding of our mission and the criticality of organizing our operations to execute effectively, so we can deliver on that mission. Through his years of service, Mike has earned the respect of the trustees and his colleagues as he has used his breadth of skills to oversee the crucial day-to-day functions of our global nonprofit efforts.”

Ulica previously worked 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, and senior vice president and chief financial officer of the consumer products division. Before working at Discovery, Ulica spent 10 years with Time Life Inc., where he held management positions in finance and operations.

“It’s a great privilege to take on the role of president of the National Geographic Society. I look forward to working with the board of trustees and my colleagues, and to welcoming and supporting the new CEO, once that person is selected, to continue to deliver excellence across the Society and move our important mission forward,” said Ulica.

Wolstencroft has served on the National Geographic Society board for more than a decade. He took on the role of CEO of the organization when the Society’s then president and CEO, Gary Knell, became CEO of National Geographic Partners, the joint venture between the Walt Disney Company and the Society.

Wolstencroft announced internally in July that he would step down as President and CEO and focus his ongoing contributions to the Society as a member of the Board. Ulica will assume day-to-day responsibility for the Society commencing October 1.

“Leading the National Geographic Society through a consequential period of expansion has been a true honor. I believe we are now better positioned than ever before to extend our mission, expand our reach, and support our Explorers, photographers, educators and storytellers in even more ways with Disney as our new, valued partner,” said Wolstencroft.

Case added: “The board of trustees is most grateful to Tracy for his contributions at a pivotal moment in our 131-year history.  He has led our important relationship with National Geographic Partners, including the transition to a new joint venture partner, broadened and strengthened our world-class leadership team, and advanced a number of additional strategic partnerships that have allowed the Society to deliver on its impact-driven work. We look forward to his continued service as a fellow trustee.”

About National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of the world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 14,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories and content. To learn more, visit www.nationalgeographic.org or follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.