AT&T — the world’s largest telecommunications and media company — now joins the slew of U.S. companies being corporately-governed by Black leaders.
Today, AT&T’s board of directors announced that it has selected U.S. Ambassador William E. Kennard to serve as its chairman. He will replace current executive chairman Randall Stephenson, effective January 2021.
According to Black Enterprise, this appointment in particular holds much significance as the former FCC Chairman now represents a handful of Black executives who have risen to lead corporate governance at the country’s largest publicly traded companies.
Earlier this year, AT&T announced its plan to elect an independent chairman upon Stephenson’s retirement — following his 13-year tenure with the company — as part of its commitment to strong leadership.
“Bill’s deep knowledge of communications, media and technology, proven leadership and broad experience across capital markets and government uniquely positions him to serve as AT&T’s new chairman,” Stephenson said in a statement. “He is an outstanding choice to lead our board of talented directors who possess diverse expertise and experience.”
According to a news release, newly-appointed Chairman Kennard previously served as general counsel to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission from 1993 to 1997. He was later appointed as FCC Chairman, a position he held until 2001.
Additionally, Kennard served as the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union from 2009 to 2013, and even held positions with global companies such as The Carlyle Group, where he led investments in the telecommunications and media sectors, and the law firm of Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand (now DLA Piper), where he was a partner and member of the Board of Directors.
Kennard expressed his excitement about his new position in a formal statement:
“It’s an honor to be selected to serve as chairman of AT&T’s board of directors. On behalf of the board, I want to thank Randall for his outstanding leadership and countless contributions as chairman. We wish him all the best. I look forward to working with our CEO and fellow board member John Stankey and the entire board to continue creating long-term value for all stakeholders – investors, customers, employees and the communities we serve.”
Kennard originally joined AT&T’s board of directors in 2014. He now currently serves on the corporate governance and nominating committee as well as the public policy and corporate reputation committee.
Kennard is an accomplished leader across many sectors as he currently serves on the boards of Duke Energy Corporation, Ford Motor Company, MetLife, Inc., and Yale University, where he received his law degree.