Press Release

National Geographic Society Names Three New Trustees: Ellen Stofan, Joseph M. DeSimone and Rajiv Shah

New Appointments Further Strengthen the Society’s Board Expertise in Science, Education, Innovation and Global Impact

The National Geographic Society today announced the election of Ellen Stofan, Joseph M. DeSimone and Rajiv Shah to its board of trustees. Stofan is the John and Adrienne Mars Director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. DeSimone is the executive chairman and co-founder of Carbon, a leading 3D printing company, which uses molecular science and groundbreaking technology to advance the reduction of material waste in manufacturing. Shah serves as president of the Rockefeller Foundation, a global institution with a mission to promote the well-being of humanity around the world.

“We could not be more delighted to add these three extraordinary leaders as trustees of the National Geographic Society,” said Board Chair Jean M. Case. “Ellen, Joe and Rajiv represent cross-sector expertise, diverse perspectives and outstanding achievements in the realms of space, medicine, global development, finance, technology and innovation, and come to the Society at a unique point in our 132-year history. We believe it is more important than ever before to double down on our mission of using the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world.”

With the addition of these three innovative leaders, the Board’s diversity expands to 39 percent female and 22 percent people of color and further deepens its expertise in the areas of science, innovation, technology, media and education. This multicultural and multidisciplinary lens is a hallmark of the National Geographic Society during Case’s tenure at the helm of the board and is a priority organization-wide, with the latest class of National Geographic Explorers – the scientists, conservationists, educators and storytellers the Society funds – the most diverse and multinational in the history of the organization.

Thanks to National Geographic Partners — the Society’s joint venture partnership with The Walt Disney Company which combines the global National Geographic television channels with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets — more people than ever before are engaging with National Geographic content, including an unprecedented number of educators, parents and students.

The Society’s leadership is enhanced by the addition of new CEO Jill Tiefenthaler, who began her role as CEO on August 3.

“I’m looking forward to working alongside these three new trustees, as well as the rest of the board, to advance the Society’s mission,” said Tiefenthaler. “The Society has shown, just in the past few months, that our mission is more critical than ever. We have rapidly deployed engaging learn-at-home educational resources, a global COVID-19 emergency fund for journalists and nine 2020-2021 Storytelling Fellowships. I’m grateful for the leadership and guidance that the board of trustees provides.”

More About Ellen StofanStofan is the first woman to hold her position at the National Air and Space Museum, which attracts millions of visitors each year, making it one of the world’s most popular museums. She was previously NASA’s chief scientist, where she helped guide the development of a long-range plan to get humans to Mars and provided input for the development of science policy in President Barack Obama’s administration. Stofan is the recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. She has co-authored two books about space, both published by National Geographic. Stofan earned her bachelor’s degree in geology at the College of William & Mary and her master’s and doctoral degrees at Brown University, both in geological sciences.

More About Joseph M. DeSimone

DeSimone is the executive chairman and co-founder of Carbon, which is marrying the intricacies of molecular science with hardware and software technologies to advance the 3D printing industry. He is one of only 25 individuals who have been elected to all three branches of the U.S. National Academies: the National Academy of Medicine (2014), the National Academy of Sciences (2012) and the National Academy of Engineering (2005). He has received more than 50 major awards and recognitions, including the National Academy of Sciences Award for Convergent Science, the Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment, and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, awarded by President Barack Obama. DeSimone is currently on leave from his roles at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University. He received his BS in Chemistry from Ursinus College, and his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Virginia Tech.

More About Rajiv Shah

Shah is president of the Rockefeller Foundation, a global institution with a mission to promote the well-being of humanity around the world. Previously, he was appointed USAID Administrator by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. During his tenure, he led the U.S. response to the Haiti earthquake and the West African Ebola pandemic and served on the National Security Council. Additionally, Shah has held roles at the Department of Agriculture, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, co-founded private equity firm Latitude Capital and served as a Distinguished Fellow in Residence at Georgetown University. Shah is a graduate of the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and the Wharton School of Business.

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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 our world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 15,000 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 or follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.