AT&T has added former BET Networks head Debra Lee to its board of directors.
“Debra’s outstanding leadership, deep expertise and strong track record in the entertainment and media industry will be terrific additions to our board of directors,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO. “Her unique perspective as a media industry leader and operations executive, and her lifetime commitment to community service give her valuable insights I look forward to having on our board.”
As chairwoman and CEO of Viacom’s BET Networks, Lee increased the network’s budget by 50% and incorporated fresh, relevant programming into the network. She also developed CENTRIC as yet another outlet for African American movies, shows, and music.
She received the Distinguished Vanguard Award for Leadership from the National Cable Television Association, making her the first African American female executive to be bestowed with the honor. Other accolades include being named to The Hollywood Reporter’s 100 Most Powerful Women in Entertainment and Billboard’s Power 100 and is the only woman to be recognized by the GRAMMY Organization with its Salute to Industry Icons Award.
Lee has served on the boards of Twitter, Marriott International Inc., and is on the board of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.
She appeared on Black Enterprise’s Most Powerful Women in Business roster in 2017; Lee helped drive growth, ratings, and loyalty with African American audiences. Under her leadership, BET prioritized original programming like The Game, Being Mary Jane, and The New Edition Story. She also focused on live events and award shows like the Hip-Hop Awards, BET Experience, and The BET Awards.
She stepped down from BET in 2018 and issued the following statement:
“I have spent more than 20 years leading this incredible enterprise and I am so proud of the BET team and all that we have accomplished. As I look to the future, I believe it is the right time to take a step back from day-to-day responsibilities at BET.”
Prior to embarking on an accelerated media career, Lee earned a master’s degree in public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and a Juris Doctorate at Harvard Law School.