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Past VOA Directors

Tuesday 7 April 2020

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VOA Director David Ensor (2011-2015)

Diplomat, executive, and journalist, David Ensor brought all these skills to Voice of America when he was appointed as its 28th director. At VOA he worked with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty to co-found the Russian-language television program Current Time (which grew into a network), and developed a partnership with the BBC to fight Ebola in Africa, pooling resources, data, and content to provide information more effectively and efficiently.

Under his leadership, VOA launched new television programs in at least 12 languages, and instituted a “digital first” approach to news production. Reflecting these platform initiatives, Ensor told The Washington Post in 2015 that in setting VOA’s overall policy “…one of the biggest efforts is moving our programming to the multiple platforms people use.” During his time with VOA, audience increased nearly 40 percent. Ensor also directed a 70th anniversary celebration for the organization and changed the VOA logo colors back to red, blue, and grey.

Prior to joining VOA, Ensor worked as the director of communications and public diplomacy at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. Previously, he was a journalist for thirty years, reporting for NPR, ABC, and CNN. Ensor covered the White House, foreign policy, and defense issues for National Public Radio from 1975 to 1980. He was a television correspondent for ABC News from 1980 to 1998 and served as CNN’s national security correspondent from 1998 to 2006. While at CNN Ensor also reported from battle lines in Chechnya, Bosnia, El Salvador, and Afghanistan, where he traveled by Soviet tank from Jalalabad to Kabul as the Russians began their withdrawal from that war-torn country.

After leaving Voice of America, Ensor became a member of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations and was a Shorenstein Resident Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. In 2017 he was named Director of the Project for Media and National Security at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

VOA Director Danforth Austin (2006-2011)

A news media executive with a business and journalism background, Dan Austin was appointed to develop a strategic plan for implementing increased use of new media technology at VOA. While director, Austin is credited with growing audiences across all platforms, overseeing critical internal reorganizations, and developing new programming strategies to reach audiences through new media platforms. He was responsible for increasing VOA’s reach via television to important audiences in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Tibet, and for expanding radio broadcasts to Somalia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Burma, North Korea, Venezuela, Haiti, and Georgia.

Austin received his B.S. in journalism from the University of Kansas. After Army service in the Vietnam War, Mr. Austin joined the Dallas, Texas bureau of The Wall Street Journal as a staff reporter. After further journalistic positions at WSJ, Austin transitioned his career into business management, eventually rising to the rank of vice president and general manager. He also served as chairman and chief executive officer of the community-news publishing arm of Dow Jones & Co., parent company of the Journal.

In 2012, Austin became a member of the Board of Directors for the Global Press Institute, a non-profit which supports empowering women in developing media markets around the world by training them to produce high-quality local news.

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