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Past VOA Directors

Sunday 17 October 2021

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Robert Reilly (2020-2021)

Robert Reilly spent more than 25 years in public service, beginning as a platoon leader in the 1st Squadron, 18th Armored Cavalry. After working in the private sector, Reilly returned to government service, first at the U.S. Information Agency, in the White House as a special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, and as Senior Advisor for Public Diplomacy at the U.S. Embassy in Berne, Switzerland, before coming to VOA. Reilly is also a lifelong devotee of classical music of the 20th and 21st centuries, and brought his interest and expertise to his work at both USIA and VOA.

Reilly served for a decade in the Office of Policy before his elevation to director. In that role, he hosted the program On the Line, during which he interviewed officials and scholars. He was on the air daily reading the VOA editorials. He took over as director as the events of 9/11 galvanized VOA into action, including the establishment of a successful Afghan national radio project. Reflecting music’s historically integral role at VOA, Reilly instituted a series of live noontime concerts with notable artists, open to the public and broadcast globally. He also presided over the 60th anniversary celebration at Voice of America that was headlined by President George W. Bush, who said to a worldwide audience, “Through a world war and a cold war, in crisis and in calm, the Voice of America has added to the momentum of freedom.”

After leaving VOA, Reilly was Senior Advisor for Information Strategy to the U.S. Secretary of Defense and served as senior advisor to the Iraq Ministry of Information during Operation Iraqi Freedom. When he left the Department of Defense, he taught at the College of International Security Affairs at National Defense University. Before rejoining VOA in 2020, Reilly was the Director of the Westminster Institute, headquartered in northern Virginia. He has written a significant number of books, chapters, monographs, and articles on a wide variety of subjects, including public diplomacy.

For a downloadable version of VOA Director Reilly's photo, click here.

VOA Director Amanda Bennett (2016-2020)

During Amanda Bennett’s tenure as the 29th director of the Voice of America, the network’s radio, television, and online audience grew by nearly 109 million people to 280.9 million a week. Under her leadership, VOA refocused on its core mission of bringing objective news and information to those without a free press, telling America’s story and explaining America’s government and policies to the world. In addition, the agency adopted a new tagline, “A Free Press Matters,” opened a Silicon Valley bureau to expand technology reporting, launched an investigative journalism unit and fact-checking team (Polygraph.info), established VOA’s first ever press freedom beat, created a dedicated blog and website for international students (Student Union), launched new programming, including new refugee- and women-focused television and radio shows, and introduced bridge editors across the agency to foster content sharing.

Amanda Bennett is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, investigative journalist and editor and was named Director of the Voice of America in March 2016. Through 2013, she was Executive Editor, Bloomberg News, where she created and ran a global team of investigative reporters and editors. She was also co-founder of Bloomberg News’ Women’s project. She was editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer from June 2003 to November 2006, and prior to that was editor of the Herald-Leader in Lexington, Kentucky. She also served for three years as managing editor/projects for The Oregonian in Portland. Bennett served as a Wall Street Journal reporter for more than 20 years. A graduate of Harvard College, she held numerous posts at the Journal, including auto industry reporter in Detroit in the late 70s and early 80s, Pentagon and State Department reporter, Beijing correspondent, management editor/reporter, national economics correspondent and, finally, chief of the Atlanta bureau until 1998, when she moved to The Oregonian. She has also been a contributing columnist for The Washington Post.

Bennett shared the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting with her Journal colleagues, and in 2001 led a team from The Oregonian to a Pulitzer for public service. Projects by the Bloomberg Projects and Investigations team won numerous awards, including Loeb, Polk, Barlett & Steele, Headliners, Society of American Business Editors and Writers and Overseas Press Club Awards. In October 2019, VOA Director Amanda Bennett was honored by the National Press Club Journalism Institute with the Fourth Estate Award which recognizes individuals that have made significant contributions to American journalism.

She was a member of the board of the Pulitzer Prizes from 2003 to 2011, and served as co-Chair of the Pulitzer Board in 2010. In addition, she serves on the board of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University; the Advisory Board of the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at University of Maryland; the Committee to Protect Journalists; and the Lenfest Institute in Philadelphia. She has also served on the boards of the Loeb Awards, the American Society of News Editors; and of the Fund for Investigative Journalism as well as the board of advisers of the Temple University Press; the board of directors of Axis Philly, a nonprofit local news site; and of the Rosenbach Museum, a Philadelphia museum of rare books.

She is the author of six books including “In Memoriam” (1998), co-authored with Terence B. Foley; “The Man Who Stayed Behind” (1993), co-authored with Sidney Rittenberg; “Death of the Organization Man” (1991) and “The Quiet Room” (1996), co-authored with Lori Schiller. “The Cost of Hope,” her memoir of the battle she and Foley, her late husband, fought against his kidney cancer, was published in June 2012 by Random House.

For a downloadable version of Director Bennett's achievements during her tenure, click here.

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