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Past VOA Directors

Sunday 5 July 2020

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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.

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.

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