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Past VOA Directors

VOA Director Sanford J. Ungar (1999 - 2001)

Sanford “Sandy” Ungar, a journalist, author, and educator, served as the 24th Director of the Voice of America. Prior to becoming VOA Director, Ungar served as Dean of the School of Communication at American University and had an extensive and varied career as an international journalist. He has worked at Foreign Policy magazine, The Washington Post, The Atlantic magazine, UPI, Newsweek magazine, and NPR.

On July 3, 2000, Tibetans around the world were able to see their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, for the first time in 40 years via a VOA TV live transmission. The Dalai Lama was officiating at a Great Prayer Festival (Monlam Chenmo) on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The same year, VOA launched its main portal, voanews.com. By 2005, the VOA website was sixth in the world in Newsknife’s ranking of the top 10 news sites. Today, VOA offers its content on the Internet in all of its broadcast languages in a variety of formats, including podcasts, online chats, and RSS feeds.

After leaving VOA, Ungar was president of Goucher College in Towson, Maryland from 2001 to 2014. In 2006, Ungar instituted a mandatory study abroad requirement for all students, making Goucher the first university in the United States to do so. In spring 2015 Ungar joined Georgetown University, where he is director of The Free Speech Project. He teaches undergraduate seminars on Free Speech at both Georgetown University and Harvard College. Ungar is a graduate of Harvard College and the London School of Economics and the author of four nonfiction books.

VOA Director Evelyn S. Lieberman (1997-1999)

Evelyn Lieberman was a widely-respected and successful government public relations official when she was confirmed as director of the Voice of America in 1997. She was known to have strong organization and communication skills, crucial while serving as Senator Joe Biden’s Press Secretary, Assistant to First Lady Hillary Clinton’s Chief of Staff, first White House Deputy Chief of Staff, and as the first Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

Lieberman’s earliest work was as an English teacher, then later as a science librarian and public relations professional. While director of public affairs at the Children’s Defense Fund, she met board member and future first lady Hillary Clinton. She was press secretary to Senator Joseph Biden from 1988 to 1993. After Bill Clinton’s election to president, Lieberman joined the White House as assistant to the chief of staff in the first lady’s office, then later deputy assistant to the president and deputy press secretary for operations. Later, as President Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Lieberman concentrated on White House operations and administrative functions. It was as Deputy Chief of Staff that Lieberman famously dismissed former intern Monica Lewinsky for “spending too much time around the West Wing.”

While at VOA, Lieberman presided over expansion of worldwide English into a 24-hour-a-day production and launch of the Macedonian Service and production of television news to Serbia and Bosnia in the wake of Yugoslavia’s breakup.

After leaving VOA, Lieberman served as Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State, then Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Her final contribution was as Director of Communications and Public Affairs at the Smithsonian Institution, from 2002 until her death in 2015. She oversaw internal and external communications, the Office of Government Relations, the Office of Special Events and Protocol, and the Office of Visitor Services, and served under five Secretaries (chief executives) of the Smithsonian.

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