Position: Chairman and CEO
Country: United States
Debra L. Lee is Chairman and CEO of BET Holdings, Inc. (BET), a media and entertainment company targeted to African Americans. She is the highest ranking African-American woman at BET's parent company Viacom, Inc. Prior to her appointment as COO in March 1996, Lee served as the networkâ€™s executive vice president of strategic business development. During her tenure at BET, Lee has played some of the most pivotal roles in the companyâ€™s history, including executive vice president and general counsel of BET's legal affairs department; corporate secretary; and president and publisher of BET's publishing division.
As a network, BET was the first of its kind in television history. Since its founding in 1980, BET has successfully pioneered an entire genre of music, entertainment, news and public affairs programming for African Americans -- a feat that some current and upstart networks are trying to duplicate. The majority of that success has come under the leadership and direction of Debra Lee.
At a time when most cable and broadcast networks are seeing virtually zero growth, Lee has delivered four consecutive seasons of record-setting ratings. She has also led the network's evolution into original movies, documentaries, concert specials, news, late-night talk shows and public policy coverage. Without question, BET represents the total network package for its audience and now reaches more than 78 million homes.
Ms. Lee is a director of Kodak Corp., WGL Holdings, Inc., Marriott International, Inc. and Revlon, Inc.
She holds a BA degree from Brown University and MA and JD degrees from Harvard University. She is affiliated with several professional and civic organizations.
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