Senator Gordon Smith of NAB To Receive Lifetime Achievement Award at Oct. 20 Event

FOR RELEASE: August 5, 2021

Contact: Richard T. Kaplar
The Media Institute

Arlington, Va., August 5, 2021 – The Media Institute will honor William E. Kennard, chairman of the board of AT&T, Inc., Norah O’Donnell, anchor and managing editor of the “CBS Evening News,” and NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith at its annual “Free Speech America” Gala on Oct. 20.  The Gala will be in virtual format once again.

William Kennard will receive the American Horizon Award, while Norah O’Donnell will receive the Freedom of Speech Award.  Sen. Gordon Smith will receive a special Lifetime Achievement Award, and will also be the event’s Featured Speaker.  The master of ceremonies will be noted communications attorney Richard E. Wiley of Wiley Rein LLP.   

Willliam Kennard has served on the AT&T board since 2014 and became chairman in January 2021.  Mr. Kennard was the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union from 2009 to 2013.   From 1997 to 2001, he served as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.  His FCC tenure was marked by an explosion in wireless phones and broadband technology.

Norah O’Donnell is the anchor and managing editor of the “CBS Evening News.”  She also anchors CBS News election specials and is a contributing correspondent for “60 Minutes.”  An Emmy Award-winning journalist, Ms. O’Donnell has spent more than two decades covering major stories around the globe and interviewing some of the world’s most important leaders.

Senator Gordon Smith is President and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters.  He joined NAB in 2009 following two terms as a U.S. senator.  After more than a decade as the voice of U.S. television and radio broadcasters, Senator Smith announced he would retire at the end of 2021, capping a career of unparalleled leadership in both government and industry.

Master of Ceremonies Dick Wiley is Chairman Emeritus of Wiley Rein LLP and is a former FCC chairman.  He serves as Chairman of the Board of The Media Institute.

The American Horizon Award recognizes an individual for visionary leadership in the communications industry.  The Freedom of Speech Award recognizes an individual who has worked to advance free speech, a free press, and the First Amendment.

The Media Institute is a nonprofit foundation specializing in communications policy and the First Amendment.  For more information, visit the Institute online at

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