2021 Awardee Profiles

American Horizon Award Recipient

William E. Kennard
Chairman of the Board
AT&T Inc.

William E. Kennard is Chairman of the Board of Directors of AT&T, Inc., a post he assumed in January 2021 upon the retirement of Randall Stephenson.

From 1997 to 2001, Mr. Kennard served as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, appointed by President Bill Clinton.  Mr. Kennard had served as the FCC’s General Counsel.  During his tenure at the FCC, he shaped policies that created an explosion of new wireless phones, Internet service, and investment in broadband technologies.  He also implemented bold new policies to bridge the digital divide.

Mr. Kennard served as the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union from December 2009 to August 2013, appointed by President Barack Obama.  As Ambassador, he worked actively to promote transatlantic trade and investment and to eliminate regulatory barriers to commerce.

Before serving as an ambassador, Mr. Kennard was a Managing Director at The Carlyle Group, a global asset management firm, where he led private equity investments in the telecommunications and media sectors.

Upon returning from Brussels in 2013, Mr. Kennard co-founded and serves as Chairman of Velocitas Partners LLC, an asset management firm.  He serves on several corporate boards, including Ford Motor Company and MetLife, Inc., and has also served on several nonprofit boards.

He has received many honors and awards including honorary degrees from Howard University, Gallaudet University, and Long Island University.

Mr. Kennard graduated from Stanford University and received his law degree from Yale Law School.  Mr. Kennard and his wife, Deborah, have one son and divide their time between Washington, D.C, and Charleston, S.C.

Freedom of Speech Award Recipient

Norah O’Donnell
Anchor and Managing Editor
“CBS Evening News”

Norah O’Donnell is the anchor and managing editor of the “CBS Evening News,” anchor of CBS News election specials, and a “60 Minutes” contributing correspondent.  She is an Emmy Award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience covering the biggest stories in the world and conducting impactful, newsmaking interviews.

Ms. O’Donnell has covered six presidential elections and traveled the globe to interview some of the world’s most important leaders, including seven of the last eight U.S. presidents.

Ms. O’Donnell led CBS News’s political coverage throughout the 2020 presidential election, the transition of presidential power, the new administration, and beyond.  Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, she spearheaded dogged reporting and also created and led a series of original reports called “Women and the Pandemic.”

Previously, Ms. O’Donnell was co-host of “CBS This Morning” and a contributor to “60 Minutes.”  Before that, she served as CBS News’s chief White House correspondent.

Prior to joining CBS News, Ms. O’Donnell worked for more than a decade at NBC News.  At NBC, she reported from the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.  She began her career as a print reporter for Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper.

Ms. O’Donnell has received numerous prestigious awards (often multiple times) including Emmy Awards, Sigma Delta Chi Awards, Edward R. Murrow Awards, Gracie Awards, Headliner Awards, and the Alfred I. DuPont Award.

Ms. O’Donnell sits on the board of directors of the International Women’s Media Foundation.  She holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from Georgetown University.  She is married to Geoff Tracy, a restaurateur in Washington, D.C.  They have three children.

Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

Senator Gordon Smith
President & CEO
National Association of Broadcasters

Gordon H. Smith joined the National Association of Broadcasters as President and CEO in November 2009.  Prior to joining NAB, he served as a two-term U.S. senator from Oregon and later as senior advisor in the Washington offices of Covington & Burling LLP.

Sen. Smith’s committee assignments in the U.S. Senate included the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, the panel that oversees all broadcast-related legislation.  Sen. Smith’s role on the Commerce Committee and as Chairman of a Senate High Tech Task Force helped foster his interest in new media and new technology issues.  He also served on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Finance Committee, and the Foreign Relations Committee.

Born in Pendleton, Ore., Sen. Smith attended Brigham Young University and received his law degree from Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles.  He practiced law in New Mexico and Arizona before returning to Oregon to direct the family-owned Smith Frozen Foods business in Weston.  Before his election to the U.S. Senate in 1996, he was elected to the Oregon State Senate, rising to the position of President of that body after only three years.

Sen. Smith and his wife, Sharon, live in Washington, D.C., and are the parents of three children and five grandchildren.