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Susan NessSusan Ness

Senior Fellow

A Senior Fellow at the SAIS Center for Transatlantic Relations (CTR), Susan Ness is a former commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission and the founder of Susan Ness Strategies, a communications policy consulting firm. She frequently speaks on domestic and global communications policy and on women’s leadership.

At the SAIS CTR, she focuses on information and communications technology policy issues and the transatlantic partnership. She created and chairs the annual SAIS Global Conference on Women in the Boardroom, and launched the website as a repository for research, articles and documents on global boardroom diversity initiatives. The SAIS Center will host its fifth Global Conference on Women in the Boardroom on Tuesday, September 16, 2014. 

Commissioner Ness served on the Federal Communications Commission from 1994 to 2001, where she played a leading role on spectrum policy issues, championed competition and spectrum auctions, and fostered new technologies, including PCS, digital television, digital satellite and terrestrial radio, wireless broadband, and unlicensed services. She worked to connect schools and libraries to the Internet and forged stakeholder consensus on a standard for digital television. Internationally, she was FCC's senior representative at three ITU WRC conferences and participated in many bilateral and multinational negotiations on trade, spectrum, and standards. 

From 2005 to 2007, she was the founding president and CEO of GreenStone Media, LLC, which produced talk programming targeting women for syndication on radio and other platforms.  At its peak, GreenStone Media produced 63 hours per week of original, award-winning programs.

From 2001 to 2002, Ms. Ness was Distinguished Visiting Professor of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, where she taught graduate seminars on domestic and global communications policy, and was Director of Information and Society at the Annenberg Public Policy Center. Prior to the FCC, she was vice president and group head of a national bank, funding communications sector companies, and was assistant counsel to the Banking Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Ms. Ness currently serves on the board of directors of Gannett Co, Inc (NYSE-GCI), and previously served on two other corporate boards.   She presently serves on the William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (vice chair (2012 and 2013), which oversees the Fulbright scholarship program.  She also is on the board of Vital Voices Global Partnership, an NGO that identifies and invests in extraordinary women worldwide.  She is a trustee of the Committee for Economic Development (CED), and is an affiliated expert of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF).  Ms. Ness is a member of the District of Columbia Bar, the Federal Communications Bar Association, and Women Corporate Directors (WCD). Her prior Montgomery County, Maryland civic leadership positions included: Charter Review Commission chair, Commission for Women president and Community Access TV Task Force vice chair.  

Among the many honors and awards she received for her work are:  the International Radio and Television Society 1999 Achievement Award; the Digital Television Pioneer Award; Electronic Media's "12 to Watch in 1997;" the Annenberg School for Communication’s Edward L. Palmer Award; the  National Association of Broadcasters’ Engineering and Technology Achievement Award; American Women in Radio and Television’s first “Advocates” Award; the District of Columbia AWRT Leadership Award; and the Wireless Women’s Network’s first Leadership Award.  Rutgers University inducted her into its Hall of Distinguished Alumni and Douglass College inducted her into the Douglass Society.

She received a B.A. in political science/international relations from Douglass College, and served on the board of directors of WRSU Radio (Rutgers University). During her junior year, she studied multilingualism in Geneva, Switzerland with Sarah Lawrence College. She earned a J.D., cum laude, from Boston College Law School, and an M.B.A. in finance from The Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania.

Languages: French; limited Spanish, German & Dutch.

Contact Information:
Phone: 301.654.3925


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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The 2014 SAIS Global Conference on Women in the Boardroom Public Plenary Session
Kenney Auditorium