AT&T Names Former FCC Head William Kennard to Chairman Job


AT&T Inc. named William Kennard, a former head of the Federal Communications Commission and Carlyle Group veteran, as its next chairman, making him the first African American to hold that position in the 135-year history of the company.

Kennard will take over as chairman for ex-CEO Randall Stephenson, who is leaving the board in January, AT&T said on Friday. The carrier previously agreed that its new leader, John Stankey, wouldn’t be taking the chairman role -- a division that investors such as Elliott Management Corp. had sought.

AT&T Names Former FCC Head William Kennard to Chairman Job

The new chairman, 63, has served as an AT&T director since 2014, bringing government experience and diversity to the board. In 1997, Kennard was appointment by President Bill Clinton to become the first African American to serve as chairman of the FCC, holding the job until 2001. He also was the U.S. ambassador to the European Union from 2009 to 2013.

At the Carlyle Group, Kennard oversaw investments into telecom and media. He also was a partner at law firm Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson & Hand, which is now known as DLA Piper.

AT&T said having an independent chairman showed its commitment to “strong corporate governance.”

“Bill’s deep knowledge of communications, media and technology, proven leadership and broad experience across capital markets and government uniquely positions him to serve as AT&T’s new chairman,” Stephenson said in a statement.

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