Debra Lee, Chairman and CEO of BET, joins Twitter’s board

Debra Lee, who has been CEO of Viacom’s Black Entertainment Television (BET) since 2005 and its chairman since 2006, has joined the board of Twitter. She tweeted out the news earlier today.

Thrilled to be joining the @twitter board. It’s transformed the media and the world like few other things in history (and continues to)!!

Twitter’s executive chairman, Omid Kordestani, quickly congratulated her publicly, via tweet (natch).

Lee has been with BET for most of her career, joining in 1986 as a VP and the company’s general counsel. She has also been the company’s chief operating officer and served as its president in the ensuing years. Prior to joining BET, she spent five years as an attorney with the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Steptoe & Johnson.
Twitter is far from Lee’s only board appointment. She also serves as a director with the Washington Gas Light Company, WGL Holdings, Marriott International, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, BET Holdings, Girls Inc., the Telecommunications Development Fund and the National Cable Television Association.
Lee has previously sat on the boards of Revlon, Eastman Kodak and Genuity, a major Internet carrier during the dot.com era that subsequently went bankrupt.  
According to a newly issued statement from Twitter, Lee will also chair the company’s Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee.
Lee joins two other women on the board of Twitter. British businesswoman Martha Lane Fox was appointed to the board last month, along with Hugh Johnston, vice chairman and CFO of PepsiCo.

In late 2013, the company also appointed former publishing executive Marjorie Scardino to its board. Indeed, following the company’s annual shareholder meeting on May 25, Scardino will preside over meetings of Twitter’s independent directors, approve proposed meeting agendas and schedules and call meetings of the board or independent directors.
In her new role, Scardino succeeds investor Peter Currie, whose term is ending, along with that of Hollywood exec Peter Chernin. Currie joined Twitter’s board in 2010; Chernin joined in 2012.
Twitter was widely expected to shake up its board following the return of Jack Dorsey to the role of CEO last fall.
Indeed, Kordestani is himself relatively new to the company, having become its executive chairman in October of last year.
Kordestani famously led Google’s business operations from its earliest days, transitioning out of his operational role after a decade and more recently becoming an advisor to the company’s founders as they created a new operating structure and formed the public holding company now known as Alphabet.
Kordestani left as he was joining Twitter.
Twitter has been criticized repeatedly over its lack of diversity, both within its workforce and, earlier, on its board. When the company went public in 2013, each of its directors was white and male, including then-CEO Dick Costolo.
In more recent years, it has repeatedly stressed its commitment to making the company a better reflection of its users.
According to Pew Research, 28 percent of black Internet users are on Twitter. Similarly, 28 percent of Hispanic internet users are on Twitter. Meanwhile, just 20 percent of white Internet users are on the platform. In terms of gender, 25 of male Internet users are on the platform, compared with 21 percent of female Internet users.
FEATURED IMAGE: ANDREW HARRER/GETTY IMAGES

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