Lee joined Viacom’s BET Networks in 1986 and stepped down from her role in May 2018. At BET, she served in several leadership roles, including COO and general counsel, before she served as chairman and CEO at BET from 2006 until her retirement.
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“Debra’s outstanding leadership, deep expertise and strong track record in the entertainment and media industry will be terrific additions to our board of directors,” Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “Her unique perspective as a media industry leader and operations executive, and her lifetime commitment to community service give her valuable insights I look forward to having on our board.”
Lee had joined Twitter’s board in May 2016 and will be exiting the position at the end of August. “Twitter is a terrific company with a clear mission and strong leadership team,” she said in a statement. “I believe Twitter has a bright future, and I wish [CEO] Jack [Dorsey] and the entire company continued success.”
Lee also is the founder of Leading Women Defined, an annual gathering of prominent African-American women that launched in 2009, and serves on the board of Marriott International as well as several professional and civic organizations, including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She is a past chair of the Advertising Council and trustee emeritus at Brown University. Lee holds a bachelor’s degree from Brown University, a law degree from Harvard Law School and a master’s in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Lee is the fourth woman to join AT&T’s board, which will expand to 13 members with her addition. Other women on the board are Beth Mooney, chairman and CEO of KeyCorp; Cynthia Taylor, president and CEO of Oil States International; and Laura D’Andrea Tyson, distinguished professor of the graduate school at the Haas School of Business and chair of the Blum Center for Developing Economies board of trustees at the University of California, Berkeley.
The other members of the telco’s board are Stephenson; Matthew Rose; retired chairman and CEO of Burlington Northern Santa Fe; Samuel Di Piazza Jr., retired global CEO of PricewaterhouseCoopers; Richard Fisher, former president and CEO of Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas; Scott Ford, CEO of Westrock Group; Glenn Hutchins, chairman of North Island and co-founder of Silver Lake; William Kennard, former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union and former chairman of the FCC; Michael McCallister, retired chairman of and CEO of Humana; and Geoffrey Yang, founding partner and managing director, Redpoint Ventures.