Judith McHale is the former President and Chief Executive Officer of Discovery Communications. In that role, McHale was responsible for the overall strategic direction, business development and operations of all Discovery resources and properties in the United States and around the world. McHale was named President and Chief Executive Officer in June 2004. McHale had previously been President and Chief Operating Officer, a post she was apponted to in 1995. Under her leadership, Discovery Communications grew from its core property, the Discovery Channel, first launched in 1985, to become the leading global real-world media and entertainment company. Discovery Communications now operates in 170 countries and territories reaching 1.4 billion total subscribers.
McHale led Discovery’s development in television, advanced media, education, online and retail services. Her leadership in expanding Discovery’s television services included the acquisitions of TLC in 1991, Travel Channel in 1997 and the launches of Animal Planet in 1996 and the Discovery Health Channel in 1999. She developed strategic partnerships around the world including Discovery’s global alliance with the BBC. McHale also expanded Discovery’s retail services by acquiring The Nature Company stores in 1996, creating a nationwide chain of more than 100 Discovery Channel Stores. Under McHale’s leadership, Discovery enhanced its strategic position in the education business by forming Discovery Education in 2004. In 2006, Discovery launched COSMEO, a revolutionary online homework help service that harnesses the power of broadband and media to help kids achieve academic breakthroughs. During her tenure, annual revenues of the company increased ten-fold from $300 million to over $ 3 Billion.
McHale has been acknowledged as a leader in creating innovative solutions to help employees manage the challenges they face in balancing the demands of work and their personal lives. In 1999, she created the company’s work/life initiative designed to provide better opportunities to strike that balance. Due to such innovative approaches, Discovery Communications was selected as one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers by Working Mother magazine for seven consecutive years. In 2004, the magazine named McHale “National Family Champion” for her leadership in building a family friendly workplace. Discovery has been selected by Fortune, Health and Washingtonian magazines as a great place to work.
Before joining Discovery in 1987 as its General Counsel, McHale served as General Counsel for MTV Networks, where she was responsible for legal affairs for MTV, Nickelodeon and VH 1. McHale began her career as an attorney at the New York law firm of Battle, Fowler. McHale graduated from Fordham Law School and earned her undergraduate degree in politics from the University of Nottingham in England.
McHale is a member of the Boards of Directors of Polo/Ralph Lauren where she sits on the Audit Committee, and, Host Hotels and Resorts where she is a member of the Compensation Committee and is Chair of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee. McHale was previously a member of the Boards of Potomac Power and Electric Company (PEPCO) and John Hancock Life Insurance Company. In 1998 McHale was appointed by Governor Parris Glendenning to a four year term as a member of the Maryland State Board of Education.