Debra L. Lee

Chairman and CEO, BET Networks, 2012 Cable Hall of Fame


Debra L. Lee is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BET Networks, a unit of Viacom Inc., the leading provider of entertainment for the African-American audience and consumers of Black culture globally. Under her leadership, Ms. Lee has led the company’s successful reinvigorated brand and successful programming vision that has created hits such as Let’s Stay Together, The Game on BET, Black Girls Rock!, the BET Honors, Sunday Best and many more, resulting in consistent increases in viewership and revenue.

Prior to her being named Chairman and CEO, Ms. Lee was President and Chief Operating Officer. She first joined BET as Vice President and General Counsel in 1986 after serving as an attorney with Washington, D.C.-based Steptoe & Johnson, and before that a law clerk to the late Honorable Barrington Parker of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Ms. Lee serves on the corporate board of directors of Revlon, Marriott and Washington Gas & Light. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees for Brown University and also serves on the boards of the Paley Center for Media, the Ad Council, the Grammy Foundation, and was appointed by the White House to the President’s Management Advisory Boardand is a member emeritus of the Federal Communications Commission’s Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age.

Ms. Lee earned her juris doctorate at Harvard Law School, while simultaneously earning a master’s degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government. She graduated from Brown University with a bachelor’s degree in political science with an emphasis in Asian politics. Ms. Lee resides in Washington, D.C., with her two children.

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