BBG Watch Commentary

Susan McCue
Susan McCue
BBG member Victor Ashe
Victor Ashe

Two Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) members who have been some of the strongest supporters of reforms at Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) were elected today (April 10, 2013) to lead the RFE/RL corporate board. Susan McCue has become RFE/RL Corporate Board Chair and Ambassador Victor Ashe  RFE/RL Corporate Board Vice-Chair. McCue, who was previously RFE/RL Board Vice-Chair, is replacing Dennis Mulhaupt as the head of the corporate board. Mulhaupt resigned from the BBG on Tuesday (April 9) and from his RFE/RL board position. RFE/RL’s corporate board is made up of all members of the BBG. There are now only five BBG members, instead of nine.

Absentee BBG Interim Presiding Governor Michael Lynton has missed BBG board and committee meetings, as well as RFE/RL board meetings, since January.  After the resignation of Dennis Mulhaupt, the BBG board would not have a quorum if Lynton were not present, but RFE/RL board needs only four members to have a quorum.

McCue and Ashe have been especially active recently trying to resolve the management crisis at RFE/RL. They have received strong support from BBG member Michael Meehan and Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine who represents Secretary of State John Kerry at BBG and RFE/RL board meetings. Kerry is an ex officio member of both BBG and RFE/RL boards.

Susan McCue spearheaded the selection of Kevin Klose, a distinguished journalist and former NPR president, to become RFE/RL’s acting president after former president Steven Korn resigned. The crisis at RFE/RL deepened after Steven Korn had fired dozens of Radio Liberty journalists in Russia.

Klose enjoys strong support from all BBG members and has been working closely with McCue and Ashe.

Sources told BBG Watch that both McCue and Ashe are confident that Klose is making the right changes and taking RFE/RL in the right direction. One of his tasks is believed to be reintegrating back into Radio Liberty Russian journalists who were fired last September.  Both McCue and Ashe strongly support this move, sources told BBG Watch, as do Meehan and Sonenshine.

Ted Lipien, director of the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB, told BBG Watch that  the election of Susan McCue as RFE/RL Board Chair and Ambassador Victor Ashe as RFE/RL Board Vice-Chair just one day after the resignation of Mr. Mulhaupt is a highly positive development and shows that most of the remaining BBG members are engaged and ready to provide strong leadership.

“Ms. McCue and Ambassador Ashe are both outstanding public servants who care deeply about U.S. international broadcasting and believe in the mission of  serving those who need access to uncensored news and objective information denied to them by their governments or because of lack of media development. Both of them have  advanced U.S. public diplomacy and national security interests through their vigilant oversight of  U.S. international broadcasting,” Lipien said.

Susan McCue was also elected as chair of the BBG Governance Committee. Victor Ashe was also elected chair of the RFE/RL Audit Committee.

Lyudmila Alexeeva with RFE/RL Board Co-Chair and BBG member Susan McCue.
Lyudmila Alexeeva with RFE/RL Board Co-Chair and BBG member Susan McCue, Washington, DC, March 1, 2013. On April 10, 2013, Susan McCue became RFE/RL Board Chair.

Susan McCue is President of Message Global, a strategic advocacy firm she founded in 2008 for social action campaigns.

She was the founding President and CEO of The ONE Campaign to combat extreme global poverty and was Chief of Staff to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from 1999 to 2007. Before that she held numerous communications positions in government and campaigns. She is currently Vice Chair of Humanity United and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

A New Jersey native, Ms. McCue is a graduate of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., with degrees in economics and journalism.

McCue is co-chair of the Communications and Outreach Committee, chair of its subcommittee on Innovation and is now chair of the Governance Committee. She is also now  Chair of the Board of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

McCue was appointed to the board on July 2, 2010 to a term expiring on August 13, 2011. By law, any member whose term has expired may serve until a successor has been appointed and qualified.

Left to right, Gov. Meehan, RFA President Libby Liu, Gov. McCue, Gov. Ashe and Aung San Suu Kyi, Dec. 2012.

Ambassador Ashe holds the distinction of being the longest serving mayor of Knoxville. During his time in office, from 1988 to 2003, he was the President to the U.S. Conference of Mayors from 1994 to 1995 and received their Distinguished Service Award for Leadership in 2003.

Ashe served as the United States Ambassador to Poland from June 2004 to October 2009. In 2004, he was a Fellow at Harvard University’s JFK Institute of Politics.

From 1968 until 1974, Ashe served as a Tennessee State Representative. In 1975, he was elected State Senator and held office until 1984. Ashe served in 1967 as a staff assistant to US Sen. Howard Baker. He was executive director of the Americans Outdoors Commission, 1985-1987 chaired by Sen. Lamar Alexander (then Governor).

Five U.S. Presidents, beginning with President Ronald Reagan, have named Ashe to different federal positions. He is the first former Ambassador and local elected official to serve on the BBG.

Ashe currently sits on the Board of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the American Rivers Association, and is a former member of the AmeriCorps Board of Directors. He is president of the Great Smoky Mountains Conservation Association, chair of the Tennessee Clean Water Network, both based in Knoxville, Tenn., and chair of the Douglas Henry State Museum Commission located in Nashville, Tenn.

Ambassador Ashe earned a B.A. in History from Yale University in 1967 and graduated from the College of Law at the University of Tennessee in 1974.

Ashe is a member of the Governance Committee and the Strategy and Budget Committee, serves as Corporate Board Vice Chair of Radio Free Asia (RFA), sits on the audit committees of RFA and  now chairs Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty audit committee.  He also chairs the audit committee of the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.

Ashe was confirmed to the board on June 30, 2010 to a term expiring on August 13, 2010. By law, any member whose term has expired may serve until a successor has been appointed and qualified.

He is married to the former Joan Plumlee and they have two children: J. Victor and Martha.

Ashe welcomes comments and views on BBG issues. He can be reached by phone at 865 523-6573, email at, or mail addressed to his residence at 3709 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, Tenn., 37919.