After 175 years, the Associated Press has its first woman and POC president
Daisy Veerasingham will take over from retiring president Gary Pruitt starting in January 2022.
The Associated Press has named Daisy Veerasingham to succeed retiring AP President Gary Pruitt starting in January, 2022, making her the first woman and person of color to lead the media company in its 175-year history.
Veerasingham, 51, is a first-generation British citizen of Sri Lankan descent with a degree in business law from London’s Warwick University.
The @AP has chosen Daisy Veerasingham to replace Gary Pruitt as president and CEO after he retires in December.
She will be the first woman, first person of color and first person from outside of the United States to lead the AP in its 175-year history.https://t.co/HHd1YhgiuR
— The Associated Press (@AP) August 3, 2021
Before joining AP, Veerasingham worked as a group sales and marketing director at LexisNexis and was appointed in sales and marketing roles at Financial Times.
In 2004, Veerasingham began her career as a sales director for AP Television News in London. She was eventually promoted to vice president of sales for Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia. She also led efforts to expand the company.
In 2019, she was promoted to senior vice president of international revenue and later as senior vice president and chief revenue officer.
"During her 17 years at AP, Veerasingham has grown revenue, diversified the news agency’s customer base — especially internationally — and introduced new business models. She also led the transformation of AP’s video business, making it fully digital-capable and market competitive, with a focus on multichannel live video delivery," an AP press release read.
In her first promotion of 2021, AP appointed Veerasingham as executive vice president and chief operating officer in February. She was named president during a board of directors meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 3.
Every time I see a Sri Lankan in journalism, I get so excited because there are so few of us. To see a first-generation British national of Sri Lankan descent rise to this position and become the first woman and first POC to lead the AP is so beautiful and exciting and emotional! https://t.co/Z6fSLUSxFX
— Christine Fernando (@christinetfern) August 3, 2021
Steven R. Swartz, chairman of the AP Board of Directors and President and CEO of Hearst, said that the incoming president is a “proven leader” with a clear understanding of how the company operates, and a promising vision for its future.
“She appreciates the crucial role AP plays in providing journalism and services that are indispensable to the news industry,” Swartz said in a statement published by AP.
Pruitt said in a statement that he felt it was the right time to “pass the baton,” adding that after working closely with her over the past decade, he believes there is no better person than Veerasingham to lead AP into its next chapter.
“I am thrilled to take the helm of this deeply respected news organization and work with colleagues who do extraordinary work every day in support of our mission,” Veerasingham said.
She also spoke highly of her predecessor, expressing gratitude for Pruitt’s support, saying that he has been a “true champion” of hers.
It is expected that Veerasingham will help boost diversity in the publication’s income sources, where 40% of its revenue is now generated internationally.
In her statement, she made a commitment to maintaining AP as a fact-based news source, and to continue to fight for freedom of the press.
“These are values that are core to the AP since its founding 175 years ago,” Veerasingham said. “I think that they are actually more important today.”
— Shawna Chen (@shawnarchen) August 3, 2021
Veerasingham now joins the growing list of Asian women who have taken over as leaders of media companies, including Versha Sharma, editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue, Gina Chua, Executive Editor of Reuters, and Sara Kehaulani Goo, executive editor of Axios.
Even 175-year glass ceilings can be broken.