Richard Stengel

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Richard Stengel
Richard Stengel 2014.jpg
Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs
In office
February 14, 2014 – December 7, 2016[1]
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Tara Sonenshine
Succeeded by Irwin Goldstein
Managing Editor of Time
In office
June 15, 2006 – September 12, 2013
Preceded by Jim Kelly
Succeeded by Nancy Gibbs
Chairperson and CEO of the National Constitution Center
In office
March 1, 2004 – June 1, 2006
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Joe Torsella
Succeeded by Joe Torsella
Personal details
Born May 2, 1955
New York City, New York, U.S.
Spouse(s) Mary Pfaff-Stengel
Children Gabe and Anton Stengel
Alma mater Princeton University
Christ Church, Oxford

Richard Allen "Rick" Stengel (born May 2, 1955) is an American editor, journalist and author.[2] He was Time magazine's 16th managing editor from 2006 to 2013.[3] He was also chief executive of the National Constitution Center from 2004 to 2006, and served as President Obama's Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs from 2014 to 2016.[4][5][1] Stengel has written a number of books, including a collaboration with Nelson Mandela on Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom.[6][7] Stengel is currently an on-air analyst at MSNBC, a strategic advisor at Snap Inc., and a Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council.[8][9]

Early life and education[edit]

Stengel was born and brought up in Scarsdale, New York.[4] He attended Princeton University and played on the Princeton Tigers basketball team as part of the 1975 National Invitation Tournament.[10] He graduated magna cum laude in 1977.[10] After college, he won a Rhodes Scholarship and studied English and history at Christ Church, Oxford.[10]


Early career[edit]

Stengel joined Time in 1981[3] and contributed to the magazine through the early and mid-1980s, including articles on South Africa, which he also covered for Rolling Stone magazine.[6] He became a senior writer and essayist[10] for Time, covering both the 1988 and 1996 presidential campaigns.[3]

While working for Time, Stengel also wrote for The New Yorker, The New Republic, Spy, and the New York Times[10] and appeared on television as a commentator,[10] even contributing to Indecision '92, the 1992 Comedy Central coverage of the Democratic National Convention in New York.[11] Using his experiences as a journalist as a basis, in 1998 Stengel taught a course at Princeton on "Politics and the Press".[10] He was one of the original on-air contributors for MSNBC.[12]

Stengel left Time in 1999, to become a senior advisor and chief speechwriter for Bill Bradley who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for the 2000 presidential election.[3][edit]

Stengel returned to Time in 2000[3] and took on the role of managing editor of[13][14] As announced by Time Inc. in May 2000, Stengel replaced Richard Duncan in the role and took on the responsibilities of overseeing news coverage and editorial content.[14] He later held several other roles at Time, including a period as national editor of the magazine.[10]

National Constitution Center[edit]

Stengel left his role as national editor of Time in February 2004[15] to become the president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, a museum and education center in Philadelphia on 1 March 2004.[4] He succeeded Joe Torsella (who resigned to seek a seat in the U.S. House from the 13th district) in the position, with the role of raising the center's profile, adding to its endowment, and increasing the number of visitors.[4] At the Constitution Center, Stengel was responsible for starting the Peter Jennings Institute, offering constitutional training for journalists;[16] Constitution High, a charter school for students interested in history and government; summer teacher institutes; and brought the Liberty Medal to the organization.[17]

Managing editor of Time[edit]

In 2006, Stengel once again returned to Time, this time as managing editor of the magazine. The appointment was announced on 17 May 2006 by the Editor in Chief of Time Inc., John Huey, and he officially entered the role on 15 June 2006[10] as the 16th managing editor of the magazine, which was in its 83rd year at the time.[3] In his role as managing editor, Stengel oversees Time magazine, which is one of the largest magazines worldwide, and,[10] as well as Time Books, and Time for Kids.[18]

His first major initiative was to change the magazine's newsstand date to Friday, starting in early 2007.[19] Following this, Stengel implemented an ambitious graphic redesign[20] and changes in the magazine's content, stating that he wanted the magazine to be more selective and to represent "knowledge" rather than "undigested information." He increased reporting on war and politics, giving Time a more focused editorial profile. In his first year as managing editor, Stengel selected "You" as Time's "Person of the Year", which was the subject of much media coverage and debate.[13] In 2010, Time chose another social media-oriented "Person of the Year", Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.[21]

In 2008, Stengel approved the changing of Time's emblematic red border for only the second time since its adoption. The border was changed to green for a special issue focused on the environment.[22] The cover, which included an altered version of Joe Rosenthal's iconic Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima photograph—substituting a tree for the American flag—was criticized by some veterans groups. Explaining the analogy, Stengel stated his belief that there "needs to be an effort along the lines of preparing for World War II to combat global warming and climate change".[23]

Under his leadership, Time has reported on significant world events such as its coverage of the Iraq war, which he describes in an editorial as necessary in order to remind people not to "turn away",[24] and the 2008 presidential campaign.[25] Following the election, president-elect Barack Obama was selected by Stengel as "Person of the Year" for Obama's 14th appearance on Time's cover in 2008.[26] Stengel writes editorials for Time, including a 2010 piece explaining their use on Time's cover of a portrait of an 18-year-old Afghan woman whose nose and ears had been cut off by the Taliban as a punishment for running away from her in-laws.[27] For a Time cover story in December 2010, he interviewed WikiLeaks spokesperson Julian Assange over Skype, in which Assange called for the resignation of United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.[28]

Stengel was listed as number 41 on Newsweek's 2010 "Power 50" list in November 2010.[29] He also regularly appears on shows such as CNN's American Morning[13] and MSNBC's Morning Joe to promote the magazine.[30]

In 2012, Stengel received a News & Documentary Emmy Award for his work as executive producer on's Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience[31][32] and, on behalf of Time Magazine, Stengel accepted the "Magazine of the Year" award at the National Magazine Awards.[33][34] In May of the same year, Stengel interviewed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a cover story of his that referred to Netanyahu as the "King of Israel".[35][36] In November 2012, Stengel conducted an interview with Mohamed Morsi after he became Egypt's president.[37] Among other coverage, the interview drew media attention for Morsi's remarks on the 1968 science fiction film Planet of the Apes.[38][39]

Richard Stengel visits the Sawab Center in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, the first-ever multinational online messaging and engagement program in support of the global coalition against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)

Stengel was away from TIME magazine's office for several months from July to September 2013 due to personal reasons. On September 12, 2013 Stengel announced he would be leaving TIME magazine for a role as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs,[40] the role responsible for leading "America's public diplomacy outreach, which includes communications with international audiences, cultural programming, academic grants, educational exchanges, international visitor programs, and U.S. Government efforts to confront ideological support for terrorism," according to the State Department's website.[41]

National Service Movement[edit]

In September 2007, Stengel wrote a Time cover story called "The Case For National Service" in which he argued that Americans needed to redouble their efforts to get involved in community service and volunteerism, and that the presidential candidates needed to make the issue a top priority in the 2008 presidential campaign.[42] Through this essay, he became involved with national service groups Be the Change, City Year, Civic Enterprises, and others to form ServiceNation, a coalition of more than 100 organizations dedicated to promoting national service and volunteerism.[43]

ServiceNation announced that it had secured both U.S. Presidential candidates to participate in Presidential Forum on National Service at Columbia University on 11 September 2008.[44] Stengel served as co-moderator of the forum, along with PBS journalist Judy Woodruff, and both Senators Barack Obama and John McCain answered questions in front of a live audience at Columbia University about their plans for national service.[45][46]

On 12 September 2008, Stengel was a featured speaker at the ServiceNation Summit in New York, along with Caroline Kennedy, Senator Hillary Clinton, First Lady Laura Bush and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.[47] In February 2009, he testified alongside Usher Raymond, former U.S. Senator Harris Wofford and others, in front of the United States House Committee on Education and Labor about the importance of national service,[48] leading to the passage of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act (H.R. 1388). Among other provisions, the bill helped to establish a Summer of Service Program, increase the number of AmeriCorps opportunities and establish a nationwide Call to Service Campaign.[49]

Stengel was awarded Citizen of the Year at the Annual National Conference on Citizenship on 17 September 2010.[50] He has also been presented with the 2010 Lifetime of Idealism Award, awarded to him by City Year Washington, D.C. for "his commitment to promoting and expanding opportunities for Americans to serve".[51]


Stengel has authored several books including January Sun: One Day, Three Lives, A South African Town, a non-fiction work about the lives of three men in rural South Africa, published in 1990[6] and You're Too Kind: A Brief History of Flattery a popular history of flattery, published in 2000.[52] Mandela's Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love and Courage was released in March 2010 and is based on Stengel's personal interactions with Nelson Mandela.[53][54] The book has drawn praise from President Bill Clinton, Deepak Chopra, and Harvard's Henry Louis Gates, Jr.[54] In 2012, Stengel edited and wrote the lead essay for the book The Constitution: The Essential User's Guide, which explored the relevance of the U.S. Constitution in modern-day events.[55]

The book that Stengel is best known for is his collaboration with Nelson Mandela on Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom.[7] In 1992, he signed a ghostwriting deal with publishers Little, Brown to work on the book, having first been cleared by the African National Congress as a suitable author.[7] The book was published in 1995, and was praised by the Financial Times, which stated: "Their collaboration produced surely one of the great autobiographies of the 20th century".[56] Stengel later served as co-producer of the 1996 documentary film Mandela, which was nominated for an Academy Award.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Stengel is married to Mary Pfaff, a native of South Africa. They have two sons, Gabe and Anton.[10] The couple met while Stengel was in South Africa working on Nelson Mandela's autobiography, and Mandela was godfather to their oldest son, Gabriel.[57]

Honorary degrees[edit]

Stengel delivered the commencement address and received honorary doctorates from Wittenberg University in 2009,[58] Wheaton College in 2011[59] and Butler University in 2012.[60]


  1. ^ a b "Foreign Service Retirements, and State Department Farewells and Departures". December 8, 2016. Retrieved December 8, 2016. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d e f Katharine Q. Seelye (18 May 2006). "Richard Stengel Is Chosen to Be Top Editor at Time". New York Times. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Paper: Time magazine editor to be new National Constitution Center president". Associated Press. Associated Press. 2 February 2004. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c Anne Marie Welsh (20 May 1990). "Journalist Paints a South African Reality". San Diego Union-Tribune. 
  7. ^ a b c Beresford, David (13 November 1992). "Ghost Writer Hired To Speed Way Of Mandela Story". The Guardian (London). 
  8. ^ "Snapchat hires senior state department official Rick Stengel to deepen its ties with Washington". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-04-15. 
  9. ^ Horne, Travis. "Richard Stengel named distinguished fellow with the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 2018-04-15. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Richard Stengel Named Managing Editor of Time". Time Warner. 17 May 2006. Archived from the original on 24 May 2006. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  11. ^ Winneker, Craig (13 July 1992). "Unconventional Wisdom; Comedy Central on Air This Week With 'Indecision '92'". Roll Call. 
  12. ^ Stengel, Richard. "Author's Bio". Archived from the original on 13 February 2005. Retrieved 24 November 2010. 
  13. ^ a b c Hagan, Joe (4 March 2007). "The Time of Their Lives". New York Magazine. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  14. ^ a b K.D. Shirkani (11 May 2000). "Time Inc. Leafs Through Top Exex". Daily Variety. 
  15. ^ Keith J. Kelly (3 February 2004). "Time National Editor Quits for Museum Job". The New York Post. 
  16. ^ "Richard Stengel". Retrieved 1 December 2010. 
  17. ^ Joseph A. Slobodzian (12 May 2006). "Liberty Medal nears its independence". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  18. ^ "Time's Managing Editor Stengel to Deliver Bullion Lecture on April 21". Targeted News Service. 9 April 2008. 
  19. ^ Phillips, Patrick (28 August 2006). "Richard Stengel: 'All the Rules Are Being Remade'". I Want Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  20. ^ Katharine Q. Seelye (12 March 2007). "With Redesign of Time, Sentences Run Forward". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  21. ^ Grossman, Lev (15 December 2010). "Person of the Year 2010: Mark Zuckerberg". Time. Retrieved 15 December 2010. 
  22. ^ Stengel, Richard (17 April 2008). "Why We're Going Green". Time. 
  23. ^ "Iwo Jima Vets Slam Time Cover, Dismiss Global Warming As "A Joke"". The Huffington Post. 18 April 2008. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  24. ^ Stengel, Richard (6 August 2006). "Why We Do What We Do". Time. Retrieved 1 December 2010. 
  25. ^ Stengel, Richard (31 October 2010). "The Final Lap". Time. Retrieved 1 December 2010. 
  26. ^ Montanaro, Domenico (17 December 2008). "Obama appeared on half of Time covers". First Read. MSNBC. Retrieved 1 December 2010. 
  27. ^ Stengel, Richard (29 July 2010). "The Plight of Afghan Women: A Disturbing Picture". Time Inc. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  28. ^ Stengel, Richard (2 December 2010). "TIME's Managing Editor on WikiLeaks". Time. Retrieved 7 December 2010. 
  29. ^ "Newsweek's Power 50". 1 November 2010. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  30. ^ Shea, Danny (19 August 2010). "Rick Stengel Shows Up In a Sling to 'Morning Joe'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  31. ^ "National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announces winners at the 33rd Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards". National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. 1 October 2012. Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  32. ^ "TIME Wins Emmy Award for "Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience"". Time. 2 October 2012. Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  33. ^ Calderone, Michael (4 May 2012). "National Magazine Awards 2012: 'Time' Grabs Top Prize; 'New York' Wins Three". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  34. ^ Moses, Lucia (3 May 2012). "'Time' is Magazine of the Year". Adweek. Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  35. ^ "Time puts PM on its cover, imagines him arguing with God, quotes him calling Iran civilization's 'greatest threat'". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  36. ^ "TIME crowns Netanyahu as the 'king of Israel'". Haaretz. 17 May 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  37. ^ Richard Stengel; Bobby Ghosh; Karl Vick (28 November 2012). "Time Magazine Interviews Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi". Time. Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  38. ^ Fisher, Max (28 November 2012). "Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi holds forth on 'Planet of the Apes'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  39. ^ Bach, Natasha (30 November 2012). "Egypt's Mohamed Morsi Gave An Incredibly Revealing Interview This Week". Business Insider. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^ Stengel, Richard (30 August 2007). "The Case For National Service". Time Inc. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  43. ^ "Vision". Be The Change ServiceNation. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  44. ^ Lisberg, Adam (21 August 2008). "John McCain, Barack Obama slated for 9/11 public service forum". NY Daily News. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  45. ^ "The Spirit of Public Service". New York Times. 12 September 2008. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  46. ^ Ariens, Chris (10 September 2008). "Cable Nets to Carry Presidential Forum". MediaBistro. WebMediaBrands. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  47. ^ "National Service Summit Set For New York City". The Non-Profit Times. 21 July 2008. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  48. ^ Grim, Ryan (25 February 2009). "Time's Stengel Calls For Action On National Service Bill". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  49. ^ "Highlights of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act" (Press release). Corporation for National & Community Service. 30 March 2009. Retrieved 7 December 2010. 
  50. ^ "Rick Stengel is 2010 Citizen of the Year". National Conference on Citizenship. 19 May 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2013. 
  51. ^ "Idealism In Action Gala". Retrieved 1 December 2010. 
  52. ^ Yardley, Jonathan (11 June 2000). "Book Review: "You're Too Kind: A Brief History Of Flattery"". The Washington Post. 
  53. ^ Mandela’s Way official website
  54. ^ a b Wilkie, Christina (March 2010). "Book party for Time Editor Richard Stengel". The Hill. Capitol Hill Publishing. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  55. ^ Youssef Aboul-Enein (8 November 2012). "The Constitution: The Essential User's Guide". Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  56. ^ Russell, Alec (24 July 2010). "Mandela's magic". Financial Times. Retrieved 2 December 2010. 
  57. ^ Jose Antonio Vargas (30 March 2010). "Richard Stengel On Mandela: Neither 'Terrorist' Nor Mother Teresa". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  58. ^ "Wittenberg University Preps For 164th Commencement Exercises". Wittenberg University. 15 May 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  59. ^ "Richard Stengel, Commencement Speaker". Wheaton College. 2011. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  60. ^ Naylor, Kyler (28 March 2012). "TIME editor to speak at commencement". The Butler Collegian. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Jim Kelly
Managing Editor of Time
Succeeded by
Nancy Gibbs
Political offices
Preceded by
Tara Sonenshine
Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs
Succeeded by
Steve Goldstein