STEM advocate Wanda Austin to join Apple board

12 Jan 2024

Dr Wanda Austin. Image: Paul E Alers/NASA (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 DEED)

The news comes as Apple announced the departure of Al Gore and James Bell from its board later this year.

Former US vice-president Al Gore and former Boeing executive James Bell will retire from the board of directors at Apple later this year as the company prepares to welcome former president and CEO of The Aerospace Corporation, Dr Wanda Austin.

Apple has a policy that does not allow board members to stand for re-election once they reach the age of 75. This means that Gore, who joined the board in 2003, and Bell, who joined in 2015, are both ineligible this year due to their age.

“We’re deeply grateful to Al and James for their many years of service to Apple – their insights, energy and values have made us a stronger company in so many ways,” CEO Tim Cook wrote in a statement announcing the changes yesterday (11 January).

“For more than 20 years, Al has contributed an incredible amount to our work – from his unconditional support for protecting our users’ privacy, to his incomparable knowledge of environment and climate issues.

“James’s dedication has been extraordinary, and we’re thankful for the important perspectives and deep expertise he’s offered on audit, finance and so much more over the years.”

Austin, who has been nominated for election to the board at Apple, served as president and CEO of The Aerospace Corporation from 2008 to 2016 – making her both the first woman and the first African-American to hold the position.

With a background in mathematics and engineering, the advocate for STEM education served as interim president of University of Southern California from 2018 to 2019. She serves on the boards of major companies including Amgen and Chevron.

“Like Apple, I’ve always believed in the power of innovation to improve lives, support human potential and shape a better future,” Austin said.

“I’m honoured to join Apple’s board of directors, and I look forward to being part of a company that’s always creating new ways to empower people all over the world.”

Arthur Levinson, chair of the board of directors at Apple, said that Austin has long been a leader in “unleashing the potential” of cutting-edge technology.

“She brings incredible insights and experience to our board, and she will play an important role in helping Apple continue enriching users’ lives around the world.”

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Dr Wanda Austin. Image: Paul E Alers/NASA (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 DEED)

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic