BET Chairman and CEO Debra Lee’s Desktop Essentials

NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 26:  Chairman and CEO, Bet Networks, Debra Lee attends BET Black Girls Rock Red Carpet at New Jersey Performing Arts Center on October 26, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by T)
Debra Lee

Photo Credit: Bennett Raglin/BET/Getty Images for BET

As the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BET Networks, a unit of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB) and the leading provider of entertainment for the African-American audience and consumers of black culture globally, Debra Lee is one busy woman. When she’s not preparing for the upcoming  15th Annual BET Awards in Los Angeles (which will air live on BET on June 28th at 8:00 PM EST), Lee is leading successful programming such as Let’s Stay Together, The Game on BET, Black Girls Rock!, The Mo’Nique Show, BET Honors, Sunday Best and many more, resulting in consistent increases in viewership and revenue.  In addition, Ms. Lee has helped guide BET’s reinvigorated approach, which is built on supporting families, embracing and encouraging their dreams, focusing on the issues that are important to them and presenting the freshest talent and entertainment. She also happens to be  an inductee of the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, the Washington Business Hall of Fame, and was honored with the Distinguished Leadership Vanguard Award by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. She serves on the corporate board of directors of Revlon, Marriott, Washington Gas & Light, the Ad Council and previously served on the corporate board of Eastman Kodak. She is also a member of the national board of directors for the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Economic Club of Washington and the Kennedy Center’s Community & Friends Board.  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 Board and is a member emeritus of the Federal Communications Commission’s Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age. All we can say is: wow. Here is a peek at where Lee makes magic happen—at her desk.

Debra Lee's desk
Debra Lee’s desk

Inlaid Rock Design

Running a global multimedia brand means that business is non-stop, so it’s important to find ways to stay focused. My desk features an inlay with rocks for meditation.  The design has a completely calming effect.  Whenever I have a long list of tasks to complete or big decisions to make, I can just look down and center myself – and it works!

Family Photo

Every time I look at the family photo on my desk I find myself smiling. My kids, Quinn and Ava, are two of the most indispensable people in my life. They are smart, generous and a lot of fun.  They both chose to work in the entertainment business, so they ask me for business advice, and I ask them about the latest trends.  It’s a win-win.

Inauguration Paperweight

I live in Washington, D.C. and the excitement in the air on the night of President Obama’s first inauguration was palpable.  Since then, I’ve been honored to serve on the President’s Management Advisory Board and I currently serve on the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance.  This memento from the inauguration is a strong reminder of the power of hope.


We are celebrating our 35th anniversary this year at BET. I remember feeling extremely proud as we stood on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange when BET became the first Black-owned company to be publicly traded.  The plaque has our first stock price engraved on it.  That was a monumental day!

“Get the Hint” Stickers

When you work in a creative industry, you get pitched a lot of ideas. These breaking news stickers are a fun, visual way to share quick feedback on the ideas that I love… and those that didn’t quite make it past the pitch process.