Photograph by Mark Thiessen/National Geographic
Kaitlin Yarnall is the Senior Vice President of Storytelling for the National Geographic Society, where she is responsible for expanding the organization’s impact in journalism, photography and data visualization. In this capacity, Yarnall identifies key partnership, grantmaking and fellowship opportunities with creative talent to help the Society further illuminate issues around its three areas of focus: Our Changing Planet, Wildlife and Wild Places and the Human Journey.
Prior to assuming her current role, Yarnall was head of Nat Geo Labs, where she oversaw programs, funding and outreach in the core areas of geographic visualization, exploration technology, digital exploration and the science of communication. Yarnall began her career at National Geographic 12 years ago as a cartographer. Since that time, she has served as Executive Editor of National Geographic magazine, Director of Cartography and Deputy Creative Director.
Yarnall was the lead editorial manager for National Geographic’s groundbreaking food initiative, which launched in 2014. At the time, this multiyear platform was National Geographic’s most commercially successful editorial initiative. In addition to her editorial responsibilities, she negotiated and oversaw groundbreaking collaborations with multiple UN agencies around food security and agriculture. Yarnall was also deeply involved in conceptualizing the storytelling for past National Geographic series on urban impacts and population.
Yarnall frequently speaks on topics such as storytelling, data visualization, mapping and visual narratives. She has been a keynote speaker at conferences around the globe, addressing the UN General Assembly, Scandinavian royals and rock concert stadiums. Yarnall has written extensively about information graphics, data visualization and cartography. Her book contributions include publications by Taschen, Gestalten and other international publishing houses. Additionally, she often serves as a jury member for international journalism and design competitions.
Yarnall studied Latin American literature and geography at Humboldt State University and earned her M.A. in geography from The George Washington University.