Debra Lee
Title: Chairman/CEO, BET Networks
Age: 55
Education: BA, Brown; JD, Harvard; MA, Harvard (Kennedy School)

Why Her? BET has sizzled this year, with Lee leading the net’s successful original programming strategy. The net’s spawned hits such as Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is and Brothers to Brutha. BET also stepped up current affairs content, particularly regarding Barack Obama’s election and Michael Jackson’s death. And while working on the Viacom mantra of an expanded digital presence, Lee has also pushed BET’s borders — with the channel most recently launching in 29 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Can she keep the momentum rolling?

Worth Watching: Lee will work with MTV Networks on Centric, formerly BET J. The goal is to reach out to older African Americans.

The Year Ahead: Too tough to call. Centric is brand new. Will it establish itself as a force in 2010?

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