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John Hendricks (March 29, 1952)[1] is the founder and chairman of Discovery Communications, a broadcasting and film production company which owns the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet cable networks, among other ventures.


Early life

Born in Matewan, West Virginia, Hendricks' father was a home builder and his mother a clerk for city government. In 1958, the Hendricks family moved to Huntsville, Alabama, where Hendricks grew up. His father died when he was 20, and his mother died when he was 30. Hendricks graduated from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, where he received his bachelor's degree in history in 1974. He was immediately hired as director of community and government relations for the University of Alabama in Huntsville the year he graduated, and became director of corporate and foundation relations for the University of Maryland in 1975. While at the University of Maryland, he founded a fund-raising consulting company, the American Association of University Consultants, and published several newsletters aimed at academic disciplines such as chemistry.[1][2]

Commercial ventures

John Hendricks married his current wife, Maureen Donohue, on January 10, 1981. John and Maureen have two children, Elizabeth and Andrew.[1] He founded the Cable Educational Network, Inc., in Bethesda, Maryland, in 1982 to provide documentary programming to cable broadcasters. On June 17, 1985, Hendricks launched the Discovery Channel with $5 million in start-up capital led by the American investment firm Allen & Company. Today, Discovery's main shareholders include John Malone, chairman of Liberty Media, and Advance/Newhouse (publishers of Vanity Fair, New Yorker, and Vogue).[3]

Hendricks helped found the Women's United Soccer Association in 1999. After operating for three seasons, WUSA ceased operations in 2003.[4] In 2004, Hendricks and a group of investors attempted a financial rescue of the league to revive professional women's soccer in the United States. In April 2007, the WUSA announced a revival of the league, to occur in 2008.[5] The new league, Women's Professional Soccer (WPS), launched in March 2009.

Charitable activity

In 1995, Hendricks was appointed to the Lowell Observatory Advisory Board. In 2004, Hendricks donated $1 million to the Observatory for the construction of the Discovery Channel Telescope.[6] In 2007, Hendricks donated an additional $5 million to the Observatory to complete the telescope. The Planetary Research Center at the Observatory was renamed the Hendricks Center for Planetary Studies shortly thereafter in honor of the donation.[7]

Hendricks serves on the boards of a number of non-profit organizations. He is on the board of the United States Olympic Committee. He also sits on the board of the American Film Institute, the James Madison Council of the Library of Congress, and the University of Maryland College Park Foundation Board of Trustees.

Hendricks has organized two charitable foundations. The John and Maureen Hendricks Charitable Foundation was established in 2001. It receives donations from the Hendricks family (roughly $1.1 million in 2005-2006, according to the foundation's Form 900 tax statement) and disburses grants to charitable causes. [8] The John S. Hendricks Family Foundation was established in 1997. The foundation is used for specialized charitable purposes by the Hendricks family, and had no income, assets or disbursements in calendar years 2003, 2004 or 2005 (according to the foundation's Form 900 tax statements).[9]


  1. ^ a b c "John Hendricks: An Oral History," The Cable Center, September 2, 2003.
  2. ^ Southwick, "Cable Television: The First 50 Years," Cable World, September 1998.
  3. ^ Forrester, "Discovery Communications: Growing, growing, growing," TBS Journal, No. 11, Fall 2003; Eisenberg, "TV's Unlikely Empire," Time, February 23, 2003.
  4. ^ Longman, "Women's Soccer League Folds on World Cup's Eve" The New York Times, September 16, 2003.
  5. ^ "WUSA to Relaunch in 2008 With Eight Teams." Associated Press. April 18, 2007.
  6. ^ "Lowell Gets OK to Add $30 Million Telescope," Associated Press, October 18, 2004.
  7. ^ "Hendricks Family Boosts Discovery Channel Telescope With Additional $5 Million Contribution," Press release, Lowell Observatory, March 19, 2007.
  8. ^ John and Maureen Hendricks Charitable Foundation on, accessed July 18, 2007.
  9. ^ John S. Hendricks Family Foundation on, accessed July 18, 2007.


  • Dawtrey, Adam. "BBC, Discovery in Fact Pact." Variety. March 23, 1998.
  • Eisenberg, Daniel. "TV's Unlikely Empire." Time. February 23, 2003.
  • Fimea, Mike. "Lowell Seeking New Telescope." Arizona Business Gazette. January 1, 2004.
  • French, Scott. "John Hendricks Q&A: 'We're able to invest with confidence'." Sports Illustrated. January 21, 2001.
  • Grove, Christopher. "Hendricks Leads Global Discovery Mission." Variety. November, 2000.
  • "Hendricks Family Boosts Discovery Channel Telescope With Additional $5 Million Contribution." Press release, Lowell Observatory. March 19, 2007. Accessed July 18, 2007.
  • Higgins, John M. "Back to Nature." Broadcasting & Cable. January 16, 2006.
  • Hobgood, Cynthia. "A Dreamer's Discovery." Washington Business Journal. June 14, 2002.
  • "John Hendricks: An Oral History." The Cable Center. September 2, 2003. Accessed July 18, 2007.
  • Kaplan, Peter. "John Hendricks: Cable Pioneer Discovers Value of Putting Substance over Style." Washington Times. December 23, 1996.
  • "Lowell Gets OK to Add $30 Million Telescope." Associated Press. October 18, 2004.
  • Michaelis, Vicki. "WUSA Ceases Operations After Three Years." USA Today. September 16, 2003.
  • Southwick, Thomas P. "Cable Television: The First 50 Years." Cable World. September 1998.
  • "WUSA to Relaunch in 2008 With Eight Teams." Associated Press. April 18, 2007.

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