The reviews are in… our 2022 Leadership Conference was a smash hit!
The WICT Network 2022 Leadership Conference, held October 10-11, 2022, at the New York Marriott Marquis, featured more than 70 executives, academics, journalists, entrepreneurs and athletes who shared their wisdom with over 700 conferees. Below we relive the 2022 Leadership Conference and Touchstones Luncheon experience through a pictorial review.
The conference opened with a heartfelt dance performance by students from the Summer Arts Institute, the American Ballet Theatre’s comprehensive initiative to increase racial and ethnic representation in ballet and diversify America’s ballet companies. It was a beautiful and moving kick-off for the industry’s Diversity Week activities and The WICT Network Leadership Conference. The opening entertainment was sponsored by Afiniti.
Above: Students from the Summer Arts Institute.
Following the dance performance, Maria E. Brennan, CAE, President & CEO, and Sandra K. Howe, Technology Executive & Board Chair of The WICT Network kicked off the Opening Session, sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal, by thanking sponsors and welcoming attendees to the association’s first in-person leadership conference since 2019. The energy in the room was palpable, with everyone excited to be back together under one roof for two days of learning, networking and professional development.
Above, left to right: Maria E. Brennan and Sandra K. Howe.
Loren Hudson, SVP & Chief Diversity Officer, Comcast Cable then welcomed MSNBC Anchor & Business Correspondent Ali Velshi and Karen Dougherty Buchholz, EVP, Administration at Comcast, to the stage for a fireside chat.
Karen and Ali touched on several topics, including the need for leaders across all industries to employ critical thinking skills when reading the news and the driving force behind Ali’s commitment to social justice.
“One day I’ll find out who shot me, and thank them, because it awakened me,” Ali said, recounting an incident where he was hit with a rubber bullet while covering George Floyd protests in Minneapolis.
MONDAY MORNING BREAKOUTS
Following the opening general session, attendees spent the rest of the morning in a variety of breakout sessions, which were delineated into three tracks:
- The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Quotient track, which provided content and insights on navigating complex conversations around gender and racial equity, social justice, and inclusion.
- The Your Best Self track, which centered around renewal, self-awareness, authenticity, performance, and overall wellbeing, at work and at home.
- The Master Class track, which offered fresh ideas, cutting edge research and proven methods to bolster leadership skills.
Morning sessions and speakers included:
Representation & Creative Equity, Sponsored by Warner Bros. Discovery
- Jo DiSante, VP, Current Programming & Synergy, ABC Entertainment
- Makeda Mays Green, SVP, Digital Consumer Insights, Nickelodeon
- Toni Judkins, SVP, Development, Hallmark Media
- Ashley McFarlin, VP, Unscripted Development, WE TV, AMC Networks
- Michelle Rice, President, TV One & CLEO TV – Moderator
Life on Purpose, Sponsored by AWS
- Natalie Johnson, Co-Founder, ViDL Solutions
How to Avoid the Guillotine & Other PR Tips for Boosting Your Career
- Leigh Woisard, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs for Cox Communications and Vice Chair of The WICT Network
Leadership Roundtables, Sponsored by REVOLT
- Manohar Ashwath, Global Head of Cable & Communications, Genpact
- Mary Eldridge, Client Partner, Telecom, Media & Entertainment, NTT Data
- Megha Joshi, Founder, The Resilient Human
- Julia Levy, Head of Global Talent Acquisition, CommScope
- Charles Neal, AVP, Media, Entertainment, Cable & Communications, Genpact
- Lisa Prince, VP, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Afiniti
- Eilisa Reid, GVP, Service Delivery Applications, Charter Communications
- Michelle Strong, SVP, Distribution & Marketing, A+E Networks
- Jodi Teitelman, VP, Affiliate Distribution, QVC/HSN, Qurate Retail Group
- Shannon Cassidy, Author; Founder & CEO, bridge between — Moderator
Empower Hour (virtual conference only)
- Kathryn Valentine, Founder, Worthmore Negotiations
Welcome & Keynote
The ballroom was buzzing with excitement as Maria E. Brennan, CAE, President & CEO of The WICT Network, welcomed attendees to this special event, held each year to shine a spotlight on the business imperative of diversity, equity and inclusion. AMC Networks served as a Champion Sponsor of the luncheon along with numerous table sponsors.
“While we may all come from different backgrounds and some of us may even be competitors, one common thread connects us — our commitment to equality,” she told the audience.
She then welcomed to the stage FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, who spoke to attendees about being bold enough to break barriers and the importance of giving others a leg up where possible.
“Working in technology, I have lost count of the times I have been the only woman in the room,” the Chairwoman said. “When you do break glass ceilings or get a seat at the table… find a way to be a sponsor, be a mentor, and be someone who brings someone else along. In other words, pull up a chair for others.”
In-person attendees dined and conversed while virtual participants were treated to replays of top Pearls of Wisdom speakers from the past, and then it was time to honor this year’s award winners. Sandra K. Howe, The WICT Network Board Chair, took the stage to begin the 2022 Women of the Year and Women to Watch awards ceremony. Our honorees have “a common denominator among them; a desire to pave the way for others to follow, building a legacy that will live on for years to come,” Sandra told attendees. Meet each of the honorees here.
This year The WICT Network was privileged to honor:
Woman of the Year – Operator
Colleen Langner, EVP & COO, Cox Communications
Woman of the Year – Programmer
Wonya Lucas, President & CEO, Hallmark Media
Woman to Watch – Operator
Shannon Atkinson, Regional VP, Field Operations – West Division, Charter Communications
Woman to Watch – Programmer
Lisa Williams-Fauntroy, SVP, Business & Legal Affairs, Warner Bros. Discovery
Woman to Watch – Technology
Urvi Shah, VP, Global Key Account Marketing, CommScope
AFTERNOON BREAKOUTS AND GENERAL SESSIONS
Following the luncheon, conference participants returned to more breakout sessions. Afternoon sessions and speakers included:
Beyond the Hashtag – #MentalHealthMatters, Sponsored by Cox Communications
- Noopur Agarwal, Vice President, Social Impact, MTV Entertainment Studios at Paramount Global
- Jill Harkavy-Friedman, Ph.D., SVP, Research AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)
- Kimberly Williams, President and CEO, Vibrant Emotional Health
- Tina Simmons, SVP, HR Xfinity, Growth, Innovation, & Experience (XGIE), Comcast — Moderator
The Neuroscience of Leadership: Mind-Body-Movement, Sponsored by Cable One
- Julia C. Basso, Ph.D., CYT, Assistant Professor and Director, The Embodied Brain Laboratory, Virginia Tech
Master Class: Becoming Change-Capable, Sponsored by TV ONE
- Erika Andersen, Author, Business Thinker, and Founding Partner, Proteus International
Bold, New Space and Courageous Dialogue (virtual conference only)
- Nilda Gumbs, Chief of Staff, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association
- Deepa Purushothaman, DEI Leader, Former Senior Partner at Deloitte, and Author of “The First, The Few, The Only”
Attendees then reconvened in the Westside Ballroom for two final general sessions. The Rare Air: Insights from Women Chiefs session, sponsored by Korn Ferry, brought C-suite leaders together to reflect on tales of triumph and lessons learned throughout their careers. Panelists included:
- Frances Berwick, Chairman, Entertainment Networks, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming
- Jessica Fischer, CFO, Charter Communications
- Sujata Gosalia, EVP and Chief Strategy Officer, Cox Communications
- Wonya Lucas, CEO, Hallmark Media
- Christina Spade, CEO, AMC Networks
- Hena Doba, Anchor & Breaking News Correspondent, Cheddar News — Moderator
The final session of the day was the always-popular Profiles of Champions session, sponsored by Accenture, where world-class athletes discussed what competing at an elite level has taught them about cultivating endurance, strength, flexibility and focus – traits that also provide a competitive edge in the workplace. Speakers included:
- Katrina Adams, Executive, Author, TV Analyst and Former Pro Tennis Player
- Maia Chaka, Educator; NFL Official; Founder of Making Meaningful Change
- Stefanie Dolson, Center, New York Liberty, WNBA
- Summer Sanders, Former Olympic Swimmer, Gold Medalist, TV Commentator and Author
- Molly Qerim, Host, First Take, ESPN – Moderator
In-person attendees wrapped up day one of LC2022 at the Big Apple Reception, sponsored by A+E Networks. A highlight of each year’s conference, the reception allows participants to relax, reconnect with old friends and meet new ones in a congenial environment. Virtual attendees had the option to participate in “networking roulette,” an activity designed to allow participants to engage in quick discussions and exchange ideas with colleagues via our online platform.
Above: Scenes from the Big Apple Reception.
WOMEN’S TECHCONNECT KICKOFF
Day two of the conference got off to a bright and early start as Women’s TechConnect mentors and mentees convened to meet one another for the first time. Developed collaboratively by Women in Technology awardees, The WICT Network and SCTE, a CableLabs® subsidiary, the TechConnect initiative seeks to educate and retain women who work in technology-related in our industry. This event represents the start of the 2023 program. TechConnect is supported by The WICT Network Women in STEM sponsor, Breaking the Glass.
TUESDAY GENERAL SESSIONS
Attendees, both in person and virtual, had a full day of impactful general sessions on the docket for Tuesday, starting at 8:30 am with our Reimagination: The Future Workplace session. Panelists discussed work trends relevant to our industry and big picture concepts shaping our future workplace—from diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) to flexible work schedules, and more. Speakers included:
- Samira Panah Bakhtiar, Director, Global Media & Entertainment, Amazon Web Services
- Karen Dougherty Buchholz, EVP, Administration, Comcast
- Soraya Loerts, Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer, Liberty Global
- Lorraine Hack, Senior Client Partner, Korn Ferry — Moderator
Brighter by the Day: A Fireside Chat with Robin Roberts
Next attendees were treated to a fireside chat between journalist and best-selling author Robin Roberts and The WICT Network’s own Maria E. Brennan. For more than three decades, Robin’s award-winning work and powerful personal story have inspired millions across the globe. Robin captivated audience members on Tuesday’s session, sponsored by Liberty Global, as she regaled them with stories from her latest book, filled with experiences that have helped shape who she is today and how she views the world.
“Happiness is contingent on something. Joy is just pure. Joy is… something that is within you,” Robin told attendees.
SPECIAL TRIBUTE: Inaugural Fearless Leader Award
Following the fireside chat, The WICT Network held a ceremony to confer its inaugural Fearless Leader Award, which acknowledges an executive who exemplifies The WICT Network Touchstones of Leadership, serving as an inspirational role model to others. An unflinching commitment to the industry and workplace equality are hallmarks of the Fearless Leader honoree. The award was bestowed upon Jill Campbell, President and Chief People and Operations Officer, Cox Enterprises, by Board Chair Sandra K. Howe and Vice Chair Leigh Woisard.
As they presented the award, Leigh quoted Jill from her 2013 Pearls of Wisdom presentation, “You may not be able able to change the system, but you can make a difference one person at a time.”
The award will be named after Jill Campbell henceforth.
Attendees were then treated to The WICT Network’s beloved Pearls of Wisdom capstone session, sponsored by Charter Communications and styled after the famed TED Talks. Speakers shared their journeys and transformational moments that have shaped their lives and careers, Speakers included:
- Vivian Kaye, Founder and CEO, KinkyCurlyYaki
- Detavio Samuels, CEO, REVOLT
- Brianna Wiest, Author, Thought Catalog
- Steve White, President & Special Counsel to CEO, Comcast Cable
The 2022 Leadership Conference closed with a Diversity Town Hall, presented in partnership with NAMIC and supported by the Walter Kaitz Foundation. Among other findings, the data revealed that representation of women in our industry increased by 5-percentage points despite the pandemic, from 33% to 38%, since the 2019 survey. A panel of experts in diversity and inclusion discussed the broader findings in an informative conversation, led by Suzanne Malveaux, Award-winning Journalist and National Correspondent, CNN. Panelists included:
- Rhonda Nesmith Crichlow, SVP & Chief Diversity Officer, Charter Communications
- Loren Hudson, SVP & Chief Diversity Officer, Comcast Cable
- Ann McGlennen, Chief Human Resources Officer, Midco
- Kia Painter, EVP & Chief People Officer, Cox Communications
- Shebani Patel, Partner, People Analytics, PwC
- Aisha Thomas-Petit, Chief People & Diversity Officer, AMC Networks
Jessa Cooke, VP, Educational Programs, The WICT Network, closed the in-person conference, thanking all the presenters, sponsors and attendees, and reminding everyone to save the date for next year’s conference, which will return to the Marriott Marquis September 18-19, 2023.
The learning continued on for virtual conference participants, who had the option to attend two more breakout sessions from 1:00 – 2:00 pm:
- Detoxing Off the Drug of Achievement
- Megan Miller, Intentional Living Expert
- Breathe to Transform
- Max Strom, Trainer & Author