Leigh Woisard is a 30-year communications professional, consultant and public speaker. Before leaving corporate America (Dec 2022), she was Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications for Cox Communications — the largest privately held broadband company in the U.S. Throughout her public relations career, she has counseled government officials, executives, and companies such as Stanley Tools, Chili’s Grill & Bar, and the New England Journal of Medicine.
Leigh has a passion for helping women and other professionals to be intentional about their careers and about communicating their value. She regularly speaks on topics such as “imposture syndrome,” becoming a better public speaker and self-promotion without selling out.
She was named a 2019 Wonder Woman by Multichannel News and is a Public Relations Society of America Silver Anvil Winner, the most prestigious PR industry award.
She has a bachelor’s degree in speech communications from the University of Rhode Island and a master’s in communications management from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School.
Immediate Past Chair
Immediate Past Chair
Sandy Howe takes a vision and makes it a reality through sound strategy development, persistence and her ‘round-table’ leadership style that delivers results. Having led global B-to-B as well as B-to-C businesses, she has established herself as a trusted leader. Sandy currently serves as Independent Director on the Minim board of directors, as well as the Chair of The WICT Network Global Board, the board of directors for NCTA – The Internet & Television Association and the board of the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) Foundation as an advisor on the investment committee.
Sandy is a technology leader with over 25 years’ experience in the global telecommunications, consumer and media industries and has proven experience in business development and operations as well as leading marketing, sales and business unit teams to exceed company sales and profitability targets. She has led negotiations and partnerships with technology and chipset companies such as McAfee, Intel, Broadcom, MaxLinear and offshore manufacturing plants in Asia.
Sandy’s counsel is widely sought in the global technology industry due to her experience in M&A, board governance and proven P&L operational success as well as her expertise in technologies such as wireless, IP and fiber networks. She is a credible voice in decision-making and is known for her loyal customer relationships, technical expertise and business acumen.
Sandy’s career began as a sales engineer at Broadband Networks Inc (now Numerex) where she was responsible for system design and sales of fiber optic transmission products for cable TV applications. From there, she rose through the ranks with Cisco (formerly Scientific Atlanta) ultimately serving as Director of Business Development managing a sales team responsible for $1B in sales. Sandy moved to ARRIS Advanced Technologies Group as Senior Vice President, Market Development, focusing on strategic sales initiative and later served as Senior Vice President of Global Marketing and then as Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Consumer Products Group (CPG). In this role Sandy led the global consumer retail business, responsible for P&L performance, customer engagement, product road-map strategy, new product development, engineering, silicon selection and manufacturing, brand development and B-to-C marketing.
Most recently Sandy served as Executive Vice President and President, Americas, Technetix Inc, a leader in advanced technology products, solutions and services for the broadband cable industry. Sandy was responsible for P&L management as well as all functions for the US, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean, including sales, customer service, product strategy and management, finance, HR, operations and regional marketing and was a member of the Core Executive team, helping to drive Technetix global strategic initiatives.
Sandy graduated from Pennsylvania State University. She is a media spokesperson, frequent speaker at conferences worldwide and is the recipient of numerous awards: Cable TV Pioneers, Multichannel News’ Wonder Woman, CableFAX’ Top Women in Technology, The WICT Network Carolinas Carol A. Hevey Leadership Award and NAMIC Carolinas EPIC in Technology.
Residing in Wilmington, NC, Sandy is also a private investor and founder of Cape Fear Agency LLC, a real estate investment firm focused on residential income-producing property management and development in North and South Carolina.
EVP, Government Affairs, Charter Communications
Catherine Bohigian is the Executive Vice President, Government Affairs, for Charter Communications. In this role, she oversees all aspects of Charter’s federal, state and local government affairs and franchising activities. Her responsibilities include developing the company’s public policy positions and directing its legislative and regulatory strategies in Washington DC and in the 41 states Charter serves.
Brought on in 2013 to launch and build Charter’s Government Affairs operation, Catherine led the company’s successful effort to obtain regulatory and anti-trust approval of its transactions with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Network which tripled the size of Charter and resulted in the company becoming the second largest cable broadband provider in the nation.
Catherine joined Charter from Cablevision Systems Corporation, where she served as Senior Vice President, Federal Affairs. In that role, she similarly established and oversaw the company’s Washington, DC, public policy office and was responsible for Cablevision’s federal government affairs.
Prior to joining Cablevision, Ms. Bohigian worked at the Federal Communications Commission, where she served in several senior capacities, including Chief of the Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis and Senior Advisor to then-Chairman Kevin Martin. At the FCC, Catherine helped set and oversee the implementation of the Chairman’s agenda, particularly with respect to media and enforcement issues. She also served as the Chairman’s point person with Congress. As Chief of the office of Strategic Planning and Policy, Catherine managed the staff of 20 economists, lawyers and engineers responsible for providing the agency with strategic direction and analysis on traditional and emerging telecommunications issues.
Before joining the FCC, Catherine was an attorney at Wiley Rein, representing telecommunications clients before the FCC. She earned her B.A. in Public Policy Studies, summa cum laude, from Duke University as well as the Joel Fleishman award for academic achievement. Catherine received her law degree, cum laude, from Harvard Law School.
A native Texan, Catherine and her husband David live in Washington with their three children.
Industry Relations Committee Chair
Industry Relations Committee Chair
EVP of Administration, Comcast
Karen Dougherty Buchholz serves as Executive Vice President of Administration for Comcast Corporation. Karen has a wide array of corporate responsibilities, including corporate real estate, facilities, aviation, corporate services, business continuity, travel, security and sustainability.
Additionally, Karen is partnering with the Comcast Cable leadership team to build and launch Comcast’s “Lift Zones” – bringing her extensive operational and community experience to one of the company’s newest and most critical initiatives. Through these Lift Zones, the company will work with thousands of nonprofit partners and city leaders across the country to create safe places for under-resourced students to connect to the Internet for free and participate in distance learning.
During her more than 20-year tenure, Karen has led many facets of the organization. She was the executive in charge of the development of Comcast’s new Technology Center, a $1.5 billion, 60-story tower adjacent to Comcast’s corporate headquarters, the Comcast Center. Karen also previously oversaw the development of Comcast Center, a $750 million, 56-story tower from 2005 through 2008.
For close to a decade, Karen also led the company’s corporate Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion function. In partnership with key leaders across the business, Karen and her team launched and assembled the Joint Diversity Council, introduced Employee Resource Groups, and drove meaningful progress in supplier diversity, diverse programming, and community impact initiatives.
From 2000 to 2003, Karen established Comcast’s first corporate communications infrastructure, unifying communications for the entire family of Comcast companies. This included leading communications during many company acquisitions, including the company’s transformative acquisition of AT&T Broadband in 2001-2002.
Prior to Comcast, in 1997, then-Mayor Edward G. Rendell appointed Karen as President of Philadelphia 2000, the organization that brought the 2000 Republican National Convention to Philadelphia and served as the City’s official Host Committee. The Convention attracted 50,000 visitors and won national and international media attention. Immediate economic benefits exceeded $300 million.
Karen served as Sales Executive for Comcast Spectacor from 1993 to 1997 to develop corporate sponsorships for what is now called the Wells Fargo Center, a 20,000-seat arena and home to the Comcast-owned Philadelphia Flyers and the Philadelphia 76ers. In 1991, Karen led the development of the Pyramid Club at the top of the Mellon Bank Center for Club Corporation of America. Karen was the club’s Membership Director and sole corporate representative in Philadelphia for Club Corporation of America.
Karen served as Special Assistant to State Treasurer Barbara Hafer during her 1990 gubernatorial bid. From 1988-1990, Karen was Special Assistant to United States Senator John Heinz in Washington, D.C.
Karen received her M.S. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997. She is a 1988 graduate of Dickinson College and the Dickinson Center for European Studies in Bologna, Italy.
Karen serves on WSFS Financial Corporation and Wilmington Savings Fund Society, FSB Board of Directors. She also serves on the Boards of civic and charitable organizations, including: Board of Trustees, Drexel University; Global Board of Directors, The WICT Network; and Board of Directors, Museum of the American Revolution.
Karen has received numerous awards, including: 2018 Police Athletic League of Philadelphia’s PAL Award; 2016 Philadelphia Magazine’s Trailblazer Award; 2014 United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey Women’s Initiative Award; 2012 Multichannel News Wonder Women Award; 2009 Pennsylvania’s Best 50 Women in Business Award; and 2008 American Heart Association “Go Red for Women” Woman of Heart Award.
Chapter Development Committee Chair
Chapter Development Committee Chair
President, Platform Distribution, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution
As President of Platform Distribution for Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution (DMED), Justin Connolly oversees all third-party media sales efforts for distribution, affiliate marketing and affiliate-related business operations for all of the Company’s direct-to-consumer services and linear media networks; content sales agreements for General Entertainment, Studios and Sports; as well as global theatrical film distribution and the Disney Music Group.
Connolly and his team are charged with leading and integrating all distribution activities across theatrical and physical home entertainment, including domestic and international theatrical distribution of all films produced and released by Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Feature Animation, Pixar Animation Studio, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Studios, Blue Sky Studios and Searchlight Pictures.
Connolly and his team also work to maximize Disney’s opportunities in media markets by managing all aspects of North American distribution, affiliate marketing and affiliate-related business operations for all the services provided by Disney and ESPN media networks including, among other services: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPNU, SEC Network, ACC Network, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform, FX, FXX, FXM, National Geographic and Nat Geo Wild, and related WATCH, HDTV, video-on-demand, the ABC Affiliate Relations and Marketing team, and interactive television and retransmission consent agreements for The Walt Disney Company’s eight-owned ABC stations.
To ensure alignment between Disney’s content licensing and direct-to-consumer priorities, Connolly has final approval on all content sales agreements. He works closely with DMED’s international content sales teams to drive results and ensure effective execution of the Company’s media distribution strategies around the world for Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Studios, Disneynature, ABC Studios, ABC Entertainment, National Geographic, FX Productions, WABC, Freeform, Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior.
He spearheads global app distribution deals for The Walt Disney Company’s direct-to-consumer streaming services – including Disney+, ESPN+, and Movies Anywhere. Connolly is also responsible for the distribution of film and television programming via home entertainment, broadcasting platforms, digital platforms, SVOD and pay networks.
Connolly came from Media Networks where he was Executive Vice President, Affiliate Sales and Marketing, Disney and ESPN Media Networks – overseeing all aspects of domestic distribution, affiliate marketing and affiliate-related business operations for all the services provided by Disney and ESPN media networks. In June 2017, he added oversight of ESPN’s strategy and business development teams to his portfolio.
Previously, Connolly served as Senior Vice President, College Networks, and was responsible for setting the strategic direction, overseeing content acquisition and scheduling, and working collaboratively with all ESPN business units to maximize distribution, viewership and revenue opportunities for Longhorn Network and SEC Network. Under his direction, SEC Network was the most successful network launch in cable history. Before working with the college networks, Connolly served as Senior Vice President, National Accounts for Disney & ESPN Media Networks. He was responsible for all domestic distribution and licensing efforts for The Walt Disney Company’s linear networks, broadband and VOD content within the Media Networks Group.
He joined ESPN in 2003 and served in various capacities including Director, ESPN Strategy and Operations where he helped ESPN with its long-term affiliate negotiations. In August 2004 he was promoted to Vice President, Distribution Strategy.
Prior to joining ESPN, Connolly worked in the corporate finance group for The Walt Disney Company’s corporate treasury department in Burbank, Calif.
Connolly, a Boston native and Sports Business Journal 40 Under 40 Hall of Fame inductee, graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics in 1998 and earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in 2003.
Strategic Planning Co-Chair
Strategic Planning Co-Chair
SVP & CDO, Charter Communications
Rhonda Crichlow is Senior Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer of Charter Communications. She joined the company in October 2016 and is responsible for the strategic development and implementation of Charter’s diversity and inclusion strategy.
Rhonda joins Charter after 10 years with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation (NPC), where she served as Vice President and Head, US Diversity & Inclusion, President of the Novartis US Foundation, and a member of the Innovative Medicines Executive Committee. She was responsible for all aspects of the company’s diversity & inclusion strategy, focused on fostering an inclusive environment.
In 2016, Ms. Crichlow was honored by Black Enterprise as one of the Top Executives in Corporate Diversity and received a Luminary Award by the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association. In 2015, Crichlow was honored by the Top Blacks in Healthcare, for fostering access to healthcare for African Americans in underserved communities. Ms. Crichlow also received the Cornerstone of the Community Award from Family Services of Morris County and a YMCA Tribute to Women and Industry Award.
She received her undergraduate degree from The George Washington University, a Master of Public Policy from Duke University, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia Law School.
Strategic Planning Co-Chair
Strategic Planning Co-Chair
President, TV One & CLEO TV
Michelle Rice, was named President of TV One and CLEO TV in October 2020. Previously, Rice served as General Manager since 2017. She will continue to have oversight of all business, operational and creative aspects for both networks.
Rice shepherded the development and launch of TV One’s new sister network, CLEO TV, an aspirational lifestyle and entertainment TV network serving Millennial and Gen X women of color that launched in January 2019. Since its launch, Rice has successfully leveraged relationships to expand distribution of CLEO TV on AT&T, Charter, Comcast, and Verizon’s platforms. Under her leadership, TV One solidified its first vMVPD distribution deal with Philo TV and has continued to grow its distribution footprint. She has also played a pivotal role in working with strategic partners like the NAACP to create linear and digital content campaigns in response to a myriad of political and social issues that profoundly impact communities of color.
She was previously Executive Vice President of Content Distribution and Marketing for TV One, where she developed distribution strategies and handled national accounts negotiations with major multichannel video programming distributors (MPVDs) to increase and maximize TV One’s content distribution opportunities on mobile, linear and non-linear distribution platforms. She also handled domestic and international program sales and distribution for the network.
Before joining TV One, Rice also had stints at iNDemand, NBC Cable Network and Black Entertainment Television (BET), where she started her career through the Walter Kaitz Fellowship program in 1993.
A graduate of Temple University and the University of Southern California, Rice was honored by her alma mater with the Lew Klein Alumni in Media Award. She was named one of on CableFAX’s Top 100 in Cable, Top Minorities in Cable and Top Women in Cable. She’s also been recognized as a NAMIC Emerging Leader, Broadcasting & Cable’s “Next Wave of Leaders,” “40 under 40” by Multichannel News, and one of Multichannel News’ Wonder Women. Rice was also a finalist in CableFAX’s Sales Executive of the Year Awards in 2012 and led the team, which was awarded CableFAX’s Sales Team of the Year for mid-sized cable networks. Rice has been featured in publications such as “Black Enterprise,” “Variety,” “Deadline,” “TV Week” and “The Root.” She was highlighted as a trailblazer in “CableFAX’s” Black History Month Special Report. In 2020 Rice was recognized by the Washington Business Journal’s with the Minority Business Leadership Award.
Rice is also actively involved on the Boards of several local civic, community and charitable organizations, including Jack and Jill of America, Girls Inc. D.C, and United Way of the Nation’s Capital. She currently resides in Maryland with her family.
Governance Committee Chair
Governance Committee Chair
SVP, Human Resources – U.S. Networks, Warner Bros Discovery
Alaka Williams serves as Senior Vice President of Network Human Resources at Discovery, Inc. (formerly Scripps Networks Interactive). In this role, she is responsible for HR leadership of six of the company’s US-based networks. She is responsible for providing organizational, leadership and individual performance counsel to various business units, facilitating change and transition with these units through the assessment, design, facilitation and implementation of appropriate organizational intervention, and being in touch with employee needs and human resources communities and systems for her over 300 U.S. employee customers. Prior to her current role, Williams served as Vice President of Human Resources for the Travel Channel.
Williams arrived at Travel Channel in 2010 after eight years with Live Nation as both Director of Human Resources and Director of Employee Relations. She also served as a human resources manager for Clear Channel Communications. She began her career as a regional human resources manager for KinderCare Learning Centers, Inc.
In addition to her professional work, she’s also involved in the Emma Bowen Foundation’s Youth and Young Professionals program and the Year Up program in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. She actively serves as a mentor in the Scripps Networks Interactive Mentor Experience program, as well as the T. Howard Foundation’s mentor program for promising college students interested in media.
In spring 2016, Williams was selected to attend the The WICT Network Senior Executive Summit at Stanford University. She is also a member of The WICT Network’s Global Board of Directors. Williams has been recognized by the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications for her commitment to fostering diversity. She is a proud graduate of NAMIC’s 2016 Executive Leadership Development Program and one of the organization’s 2016 Luminaries. Williams was also listed as one of Cablefax’s 2016 Most Influential Minorities.
Maria E. Brennan
President & CEO
President & CEO
Maria E. Brennan
Maria E. Brennan, CAE, is the President & CEO of The WICT Network: Empowering Women in Media, Entertainment and Technology, a 10,000 member global nonprofit celebrating 40 years of serving women in the cable industry. During her time at The WICT Network, Brennan has worked collaboratively with its leaders and stakeholders to steer the organization’s strategic vision, resulting in record levels of membership, sponsor support, and program participation. Brennan has over 25 years of executive management experience with non-profits ranging in size from 2,000 to 33,000 members, with particular expertise in the areas of strategic planning, communications and advocacy.
As the public voice of The WICT Network, Brennan is an experienced spokesperson and advocate for the media industry and diversity, equity and inclusion. She is a frequently quoted expert on equal pay issues and work/life integration and has been published or featured in such magazines as Broadcasting & Cable, Working Mother, Association Trends, Selecta and Cablefax.
Brennan is an award-winning writer, having received an EXCEL Award for her byline, “Hear Me Roar.” She was elected to serve on the Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard University in 2007. She is a charter member of the FCC Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment, where she recently finished her sixth term. She is a coalition member of WIPP — Women Impacting Public Policy — and a Commissioner for the Girl Scouts Healthy Media Council. Brennan was recognized with a Vanguard Award by NCTA–The Internet & Television Association, in recognition of her contributions to the media industry’s innovation, growth and progress. Brennan has been named among Cablefax’s list of Most Powerful Women in Cable annually since 2010 and in 2022 received Cablefax’s Women’s Advocacy Champion award.
EVP, Communications & Community Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer, Altice USA
As Executive Vice President, Communications and Community Affairs, Lisa Gonzalez Anselmo oversees external and internal communications and community affairs activities for Altice USA and its portfolio of companies. In this role, Ms. Anselmo is the company’s chief spokesperson and provides communications strategy in support of the company’s corporate and business developments as well as its telecommunications, media, and advertising offerings nationwide. Ms. Anselmo also leads Altice USA’s community affairs program, which is focused on supporting making a difference in local communities across the company’s footprint through the key areas of broadband accessibility, STEM learning and innovation, and digital wellness. Additionally, as Chief Diversity Officer, she is responsible for the company-wide program to champion diversity and inclusion throughout all areas of the business and help to create a safe and positive environment for all employees.
Prior to Altice’s acquisition of Cablevision, Ms. Anselmo was Cablevision’s Vice President of Corporate Communications. Prior to joining Cablevision in 2010, she was director of public affairs and communications at American Express where she was responsible for internal, external and executive communications activities for the company’s U.S. and Latin America Merchant Services Division and the Risk, Information Management & Banking Group, respectively. Ms. Anselmo began her career at Altria Group, the parent company of Philip Morris USA and Kraft Foods, where she managed media relations and the company’s corporate reputation efforts.
Ms. Anselmo received a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Villanova University. She is involved with Guardians of Healing, a non-profit organization that executes medical missions and provides healthcare and medical education at no cost to underserved communities in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Samira Panah Bakhtiar
Samira Panah Bakhtiar
Director, Global Media & Entertainment Sales, Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Samira Panah Bakhtiar is a dynamic leader in tune with the powerful relationship between digital media and technology. As Director of Global Media & Entertainment Sales at Amazon Web Services (AWS), she leads a high-performing, multi-generational team of builders and champions diversity. Over the last decade, her work at AWS and Cisco, where she served as Director of Media Operations, led to strategic alignment and business transformations with some of the world’s largest media conglomerates. She has a proven track record in tech strategy, business development, and sales – focusing on introducing innovation and enhancing operational efficiency in the areas of content production, media supply chain, broadcast distribution, OTT, and content monetization.
Recognized for her exceptional ability to quickly understand and apply new concepts, address cross-functional challenges, and execute complex projects seamlessly, she infuses the AWS executive team with a fresh perspective. Striking the right balance between hitting performance targets and delivering at the highest standards, she’s secured $3B+ in committed contracts during her tenure. Samira also mentors numerous individuals at AWS and advocates for the promotion of team members of all levels within her organization to leadership roles. A visible female force in the M&E industry, Samira has spoken 20+ internal and external events in the last two years, including The WICT Network Leadership Conference on Driving Innovation, AWS re:Invent, yearly AWS Kick Offs, and the Metropolitan Police of London’s International Women’s Day Event. Topics ranged from ID&E, Intersectionality, and Career Planning to Owning Authenticity and Building High Performing Teams.
Passionate about advancing the status of women in technology, she is a presence in media, tech, and the NYC-based entrepreneurial community, as well as throughout major nonprofits and social impact organizations. Her humanitarian work focuses on the abolishment of human trafficking where she sat on the board of Together1Heart (an anti-human trafficking organization based in Cambodia) from 2017-2020. Samira’s philanthropic work has always been a strong personal driver, and as a result, she launched Bridge2Act in 2015, a venture focused on transforming the giving landscape through the use of technology. A graduate of the prestigious executive development program from the Betsy Magness Leadership Institute (Class 35), Samira continues to find ways to connect and inspire other ambitious women in tech. Samira was the inaugural winner of the Woman to Watch in Technology by The WICT Network in 2017, named a 40 Under 40 by NYC Television in 2019, and a Wonder Woman by Multichannel News in 2023. She is also a member of social organizations such as Soho House, Zero Bond, and Summit.
Samira graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Arizona with a B.S. in Finance and Magna Cum Laude from the Fordham University MBA program. Committed to continual learning, she obtained her Press Speaking Certifications at Amazon in 2022 (and is now an official Spokesperson) and her Solution Architect Certification in 2021. In 2022, she was cited as one of the most anticipated speakers on the IBC Website, presenting with Media Monk’s SVP on the “Future of Cloud Production.” In her personal time, Samira loves spending time with her family (including her 4-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter), traveling, practicing Muay Thai Kick Boxing, Hot Yoga, and hitting up the culinary scene with her husband, Koorosh, a restaurateur in Manhattan (Jajaja Plantas Mexicana, Gelso & Grand).
Senior Vice President, Social Responsibility & Environmental Social and Governance (ESG)
Crystal Barnes is Senior Vice President, Social Responsibility & Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) Senior Vice President, Social Responsibility & Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) at Paramount, where she is responsible for the social responsibility program including employee engagement, global giving and cross-portfolio campaigns and partnerships. Her work spans the areas of philanthropy, volunteering, cause marketing, disaster relief and pro bono investments. Barnes also leads the company’s ESG efforts inclusive of external reporting and assessments and is responsible for driving culture initiatives across the organization.
Prior to joining Paramount (formerly ViacomCBS), Barnes served as Senior Vice President of Global Responsibility and Sustainability at Nielsen, and Executive Director of the Nielsen Foundation. She held positions leading the Industry Relations team, focusing on developing strategic alliances with industry, trade and business associations, and worked on the communications and public affairs team where she initiated and managed Nielsen’s partnerships with civic, social service and business organizations. With diversity, equity and inclusion as pillars in her career, Barnes also worked closely with Nielsen’s African American Advisory Council to drive diversity efforts across the company.
A native of Pennsylvania, Barnes received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Broadcast Telecommunications and Mass Media from Temple University. She serves on the board of Citizen Schools and Get Schooled and resides in New Jersey with her husband and 3 children.
EVP, Content Acquisitions, NBCU TV & Streaming
As Executive Vice President, Content Acquisitions for NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, Val Boreland oversees the buying and curating of content across NBCU’s broadcast, cable and streaming platforms: NBC, Bravo, E!, Oxygen, SYFY, Universal Kids, USA Network and Peacock. She reports to Frances Berwick, Chairman, Entertainment Networks, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming.
Boreland’s team is responsible for high-profile deals across the entertainment portfolio, including Peacock’s agreement to bring Universal Filmed Entertainment Group releases to the platform following the theatrical release window and a multi-year movie output deal with Lionsgate. She also works with third-party studios domestically and internationally to acquire content for all of NBCU’s linear platforms and Peacock, including original films “Meet Cute” and “They/Them” and international series “The Tattooist of Auschwitz” and “Vigil.” Boreland is also responsible for bringing the enormously popular “John Wick” franchise to Peacock and the highly anticipated prequel series “The Continental: From the World of John Wick.”
Prior to her current role, Boreland served as Executive Vice President, Content Strategy & Acquisitions for NBCU’s six cable networks, where she oversaw cross-platform content scheduling, acquisitions and promo strategy. She also led acquisitions for Peacock as the direct-to-consumer brand geared up for its launch in 2020. While in that role, Boreland secured the rights to multiple high-profile properties for Peacock, including “Yellowstone,” “The Office” and the “Harry Potter” franchise. She was previously Executive Vice President of Content Strategy for USA and SYFY exclusively before expanding her purview to extend across the entire entertainment and lifestyle portfolio in 2019.
While in her EVP role at USA and SYFY, Boreland led high-profile acquisitions, including “Futurama” for SYFY, major movie packages for both networks, and also spearheaded the launch of “J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World” franchise on the NBCUniversal networks. In addition, she led the programming team that continued USA’s successful run as the #1 cable network for four additional years.
Prior to NBCUniversal, Boreland was Executive Vice President, Head of Programming & Production at REVOLT, the music television network she launched with Sean “Diddy” Combs in 2013. In this role, she had oversight of all programming and production, talent, news, music, social media, scheduling, promotion and research. Prior to that, she was Senior Vice President of Programming at Comedy Central. She began her career at Lifetime Television where she held several positions, including Vice President, Scheduling, Planning and Acquisitions.
Boreland has been recognized in prestigious industry publications such as Variety’s Dealmaker Impact Report of 2022, Cablefax’s Most Powerful Women and Most Influential Multi-Ethnic Executives. She was also a ChangeMaker Award Honoree at the 2023 Reel Works Gala. Boreland holds a BA degree in communications from the University of Michigan and resides in New York.
EVP, Distribution, AMC Networks
As Executive Vice President of Distribution, Roy manages a team that negotiates linear carriage agreements and premium bundle and SVOD agreements for AMC+ and SVODs in the U.S. and Canada, coordinates and executes marketing partnerships and campaigns, and manages ongoing relationships with distribution partners. Roy and his team also pursue partnership and business development opportunities in the tech and media sectors.
Prior to joining AMC Networks Cho worked as a corporate M&A and private equity attorney in the New York offices of Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Winston & Strawn LLP. While on leave of absence from Kirkland & Ellis, Cho won the Democratic primary and earned the nomination for U.S. Congress in New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District with 90.4% of the vote. During his campaign, he raised $1.3 million, earned the newspaper endorsements of New Jersey’s largest newspapers and received 43% of the vote in the general election.
Cho earned his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center where he was the Editor in Chief of the Georgetown Immigration Law Journal. While studying at Georgetown Law as an evening student, he served as Correspondence Director to U.S. Senator Byron L. Dorgan. Prior to law school, he worked as an Aide to the Governor of New Jersey and as Special Assistant to the Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Cho earned his undergraduate degree in political science from Brown University, where he graduated with honors.
Cho currently serves on the Community Advisory Board of NJTV.
Regional Director, Americas Service Provider, Cisco
Patty Donaldson is a Senior Sales leader with experience driving new businesses, markets, and customer relationships in the U.S. and Canada. In her current role as a Regional Director in Cisco’s Segments and Countries business, she leads teams focused on sales of products and services to Service Providers in the U.S. Under Patty’s leadership, her team is responsible for aligning Cisco resources to support their customer’s business drivers and strategic priorities. This includes sell to and sell through with direct and partner resources.
Since joining Cisco in 2007, Patty has led Service Provider teams across many different segments including cable, large enterprise customers such as The Walt Disney Company and Cox Enterprises, as well as web, media, and gaming accounts. She has built highly empowered and successful sales teams who have led the way in driving new products and business models to exceed customer expectations.
In addition to Patty’s sales leadership role, she is passionate about attracting and retaining a more diverse workforce including early in career talent. She participates not only in many Cisco initiatives but also external organizations such as Women in Cable Television. Currently, Patty serves as the Inclusion and Diversity lead for the Americas Service Provider Segment.
Patty holds a BBA in Marketing from the University of Georgia and resides in the Atlanta area. She enjoys spending time on the water and is a real estate enthusiast including building and designing homes.
EVP, Integrity & Inclusion, CNN, and Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer, News & Sports, Warner Bros. Discovery
Johnita P. Due is Executive Vice President, Integrity & Inclusion, CNN & Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer — News & Sports at Warner Bros. Discovery. Due, who is based in Atlanta and joined CNN as a media lawyer in 2003, was appointed in 2019 to the newly created role in 2019.
Previously, Due served as senior vice president and chief diversity, equity & inclusion officer for WarnerMedia News and Sports, the parent company of CNN, Turner Sports, Bleacher Report and WarnerMedia Studios, and also as vice president and assistant general counsel of CNN, joining CNN in 2003. Due served as CNN’s chief diversity advisor for almost a decade. She recently completed her tenure as co-chair of Black Professionals@Turner.
As vice president and assistant general counsel, Due provided strategic guidance on media law issues relating to content production and distribution on television and digital platforms. She served as a key resource for digital product teams in advising on evolving technological platforms. She shepherded the development of iReport, which was the first user-generated content website of a major news organization, was an advocate and advisor on the development of “Impact Your World,” CNN’s first pro-social, global, cross-platform programming initiative to empower audiences to respond philanthropically to news events, and advised on the development of CNNgo, a next-generation digital product which gives users unprecedented control over their TV news consumption. Additionally, Due managed CNN’s multinational rights and clearances department. She also oversaw access matters for CNN, with successful lawsuits against the State of Florida for a copy of its suspected felons list prior to the 2004 election which impacted the state’s election policy, against the federal government to gain access to Hurricane Katrina victim recovery efforts which contributed to CNN’s Peabody award-winning coverage, and against local agencies relating to the 2013 death of Kendrick Johnson, which led to the reopening of the investigation into the Georgia teen’s death.
As co-chair of the business resource group (BRG) Black Professionals@Turner, Due helped shape the organization’s mission as “Defining Moments: Building Resilience, Driving Excellence and Moving Forward During Times of Change.” Under her leadership, the group focused on putting the “B” back into the BRG. To that end, BlackProfessionals@Turner developed several workforce, marketplace and community programs that strengthened employee engagement within Turner, provided professional development opportunities, showcased on-air and off-air talent, and created avenues for employees to provide insights on content, fan engagement, and potential new revenue streams during times of significant corporate and industry changes. Due continues to chair a task force on African-American retention and advancement on behalf of the organization.
Prior to that, from 2005-2013, Due served as CNN’s chief diversity advisor. She chaired CNN’s award-winning Diversity Council and provided guidance to CNN management on content, marketplace, workforce and workplace initiatives to advance CNN’s diversity mission of growing its business by reflecting diverse audiences and perspectives in its programming and supporting an inclusive culture for its employees. By collaborating with programming, network booking, marketing, sales, PR, HR, recruiting, and talent development, Due’s leadership was crucial to establishing CNN’s standing with multicultural audiences leading to some major ratings wins, earning revenue in the tens of millions of dollars for multicultural content franchises, increasing CNN’s racial, ethnic and gender diversity, launching employee development and student pipeline programs, and expanding the diversity of perspectives and storytelling on air. Due was key to the development of global programming initiatives Black in America and Latino in America, community forum “CNN Dialogues” in partnership with the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and Emory University’s James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study for Race and Difference, and a company-wide initiative geared toward producing more content for the growing and diverse U.S. Hispanic market.
During Due’s tenure as Diversity Council chair, CNN was honored with significant industry honors that reflected her leadership. In 2007, the organization received the NABJ “Best Practices Award” for exemplary work in covering issues “of great significance to the black community or the African Diaspora and/or for efforts in increasing diversity among newsroom staff and management.” In 2009, CNN received the Corporate Diversity Award from the American Institute of Managing Diversity. CNN was also featured that year for its diversity best practices in a white paper by the Newspaper Association of America for redefining “diversity initiatives in the 21st century” and for using diversity “to help shape strategy, attract new customers, and increase revenue.” In 2010, CNN was honored by the Equality Forum with an International Business Leadership Award for its commitment to a diverse society and workforce and “for reporting with distinction issues about the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities” and by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law for its “unwavering commitment to diversity and…timely and incisive coverage of issues impacting minorities and underserved communities.”
Due herself has been individually recognized for her diversity and inclusion achievements. She was named to Cablefax’s Diversity List for 2019, named one of the “Top Black Voices in Network News” by Ebony magazine in 2007. She was selected one of the “Second 50 Most Influential Minorities in Cable” by CableFAX magazine in 2008. That same year she was named a “Diversity Champion” by Diversity Edge magazine and was presented with the Ida B. Wells Award by the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and the National Conference of Editorial Writers, which cited her “passionate and impactful efforts to promote diversity in staffing and expanded coverage of minority communities and issues at one of the nation’s preeminent news outlets, and for championing the cause of diversity beyond her newsroom’s doors.” She also received a 2008 NAMIC Luminary Award for her commitment to promoting multi-ethnic diversity within her company and for giving back to her community. Due was the 2010 recipient of the corporate award from NV magazine, bestowed upon individuals who have “found a way to raise the standard for how their corporation operates by not only protecting the bottom line but increasing the integrity of the brand.” In 2013, Due was named one of Rolling Out magazine’s “Top 25 Women of Atlanta.”
Due serves as a board member of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights where she recently led the search for its new CEO at the request of board chair The Honorable Shirley Franklin. She is also on the board of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and is president of the board of Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company in Atlanta. She is a member of the American Bar Association (ABA) Forum on Communications Law and a member of the Buckhead Atlanta chapter of Jack and Jill. Previously, she was a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a board member of Vox Teen Communications in Atlanta. Due is a 2008 McCormick Tribune Fellow and an alumna of the Leadership Atlanta class of 2008.
Due has presented or moderated at numerous conferences on media law and diversity subjects sponsored by such organizations as the ABA Forum on Communications Law, the Media Law Resource Center, the National Association of Broadcasters, NAMIC, UNITY: Journalists for Diversity, and the Georgia Diversity Council. Her articles have been published by CNN.com, the MLRC Media Law Letter and The Human Rights Brief.
Prior to joining CNN, Due was associate general counsel for The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., where she practiced litigation, intellectual property, and media law. While at McGraw-Hill, Due received a Black Achievers in Industry award from the Harlem branch of the YMCA of Greater New York. She also served as an adjunct professor of media law at Cornell Law School from 2001-2002. Before joining McGraw-Hill, Due worked as a litigation associate at the New York office of Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam & Roberts. In 1994, as a pro bono fellow for the firm, Due worked in Rome as vice president of S.O.S. Razzismo Italia, a non-profit organization that is part of a European network committed to fighting racial discrimination against immigrants and people of color.
Due earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges and a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Sussex in England by studying race relations and organizational culture under a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarship. She earned her law degree from Cornell Law School, specializing in international legal affairs. As a law student, Due was an NAACP Legal Defense Fund Earl Warren Scholar and intern and she also interned at the United Nations Centre for Human Rights. Due most recently completed the NAMIC Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP) where she studied at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.
Executive Vice President, Marketing, ESPN
Laura Gentile serves as Executive Vice President, Marketing & Social Media, ESPN. In this role, she is responsible for leading the brand marketing for all of The Walt Disney Company’s linear networks including ABC, Disney Channels, Freeform, FX and National Geographic, in addition to building a catalog of award-winning creative for the ESPN brand – including all shows, platforms and special events – while also overseeing ESPN’s social media content.
Gentile has previously held a variety of strategic roles at ESPN, giving her a unique purview. She has served as SVP, Business Operations and Content Strategy, a role that included oversight of the business operations of the Content group and strategy development. Simultaneously, she continued to lead espnW and Women’s Initiatives at ESPN. She was promoted to senior vice president, espnW and Women’s Initiatives in November 2015.
Gentile was instrumental in launching espnW, ESPN’s first dedicated business built to serve women, which debuted in December 2010. espnW is now a multimedia business encompassing digital, social, television, films, mentorship programs and events such as The espnW: Women + Sports Summit.
Prior to researching and launching espnW, Gentile served as Vice President, Chief of Staff at ESPN. In that role, she worked directly with George Bodenheimer, President, ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports, on all aspects of the division’s business. She joined ESPN in the consumer marketing department in January 2003, where she was responsible for driving the marketing direction for properties including the NFL, SportsCenter, the NHL as well as ESPN25, ESPN’s year-long 25th anniversary campaign.
Gentile currently serves as a member of The WICT Network 2021 Global Board of Directors. She was named to the Forbes “Most Powerful Women in U.S. Sports” list in 2018, ranked No. 22. In 2017, Gentile was named one of the 2017 Multichannel News Wonder Women, and in 2016 was named one of The WICT Network’s “Women to Watch.” In November 2014, she was one of 17 participants in the inaugural Women in Sports and Events (WISE) and Tuck Executive Education at Dartmouth’s Executive Leadership Institute, a program created specifically for the advancement and retention of female executives in the sports industry. In April 2013, Gentile received the Advertising Women of NY Changing the Game Paradigm Shift Award and The WICT Network’s Signature Accolade for espnW’s Global Sports Mentoring Program. Gentile was named to the Women’s Sports Foundation Advisory Panel. Gentile was a fellow of The WICT Network’s Betsy Magness Leadership Institute Class XVII, and was named to Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal Forty Under 40 Class of 2012 and an SBJ Game-Changer.Also in 2012, she was appointed to the U.S. Department of State’s Council to Empower Women and Girls Through Sports, developed by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
She honed her marketing and advertising skills as a senior partner, management supervisor at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide. Her team led the development of IBM’s e-business infrastructure campaign that earned the 2002 GRAND EFFIE for advertising effectiveness, a first in Ogilvy & Mather’s history.
A graduate of Duke University in 1994 with a double major in English and political science, she earned an MBA in Marketing and Organizational Behavior from Boston College’s Carroll Graduate School of Management in 1996. While an undergraduate, Gentile garnered All-America and All-ACC honors in field hockey and was a two-time team captain. She led Duke to their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament and was named to the ACC’s 50th Anniversary field hockey team.
Chief Customer Officer and General Manager, USA, Afiniti
Orlando is the Chief Customer Officer and General Manager of the United States at Afiniti. He is responsible for business development, managing key client relationships, overseeing deployments, and managing Afiniti’s team, operations, and strategy in the US.
Orlando has been with Afiniti since 2008. Prior to joining Afiniti, Orlando served as a Senior Business Operations Manager at Chase, where he was responsible for inbound and outbound sales performance for card service, and for overseeing more than 2,000 employees in vendor operations in India, the Philippines, and South America. He also served as Vice President at Providian Financial, where he managed telemarketing quality and training teams to support inbound and outbound calling.
Today, Orlando serves on the Global Board of Directors for The WICT Network, the Board of Directors for the National Kidney Foundation, and the Executive Advisory Board for Ignite Worldwide.
Sara Edwards Hinzman
Sara Edwards Hinzman
SVP, Distribution & Strategy, A+E Networks
Sara Edwards Hinzman is Senior Vice President, Distribution & Strategy at A+E Networks. Based in New York and working remotely, she leads a team responsible for content distribution sales as well as overseeing distribution strategy for the company’s portfolio of products and services including A&E, HISTORY and Lifetime. She and her team manage A+E’s content distribution business across the US and Canada with partners such as Comcast, DirecTV, Hulu, NCTC, and others. Hinzman previously served as Vice President, Content Distribution.
Prior to joining A+E Networks, Sara spent 16 years at Showtime Networks where she held a variety of positions including, Vice President National Accounts, and Vice President, DBS. Sara started her career managing new product development for a plastics manufacturing company based in Dallas, TX, where she developed a produce bag that is still utilized in grocery stores nationwide.
A strong advocate of leadership development and empowering women, Sara is a graduate of the nationally recognized Betsy Magness Leadership Institute Program, The WICT Network Senior Executive Summit at Stanford University, and the Harvard Business School/CTAM (Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing) Cable Executive Management Program. Sara is proudly a Co-Founder of A+E’s award- winning Spark Mentor Program, which pairs senior female executives with rising women leaders across the company. She serves on the WICT Network Global Board of Directors, and is also a member of Chief, a private membership network focused on connecting and supporting women executive leaders. In addition, Sara serves on the Finance Committee of the Women’s Resource Center in Rhode Island which focuses on domestic violence prevention through individual empowerment.
Originally from Oklahoma City, Sara received an MBA from the University of Texas in Austin, TX and a bachelor’s degree in business and French from Trinity University in San Antonio, TX.
Managing Director, People, Liberty Global B.V.
Grace is the Managing Director, People, Liberty Global B.V. She was the first Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer at Liberty Global, the world’s largest international TV and broadband company. She was appointed to the role in October 2020 and co-chairs the company’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council alongside Mike Fries, Liberty Global’s CEO. Passionate about people, diversity and inclusion, Grace is focused to empower all 28,000+ employees who work at Liberty Global, and its operating companies to achieve its DE&I vision and championing, developing and executing DE&I strategies and programs across the company.
Grace was born in Malaysia and is of Chinese and Malay heritage. As a qualified advocate and solicitor, she spent her early career in law performing pro-bono work for migrant workers in the country. The importance of fairness and equality has remained with Grace throughout her career and has shaped her approach in all aspects of her work at Liberty Global.
Grace joined Liberty Global in 2002 in The Netherlands and has served in various roles leading complex, large scale and strategic transformation projects and initiatives whilst increasing engagement and driving high performance through building organisational capability. Prior to becoming Liberty Global’s Chief DE&I Officer, Grace was the People Vice President for the company’s Technology & Innovation (T&I) function. In this role she was the Lead Business Partner for the Chief Technology Officer at Liberty Global and overseeing all aspects of people and organisation across the function’s international and multi-country sites within the company. Grace currently also oversees industrial and employee relations for Liberty and manages Liberty Global’s European Works Council and the Central Workers Council in The Netherlands.
Chapter Leader Designee
Chapter Leader Designee
Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, Liberty Global
Soraya Loerts is the Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer of Liberty Global, where she is responsible for driving and implementing the multi-year DE&I strategy.
Soraya joined the Liberty Global family in 2009, leading Omni-Channel Care and Retention at the former UPC Netherlands, before serving in various global leadership roles, VP Strategic Marketing & Digital transformation, VP Customer Experience and VP Product Quality. Soraya has over 22 years of experience in driving, customer and product experience, technology, and digital transformation at Cendris, Dell and Liberty Global.
Soraya has a BA in Management and Economics and a master’s degree in Quality and Business Transformation, she also completed the INSEAD CTAM Executive Program and The WICT Network’s Executive Stanford Program. She has been named “Leader of the year” by the Customer Management association and featured in the prestigious Rijksmuseum as an” Influential woman making a difference”. She is also recognized by “Topvrouwen” a platform showcasing top women leaders in the Netherlands and a member of the World Economic Chief DEI officers Forum.
In 2019, Soraya co-founded The WICT Network: Europe chapter and served as president.
Soraya’s personal aspiration is to encourage leaders to play a pivotal role in creating a consciously inclusive culture where everyone can feel as though they belong, in addition to driving a level playing field for women in the industry.
Chief Human Resources Officer, Midco
Ann McGlennen is known as an authentic, collaborative leader focused on positioning teams and businesses for success. As Midco’s Chief Human Resources Officer, Ann leads the talent acquisition, HR and organizational effectiveness business partners, employee relations, total rewards, and corporate communications teams to align human resources and people strategies with long-term, enterprise-wide goals while creating an optimal work environment leading to strong business outcomes.
Prior to joining Midco in 2017, Ann had a progressive 24-year career with Target Corporation serving in a variety of human resources leadership roles in both field operations and headquarters. From 2011 to 2016, she served as Vice President, Stores/Field HR for Target Canada. She was responsible for leading an effective and consistent human resources strategy for the stores/field teams as Target entered Canada, opening 124 stores in nine months. McGlennen also led all start-up and ongoing HR functions for Stores, Store Operations, Assets Protection and Distribution Centers that included organizational design, talent acquisition and planning, training and development, retention, diversity and inclusion, generalist functions, employee and labor relations, development of operational best practices and regulatory compliance, compensation, benefits, and internal communications.
As VPHR, Ann was responsible for all HR functions and driving sales in approximately 450 stores in 17 states in the Midwest, North, Pacific Northwest and HQ region, delivering approximately $17.5B in revenue with 80,000+ team members. Prior to VPHR, Ann held a variety of director roles at Target HQ, serving as a key partner of pyramid level leaders, directing HR generalist and team related talent and culture initiatives to ensure alignment of objectives, successful execution of key strategies and daily operations. She has led teams through significant reorganizations and subsequent change management.
An advocate of continuous learning and helping others achieve their goals and potential, Ann strongly supports The WICT Network. At Midco, WICT Network membership has increased, providing developmental and growth opportunities for the talented women of Midco. Additionally, Ann has participated in the Senior Executive Summit – Stanford Graduate School of Business, attended the Women’s Leadership Conference, twice served on the Women’s Leadership Conference Planning Committee, and led table discussions at the 2019 conference.
Ann graduated with honors from The American University with a BA in urban affairs. She currently serves as board chair for the Midco Foundation, is on the board of directors of the International Renaissance Festivals, Ltd. and participates in various volunteer activities.
Chief Transformation Officer, CommScope
Leslie Miles is Chief Transformation Officer for CommScope, a global innovator in broadband, enterprise, and wireless networks. Prior to that she serves as CommScope’s Vice President of Technical Services & Segment Strategy, where her global team of 300+ provided broadband technical support and training for MSO and Telco customers worldwide. She also led segment strategy for CommScope’s Broadband Networks segment, focusing on forward-looking technology, innovation, and market trends.
Before joining CommScope, Leslie led the Program Management Office for ARRIS, focused on enterprise-wide strategic programs that helped the company realize its objectives. She was the driving force in leading the successful integrations for ARRIS’s acquisition of the Motorola Home, Pace, and Brocade/Ruckus businesses and was an integral part of the transformation management office during CommScope’s acquisition of ARRIS.
Leslie also led ARRIS’s voice of the customer program, Customer CONNECT, overseeing customer interviews and internal action planning to help the company deliver on its core value of Customer First. With Leslie’s leadership and her ability to build trusting relationships both internally and externally, customer participation in Customer CONNECT grew 30-fold in a span of five years. Also at ARRIS, Leslie ran the Indirect Procurement organization, where she managed ~$1B in spend, spanning multiple strategic categories.
In 2016 Leslie was selected by the ARRIS Executive Leadership Team to serve as the founding Board Chair for the newly created ARRIS Women’s Business Network (AWBN). Under Leslie’s leadership, the Network introduced a formal mentoring program, diversity dashboards, supported industry STEM initiatives, and grew membership to over 1,000 in three years. Leslie took her DE&I passion to CommScope, where she partnered with executives and co-created the CommScope Diversity & Inclusion Business Network (DIBN). In this capacity, Leslie serves as an advisor to the Global chair of the leadership council, and in one year, has helped assemble a DIBN community of 1,800 members worldwide.
Leslie transitioned into the telecommunications industry in 1998 with Motorola, where she spent most of her career. Through her 20+ years in the industry, she has held various leadership roles, including supply chain operations, new product introduction, product line management, and mergers and acquisitions.
Leslie has a Bachelor of Arts in Supply Chain from Michigan State University and an MBA in Business Administration from Loyola University Chicago, Quinlan School of Business. She has continued her leadership education through the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management Women’s Senior Leadership Program in 2015 and is a 2017 graduate of the Betsy Magness Leadership Institute (BMLI Class 35). She has also participated in several BMGI courses. Leslie was honored at The WICT Network annual leadership conference in 2018 as a “Woman to Watch” and was recognized in Cablefax’s 100 Most Powerful Women of 2019. Leslie is a member of The WICT Network Chicago chapter.
Leslie lives in Chicago with her husband and two sons. She enjoys traveling, reading, skiing, and cooking.
EVP & Incoming Chief People Officer, Cox Communications
Kia Painter is Executive Vice President and Incoming Chief People Officer for Cox Communications. In this role, she is responsible for leading the development and execution of talent strategy that aligns with Cox’s operating principles and working through the challenges of driving continual growth in our rapidly evolving business.
Prior to this role, Kia served as Senior Vice President, HR Business Partnerships, where she was responsible for leading HR business consulting and service delivery functions for Cox Communications.
Painter joined Cox in 1998 as a part time HR Assistant in Cox Hampton Roads after completing undergraduate studies. During her twenty-four plus years with the company, she has risen through the ranks and led people functions throughout Cox regions and markets in the Southeast notably in Virginia, Florida, and Louisiana. In 2015, she moved to Atlanta to establish Cox Communication’s employee experience, employee engagement, and organization design practices for the company.
She is the recipient of various industry awards including:
- 2022 Mae Douglas Leadership Award
- 2022 NAMIC Next Generation Leader Award
- 2021 Horizon Woman to Watch Award, The WICT Network Southeast
- 2021, 2020, 2019- CableFax Diversity List
- 2014 Top 40 under 40 by Multichannel News Magazine
- 2011 NAMIC Luminary Award for up-and-coming industry executives
She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from James Madison University. She also holds a Master of Arts in Human and Organizational Development from The George Washington University and a Master of Business Administration from Tulane University.
When she is not at Cox looking for ways to create career opportunities and experiences for our employees, she spends her time reading and looking for new things to learn. She is a native of Norfolk, Virginia, and currently resides in Powder Springs, Georgia.
North America Communications, Media & Technology Industry Practices Lead, Accenture
Laura Peterson is a senior managing director leading Accenture’s Communications, Media and Technology (CMT) business in the Northeast market unit. She is accountable for Accenture’s strategy, talent development, growth and delivery for its CMT clients in the region, including overseeing a team of client account leaders and directors responsible for connecting Accenture’s solutions with its clients’ business priorities. She focuses on helping C-suite executives address the challenges facing their companies today, particularly those at the intersection of business and technology.
In addition, Laura is the office managing director for Accenture in New York Metro. In this role, she leads all of Accenture’s 7,000+ people aligned to the region, as well as clients and community-related efforts. Laura also had the privilege of leading the design and build-out of Accenture’s innovation flagship in New York at One Manhattan West in Hudson Yards. This flagship is central to Accenture’s innovation strategy for North America and serves as a commitment to New York and the firm’s 2025 sustainability goals.
Prior to these roles, Laura was a leader in Accenture’s Consumer Goods and Retail practices holding various roles across Accenture Consulting, Strategy, Technology, Digital and Operations. In her over 22 years at Accenture, she has built her experience in operating model transformation—including digital business and shared services—business transformation, sustainable cost management, journey management and business change.
Laura is often recognized amongst powerful women in business, having been chosen as a 2020 International Women’s Forum leadership fellow and was recently awarded Seramount’s 2022 Women of Excellence honors and Crain’s New York Business “Notable Women in Accounting and Consulting” award. These accomplishments are only the start of what Laura is most passionate about: paying it forward to support next-gen women leaders. She is setting the agenda for the advancement of women—and all diverse, equitable and inclusive talent—through her advocacy, mentoring and executive sponsorship of Accenture’s LGBTQ+ and women’s employee resource groups (ERGs) and for the firm’s New York Metro workforce as the local office managing director. Lastly, she is active in several local causes, volunteerism programs and other diverse forums in New York, including Covenant House, the Women’s Forum of New York and serving as a parent volunteer within New York City Public Schools. Laura truly believes that getting to equal makes us all stronger and that it is the responsibility of business leaders to do good while doing well.
SVP, Human Resources, Central Division, Comcast Cable Communications, Inc.
Tina Simmons, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, is responsible for leading all facets of human resources and organizational effectiveness for thousands of employees in Comcast Cable’s Central Division and for all people-related functions including compensation, diversity & inclusion, employee engagement, labor relations, employee communications, HR policy, performance management, talent acquisition, and talent management.
A graduate of Villanova University, Tina holds a bachelor’s degree in business and went on to earn a Master of Science in organizational dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania. Her professional studies include completion of the Harvard Business School/CTAM (Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing) Cable Executive Management Program, the Cornell University ILR School HR Strategy Executive Education, and The WICT Network Senior Executive Summit at Stanford. She serves on the Villanova School of Business Dean’s Advisory Council. Tina is an At-Large Member of the Global Board of Directors for The WICT Network and also serves as a Chapter Advisor for the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) – Atlanta Chapter. She is a member of the Pi Alpha Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
She has frequently been recognized as one of the Most Influential Minorities in Cable and one of the Most Powerful Women in Cable by Cablefax Magazine. Tina received WICT’s Liberty Award in 2006. In 2007, she became a Class XIV Fellow of the The WICT Network’s Betsy Magness Leadership Institute. Tina received the NAMIC – Atlanta Chapter’s “Mae Douglas Mentoring” award in 2017. Finally, Tina received the Off the Field Players Wives Association “Woman of Impact” Award and the The WICT Network Southeast Chapter Red Letter Award in 2019. Tina resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband.