SAVE THE DATE FOR THE 2024 LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE: OCTOBER 21-22, 2024, NEW YORK MARRIOTT MARQUIS
The WICT Network was thrilled to once again open Diversity Week 2023 with our annual Leadership Conference. This year’s theme, Co-Create the Future, built on collaboration and inclusion as we move into a new era of leadership governed by artificial intelligence and a heightened focus on performance. The program featured a robust lineup of general sessions, interactive workshops, expert panels, coaching appointments and numerous peer-to-peer networking opportunities. Conference speakers — who encompass a diverse array of industry professionals, business experts and academic thought leaders — addressed cutting edge innovations in strategy, human capital, productivity, diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB), and what it means to be a great leader.
2023 Program Information
General sessions and breakout tracks are designed to enable you to tailor your own curriculum based on your specific career goals. Here is a glimpse of what we have in store for this year’s program:
- Leadership Perspectives: Envisioning the Future in a Changing World
- Profiles of Champions: Game On!
- Pearls of Wisdom: Answering the Call for Change
- The Power of Reinvention in Life and Work
- Productive Conflict: No Longer an Oxymoron
- Full Circle: Harnessing the Power of a Multi-Generational Workforce
- Balanced, Not Busy: Navigating the Demands of a Multifaceted Life
- From Algorithms to Authenticity – Slaying the Tech Revolution
- Let’s Build a Better Future – Beyond the Hashtag: #Sustainability
- Negotiating for Success: Relationships, Careers and a Brighter Future
- The Power & Responsibility of Leaders: A User’s Guide
- Navigating the Promises and Pitfalls of AI
- Leadership Competencies Roundtables
- Owning Your Career Roundtables
- The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again
- Gratitude Works! How Gratefulness Heals, Energizes and Changes Lives (Virtual)
- My Belonging at Work: Bridging the Organizational Gap (Virtual)
- The Anxious Achiever: Using Anxiety as a Tool for Growth (Virtual)
Diversity Week is composed of a series of conferences and events focused on advancing diversity business practices in these industries. More than a thousand executives gather annually to participate in activities during the week, showcasing their company’s commitment to diversity, participating in educational sessions, gathering to celebrate diversity champions, and setting a course for best practices.
After 2022’s return to The Big Apple, industry diversity groups The WICT Network, NAMIC, and the Walter Kaitz Foundation are joining forces once again to host Diversity Week 2023. This year’s programs will amplify and celebrate industry achievements in workplace diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging – all under this year’s umbrella theme, “We All Belong,” underscoring the importance of normalizing inclusiveness in our workforce culture.
The WICT Network 2023 Leadership Conference, held September 18-19, 2023, at the New York Marriott Marquis, featured more than 60 executives, academics, journalists, entrepreneurs and athletes who shared their wisdom with over 400 conferees. Below we relive the 2023 Leadership Conference and Touchstones Luncheon experience through a pictorial review.
The conference opened with an enchanting performance by Sarina Suno, also known as the “Violin Diva,” setting the perfect tone for our collaborative journey to Co-Create the Future. The opening entertainment was sponsored by Afiniti.
Above: Serena Suno, known as the “Violin Diva.”
Following the violin performance, Maria E. Brennan, CAE, President & CEO, and Leigh Woisard, Principal, Communications Consultant; Chair, The WICT Network, Global Board of Directors, kicked off the Opening Session, sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal, by thanking sponsors and welcoming attendees to the association in-person and virtual leadership conference. The energy in the room was filled with excitement, with everyone excited looking forward to two days of learning, networking and professional development.
Above, left to right: Leigh Woisard and Maria E. Brennan.
Dalila Wilson-Scott, EVP & Chief Diversity Officer of Comcast Corporation then welcomed NBCU Sports Host & Producer Maria Taylor and Val Boreland, EVP, Content Acquisitions, NBCUniversal Entertainment to the stage for a fireside chat.
Above, left to right: Val Boreland and Maria Taylor. The opening session was sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal.
Val and Maria discussed Maria’s journey to becoming NBCU Sports Host & Producer, including the challenges in finding balance during a busy football season.
“One of my biggest role models ever is always talking about how you want to leave the room better than you found it. Whether that’s uplifting it or bring it into joy or knowledge – she was always challenging me to do that,” said Maria Taylor, about the advocates in her life that have helped her get to where she is today.
Above, left to right: Maria E. Brennan, Dalila Wilson-Scott, Maria Taylor, Leigh Woisard and Val Boreland.
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 Your Best Self track, which centered around the power of reinvention in life and work, as well as navigating the demands of a multi-faceted life.
- The Big Picture track, which centered around harnessing the power of a multi-generational workforce and the tips to building a more sustainable future.
- The Master Class track, which offered new perspectives on “productive conflict” and the steps to staying ahead of the curve with artificial intelligence.
Morning sessions and speakers included:
The Power of Reinvention in Life and Work
- Joanne Lipman, Bestselling Author; Former Editor in Chief at USA Today; CNBC Contributor; Lecturer, Yale University
Full Circle: Harnessing the Power of a Multi-Generational Workforce, sponsored by Korn Ferry
- Arika Pierce Williams, Leadership Speaker & Author, Piercing Strategies
- Stephanie Wormington, Director, Global Strategic Research, Center for Creative Leadership
Productive Conflict: No Longer an Oxymoron, sponsored by Astound Broadband
- Alesia Latson, Co-Founder, LeadvantEDGE, Inc.
Above: 2023 Leadership Conference attendees participate in a breakout session, Monday, September 18.
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. A+E Networks served as a Premier Sponsor of the luncheon, AMC Networks and Warner Bros. Discovery served as Champion Sponsors of the luncheon, along with numerous table sponsors.
Above, Doris Kearns Goodwin addresses a packed house of Touchstones Luncheon attendees.
She then welcomed to the stage Presidential Historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning Author Doris Kearns Goodwin, who spoke to attendees about the inspiring messages she has learned from historical figures she has studied, written and discussed on numerous occasions, most notably Eleanor Roosevelt. She also described the impact her mother and father played in developing her love of history and storytelling.
“I’ve loved history for as long as I can remember,” Doris said. “My mother would read to me every night as long as I could stay awake. The only thing I loved more than listening to a book was listening to stories of her childhood. Though my mother died just after I had turned 15, her love of books and the stories she told me became the anchor of my life.”
In-person attendees dined and conversed while virtual participants watched sponsor videos that highlighted their DEI efforts, and then it was time to honor this year’s award winners. Leigh Woisard, Board Chair and Conference Committee Chair, and Sandy Howe, Immediate Past Chair of The WICT Network, took the stage to begin the 2023 Women of the Year and Women to Watch awards ceremony. Meet each of the honorees here.
This year The WICT Network was privileged to honor:
Woman of the Year – Programmer
Kelley Drukker, SVP, Legal & Business Affairs, A+E Networks
Above: Kelley Drukker.
Woman to Watch – Technology
Nicole Nixon, Founder & CEO, Listing Central, LLC
Above, left to right: Nicole Nixon and Julie Rothhouse.
Woman to Watch – Operator
Above, from left to right: Stephanie Babin and Cliff Hagan.
Woman of the Year – Programmer
Pam Kaufman, President & CEO of International Markets, Global Consumer Products & Experiences, Paramount
Above: Pam Kaufman, accepting her award virtually.
Woman of the Year – Operator
Dalila Wilson-Scott, EVP & Chief Diversity Officer, Comcast Corporation President, Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation
Above: Dalila Wilson-Scott.
AFTERNOON BREAKOUTS AND GENERAL SESSIONS
Following the luncheon, conference participants returned to more breakout sessions. Afternoon sessions and speakers included:
Let’s Build a Better Future – Beyond the Hashtag: #Sustainability, sponsored by Cox Communications
- Crystal Barnes, Moderator, EVP, Corporate Social Responsibility & Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG), Paramount
- Sara Cronenwett, SVP, Corporate Strategy & Environmental Sustainability, Comcast
- Kevin Martinez, VP, Corporate Citizenship, ESPN
- Shobha Meera, Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer & Member of the Group Executive Committee, Capgemini
Balanced, Not Busy: Navigating the Demands of a Multifaceted Life
- Ciji Townsend, Founder, Balanced, Not Busy
From Algorithms to Authenticity: Slaying the Tech Revolution, sponsored by Microsoft
- Liora Gross, Global Director, Leading Digital Transformation Practice, Center for Creative Leadership
Owning Your Career Roundtables
- Samira Panah Bakhtiar, Director, Global Media & Entertainment Sales, AWS
- Lisa Anselmo, EVP, Communications & Community Affairs, Altice USA/Optimum
- Roxanne Cahn, VP, Law – Programming, Charter Communications
- Mary Eldridge, Client Partner, Telecom, Media & Entertainment, NTT Data
- Sara Edwards Hinzman, SVP, Distribution Strategy, A+E Networks
- Nicole Nixon, Founder & CEO, Listing Central LLC
- Eke Vermeer, VP, Public Policy, Liberty Global
Attendees then reconvened in the Westside Ballroom for two final general sessions: Leadership Perspectives: Envisioning the Future in a Changing World, sponsored by Warner Bros. Discovery, and Profiles of Champions: Game On!, sponsored by Accenture. See the speakers below for Leadership Perspectives: Envisioning the Future in a Changing World, sponsored by Warner Bros. Discovery:
- Robyn Mingle, Moderator, Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer, CommScope
- Loren Hudson, SVP & Chief Diversity Officer, Comcast Cable
- Jane Rice, EVP, Distribution & Marketing, A+E Networks
- Savalle Sims, EVP & General Counsel, Warner Bros. Discovery
- Rachel C. Welch, SVP, Federal Affairs, Charter Communications
The Profiles of Champions: Game On! session, sponsored by Accenture, brought leading athletes and sports personalities together as they discussed the strategies that cultivate endurance, strength, flexibility and focus. Panelists included:
- Laura Gentile, Moderator, EVP, Marketing, ESPN
- Julie Donaldson, Game Day Radio Broadcast Analyst/Host, Washington Commanders
- Amber Nichols, GM, Capital City Go-Go, Monumental Sports & Entertainment/Washington Wizards
- Nzingha Prescod, PISTE Founder & CEO, Olympic Athlete, Award-Winning Social Entrepreneur
Above, from left to right: Speakers from our Profiles of Champions panel, Laura Gentile, Amber Nichols, Nzingha Prescod and Julie Donaldson.
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 Laura Gentile, EVP, Marketing, ESPN by Justin Connolly, member of the Global Board of Directorsand President, Platform Distribution, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution x and CEO of The WICT Network, Maria Brennan.
Above: Laura Gentile, 2023 Fearless Leader Award recipient.
In-person attendees wrapped up day one of LC2023 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 8:15 am with our fireside chat, Stories of Impact: A Keynote Conversation with Dr. Serena McCalla. Dr. Serena McCalla shared with CEO of The WICT Network Maria E. Brennan, her story of how she came to love science and how her passion for teaching it to young people blossomed her career. Serena is also a principal subject in the National Geographic Documentary, Science Fair. Science Fair is a Sundance Film Festival awardwinning and Emmy-nominated documentary, which follows high school students from around the globe as they navigate rivalries and setbacks on their journey to compete at The International Science and Engineering Fair.
- Serena McCalla, Ph.D., National Geographic Explorer and Lead Educator in the Emmy-Winning Documentary “Science Fair”
Above, left to right: Maria E. Brennan and Dr. Serena McCalla
CONCURRENT BREAKOUTS AND GENERAL SESSIONS
Following the keynote conversation, conference participants returned to more breakout sessions. Afternoon sessions and speakers included:
Navigating the Promises and Pitfalls of AI, sponsored by AWS
- Meeka Bondy, Moderator, Senior Counsel, Perkins Coie LLP
- Nirali Patel, Group VP, Data & AI Strategy, Liberty Global
- Laura Peterson, Sr. Managing Director, Communications, Media & Technology, Accenture
- Diya Wynn, Sr. Practice Manager, Responsible AI, Emerging Technologies & Intelligent Platforms, Amazon Web Services
Negotiating for Success: Relationships, Careers and a Brighter Future
- Dr. Beth Fischer-Yoshida, Author, Negotiation Expert & Program Director, Columbia University
The Power & Responsibility of Leaders: A User’s Guide, sponsored by TV One
- Raabia Shafi, Founder & CEO, Raabia Shafi Consulting
Leadership Competencies Roundtables
- Manohar Ashwath, VP & Global Head of Telecommunications, Cable & Media Vertical, GenPact
- Monique Chenault, President, Revolt Studios & News, Revolt Media
- Roy Cho, EVP, Distribution, AMC Networks
- Patty Donaldson, Regional Director, Americas Service Provider, Cisco
- Lori Lantz, SVP & Chief People Officer, Cable Labs
- Ndidi Massay, VP, Workplace Culture & Diversity Initiatives, CBS Sports
- Leslie Miles, Telecom Executive; Board of Directors, The WICT Network
- Jennifer Tracy, VP, Talent Attraction & Acquisition, Charter Communications
Above, from left to right: Speakers from our Beyond the Hashtag: #Sustainability panel, Crystal Barnes, Sara Cronenwett, Kevin Martinez and Shobha Meera.
Attendees then reconvened in the Westside Ballroom for two final general sessions: The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again and Pearls of Wisdom: Answering the Call for Change sponsored by Charter Communications. Read the speaker bio below for our first general session. Catherine discussed themes based on her bestselling book, The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again, and how fun is an absolutely essential component of a happy and meaningful life. She provided the audience with actionable tips to begin to incorporate more fun into their lives.
- Catherine Price, Award-winning Journalist and Bestselling Author
The Pearls of Wisdom: Answering the Call for Change session, sponsored by Charter Communications, is an inspiring capstone session, styled by the famed TED Talks. We brought together dynamic and innovative thought leaders to impart their wisdom in a series of high impact keynotes. Panelists included:
- Julia Taylor Brandus, 6th Grade Student & Author, Girl To Boss!
- Michael Powell, President & CEO of NCTA – The Internet & Television Association
- Amber Rae, Best-Selling Author, Artist & Global Advocate for Creativity, Self-Discovery & Emotional Wellness
- Melissa A. Schilling, Herzog Professor of Management, NYU Stern School of Business
Above, clockwise starting far left: Julia Taylor Brandus, Michael Powell, Amber Rae and Melissa A. Schilling.
We would like to thank all the presenters, sponsors and attendees, and remind everyone to save the date for next year’s conference, which will return to the New York Marriott Marquis Monday & Tuesday, October 21-22, 2024.