For 2010 ‘Wonder Women,’Thanks and Good Humor Overpower Tiara Jokes

New York — Amid the usual
array of puns about gold tiaras
and invisible jets, life lessons,
warm thanks and good humor
reigned when a dozen top female
executives in cable operations,
programming and technology
were honored at the annual
Wonder Women luncheon last
Wednesday (March 24), an event
attended by 830 people.

The event was co-hosted by
Multichannel News and the New
York chapter of Women in Cable
Telecommunications. The 12
Wonder Women — and another
14 “Women to Watch” — were
selected by the editors of Multichannel
News and profiled in the
Jan. 25 edition of the magazine.

Jennifer Caserta, executive VP
and general manager at IFC, confessed
to being a “bona fi de television
junkie” all her life, someone
who began reading Multichannel
News in college to learn about
the industry she now thrives in.
Caserta, who earlier was a marketer
at Court TV and IFC and
then ran the music channel Fuse,
credited the environment at Rainbow
Media Holdings that gives
women the opportunity to lead.

Jennifer Dangar, senior VP of
domestic distribution for Discovery
Communications, held
up one of the candy bars that
her colleagues had made in her
honor, with her name and “2010
Wonder Woman” stenciled on
the wrapper, next to a photo of
her face superimposed on the
cartoon superhero’s image. Instead
of nutritional info, the back
of the wrapper featured “Dangar
Facts: Number of Years in Cable:
20+. Number of Networks Managed:
25+. Dietary Supplement:
Wine.” Among the people she
thanked was Discovery distribution
chief Bill Goodwyn, who, she
said, hired her twice.

Kristine Faulkner, VP of product
development and management
at Cox Communications’
Cox Business unit, said the career
trajectory that propelled her
from newspaper photography to
telecommunications was one that
taught her to learn new things
continually and not be afraid to
drive change.

Melani Griffith, SVP of programming
and video services at Insight
Communications, announced that
she was having twins — “there are
three of us up here right now,” she
said, and two of them were kicking
hard — and said she benefited from
good teachers, excellent colleagues
and the kind of dedication that extended
to sometimes having three
meals at her desk and having her
hair highlighted at the office.

Cathy Hetzel, president of advanced
media and information
at Rentrak, said she’d attended
many Wonder Women luncheons
over the years and advised people
in the back of the room to look
up from their BlackBerrys and remember
the inspiring points from
the day’s speeches, lest they find
themselves on the dais someday.

Pearlena Igbokwe, SVP of original
programming at Showtime,
recounted the story of how she
immigrated to the United States
from Nigeria as a girl and how
television helped her perfect her
English. She said it continued to
impart life lessons. I Love Lucy,
she joked, taught her how hard
you have to work to be in show
business, for example. She said
she felt a responsibility to be a
mentor after the opportunity she
was given at Showtime to transition
from marketing to special
projects and finally to developing
original shows.

Diana Kerekes, VP of video
content at Comcast, talked about
growing up with her Romanian
father and French Tunisian
mother and how they encouraged
her to have any career she
wanted, as long as she became a
doctor, engineer or lawyer. She
became a lawyer, but at Comcast,
she said, she has had four
completely different careers in
her six and a half years: launching
networks, acquiring content
for broadband and running the
Comcast On Demand business.

Gail MacKinnon, executive
VP and chief government relations
officer at Time Warner Cable,
said she was pleased to join
the cable company’s sisterhood
of executives who preceded her
as Wonder Women. She said she
learned an important lesson from
one session using famed “10-Minute
Trainer” Tony Horton’s methods:
Do your best and forget the
rest. She said she wants her young
daughters to follow their passions
and dreams, explore their individuality
and forget about trying
to please everyone.

Kathleen “Kip” Mayo, executive
VP of consumer telecommunications
services at Cablevision
Systems, said she’d received several
Wonder Woman-related objects
in the weeks since she was
named one, and said she treasured
those tributes from colleagues
she respects greatly. She
thanked CEO James Dolan for
entrusting her with overseeing
the rebuild of Cablevision’s operations
even though she had no
prior engineering experience.

Sue Naegle, president of HBO
Entertainment, admired the
“jazzy” statuette she was handed
and said her career quote should
be a twist on Katharine Hepburn,
who famously said she had never
realized until lately that women
were supposed to be an inferior
sex. Naegle, whose career was
first nurtured at United Talent
Agency and then at HBO, said
her quote should be: “I never realized
until lately how lucky and
spoiled I am.”

Tonia O’Connor, EVP of distribution,
sales and marketing
at Univision Communications,
said she found her fi rst job in cable
through an ad in the newspaper.
She had no idea what affi liate
sales was, she said, but she knew
she wanted to work really hard
out of respect for her parents. She
said she now encourages her children
from the sidelines at their ski
races, urging them to stay “up, up,
up, up.”

Rita Tuzon, EVP and general
counsel at Fox Networks Group,
said when she graduated from
law school in the mid-1980s, Sandra
Day O’Connor had helped
shatter the judicial glass ceiling
with her appointment to the
U.S. Supreme Court. Still, women
comprised only one-third of her
graduating class. “I feel very fortunate
to have come up in a time
when I could be in that vanguard
of women I hope have opened
doors by way of example” — making
partner in a law firm or running
a department or division in
a media company. “That used to
be a rarity,” she said, “and today
I see women not just succeeding
but excelling in these positions.”

Next year’s Wonder Women
luncheon will be held at the New
York Hilton on March 30.