Cable Positive Taps Villano as Chief

Cable Positive named Steve Villano executive director of cable's AIDS-action organization late last month.

Set to begin work last Wednesday, Villano replaces Molly McAuliffe, who is leaving this summer to pursue other interests.

Villano, most recently vice president for corporate affairs at Episcopal Health Services Inc., was New York Gov. Mario Cuomo's press secretary from 1993 through 1995.

He was vice president of planning and institutional advancement at the State University of New York Health Science Center in Brooklyn (Downstate Medical Center) from 1995 through 1999. While there, Villano said, the organization won the Governor's Cup four years in a row for raising the most money in the State Employees Federated Appeal.

"I see somebody who is very well seasoned in areas of board management and dealing with people, health-related causes and policy causes," said Lela Cocoros, president of Cable Positive's board of directors. "And I also see a person who's very committed to those causes. He's got a lot of passion."

Villano is eyeing new programs, and he plans to talk with cable networks and operators about "doing a major telethon" Dec. 1 for World AIDS Day. He also wants to expand Cable Positive's reach and fund-raising efforts into the new-media sector.

"The cable industry is changing. There's a lot of symbiosis between the cable industry and the new-media industry. That's an area we have to look at if we want to render our services and assistance to a larger area," Villano said. "We need to look at where we are going as an organization, and that would have to reflect where the industry is going, as well."

Villano is also talking with Cable Positive board members about expanding the organization's educational and training programs. "In addition to educating people about HIV and AIDS, it's coupled with diversity training, so people in a workplace who are HIV-positive or who have AIDS are not discriminated against. They're protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act," Villano said.

Cable Positive will also look to increase the number of public-service announcements it provides to the industry, he added.

In addition to growing Cable Positive's annual fund-raising dinner-which raised $1.2 million last month-Villano said he wants to extend the organization's "permanent, long-term fund-raising" efforts. Those will come through both small and large gift solicitation, an annual giving campaign and estate-planning efforts, he said.

"When you think about the capability that exists within the cable industry, there is no limit for what we can do. The sky is not even the limit. Our reach goes across the country and around the world," Villano added.

Villano has done consulting for Cornell University, Long Island Cares, Cinema Arts Center, Morris Zand & Associates and Companie General de Sante of France.

He also has some cable experience. Villano co-hosted the Taking Sides point-counterpoint show on Cablevision Systems Corp.'s News 12 Long Island from 1989 through 1992.

Villano said he's already met with Cable Positive board members in New York, Los Angeles and Denver. The board was also set to meet at the National Show in New Orleans.