INTX 2016: Vanguard Award Winners Named

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association has announced the 2016 cable-industry leaders who will be honored with Vanguard Awards, at a ceremony during the INTX convention in Boston on Wednesday, May 18. Heading the list, being honored for their distinguished leadership, are top executives at three cable providers that are in the process of being acquired: Cablevision (by Altice) and Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks (by Charter Communications).  

The following is from the detailed announcement of the Vanguard recipients by the NCTA, an announcement that was distributed on March 23:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ten cable industry executives spanning all aspects of the cable and telecommunications industry will be recognized for their significant contributions to industry success, with NCTA Vanguard Awards at the Internet & Television Expo (INTX) in Boston in May.

Heading the list and receiving the Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership will be Kristin Dolan, Chief Operating Officer, Cablevision Systems Corporation; Robert Marcus, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Time Warner Cable; and Steve Miron, Chief Executive Officer, Bright House Networks.

The Vanguard Awards are presented annually by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) to individuals who excel in both business and personal commitment to their colleagues, and whose accomplishments merit the recognition of the entire industry.

The 2016 Vanguard Awards will be presented on Wednesday, May 18, 2016, at an awards ceremony and lunch during INTX: The Internet & Television Expo scheduled for May 16-18 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

A complete list of 2016 Vanguard Award honorees, along with a description of each award, follows.


For 2016, the Vanguard selection committee identified two men and one woman to receive the Distinguished Vanguard Award which is the highest award NCTA presents for industry leadership.  The recipients are:

Robert Marcus, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Time Warner Cable

Since becoming Chairman and CEO in 2014, Rob Marcus has been committed to creating a customer-centric company focused on operational excellence and superior service. During Marcus’ 10-year tenure with the company, Time Warner Cable has invested heavily to support growth, enhance its network, and improve critical infrastructure – all while expanding residential and commercial product offerings, increasing data speeds, and rolling out advanced multi-platform products. Marcus joined Time Warner Cable in 2005 as Senior Executive Vice President, overseeing corporate groups including mergers & acquisitions, law, business affairs, programming, corporate affairs, and human resources. He then became Chief Financial Officer, followed by President and Chief Operating Officer, before assuming the CEO role. From 1998 until joining Time Warner Cable in 2005, Marcus served at Time Warner, Inc., in roles including senior vice president of mergers & acquisitions.

Marcus has an extensive commitment to corporate, non-profit, and industry boards. They include the boards of Equifax, Inc., The Museum of the Moving Image, New Alternatives for Children, CableLabs, and NCTA. He has been recognized for his leadership with numerous business and industry honors and is a recipient of the Steven J. Ross Humanitarian Award from UJA Federation of New York.

Steve Miron, Chief Executive Officer, Bright House Networks

During his time as CEO, Steve Miron has led Bright House Networks – sixth largest owner and operator of cable systems in the U.S., serving 2.5 million customers – to new heights, in customer experience, operations, service deployment, and growth. From his entry into the business, with MetroVision in 1989, Miron held successively senior management positions, with Vision Cable, NewChannels, and Time Warner Cable, where he served as vice president and general manager of its cluster in central and northern New York State. In 2002, he joined Bright House Networks as President, rising to CEO in 2010.  Under Miron’s leadership, Bright House has achieved an industry-leading customer-centric reputation, recognized by 12 J.D. Power Awards, while earning accolades across a variety of activities such as its commitment to corporate social responsibility, employee relations, and consumer-focused marketing.

With this award, Miron becomes a two-time Vanguard winner, also having been recognized in 2005 with the NCTA Vanguard Award for Young Leadership. An influential leader in the television industry, he serves on the Board of Directors of Discovery Communications, C-SPAN, CableLabs, the CTAM Educational Foundation, and NCTA. He also serves as vice chair of the NCTA CablePAC Committee.

Kristin Dolan, Chief Operating Officer, Cablevision Systems Corp.

Kristin Dolan leads all aspects of cable operations for Cablevision Systems, a leading media and telecommunications company serving millions of households and businesses throughout the greater New York area. As Chief Operating Officer, she oversees thousands of employees, including the company’s entire customer and field service workforce. She is also responsible for the full Optimum customer experience, from product development and management to programming, marketing, and sales across the company’s residential and commercial Optimum TV, online, WiFi and voice products. In addition, Ms. Dolan oversees the human resources organization as well as Cablevision Media Sales, the company’s advertising sales division.

Throughout her career, Ms. Dolan has been instrumental in working across Cablevision’s media and telecommunications properties to maximize opportunity, brand strength, and customer experience. Over the past several years, she has guided Cablevision on its transformation to a premier connectivity company in the nation’s most competitive market by reimagining its products, quality of service and the customer experience. In the advertising space, Cablevision was the first cable operator to roll out census-level audience data, and continues to innovate its pioneering data strategy, paving the way for an audience-driven approach to television advertising and providing deep insights into New York-area viewing audiences.

A veteran of more than 27 years with the company, Ms. Dolan has had a direct hand in the launch, expansion and growth of many of the company’s products and services, including Optimum TV digital cable and Optimum Voice. She began her career at Rainbow Media – now AMC Networks – where she worked in a variety of sales and marketing positions with increasing levels of responsibility. She also has spearheaded a number of initiatives for Madison Square Garden, including the migration of the national music network Fuse from Rainbow Media to Madison Square Garden, where she was responsible for marketing, creative services and other key functions during and after the transition.

Ms. Dolan serves on the Boards of Cablevision, AMC Networks, and The Madison Square Garden Company. She has been a member of the Foundation Board for SUNY Albany, as well as the National Board of Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT). Honors have included recognition as a Multichannel News Wonder Woman, and inclusion on the Cablefax list of 100 top cable executives and 50 most influential women in cable.


This award recognizes the efforts of cable's system managers, who work under intensely competitive conditions in today's dynamic telecommunications environment and who are critical to the cable industry's success. This year’s honoree is:

John Keib, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Residential Services, Time Warner Cable

John Keib leads service delivery, customer care, marketing, and sales operations for Time Warner Cable’s $19 billion residential services business. He has been instrumental in the launch and growth of products and services including high-speed Internet, multichannel video, digital phone, business services, and local programming. A veteran of Time Warner Cable since 1998, Keib joined the company in Central New York, working on the launch of Road Runner®high-speed Internet service. He went on to serve as Regional Vice President of Marketing and Sales for the Northeast, Southern California, and New York City; President of Residential Services for the Northeast/National  and West Regions; then returned to New York City as Executive Vice President, Chief Care and Technical Operations Officer in 2013. Prior to his career at Time Warner Cable, Keib worked for Thomson Multimedia and DirecTV.


Cable’s creative programming services make the industry a leader in the home entertainment and news and information businesses. This award recognizes innovation, leadership and individual achievement of NCTA’s programmer members. This year’s honoree is:

Joel Stillerman, President of Original Programming & Development, AMC and Sundance TV

For the past eight years, Joel Stillerman has been a key architect behind AMC’s evolution from a classic movie channel to a top tier “must have” network, home to some of the most acclaimed and highly-viewed programming on television. He and his colleagues at AMC have brought viewers and fans some of the most celebrated shows in the history of cable, including Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Better Call Saul, Hell on Wheels, Fear The Walking Dead, the Talking Dead franchise, Into the Badlands and the forthcoming The Night Manager and Preacher, among others. Adding SundanceTV to his portfolio in 2015, Stillerman and his team now develop and support an impressive slate of scripted dramas for the fast-growing network including the Peabody Award-winning Rectify, Hap and Leonard and an expanding array of international programming like The Last Panthers, Cleverman, Rebellion, Gomorrah and The A-Word. As founder and co-chairman of Spanky Pictures, he produced the films Blow and Rounders and later served as the top content executive at Walden Media. Stillerman joined AMC in 2008 after more than 20 years of broad experience developing, producing, and writing for film and television, with his work appearing on networks such as HBO, MTV, and VH1. He’s the winner of a Primetime Emmy Award for Best Made-for-TV Movie (Lessons Before Dying in 1999), a Peabody Award, a Humanitas Prize, and several CableACE Awards.


This award honors individuals who have played a significant role in product improvement as well as in the design and development of engineering techniques. This year’s honoree is:

JR Walden, Senior Vice President, Technology, and Chief Technology Officer, Mediacom Communications Corporation

Recognized by his Mediacom colleagues as the founder of their Internet business, JR Walden boasts 20 years of experience in the cable industry. Climbing the ranks through the years in positions as Director, Senior Director, Vice President, and Group Vice President of IP Services, Walden, as CTO today, leads all the technology and engineering functions for Mediacom, which serves 1.3 million residential and business customers in 1,500 mostly rural and small-market communities. Walden plays a key role in shaping Mediacom’s strategic vision and direction. He manages video and network engineering, operational support systems, network operations, video operations, and CLEC research and development, leading a team of more than 200 engineers, software developers and network operators. A broadband pioneer, Walden directed Mediacom’s first-ever high-speed data business in its California systems in 1997. And at the age of just 27 in 1998, he led the company’s efforts to introduce full DOCSIS broadband service throughout the company’s footprint. Walden continues to break new ground today, positioning Mediacom as a national leader in the rollout of 1-gigabit systems. Before joining Mediacom, Walden held positions with the Department of Defense, Comarco, and Science Applications International Corporation.


This award recognizes individuals who have had a significant impact on promoting a positive public image and advocating public policy positions for the cable industry at the national, state and/or local levels. This year’s honoree is:

Kathy Zachem, Senior Vice President, Regulatory & State Legislative Affairs, Comcast Corporation

A recognizable face and strong advocate throughout the corridors of power in the nation’s capital, Kathryn “Kathy” Zachem is a key leader of Comcast’s federal relations efforts, directing more than 200 employees nationwide. Joining Comcast in 2008, Zachem is responsible for the company’s advocacy before federal agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission, and state regulatory and legislative bodies. Zachem’s cable experience spans nearly three decades. A founding partner of the law firm Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP, during her 23-year tenure at the firm, she specialized in communications law and represented clients from nearly every segment of the communications sector. As much an advocate for cable as she is for her own company, Zachem has been recognized by CableFAX as among the Most Powerful Women in Cable and is a Multichannel News Wonder Woman. She has also been identified by Washingtonian as one of Washington’s best lawyers, and Chambers USA listed her as one of the leading lawyers in the communications field. She is active in the Federal Communications Bar Association, serving several terms on its Executive Committee and Foundation Board, and is a recipient of its Distinguished Service Award.


This award honors an individual who has been instrumental in the development of marketing approaches that significantly enhance cable's public image and increase customers. This year’s honoree is:

Tonia O’Connor, Chief Commercial Officer & President of Content Distribution, Univision Communications, Inc.

Tonia O’Connor oversees content distribution for Univision Communications, Inc., (UCI) across all screens, including online and mobile. She also leads UCI’s Enterprise Development efforts to expand its content availability and licensing revenue by securing key partnerships and new business models with traditional and emerging content distributors. She led the strategy and launch of UCI’s direct to consumer subscription video service, Univision Now; the creation of the company’s first English language digital network, Flama; the Univision Creator network; and has worked with key leaders across the company to coordinate joint ventures and investments in new businesses. A highly-regarded champion of diversity in media, O’Connor often speaks about the industry’s obligation to support multicultural talent in mainstream media. She also helped launch and sponsors the UCI Women’s Leadership Council, an employee resource group designed to advance women across the company and prepare the next generation of women leaders. She also serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and on the executive committee of the T. Howard Foundation Board. O’Connor joined UCI in 2008 as Executive Vice President of Distribution Sales and Marketing, after working for 13 years in leadership positions at Gemstar TV Guide. She has been recognized as a Multichannel News Wonder Woman and appears regularly on the CableFAX list of Most Powerful Women in Cable. Named by Cynopsis in 2013 as one of the industry’s “most intriguing people,” O’Connor also serves on the board of El Rey Network, a cable network founded by filmmaker Robert Rodriguez.


This award recognizes the important contributions of equipment manufacturers and service suppliers to cable industry innovation, growth and progress. This year’s honoree is:

Bob Benya, President & Chief Executive Officer, iN DEMAND

A cable industry executive and innovator for more than 30 years, Bob Benya in 2010 became President and CEO of iN DEMAND, a partnership of four of the leading telecommunications companies in the U.S. – Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, and Bright House Networks – dedicated to driving scale, efficiency and speed-to-market advances in transactional entertainment. Benya’s influence within iN DEMAND and the cable industry has been key in the development of technological and product advances that have enhanced and improved the customer experience for tens of millions of cable customers, including digital TV, video on demand, pay-per-view services, interactive TV, high-speed Internet service, and cross-platform transactional services. With deep roots in the operating side of the business, Benya’s career includes marketing leadership for five multiple system operators. Notably, as Senior Vice President of Marketing for Time Warner Cable from 1993 to 2003, Benya helped lead three groundbreaking initiatives – the Full Service Network, Road Runner High Speed Internet Service, and the AOL/TW Interactive Video Group. In his tenure with iN DEMAND, the company has grown to distributing more than 360,000 hours of content annually, and spread its footprint to serving more than 60 million subscribers with content from more than 225 suppliers – achieving its best year ever for pay-per-view results in 2015. A cable marketing stalwart, Benya serves on the Board of the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) and the CTAM Educational Foundation, and also has served on the Boards of Music Choice and the Better Business Bureau Online.  He has won many industry awards, including an Emmy for his work on the industry’s groundbreaking “Start Over.”


The growth of cable is in large part due to the energy, vitality and creativity of the many young people working within the industry, and the Young Leadership Award recognizes those individuals who have already made a mark on the industry and its constituents. This year’s honoree is:

Justin Connolly, Executive Vice President, Affiliate Sales & Marketing, Disney and ESPN Media Networks

Spanning both cable and broadcast-related functions of his company, Connolly oversees all aspects of domestic distribution, affiliate marketing, and affiliate-related business operations for 17 Disney and ESPN networks, as well as related WATCH authenticated products, HDTV, video on demand and interactive television, plus retransmission consent agreements for The Walt Disney Company’s eight owned-and-operated ABC stations. Prior to his promotion one year ago, to Executive Vice President for Affiliate Sales & Marketing, Connolly had major success as Senior Vice President of College Networks for ESPN, where he oversaw the creation and launch of the SEC Network, one of the most successful launches of a new network in cable history, debuting in more than 60 million households from the day of its launch. Prior to his work with the college networks, Connolly served as Senior Vice President, National Accounts, for Disney & ESPN Media Networks, responsible for all domestic distribution and licensing efforts for The Walt Disney Company’s linear networks, broadband, and video on demand content within the Media Networks Group. Following time in the corporate finance group for The Walt Disney Company’s corporate treasury department, Connolly joined ESPN in 2003, where he helped lead strategy, operations, and distribution efforts. He is an inductee in the Sports Business Journal 40 Under 40 Hall of Fame.  

Attending the Awards Ceremony

Admission to the Vanguard Awards Lunch and Ceremony at INTX is by ticket only. Tickets may be purchased at $125 per ticket or $1,250 per table of 10 seats. Please visit for purchasing instructions. If you have questions or require assistance, please contact Katie Mousavian at 202-257-4429 or

Media Attendance

The Vanguard Awards event is open to the media at no cost, but reservations are mandatory. Media may make reservations by contacting Pam Ford at no later than May 1, 2016.