Kaitz Foundation Names New Director

Nearly one year after Art Torres’ departure, the Walter Kaitz Foundation Wednesday named former financial-services executive Debbie Smith as its new executive director.

Smith will oversee the day-to-day management of the organization, which is charged with helping to assure minority access to employment opportunities within the cable industry.

She will also preside over the annual Kaitz Foundation fund-raising dinner in New York, the awarding of foundation funds in support of cable-industry-diversity efforts, the industry diversity Web site (www.walterkaitz.org) and the development of a new cable-industry national supplier-diversity program, according to Kaitz.

Not having any prior telecommunications experience, Smith most recently served as senior vice president and director of diversity for Allfirst Financial Inc., a regional diversified financial-services company, where she was responsible for efforts to make diversity a corporate objective and was the company’s principle diversity spokesperson.

Smith has also worked as staff director for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Small Business Subcommittee on Minority Enterprise, Finance and Urban Development, where she focused on federal minority-business-development policy and was responsible for coordinating the subcommittee’s oversight investigations and hearings, supervising all staff activities and serving as spokesperson for the subcommittee.

"Debbie possesses the perfect combination of diversity advocacy, management skills and financial expertise to lead the Walter Kaitz Foundation into its next phase," Glenn Britt, president of the Kaitz Foundation board of directors and chairman and CEO of Time Warner Cable, said in a prepared statement.

"Her perspective on building diversity in American business will serve the foundation well," Britt added.

Smith replaces former Kaitz president Torres, who resigned last June amid questions about his dual role as Kaitz director and his leadership role within the California Democratic Party.

Smith's appointment completes last fall’s transition of Kaitz’s operations under the National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s administrative auspices.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.