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NAMIC, WICT, Kaitz Team for Diversity

NAMIC, WICT and The Walter Kaitz Foundation on Monday (Sept. 19) will partner to offer a panel discussion on the successes and challenges of women of color in business, one of several conversations on inclusion within the cable industry during its annual Diversity Week.

The week’s festivities — which will include Women in Cable Telecommunications’ day long Leadership Conference and Touchstones Luncheon on Monday, the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications’ 30th annual conference on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the annual Kaitz Foundation fundraising dinner Wednesday evening — will be highlighted by a Monday afternoon, jointly presented general session titled “Leadership Lessons for Women of Color.”

The event will feature some of the industry’s top female executives providing insights and strategies on how to transcend the challenges facing women of color in the workforce and make it to the top of their respective fields, according to the organizations. Slated to appear: Monica Diaz, vice president of diversity, inclusion and wellness at ESPN; Tamara Franklin, executive vice president of digital for Scripps Networks Interactive; Susan Jin Davis, senior vice president of operations and compliance for Comcast; and Michelle Rice, executive vice president of content distribution and marketing for TV One.

Dr. Ella Bell, associate professor of business administration at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business and founder of nonprofit organization ASCENT-Leading Multicultural Women to the Top, will moderate the panel, which will provide a strong, informative kickoff to the rest of the Diversity Week activites, Maria Brennan, president and CEO of WICT, said.

“We will be presenting a perspective from women of color and looking at what are the common denominators of these powerhouse women in the industry who have really overcome the statistics and really risen through the ranks inside the media world,” Brennan said.

Overall, executives from WICT, NAMIC and Kaitz said that the industry’s focus on diversity during and beyond this week continues to make good business sense as its subscriber base becomes more diverse.

“Whenever we talk about diversity we couple it with inclusion because there’s nothing inside of the research that says diversity and inclusion is bad for business,” Brennan said. “It’s quite the opposite — if you ignore the research and the data, you would be doing so at your own risk and probably at your own peril.”

Added Kaitz Foundation executive director David Porter, “Diversity Week is a critical industry effort that allows us to recognize excellence while fostering leadership development and networking opportunities for our employees.”

Here are some of the highlights of Diversity Week:

WICT Leadership Conference: Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner Kersee and Comcast Corp. senior executive vice president and chief diversity officer David Cohen will be the guest speakers at the opening general session of the conference, which will feature several keynote speeches, master classes, talks, interactive roundtables and think tank discussions.

“What’s unique about the Leadership Conference is that we deliver the teaching in many different learning platforms, and we do that because everyone learns differently,” Brennan said. “By breaking up the formatting and the content, we have the best chance of ensuring that people assimilate the information and it sticks with them.”

The Leadership Conference’s tent-pole event, The Touchstones Luncheon, will feature as its keynote speaker Danai Guira, co-star of AMC’s hit series The Walking Dead. During the luncheon, WICT will honor Kathleen Finch, Scripps Networks Interactive chief programming, content and brand officer, as its Woman of The Year. The organization will also highlight its Women to Watch honorees, Laura Gentile, ESPN’s senior vice president of espnW and Women’s Initiatives, and Mary McLaughlin, Comcast Cable’s senior vice president for the Beltway region.

NAMIC Conference: NAMIC will field a star-studded lineup of speakers for its conference. The two-day event will kick off Sept. 20 with a general session keynote address delivered by Reggie Love, former assistant to President Barack Obama, NAMIC said.

ABC News’ 20/20 co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas will be the special guest speaker for NAMIC’s 2016 L. Patrick Mellon Mentorship Program Luncheon, in partnership with WICT and Kaitz.

Music industry icon and New Edition/Bel Biv Devoe member Michael Bivins will discuss his career and BET’s upcoming New Edition biographical miniseries during the conference’s Excellence in Multicultural Marketing Awards presentation, according to NAMIC.

In between the high-profile keynoters, the conference’s theme, “Diversity 3.0: Innovation Through Inclusion,” will be executed through sessions aligned with three educational tracks of Business Solutions, Leading and Learning, and Content and Imagery, said the network.

“NAMIC is honored to present such a distinguished line-up of speakers and session facilitators. Our sincere thanks is extended to this year’s planning committee co-chairs and all of the sponsors that have provided support for this milestone 30th anniversary conference,” said Eglon Simons, NAMIC president and CEO.

Kaitz Foundation Dinner: Inclusion, impact and inspiration are the themes for Kaitz’s Sept. 21 annual fundraising dinner, which is on track to raise more than $1.6 million to fund diversity-themed programs and organizations within the cable industry. CNN’s Weekend Edition anchor Fredricka Whitfield will host the gala, which will feature on-stage appearances from dinner co-chairs John Martin, Turner chairman and CEO, and Tom Rutledge, Charter Communications chairman and CEO, as well as Michael Powell, CEO of the NCTA – The Internet & Television Association.

Kaitz will honor A+E Networks with its Diversity Champion Award and The National Association of Latino Independent Producers with its Diversity Advocate Award, Porter said.