The National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications is celebrating its 2021 class of Next Generation Leaders and Luminaries, a group of industry executives who’ve made indelible marks within their companies and in the industry at large.
The group of 12 honorees was recognized Oct. 6 at NAMIC’s virtual Annual Awards Ceremony, part of the industry’s annual Diversity Week events.
The Next Generation Leader Awards are NAMIC’s top industry honor, recognizing four individuals who have distinguished themselves as thought leaders, trendsetters and change agents, and have actively worked to advance multi-ethnic diversity in the industry by educating, advocating and empowering people and organizations. Multichannel News partners with NAMIC in annually saluting these individuals who are making a difference in the media industry.
This year’s Next Generation Leaders are:
• Rhonda Crichlow, senior VP, chief diversity officer, Charter Communications;
• Rob King, senior VP and editor at large, ESPN Content;
• Joiava Philpott, senior VP, law and policy, Cox Communications;
• Jessica Prois, editorial director, NBC Asian America, NBC News Digital.
The Luminary Awards honor up-and-coming leaders with the potential to be tomorrow’s movers and shakers. They demonstrate strong leadership skills and embrace NAMIC’s mission by working to advance multiethnic diversity.
This year’s Luminaries are:
• Rosetta Ellis-Pilie, VP, talent development and negotiations, ESPN;
• Gregg Fujimoto, senior VP, field operations, Charter Communications;
• Karen Horne, senior VP, equity and inclusion programs, WarnerMedia;
• Raina Kelley, VP and editor-in-chief, The Undefeated, ESPN;
• Nikki Love, VP, development and production, ALLBLK, AMC Networks;
• Samata Narra, senior VP, equity and inclusion, content, WarnerMedia;
• Manoj Shamdasani, VP, programming and brand partnerships for News 12 Networks, Altice USA;
• MyKhanh Shelton, senior VP, equity and inclusion, workforce, WarnerMedia.
For more on this year’s honorees, read the profiles below.
Next Generation Leaders
Rhonda Nesmith Crichlow
Senior VP and Chief Diversity Officer, Charter Communications
As a member of Charter’s executive leadership team, Rhonda Crichlow develops and manages the Stamford, Connecticut-based MSO’s diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategy, including its D&I Center of Excellence. In 2019, her portfolio was expanded to include leadership of Charter Community Impact, which encompasses the company’s strategic philanthropic investments and volunteer initiatives involving more than 95,000 employees.
Prior to joining Charter, she worked at Novartis Pharmaceuticals, where she was VP and head, U.S. Diversity & Inclusion, president of the Novartis U.S. Foundation and a member of the Innovative Medicines Executive Committee. She joined Novartis in 2006 as executive director, philanthropic and community development. Under her leadership, Novartis was recognized by DiversityInc as a leading company for D&I in 2014 and 2015.
An attorney who practiced law in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., earlier in her career, she was involved in several landmark class-action racial discrimination lawsuits brought by African-American farmers and also worked as a corporate tax attorney. She served as a clerk for U.S. District Court Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter. She holds a bachelor’s degree from George Washington University, a master’s of public policy from Duke University and a law degree from the University of Virginia.
“I am honored to receive this recognition from NAMIC, and I will work earnestly to continue opening doors and empowering emerging leaders in our industry,” Crichlow said.
Senior VP and Editor-At-Large, ESPN Content
Rob King is responsible for ESPN’s overall journalistic direction, working closely with leaders across ESPN Films, original content, digital content, social media, multiplatform journalism and storytelling and global content. Named to his current post in March 2020, he advises ESPN’s senior leadership team on editorial issues and leads ESPN’s Inclusive Content Committee, tasked with serving as a diverse resource for the company’s content creators.
King joined ESPN in 2004, previously serving as senior VP, original content, focusing on longform storytelling and enterprise journalism. His content portfolio included ESPN Films, the “30 for 30” series and ESPN Plus original series; domestic and international longform journalism, including ESPN the Magazine, The Undefeated, espnW, E: 60 and features; and ESPN’s investigative journalism unit and newsmagazine series Outside the Lines. He also served as senior VP, SportsCenter and news, and oversaw all global and digital content from 2007 to 2014.
Originally a newspaper journalist, King worked at The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and the Commercial-News in Danville, Illinois. He is a graduate of Wesleyan University and the inaugural class of Penn State University’s School of Communications. He is a past Pulitzer Prize judge; a member of the AP board of directors; the National Sports Journalism Center’s advisory board; the Poynter Institute’s National Advisory Board, where he is chair; and the board of the Center for Investigative Reporting.
“NAMIC’s mission to empower BIPOC leaders has enriched not only our industry, but also our society,” King said. “So I am breathlessly honored to count myself among those who have been recognized by NAMIC for our commitment to our colleagues and to this incalculably essential work.”
Senior VP, General Counsel, Cox Communications
Joiava Philpott joined Atlanta-based cable operator Cox as senior VP and general counsel after serving as general counsel at Astro Turf LLC, a prior stint at Cox as VP, government affairs and after working as assistant general counsel at KMC Telecom. Philpott began her career in the city of Atlanta’s Law Department as a telecommunications and cable law adviser.
She has served in a variety of leadership and board roles on such nonprofits as the American Corporate Counsel Association, NAMIC, the Federal Communications Bar Association and the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential. Philpott has been recognized by Black Enterprise magazine, Diversity & the Bar magazine and Cablefax.
She holds a law degree and an MBA from American University and a bachelor’s degree in business management from Hamptons University. She completed executive development programs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, the WICT Betsy Magness Leadership Institute and the NAMIC Executive Leadership Development Program with the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.
“Promoting diversity and inclusion is part of my DNA as a leader and is a top business priority,” Philpott said. “It has become ingrained into my leadership ethos. To be recognized for something as meaningful to me as my primary expertise as a business and legal executive is truly humbling.”
Editorial Director, NBC Asian America, NBC News Digital
Under the direction of Jessica Prois, NBC Asian America has become the fastest-growing vertical on NBCNews.com. Prior to joining NBC News, she launched HuffPost Asian Voices and served as the section’s executive editor.
Prois’s work has appeared in such outlets as New York magazine, National Public Radio, Elle and more. She was the recipient of a S.I. Newhouse journalism fellowship and a Johns Hopkins/Gates Foundation fellowship.
“I'm honored to receive an NAMIC Next Generation Leader award,” Prois said. “I feel so lucky to have the privilege of telling the wonderfully diverse stories of our community, and my commitment is and always will be to our readers at NBC Asian America.”
VP, Talent Development & Negotiations, ESPN
Rosetta Ellis-Pilie leads the day-to-day efforts of ESPN’s Talent Office, responsible for hiring, developing and guiding the programmer’s commentator team, negotiating contracts and collaborating with ESPN departments and external contacts on any matters related to commentator roles and responsibilities.
A U.S. Army veteran who served in Operation Desert Storm, Ellis-Pilie graduated from Seton Hall University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a minor in business administration. The New Jersey native earned her juris doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law. She is also a graduate of the NAMIC Executive Leadership Program Class XIV.
“As a graduate of NAMIC’s Executive Leadership Program, I have a deep appreciation for the values this organization champions,” Ellis-Pilie said. “I am honored to be recognized and will continue the endeavor to advance NAMIC’s goals as our ESPN team develops, advocates for and empowers a diverse group of on-air talent.”
Senior VP, Field Operations, Charter Communications
Gregg Fujimoto is tasked with providing strategic and tactical leadership and oversight for Charter’s Hawaii franchise. His mission is to build on and enhance the goal of providing Spectrum customers with best-in-class service.
A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, he began his cable career at Time Warner Cable, where he was senior VP, brand strategy and marketing communications for residential services, and led the MSO’s rapidly growing digital sales channel.
Fujimoto, who comes from a fourth-generation Hawaiian family, continues to build new relationships and give back to the local community. He is a member of the American Red Cross board, the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Council, the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Broadband Assistance Advisory Council and Cable Advisory Committee, and a board member for the REACH after school initiative.
“I am honored to represent Charter in receiving NAMIC’s recognition,” Fujimoto said. “NAMIC’s mission to educate, advocate and empower multiethnic diversity mirrors my personal and professional ambitions. I am proud to support and enhance NAMIC’s ambitions today and into the future.”
Senior VP, Equity and Inclusion Programs, WarnerMedia
Karen Horne is a senior executive with 20 years of entertainment industry experience who has been recognized as a diversity and inclusion pioneer and pipeline-builder.
She joined WarnerMedia in 2020 after serving as senior VP, programming, talent development and inclusion at NBC Entertainment and Universal Television Studios, where she was responsible for overseeing primetime diversity efforts both in front of and behind the camera for NBC and Universal Television.
She also served as director, creative affairs at IDT Animation and designed, implemented and oversaw Nickelodeon’s Writer Fellowship Program. Horne also was a director of writer development and special projects and studio liaison for the Walt Disney Studios Fellowship Program at Walt Disney Network Television. She served as director, West Coast, for the Black Filmmaker Foundation in Los Angeles.
Horne also worked at HBO in Los Angeles as a co-producer for the Emmy Award-winning animated series Spawn. She worked as executive assistant to the president of ABC Entertainment and held positions at the network and at ABC Sports. She serves on the boards of Montclair State University’s School of Communication and Media; USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative; and The Alliance of Women Directors.
“Since its inception, NAMIC has been a true champion for the communication industry’s multiethnic community,” Horne said. “It is truly an honor to be recognized by an organization whose mission to educate, advocate and empower is so aligned with the work my team and I do at WarnerMedia.”
VP of Development and Original Production, ALLBLK, AMC Networks
Nikki Love oversees the expanding slate of scripted originals for streaming service ALLBLK (formerly Urban Movie Channel). Since signing on in January of 2019, she has executive produced such highly ranked shows as A House Divided, Double Cross and Behind Her Faith.
Love serves as a liaison between the streaming service for Black TV and film and its content creators throughout script development, production and postproduction. She is the on-set executive for all original series, supervising such hits as Craig Ross Jr.’s Monogamy; Stuck With You; Terror Lake Drive; For the Love of Jason; A Closer Look and Millennials.
Before joining ALLBLK, Love was a producer of feature films, short films, web series and music videos. Notable projects included indie film The Last Fall, directed by Oscar winner Matthew Cherry; 2018 Sundance Film Festival entry A Boy. A Girl. A Dream; multiple films for BET and the “Chloe x Halle: Warrior” music video for the soundtrack to A Wrinkle in Time.
She founded JNL Media, where she produced films for more than 10 years, and founded the industry networking organization REEL Ladies.
“I feel truly humbled and blessed to receive this year’s award and to be included in such a powerful group of my peers,” Love said. “I am not only honored to continue the mission of NAMIC but motivated to carry the torch and make an impact in our industry. Thank you!”
VP and Editor-in-Chief, The Undefeated, ESPN
Since May 2021, Raina Kelley has set the editorial direction, policies, oversight and strategy for The Undefeated, ESPN’s multiplatform content initiative exploring the intersection of sports, race and culture. She succeeded launch editor Kevin Merida after serving as managing editor for five years.
As managing editor, Kelley steered The Undefeated’s content expansion efforts across Disney, including the “Music for the Movement” series with Hollywood Records, The Undefeated Presents: Hamilton In-Depth with Kelley Carter on Disney Plus and other partnerships. She leads ESPN’s Black History Always initiative, which highlights the contributions of African-Americans through long- and short-form storytelling across media platforms beyond Black History Month. Her work earned The Undefeated awards from the AP Sports Editors and the National Association of Black Journalists’ Salute to Excellence, among others.
Kelley joined ESPN in 2011 as a senior editor at ESPN the Magazine, rising to deputy editor. She also worked at Newsweek/The Daily Beast from 2003 to 2011, where she wrote a column on American culture, race, gender and politics. There, she won the 2010 Newswomen’s Club of New York Front Page Award for a package titled “The Beauty Advantage.” She graduated from Yale University in 1992.
“I sincerely thank NAMIC for inducting me into this year’s Luminaries class,” Kelley said. “The NAMIC Executive Leadership Development Program already gave me so much, including clarity and precision of my mission and goals in a safe and exhilarating environment. I am honored and grateful for this award and will continue to make diversity and inclusion the foundation of everything we do at The Undefeated and ESPN.”
VP of Enterprise Inclusion, Content Strategy, WarnerMedia
Samata Narra is responsible for building innovative tools and global systems across WarnerMedia to facilitate the advancement of diversity in its storytelling. She recently joined the company from Fox, where she was senior VP of comedy development and current programming.
She also spent a part of her career in representation at Fineman Entertainment and The William Morris Agency. While at Fineman, she developed the series Lights Out for FX and produced the Emmy-nominated romantic comedy documentary Meet the Patels.
She is on the board of Film2Future, a nonprofit providing equitable access to the entertainment industry for underrepresented Los Angeles youth, as well as Colour Entertainment and South Asian Women in Entertainment (SAWIE).
A native of Pikeville, Kentucky, Narra earned a bachelor’s degree in business management and marketing from the Boston University School of Management.
“I feel incredibly honored to be recognized by NAMIC, an organization with such a longstanding commitment to building the next generation of leaders,” she said. “I am looking forward to continuing the tradition as a leader at WarnerMedia.”
VP, Programming and Brand Partnerships, News 12 Networks
Manoj Shamdasani guides the editorial coverage for news programming and specials across all seven of Altice USA’s News 12 channels, which operate in the cable company’s New York City-area Optimum territories. He also works with ad sales on sponsorship opportunities.
Shamdasani joined News 12 The Bronx and News 12 Brooklyn in 2013 as assistant news director before being promoted to news director. He has also worked in Pennsylvania and Singapore in local and international news. He grew up in Hong Kong, where his dad made sure both Manoj and his sister watched World News Tonight with Peter Jennings every evening, followed by the local news and weather. He not only preaches about diversity and inclusion in the newsroom but encourages others to find their voice and be heard.
“Diversity in the newsroom is paramount to the success of a news organization so they can best reflect the people, ideas and values of the communities that they serve,” Shamdasani said. “It’s an honor to be recognized as a leader in the field and an industry Luminary by NAMIC.”
Senior VP, Enterprise Inclusion, WarnerMedia
MyKhanh Shelton is responsible for leading WarnerMedia’s workforce and production safety initiatives and for working closely with the human resources team and business units to create consistent measurements, practices and systems to increase the recruitment, retention and advancement of underrepresented groups.
In a previous role as senior VP, global inclusion at 21st Century Fox, she led the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion strategies and worked closely with business leaders to design initiatives to increase diversity and inclusion across its film, television, sports, news and digital portfolio. A central focus of the Global Inclusion Team’s work was spearheading internal programs and external partnerships to increase diverse stories, portrayals, and representation in the entertainment industry, including the Fox Filmmakers Lab, the Fox Writers Lab, the Television Directors Lab, the Fox DP Lab (focused on female directors of photography) and the Fox Creative Lab: Taiwan. Shelton also led the development of a global strategy and roadmap for the creation of Colleague Network and Resource Groups, which led to the successful launch of Fox Noir, APEX, Hola, Women@Fox, Fox Vets and Pride.
A graduate of UCLA and the University of California at Berkeley Law School, she began her law career at a firm before joining Fox as counsel, advancing to senior VP, Fox Group Legal. She is an international and Los Angeles board member of the nonprofit group Facing History and Ourselves.
“It is an honor to be recognized by an organization that is so highly respected and impactful as NAMIC is and has been for so many decades,” Shelton said. “I am grateful to NAMIC for this recognition and even more so for their unwavering commitment to diversity in the communications industry.”
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