A Night to Honor Leading Lights

LOS ANGELES — The 2016 LEA Awards, hosted by the Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) Southern California chapter, is gearing up to be a night to remember.

On Thursday (Nov. 10), hundreds of media professionals will converge in Hollywood to honor the five LEA (Leadership, Education and Advocacy) Awards recipients and recognize the work they do to empower women leaders in entertainment and communications. But that’s not all that’s in store for attendees.

WICT Southern California has enlisted industry veteran and former Style Network president Salaam Coleman Smith to give the evening’s keynote address. She brings more than 25 years of experience working with some of the most powerful brands in entertainment, including The Walt Disney Co., NBCUniversal and Viacom.

Maria Brennan, current president and CEO of Women in Cable Telecommunications and former president of American Women in Radio and Television, will also be featured as a guest speaker. Actor and comedian Elon Gold will kick off the festivities and keep the crowd laughing as the evening’s master of ceremonies.


Toby Berlin

President, School of Toby

Toby Berlin is the founder and president of The School of Toby, a media consultancy that supports programmers, MVPDs, cable networks and institutional investors. She provides advice on distribution negotiations, strategic planning, business development and financial and contractual support. She also consults on regulatory compliance, content acquisition, packaging, pricing and crisis management.

Berlin was one of the first members of the Sony PlayStation Vue launch team, engaged to provide foundational cable distribution knowledge to the organization’s TV service that streams live TV, movies and sports across a variety of devices. She continues to consult with Sony on content acquisitions and strategic partnerships.

Previously, Berlin spent 15 years as VP of programming acquisitions for DirecTV. During her tenure with the satellite-TV provider, she oversaw programming acquisitions and negotiations across numerous categories including Spanish-language, international services, general entertainment, shopping, pay-per-view events, local into local, airborne and music services. She also founded and served as president of the company’s first employee resource group, the Women’s Leadership Exchange.

Berlin earned her juris doctor from the Southwestern School of Law as a student in the SCALE program, an intensive two-year undertaking. She has an undergraduate business degree from the University of Miami.

Del J. Heintz

Senior Director, State Government Affairs, Western Region, Charter Communications

Del J. Heintz is highly respected as a strategic planner, problem solver and team-builder. His talent as a motivator and mentor has been honed over a 30 year career in telecommunications. Since 2007, Heintz has been the California and Wisconsin state director for government affairs for Charter Communications, covering elected officials, community-based organizations and educational leaders in hundreds of communities. Well-versed in the analysis of legislation and regulations, Heintz sets the strategic direction for his department and develops key initiatives. He has also led community outreach projects with the company’s public relations and sales departments. He is part of the executive committee and currently serves as the treasurer of the California Cable Telecommunications Association.

Before joining Charter, Heintz spent 13 years at Time Warner Cable as the director of government affairs and general manager of operations in Southern California. There, he oversaw political, community and public relations while forging relationships with elected officials. Prior to TWC, he held positions at several networks, including A&E.

Heintz has been influential in various educational businesses and nonprofit organizations. Through his interaction with elected officials, community leaders and local philanthropists, he has executed numerous fundraising events. Del earned his degree in business administration from the University of Washington in Seattle, and has an honorary degree from Orange Coast College.

Nadya Ichinomiya

Director of IT, Television Marketing, Sony Pictures Entertainment

Starting with a business degree from the University of Southern California, Nadya Ichinomiya cut her corporate teeth at IBM in sales and management. At age 27, she became vice president of Electronic Data Systems (now Hewlett Packard) in Frankfurt, Germany, shattering the glass ceiling as the highest-ranking woman in the region and youngest VP worldwide (of 117,000 employees).

From computer screens to movie screens, she changed course and rebooted her career as a Hollywood producer.

After five years working with Bonnie Hunt in movies and TV (as a producer on ABC’s Life With Bonnie) Ichinomiya returned to the corporate world, joining MGM in TV distribution.

Currently, she is director of information techonology at Sony Pictures, leading teams that create world-class mobile apps and websites to support TV shows such as The Blacklist, Outlander and Shark Tank.

Two years ago, Ichinomiya co-founded Women In Technology: Hollywood, a cross-media and entertainment initiative with 600-plus members from all the major studios, and is also co-chair of Women in Technology at Sony Pictures. Each group’s mission is to empower women to expand their professional development and build their network, as well as to encourage girls to consider a career in technology, whether in coding or code-adjacent roles in project management or business analysis.

Donna Thomas

Senior Vice President, Studio Sales, Vubiquity

Donna Thomas is a seasoned media and entertainment executive with a passion for content. A powerful business driver, she currently serves as senior vice president of sales at Vubiquity and is responsible for the company’s studio and distributor clients.

An expert in the digital media space, Thomas has worked every aspect of the content supply chain from creation through distribution. Prior to Vubiquity, she served as vice president of sales at Technicolor, as senior VP, distribution at Deluxe Entertainment Services and as senior VP of national accounts for Discovery Networks. She is also the founder of the Thomas Angel Foundation, which partners with improv comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade to award scholarships to women in comedy. Since the foundation’s inception, more than $150,000 has been awarded.

Thomas is a performer at heart. A lover of comedy, you can find her performing throughout Los Angeles on any given night with one of her improv teams. She recently completed a sold out run of her solo show, “From Southern Belle to Mrs. Cartel,” at the Hollywood Fringe Festival and was a finalist in the New York New Works Festival.

Erika NoltingWICT SoCal Board Member of the Year

Enterprise Client Executive, Neudesic

Erika Nolting is an enterprise client executive in sales at Neudesic, a technology and management consulting company that helps businesses focused on digital modernization and transformation. She is responsible for cultivating and managing relationships with businesses seeking to leverage the power of technology.

Nolting has partnered with many executives on their strategic software development and change initiatives across a wide range of industries, including media and entertainment, healthcare, retail, and finance throughout California and the Western region of the U.S.

Nolting evolved into the technology industry after seven years at Disney and ESPN. While serving as an account executive on major U.S. cable content distribution licensing negotiations and marketing partnerships, she also was a member of task forces that helped develop and launch new digital distribution user experiences, including the Watch ESPN, Watch Disney and Watch ABC Family Web and mobile applications. During her tenure with the company, she also helped develop ESPN’s syndication business and worked on ESPN’s ad sales team in account management and operations of over 25 brands advertising on ESPN’s cable networks.

She holds a bachelor of arts in communications from Cornell University, where she graduated summa cum laude with distinction in research. She currently resides in Redondo Beach, Calif.