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At the Top of Their Game

For cable-television executives, there is no higher honor than a Vanguard Award. For nearly 40 years, these commendations have been bestowed on the industry's most outstanding leaders and luminaries.

"Over the years, the Vanguard Awards really have recognized people who have done exemplary work," says Robert Sachs, president and CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, which hosts the awards ceremony Tuesday, May 4 at the National Show.

"These are people who've really made a mark," not only on the industry but on their peers, he says, noting that the honorees are chosen by a committee representing all aspects of the business, from programmers to cable systems to equipment suppliers. "I think it's always an honor," Sachs says, "for your peers to say, 'You've done a truly outstanding job.'"

As the cable biz has grown, so has the prestige of the Vanguards. The first generation of industry pioneers has largely been succeeded by a generation of executives who have accomplished much during a period of tremendous growth.

The two top honors are the Distinguished Vanguard Awards for Leadership—one for a man, one for a woman. This year's recipients are Michael Willner, president and CEO of Insight Communications, and Sheila Mahony, executive vice president of Cablevision Systems Corp.

On the pages that follow are profiles of the men and women who have earned this year's kudos.