CHICAGO — The National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications will recognize four executives at this week’s INTX: The Internet & Television Expo in Chicago as Next Generation Leaders for 2015.
Presented in partnership with Multichannel News, the Next Generation Leaders Awards will honor executives of color under the age of 45 for demonstrating exceptional business acumen while exemplifying the NAMIC mission to educate, advocate and empower for multi-ethnic diversity and inclusion in the cable industry. The four winners were selected from a distinguished group of nominees in four categories: Programmer, Technology, Creative and MSO.
NAMIC will also honor 10 Luminaries, a group of emerging executives who have demonstrated a high level of business acumen while fostering diversity and inclusion.
“Through our education, leadership and professional development programs, NAMIC is continually working to ensure that our industry has access to a robust pipeline of executives of color,” NAMIC president and CEO Eglon E. Simons said. “With the support of our event sponsors and industry partners, NAMIC is honored to have the opportunity to celebrate this impressive group of leaders that are contributing to the success of their respective companies, while advocating for increased diversity and inclusion.”
The Leaders and Luminaries will be honored at the NAMIC Annual Awards Breakfast, set for Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago as part of the day’s INTX activities.
NEXT GENERATION LEADERS
C. Edward “Eddie” Hill
Senior Vice President, Consumer Marketing & Brand Strategy
Eddie Hill is senior vice president of consumer marketing & brand strategy for Viacom’s BET Networks, responsible for all facets of consumer marketing and social-media strategies for both BET and Centric, across all platforms.
Hill has led the consumer marketing campaigns for such hit programming as The Game, BET Awards, Being Mary Jane and Real Husbands of Hollywood, among other shows. He also helped develop the launch of BET’s new brand campaign in 2012 and Centric’s brand refresh last year.
Prior to joining BET Networks, Hill held senior marketing roles at WWE, American Express, Nickelodeon, ESPN, Walt Disney Studios and The Walt Disney Co. Hill earned an MBA from the Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA and a degree in marketing from Georgetown University.
“NAMIC was my lifeline when I first joined the cable industry 16 years ago, so I am incredibly honored to be named a 2015 NAMIC Next Generation Leader by an organization that has been instrumental in my success,” Hill said. “Fundamental shifts are redefining our industry and we have to navigate the ever-changing and unchartered waters ahead of us. This incredible recognition is a vote of confidence from my peers, and I thank them.”
D. Quincy Johnson
Vice President, Digital Advertising Systems
Turner Broadcasting System
Quincy Johnson is vice president, digital advertising systems, for Turner Broadcasting System. Turner, a Time Warner Inc. unit, programs branded news, entertainment, animation and young-adult media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world. Johnson, who’s responsible for advertising systems implementation in Turner’s digital properties, previously worked in various leadership roles within network operations, managing design, installation, and integration of new broadcast systems.
Johnson is a board member of Black Professionals @ Turner, serving as an adviser to the mentoring committee. He is also active with NAMIC Atlanta, previously serving as chapter president. A graduate of the NAMIC Executive Leadership Development Program, graduating from Class XI, Johnson holds a degree in electrical engineering (BSEE) from Georgia Tech and a MBA from Georgia State University.
“I am very thankful to receive the NAMIC Next Generation Leaders Award,” Johnson said. “The NAMIC mission to educate, advocate and empower for diversity is an important one. To be recognized as someone that reflects this mission is humbling. It is an honor to be considered in the same company with my fellow recipients and past recipients of this award.”
Chief Marketing Officer
Jessica Rodriguez is chief marketing officer at Univision Communications, the largest U.S. Spanish-language programmer. She oversees all marketing functions for Univision’s suite of media platforms, products and services, including the Univision Agency, which creates and oversees promotional, creative and media inventory exceeding $500 million across its broadcast, cable, radio and digital properties.
Rodriguez, who joined Univision in 2000, most recently served as executive vice president of program scheduling and promotions, where she was responsible for strategically helping to maximize Univision’s programming and promotional decisionmaking process across all networks and platforms. Other past roles included senior vice president of Univision Cable Networks and vice president, special assistant to the president of Univision Networks. Rodriguez began her Univision career at as an intern in Los Angeles, later moving to Puerto Rico, where she launched a local station and led it to market leadership. She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance from Fordham University and an MBA from Stanford University School of Business.
“I want to congratulate NAMIC for all of the work they do to advance diversity,” Rodriguez said. “I am humbled to be among the distinguished group of executives being recognized. At Univision, we are mission-driven and focused on informing, entertaining, empowering and advocating for Hispanic America, which makes this award all the more important to me.”
Vice President, Technology Integration
Ensuring seamless internal and external customer experiences, Chandni Thakrar-Ochoa leads a team managing development and operations of new technology and system integration initiatives for St. Louis-based operator MSO Suddenlink Communications. Additionally, Thakrar-Ochoa oversees Web-based change and incident management applications; national network alarm systems; and the production of new product company technical documents.
Thakrar-Ochoa’s career in telecommunications began in 2001 with Cox Communications’s West Texas Business Services unit. Since then, she has held a variety of leadership positions for Cox and Suddenlink.
Thakrar-Ochoa is a member of Women in Cable Telecommunications, NAMIC and the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers. She serves on WICT National’s board as Emerging Leader designee and as president of the WICT Midwest Chapter. Named the chapter’s 2010 Woman in Technology, in 2012 Thakrar-Ochoa received its highest recognition, the Spirit of the Midwest Award. A Rising Leaders and Betsy Magness graduate, Thakrar-Ochoa is also past president of the NAMIC St. Louis Chapter.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by an organization that shares my passion for educating and empowering individuals in order to promote diversity, Thakrar-Ochoa said. I’m proud of our industry’s commitment to diversity and energized by the work being done by NAMIC, WICT, the Walter Kaitz Foundation and others.”
Vice President, Global Corporate Systems & Compliance
As vice president of global corporate systems & compliance for Discovery Communications, Fernando Alem is responsible for supporting the company’s technology portfolio by overseeing information security strategy and policies, supervising the IT-compliance framework of governance and controls, and leading global corporate systems strategy and projects.
An eight-year Discovery veteran, Alem previously served as director of IT security, compliance & HR systems, where he led information security and day-today management and operations, building strong, global relationships spanning the security community, law enforcement authorities and external experts. Additionally, he had been director of IT audit.
Prior to joining Discovery, Alem served in information technology and audit positions at global companies such as Medimmune-AstraZeneca, Philip Morris International and Accenture. He holds an MBA from UCEMA and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science from UADE in Argentina, as well as several professional certifications including CISM, CISA, CGEIT and CRISC.
“Diversity of experiences and opinions has the power to drive businesses and industries forward, and I have become a stronger colleague and leader because of it,” Alem said. “I am delighted and humbled to be honored as a NAMIC Luminary, as I look toward continuing to support diversity at Discovery and beyond.”
Vice President of Business & Legal Affairs
Al Jazeera America
Aja Byrd is vice president of business and legal affairs at Al Jazeera America, where she provides business and legal support to the network’s business units.
Her main duties include drafting and negotiating development, co-financing and production services agreements for original unscripted and documentary programming, as well as advising senior editorial staff on legal risks related to investigative newsgathering. Byrd also drafts and negotiates distribution and affiliate agreements, resulting in distribution growth for AJAM.
Prior to joining Al Jazeera America, Byrd served as business and legal affairs counsel at Viacom Media Networks, where she structured, negotiated and drafted a wide variety of agreements related to the development and production of scripted, reality and documentary programming for MTV. Byrd also provided business and legal advice related to the execution of program production to minimize legal and business risk.
“I’m honored to be recognized by NAMIC because its mission is closely aligned with my goals and the core mission of Al Jazeera America,” Byrd said. “The executives that used their influence to push my career forward are my inspiration to continue working to ensure that diverse views and experiences have the opportunity to be represented on- and off -camera.”
Vice President, Marketing Sprout
As vice president of marketing for Sprout, Jennifer Giddens is responsible for driving and implementing the network’s overall consumer, trade and strategic marketing.
Giddens oversees multiplatform digital business initiatives, consumer-product marketing and customized marketing campaigns to support the network’s roster of original programming. She also manages Sprout’s social media and digital presence to drive engagement across all major platforms. She develops the marketing strategy for brand efforts, including the signature pro-social campaign “Kindness Counts.” Giddens leads partnership and affiliate marketing, along with efforts to increase advertising revenues across all network platforms for Sprout and its “NBC Kids” Saturday-morning block. Partnership and consumer-products marketing plans in coordination with Universal Products Licensing and Digital team are also under Giddens’s purview. She is a key member of Sprout’s executive team, reporting to president Sandy Wax.
“I’m proud to be honored by NAMIC,” Giddens said. “I truly believe in the organization’s mission. In order for a brand to be successful, diversity of thought and opinion should be represented throughout your business. As a leader at Sprout, I try to foster an environment of inclusion and diversity throughout my team, which makes for a more authentic and creative environment.”
Vice President, Audience Strategy & Insights El Rey Network
As vice president of audience strategy & insights, Dawn Holliday-Mack brings more than 10 years of experience in entertainment research, media analytics and consumer insights to El Rey Network. Having worked for agencies (CAA, WME); production companies and studios (Paramount, Sony); analytics firms (Nielsen); and TV networks (El Rey), Holliday- Mack understands the perspectives of core industry players and uses her knowledge to build solid content and distribution strategies where industry-wide buy-in is essential for success.
Prior to joining El Rey, Holliday-Mack was a partner and vice president of Strategy, Research & Consumer Insights at FactoryMade Ventures, an entertainment incubator, where she helped develop El Rey’s award-winning proposal for Comcast carriage and eventual strategic investment by Univision. She was also part of the initial WME Strategic Planning & Business Development team, which left the agency to establish FactoryMade. Holliday-Mack started her career on the creative side, graduating from the USC School of Cinema-Television and earned a MBA from Yale University.
“Being recognized by NAMIC is a great honor and career achievement,” she said. “I feel blessed to have a position in this industry where I can be a driving force of change to ensure that content reflects and engages the growing new mainstream in America.”
Executive Vice President, Business & Legal Affairs
OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network
Tina Perry was named executive vice president, business & legal affairs for OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network in 2014. She was formerly senior vice president, head of business & legal affairs and joined OWN in 2009 as vice president of business & legal affairs.
A highly respected legal executive, Perry provides business affairs and legal support to all departments at OWN, including Oprah.com, development, reality and scripted programming, production, finance, talent, marketing, acquisitions, new media, press and the office of the presidents. Perry also oversees standards and practices and risk assessment.
She joined OWN following a career as counsel and senior counsel for VH1 and MTV at Viacom. An honors graduate from Stanford University, Perry graduated from Harvard Law School and earned a master’s degree in Comparative Social Policy from the University of Oxford.
“It is an honor to be selected by NAMIC as a Next Generation Luminary,” Perry said. “I have been fortunate that my hard work and passion has afforded me the privilege to work in an industry that I love. However, I am most excited about the opportunity to inspire others with media and entertainment career aspirations, as well as to shine the light that minorities can and do excel in cable.”
James D. Rollins
Vice President, Digital Video Distribution, Affiliate Sales & Marketing
Disney and ESPN Media Networks
James Rollins was named vice president of digital video distribution for the affiliate sales and marketing group at Disney and ESPN Media Networks in January.
Rollins is responsible for identifying and cultivating new technology opportunities with distribution partners and driving the distribution of digital products and services that include VOD, ITV applications and TV everywhere. He began his career with Disney and ESPN Media Networks in June 2008 as a sales account executive before joining the digital video distribution team. In 2011 and 2012, he received the ESPN Sales and Marketing Leadership Awards. Rollins served in the U.S. Navy as a supply officer and lieutenant from 2001-2006. He was honored with the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2005- 2006) and Gold Star in Lieu of Second Award (2006).
An active member of NAMIC and CTAM, Rollins earned a degree in finance from Virginia Tech and his MBA in marketing and global management from the University of South Carolina.
“NAMIC has been an integral part of my career and the careers of many with diverse backgrounds,” Rollins said. “As a Luminary recipient, I am honored to carry on NAMIC’s mission of diversity within the cable industry.”
Vice President, ESPN Deportes Programming & Business Initiatives
Freddy Rolón serves as vice president of ESPN Deportes programming and business initiatives. In this role, he oversees all programming for ESPN Deportes, providing strategic direction and liaisons with the brands content across all platforms.
Rolón also oversees the ESPN Deportes Radio business and ESPN Deportes’ digital initiatives. He is responsible for programming acquisitions, development and scheduling across television, radio and digital platforms.
In addition, Rolón plays a fundamental role in ESPN’s overall strategy to better serve the Hispanic sports fan across all platforms, in English and Spanish. Over the last four years, he has been part of a leadership team that has spearheaded several companywide initiatives in an effort to better integrate content that is relevant to a diverse audience across all platforms. As part of these efforts, he also regularly contributes to Disney’s multicultural efforts.
“At ESPN, we strive to foster diversity in our content and our workforce,” he said. “I am honored to be recognized by NAMIC and very proud to contribute to this important effort every single day at work.”
Rydne “Ryder” Williams
Vice President, Field Operations (Southern Colorado)
“Ryder” Williams is the vice president, Field Operations (Southern Colorado) for Comcast Cable Corporations. A seasoned operations leader with 20-plus years of experience, Williams most recently joined Comcast Mile High Region from its Twin Cities market, where he was senior director of technical operations. Williams has managed systems with 115 employees serving up to 600,000 customers and 115 communities.
A member of SCTE, Williams also served as NAMIC Minnesota chapter president. A military veteran, he currently serves on the board of the Boys and Girls Club (Pike’s Peak). Williams received his MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management, an electronics engineering technology degree from Mt. San Antonio College and completed the Executive Leadership Program at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.
“To paraphrase a quote, ‘True honor isn’t given for what’s received but the reward for what you gave,’ ” he said. “NAMIC epitomizes development, diversity and inclusion while ‘paying it forward’ through people and community To align my professional and personal career as such to be recognized via NAMIC is a true honor.”
Senior Vice President, Broadcast Distribution
Fox Broadcasting Co.
As senior vice president, broadcast distribution, for Fox Broadcasting Co., Inae Wilson is responsible for day-to-day operations, negotiating distribution agreements, enforcing contractual commitments, program clearances, preemptions, on-air/co-op promotion and managing relations between FBC and several domestic broadcast television affiliates.
Wilson represents Fox on issues of inventory and affiliate financial contributions. She was part of the team that negotiated the Primetime Inventory Purchase Agreement, a deal that requires affiliates to pay the network a fee for primetime programming. Fox was the first network to orchestrate such an agreement and pioneered a change in the affiliate/network financial model. Additionally, she is the primary executive responsible for distribution of MundoFox.
“Thank you NAMIC for this wonderful recognition — I am honored,” Wilson said. “I am extremely fortunate to be part of a company that encourages entrepreneurship and recognizes the importance of diversity at every level. For the past 17 years, I have had the privilege of growing personally and professionally under an incredible group of leaders, mentors, colleagues and friends.”
Senior Vice President, Corporate Development
Scripps Networks Interactive
As senior vice president of corporate development for Scripps Networks Interactive, Yoo is responsible for identifying, evaluating and executing acquisitions, joint ventures, investments and partnerships that support the company’s growth objectives.
In five years with Scripps Networks, Yoo helped direct the company’s acquisition of Asian Food Channel and Travel Channel International. She has played a key role in making venture investments in Tastemade, One Kings Lane and other digital partnerships in the U.S. and abroad.
Prior to Scripps Networks, Yoo was at NBCUniversal, where she oversaw the merger of NBCU’s stake in A&E Networks with Lifetime. Previously, Yoo served as an investment banker at Lehman Brothers. She received both an MBA and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
“It is such an honor to be recognized as a NAMIC Luminary. Being an Asian-American woman has always encouraged me to be more inclusive and open-minded, with a conscious effort toward respect in diversity of opinions,” Yoo said. “As I commit to continue to foster diversity, I know that I am backed by a great company doing the same.”