The Walter Kaitz Foundation’s 35 Annual Kaitz Dinner in New York raised more than $1.4 million Wednesday night to help foster diversity programs throughout the cable industry.
The funds will go to help four organizations supported by Kaitz – The T. Howard Foundation, The Emma L. Bowen Foundation, The National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) and Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) -- serve as a catalyst to increase diversity in the workforce, in industry programs and in programming.
The dinner, held at the New York Marriott Marquis on Oct. 17, honored TV One as the 2018 Diversity Champion, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America as Diversity Advocate.
“We were determined to shake up the television landscape and we did,” TV One founder and CEO Alfred Liggins said in accepting the Diversity Champion award. “TV One has delivered a unique and authentic voice to African American viewers.”
Boys & Girls Clubs of America CEO Jim Clark said that the organization is a critical resource across the country, providing a safe, inclusive environment for young men and women.
“When you visit a Boys & Girls Club, you are likely to meet children from diverse backgrounds and circumstances,” Clark said. “…At Boys & Girls Clubs, we believe every kid has what it takes.”
NCTA-The Internet & Television Association CEO Michael Powell took that a step further, adding in his speech that in today’s era of identity politics and anti-intellectualism, it is more important than ever to ensure that diverse voices are heard.
“A commitment to multi-cultural democracy, integrated schools and a diverse workplace is not a social justice course at Yale or politically correct beliefs,” Powell said. “It is the only aspiration that embraces a vision of social government and the economy that includes all of us.”
And he stressed that it is up to businesses to lead the diversity charge.
“Anti-intellectualism is dangerous because it serves as a subtle sickle for cutting down the rising prospects of the poor, the middle class aspirations of blacks and Latinos, and the glass ceiling smashing goals of young girls,” Powell said. “This is why we desperately need corporate America to remain resolutely committed to multicultural work forces where merit still counts for not just something, for everything. We need business leaders who pride talent, skill and expertise and we need professional environments where facts remain arbiters of truth and where knowledge is celebrated.
“Many industries do fail at diversity, despite their self interest, but our industry is not one of them,” Powell continued. “We do not shrink from our commitment to diversity. Our industry recognizes that its own prosperity depends on inclusion and maybe more importantly, it fundamentally understands the future prospects of America depend on it as well.”
Kaitz Foundation executive director Michelle Ray praised her predecessor David Porter as well as other diversity-focused organizations like NAMIC and WICT, for moving diversity initiatives forward across the industry
“We’re really here because diversity maters,” Way said. “It has mattered for the last 35 years and it will always matter. The evidence of this is reflected back in the faces and the stories of those whose lives and careers have been impacted by the industry’s unwavering commitment to these ideals.”
The Dinner was co-chaired by Comcast Cable CEO Dave Watson and AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan. The next dinner will be held on Sept. 18, 2019.