One month before its annual fund-raising dinner, the Walter Kaitz Foundation Monday named Howard University School of Business director of graduate programs David Porter as its new executive director.
Porter -- the third executive director in the past five years for the diversity-oriented foundation -- succeeds Debbie Smith, who left Kaitz earlier this year to join Discovery Communications’ human-resources department, according to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, which oversees the operations of the 23-year-old foundation.
Porter will be charged with leading efforts to help diversify the cable’s industry’s work force, mostly through providing grants to diversity-minded cable-based organizations with programs and activities that help to prepare people of color and women for executive positions in the cable industry.
The lion’s share of the $1.5 million generated at last year’s dinner went to three "diversity partner" organizations -- the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications, Women in Cable & Telecommunications and The Emma L. Bowen Foundation for Minority Interests in Media.
Porter takes over the grant-giving foundation without a major pedigree in cable television, although he has worked closely with NAMIC. While an assistant professor at UCLA’s Anderson School in 2001, he helped NAMIC to develop its Executive Leadership Development Program, which, in recent years, has provided leadership training at the Anderson School to hundreds of NAMIC members and cable executives of color.
NAMIC president Kathy Johnson said Porter is an excellent choice to head up the organization, which has received its share of criticism in recent years for not doing enough to increase the ranks of minority and female executives in upper-level positions at cable networks and operations.
“The focus really needs to be more about diversity agenda and not the technical ins and outs of the cable industry,” Johnson added. “NAMIC has had an association with David Porter for the past five years. He has great experience working with corporations and executives and has a great track record with working with nonprofits.”
Porter, who could not be reached for comment at press time, has held professional positions at Amoco, Pacific Bell and Xerox; has served as treasurer of the National Society of Black Engineers; and has consulted with numerous Fortune 500 companies on diversity-related issues.
Porter also holds five college degrees: a doctorate in organizational behavior and a master’s degree in sociology from Harvard, as well as a master's in industrial engineering, a master’s in sociology and a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, all from Stanford.
“David has provided inspirational leadership on diversity issues for two decades and has made a significant contribution to the advancement of diversity among large American companies,” NCTA president Kyle McSlarrow said in a prepared statement. “His expertise and insight, as well as his relationships with diversity leaders across the country, will help to strengthen the Kaitz Foundation’s position as the pre-eminent supporter of diversity initiatives in the cable industry.”
This year's Kaitz Foundation dinner will be held Sept. 13. The foundation will honor MTV Networks and Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.).