Josh Sapan, President & CEO, AMC Networks Inc., and Mary Meduski, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, Suddenlink Communications, are the 2015 recipients of the cable industry’s top honor, the Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership.
The Vanguard Awards are presented annually by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) to individuals who excel in both business and personal commitment to their colleagues, and whose accomplishments merit the recognition of the entire industry.
A complete list of 2015 Vanguard Award honorees, along with a description of each award, follows.
DISTINGUISHED VANGUARD AWARD FOR LEADERSHIP
Each year, two awards are presented, one to a man and one to a woman, who have consistently demonstrated the highest level of industry leadership. This year’s recipients are:
Josh Sapan, President & CEO, AMC Networks Inc.
Sapan is responsible for the overall strategy and management of AMC Networks, the entertainment company behind some of the most acclaimed and popular content in television and film. The company consists of five national networks, AMC, BBC AMERICA, IFC, SundanceTV and WE tv; a film distribution division, IFC Films; and AMC Networks International. Named CEO in 1995, Sapan led the company’s successful spin-off from Cablevision Systems Corporation in June 2011, when AMC Networks began trading as a separate public company. He spearheaded AMC’s evolution from a classic movie channel to one of the most acclaimed and successful television networks, and he developed IFC, SundanceTV and WE tv into destination channels with groundbreaking content for targeted audiences.
Under his leadership, some of television’s most influential shows have been produced to critical and popular acclaim: AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad”; SundanceTV’s “Rectify” and “The Honorable Woman”; and IFC’s “Portlandia.” Lauded by Fast Company magazine as one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business,” Sapan has been inducted into the Cable Center’s and Broadcasting & Cable’s Hall of Fame and honored with the Paley Prize for Innovation and Excellence, The Media Institute’s Freedom of Speech Award, the Center for Communication’s Frank Stanton Award, and two Vanguard Awards for Programmers (2010) and Marketing (1997), among others.
Mary Meduski, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, Suddenlink Communications
Meduski guides Suddenlink's strategic direction, raises capital to support the company's growth objectives, and oversees its accounting, tax, treasury, financial reporting, risk management, programming, and information technology functions. She plays a key role in corporate development and maintains relationships with the financial community, including the company's investors, lenders, and advisors.
Meduski joined Suddenlink in 2006 from AAT Communications Corp. where she served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. She was also Managing Director in the Media and Communications Investment Banking Groups of TD Securities and BankBoston Securities.
She has just completed her two-year term as Chair of the National Board of Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT). She has been named to CableFAX's list of Most Powerful Women in Cable in each of the last nine years and was named a Multichannel News Wonder Woman, Class of 2012.
VANGUARD AWARD FOR CABLE OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT
This award recognizes the efforts of cable's system managers, who work under intensely competitive conditions in today's dynamic telecommunications environment and who are critical to the cable industry's success at the local level. This year’s honoree is:
Kevin Hyman, Executive Vice President of Operations, Bright House Networks
Hyman oversees all operations for Bright House Networks including customer service, field operations, marketing, sales, finance, communications and government relations. Under his management, Bright House Networks has earned top J.D. Power awards for 12 consecutive years. A 30-year veteran of the television industry, Hyman served as President of the Tampa Bay division of Bright House from 2004 –until he was promoted to his current position in 2008. He led efforts to introduce Bright House’s landline phone service that has grown to more than one million customers in a span of ten years. He is also responsible for Bright House Networks’ award-winning 24-hour news and sports channels: News 13 in Orlando, Bay News 9 and Bright House Network Sports.
VANGUARD AWARD FOR PROGRAMMERS
Cable’s creative programming services make the industry a leader in the home entertainment and news and information businesses. This award recognizes innovation, leadership and individual achievement of NCTA’s programmer members. This year’s honoree is:
Cyma Zarghami, President, Viacom Kids & Family Group, Viacom, Inc.
As President of Viacom Kids & Family Group, Zarghami is responsible for the creative and business operations for all of the Nickelodeon, TV Land and CMT brands. She was named President of the Nickelodeon Group in 2006. Now in its 36th year, Nickelodeon is the world’s most widely distributed kids' channel, with 50 channels reaching more than 350 million people in 25 languages.
Zarghami joined Nickelodeon in 1985 and rose through the company ranks, becoming the channel's general manager in 1996. During her years leading Nickelodeon, Ms. Zarghami has nurtured the continued growth and expansion of the Nickelodeon brand in television and beyond while ensuring it has remained true to its primary mission of serving and being inclusive of all kids. Under her leadership, the network has solidified its commitment to researching the newest generation of kids, post-millennials, and is super-serving them on all platforms.
VANGUARD AWARD FOR SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
This award honors individuals who have played a significant role in product improvement as well as in the design and development of engineering techniques. This year’s honoree is:
Jim Blackley, Executive Vice President, Engineering & Information Technology, Charter Communications, Inc.
Blackley oversees the Advanced Engineering team at Charter Communications, working with Product and Network Management to design, certify and implement next generation services and technology solutions. Under his leadership, Charter is at the forefront of introducing innovative video, internet and voice solutions positioning the company as a leader in using technology to deliver highly capable cloud-based products and services.
Blackley joined Charter in 2012 after serving at Cablevision for 16 years, most recently as Executive Vice President for Corporate Engineering and Technology. At Cablevision, he played a key role in many first-time cable industry deployments, including the network DVR service and the industry’s first industrial grade, outside the home Wi-Fi service, as well as the first downloadable security system for set-top boxes.
VANGUARD AWARD FOR GOVERNMENT & COMMUNITY RELATIONS
This award recognizes individuals who have had a significant impact on promoting a positive public image and advocating public policy positions for the cable industry at the national, state and/or local levels. This year’s honoree is:
D’Arcy Rudnay, Executive Vice President & Chief Communications Officer, Comcast Corporation
Rudnay serves as the communications counsel to the Chairman and CEO and other members of the executive team and leads the management of the company’s brand, reputation and strategic communications activities across the company. She joined Comcast in 2003 as Vice President of Corporate Communications and has been responsible for strategic corporate branding and communications through Comcast’s acquisitions of AT&T Broadband, Adelphia, NBCUniversal to the pending Time Warner Cable acquisition today.
In 2014, Rudnay was inducted into the PR Week PR Hall of Fame and was named the nation’s top woman in PR as well as fourth on the list of “The 50 Most Powerful People in PR.” She was also named among the "Most Powerful Women in Cable" in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010. In 2005, she was a recipient of the Philadelphia Business Journal’s "Women of Distinction" award and Profiles in Diversity Journal’s "Women Worth Watching" award.
VANGUARD AWARD FOR MARKETING
This award honors an individual who has been instrumental in the development of marketing approaches that significantly enhance cable's public image and increase customers. This year’s honoree is:
Mark Greatrex, Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing & Sales Officer, Cox Communications, Inc.
Greatrex is responsible for the company’s residential sales team and marketing activities across the enterprise. He oversees the Cox brand, pricing, marketing operations and all sales channels throughout the 18 states where Cox operates, as well as works with the Strategy, Product and Technology teams to develop the company’s growth strategy and to strengthen the company’s consumer value propositions. He also partners with the Customer Experience team to ensure the brand promise and customer experience are in alignment. Under his leadership, Cox has built-out new departments dedicated to consumer insights, marketing analytics, base management, retention strategy and segmentation. He was instrumental in the successful roll out of Contour as is now rolling out Cox’s Gigablast internet.
Currently Chairman of the Board for CTAM, he has guided the association through the successful implementations of TV EverywhereSM and Cable Mover® joint industry efforts. Prior to joining Cox, he served as senior vice president of Global Still Beverages at The Coca-Cola Company; executive vice president of brand management at AOL; and part owner and officer for Eagle Family Foods. He began his marketing career at Unilever PLC.
VANGUARD AWARD FOR ASSOCIATES & AFFILIATES
This award recognizes the important contributions of equipment manufacturers and service suppliers to cable industry innovation, growth and progress. This year’s honoree is:
Vibha Rustagi, President & CEO, itaas, A Cognizant Company
A veteran of more than 25 years in the cable and telecommunications industries, Rustagi started her career at Scientific-Atlanta, now Cisco, where she was integrally involved in the design and launch of the first digital networks and was awarded seven patents. In 1999, Rustagi was one of the three founders of itaas and served as CEO and President until its 2014 acquisition by Cognizant, a leading provider of information technology, consulting, and business process outsourcing services to cable, telecommunications and technology companies for the delivery of services to consumer devices such as set-tops, tablets and smartphones.
Rustagi is one of twelve cable executives in Communications Technology Cable Hall of Fame and CableFax named her one of the most powerful women in cable. Multichannel News spotlighted her as one of three women who have made significant achievements in technology positions; and Interactive TV Today awarded her the Leadership Award at the TV of Tomorrow Show for her work in interactive and multiplatform television.
VANGUARD AWARD FOR YOUNG LEADERSHIP
The growth of cable is in large part due to the energy, vitality and creativity of the many young people working within the industry, and the Young Leadership Award recognizes those individuals who have already made a mark on the industry and its constituents. This year’s honoree is:
Christopher Winfrey, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, Charter Communications, Inc.
Winfrey is responsible for all of Charter Communications' financial functions, including accounting, financial planning and analysis, tax and treasury, procurement and supply chain management, as well as mergers and acquisitions, capital structure activities and investor relations. He joined Charter in November 2010 from Unitymedia GmbH, Germany’s second largest cable provider, where he served as CFO and Managing Director. Prior to Unitymedia, he was senior vice president of corporate finance and development at Cablecom GmbH in Switzerland
Today Winfrey has a lead role in the expansion of Charter’s business through the complex transaction with Comcast and Time Warner Cable.