NAMIC Draws Top CEOs to Conference

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Armed with appearances from a cadre of industry CEOs and executives as well as a popular television personality or two, NAMIC is hoping to make its 18th annual conference its most successful ever.

The conference, which will be held at the Westin Hotel in New York starting Sept. 19, will feature unprecedented CEO roundtable sessions on Monday and Tuesday that will include some of the top MSO and programming executives, including Time Warner Cable chairman and CEO Glenn Britt, MTV Networks chairman and CEO Judy McGrath; CNBC president and CEO Pamela Thomas-Graham; Comcast Corp. executive vice president of programming investments Amy Banse; Lifetime Entertainment Services CEO Carole Black; Turner Networks president and CEO Mark Lazarus; TV One president and CEO Johnathan Rodgers; Rainbow Media Holdings LLC president and CEO Josh Sapan; and Nickelodeon Television president Cyma Zarghami.

National Association of Multi-Ethnicity in Communications executive vice president Kathy Johnson says her group’s goal for the conference is to tap as many executives as possible to discuss the issue of diversity in a more open forum — something that has eluded NAMIC conferences in the past. “More and more CEOs are increasingly seeing the importance of diversity,” she says.

Also, NAMIC is hoping the presence of the various MSO and programmer CEOs will help attract more than the 500 to 600 attendees the conference have averaged in past years. “We still hear the comments that the conference is just for people of color, but diversity is an issue that everyone needs to be concerned about — it’s not just a people-of-color issue,” she says. “When you look at the demographics of who your consumers are and who your workforce is, it’s important for everyone to know how to address those constituencies. So we hope that more people will come in, see what the conference is about and go back and spread the message.”

Along with the CEO roundtables, the conference will feature the unveiling of NAMIC’s 2004 employment survey. The NAMIC/DiversityInc. results study promises to open a few eyes and help set the agenda for cable’s diversity push.

NAMIC’s first employment study in 1999 and subsequent follow up in 2002 revealed a concern among minority industry professionals about the lack of people of color in high-level positions. Currently, people of color hold only 7% of key management positions, which includes CEOs and senior vice presidents.

“It will be much more extensive than our previous surveys, and it covers board representation, upper management ranks, salary, vendor diversity, supplier diversity, philanthropic-supported diversity initiatives,” Johnson says. “It covers a lot more areas than our previous surveys.”

Mentoring Breakfast

More than 30 industry executives will be present at NAMIC’s Tuesday-morning mentoring breakfast during which attendees will be able to participate in roundtable discussions with executive mentors who have achieved success in our industry, according to Johnson. The conference will also feature a personal professional-development session each day to provide executives with information and ideas to help them climb the corporate ladder.

“We want people to go away with useful tools that they can implement in the workplace in terms of serving diverse customers and building the workforce,” says Johnson. “Also, from an individual-attendee standpoint, we hope they get some benefit from the personal-development sessions as well.” This year’s conference will also feature Kwame Jackson, a runner-up on NBC’s The Apprentice, who will appear during the conference’s closing session along with NBC’s Today co-host and weatherman Al Roker.

“In looking at our Executive Leadership Development Program, we thought there were some interesting parallels between The Apprentice and corporate life with regard to navigating corporate politics, power and entitlement,” Johnson says.

NAMIC will also award its annual Mickey Leland Award to the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts during a luncheon Tuesday. The award, named after the late congressman Mickey Leland, is given to an individual or group within the communications industry whose community service has advanced the causes and concerns of people of color.

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