Nearly a year after Art Torres's departure, the Walter Kaitz Foundation last week named former financial-services executive Debbie Smith as its new executive director.
Smith will oversee day-to-day management of the organization, which is tasked with helping to assure minority access to employment opportunities within the cable industry.
She'll also preside over the annual Kaitz Foundation fundraising dinner in New York; the foundation's distribution of awards funds in support of cable-industry diversity efforts; the industry's diversity Web site (www.walterkaitz.org); and the development of a new cable-industry national supplier-diversity program, according to Kaitz.
Not having any prior telecommunications experience, Smith most recently served as senior vice president and director of diversity for Allfirst Financial Inc., a regional diversified financial-services company. There, she was responsible for efforts to make diversity a corporate objective and was the company's principal spokeswoman on the issue.
Smith also worked as staff director for the U.S. House of Representatives' Small Business Subcommittee on Minority Enterprise, Finance and Urban Development, where she focused on federal minority business-development policy and served as a subcommittee spokesperson.
"Debbie possesses the perfect combination of diversity advocacy, management skills and financial expertise to lead the Walter Kaitz Foundation into its next phase," said Glenn Britt, president of the Kaitz Foundation board of directors and chairman and CEO of Time Warner Cable, in a statement.
"Her perspective on building diversity in American business will serve the foundation well," Britt added.
Smith replaces former Kaitz president Torres, who resigned last June amid questions about his dual role as Kaitz director and his leadership role within the California Democratic Party.
Smith's appointment completes last fall's transition of Kaitz's operations under the administrative auspices of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.