The Walter Kaitz Foundation's goals and operational
strategies, and perhaps its continued existence, will be re-evaluated in the wake of the
resignation of Paula Winn, its president of five years.
Winn's resignation, made at the board's Sept.
28th meeting, was accepted with regrets, said board member Spencer Kaitz, president of the
California Cable Television Association. Winn had been thinking of leaving for some time,
said Kaitz, but wanted to get past this year's foundation fundraising dinner and
"we thank her for that."
"Her resignation will serve as an opportunity to
re-evaluate our program," Kaitz added.
Winn has already left her Oakland, Calif., office and could
not be reached for comment.
In an e-mail message sent to 22 people, including Mutichannel
News editor Marianne Paskowski, Winn wrote: "It has been a pleasure working with
all of you. I am certain our paths will cross in the future. Thanks for your continued
support. I will continue to support the mission and goals of the foundation."
The 16-year-old foundation is committed to diversifying
cable's workforce by attracting minorities to jobs in the industry, mostly in middle
management. But critical barbs have been heaved at foundation staffers.
Industry critics say there are far too few candidates, and
some of those placed at cable companies do not stick it out.
Foundation supporters counter that communications companies
don't do enough to make the candidates want to stay. There are also those who believe
the entire industry should do more to create specific program to attract and promote
According to the most recent employment survey by the
Federal Communications Commission, only 29 percent of cable's workforce is
minorities, a number which drops to 20 percent if only full-timers are counted.
The foundation, which has an annual budget of about $1.8
million, has attracted 400 fellows in its lifetime, however, only about half are still in
the industry, Kaitz said.
Many left cable after receiving better offers from former
employers or other industries. But its premature to say salary is the key issue in the
flight, Kaitz indicated.
The foundation is seeking volunteers from across the
industry for a committee to analyze the group's goals for the millenium.
The National Cable Television Association has added to the
diversity effort, announcing earlier this year that it will spend $200,000 over the next
three years to promote diversity in the workplace.
When asked if that may be a signal that the national
association will take the lead on the diversity issue, Kaitz said the foundation would
continue "if we can add value. We want measurable results."
Some critics want the foundation to broaden its focus to
include a wider range of initiatives, from high-school mentoring programs, to breaking the
glass ceiling for minorities to outreach for gays and lesbians.
"The Kaitz Foundation is irreplaceable in many
ways," said Joe Lawson, president of the National Association of Minorities in Cable.
"No organization comes close to raising the money it does. But every company has to
look at what they're doing right and wrong."
The country's Top 50 most diverse companies as
identified by Fortune magazine all utilize specific programs to attract and retain
minorities, Lawson noted. Hewlett-Packard Corp. had a program designed to attract
qualified women and now has a female president, he added.
"This is not an issue of Paula or Kaitz, but the
industry facing up to what we need to do," Lawson said.