BOSTON — The National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications will recognize four executives at this week’s INTX: The Internet & Television Expo in Boston as Next Generation Leaders for 2016.
The Next Generation Leaders Awards, presented in partnership with Multichannel News, will honor emerging executives of color under the age of 45 for demonstrating exceptional business acumen and for exemplifying NAMIC’s mission of education, advocacy and empowerment to foster multiethnic diversity and inclusion in the cable industry.
Winners were selected from a distinguished group of nominees in four categories: Programmer, Technology, Creative and MSO.
NAMIC will also honor 10 Luminaries, a group of emerging executives who have demonstrated a high level of business acumen while fostering diversity and inclusion.
“NAMIC applauds this distinguished group of executives who are making innovative and strategic contributions within their companies while exemplifying NAMIC’s mission to educate, advocate and empower for the advancement of diversity and inclusion,” NAMIC president and CEO Eglon E. Simons said. “We appreciate and welcome the industry’s continued support as we celebrate diversity and the accomplishments of these emerging business leaders at this year’s Annual Awards Breakfast.”
The Leaders and Luminaries will be honored at the NAMIC Annual Awards Breakfast, set for Wednesday morning from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center as part of the day’s INTX activities.
NEXT GENERATION LEADERS
Senior Vice President of Finance
Discovery Networks International
Urvashi Shivdasani is senior vice president of finance for Discovery Networks International. With more than 18 years of financial management and leadership experience, Shivdasani is a global leader and an inspiration in her field.
She was previously the chief financial officer of Discovery Channel and TLC, and prior to that, served as the vice president of financial planning and analysis for Discovery’s Digital Media , Ecommerce and Education divisions.
Shivdasani, who holds an MBA in Corporate Finance from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and a Bachelor’s in Economics from Lady Shri Ram College in India, has used her expertise to partner on strategy to drive growth while managing cost and operational alignment.
“It’s an honor to be named among such esteemed company as one of NAMIC’s Next Generation Leaders,” Shivdasani said. “I look forward to continuing to empower and motivate tomorrow’s leaders and champion diversity in the industry and beyond.”
President of International and Digital Media
Sean Cohan, A+E Network’s president of International and Digital Media, oversees the company’s brands, content and services outside the United States, helping expand the company’s global footprint. A+E Networks operates 85 branded channel feeds abroad, reaching more than 335 million homes in over 200 territories.
Cohan also manages A+E Networks’ Digital Media, including all strategic, operational, editorial and distribution functions for the company’s digital efforts around the world.
He has also built a top factual content sales and formats organization; driven co-productions such as World Wars and Barbarians and acclaimed local versions for Seven Year Switch, 60 Days In, Pawn Stars and Dance Moms; launched a global television movie distribution unit in the market and a drama distribution effort, with critically acclaimed events such as Lifetime’s Unreal and History’s highly anticipated Roots.
“I am an extremely proud honoree. Being recognized speaks to the great team and empowering, inclusive environment we have built at A+E Networks,” Cohan said. “As a leader my No. 1 role is to recruit, motivate and grow great people, and help maintain a culture of excellence, accountability, learning and fun.”
One Solution and Interactive One
Detavio Samuels is president of Radio One’s One Solution and Interactive One initiatives. Reporting directly to Radio One CEO Alfred Liggins, Samuels is responsible for pursuing growth opportunities across the company’s multiplatform portfolio through new and existing brand partnerships and branded content.
Samuels oversees One Solution, the company’s cross-platform sales and integrated marketing group that works with brands and agencies to create campaigns and initiatives across television, radio, interactive, social media and live events.
In 2015, he launched OneX, a new branded content studio that harnesses black culture to ignite brands through the creation of content that can thrive across multichannel environments. This includes identifying and creating premium content and native advertising opportunities to be distributed by Radio One’s platforms.
In December 2015, Samuels added president of Interactive One to his responsibilities. The division reaches millions of African-Americans through social content, news, information, and entertainment.
“I believe leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work,” Samuels said. “Consequently I am honored and thankful for NAMIC, which is leading the way when it comes to recognizing and celebrating those who are leveraging the platforms they’ve been gifted to do amazing things with amazing people from diverse backgrounds.”
Vice President, Public Relations
Time Warner Cable
As Time Warner Cable’s vice president of public relations, Bobby Amirshahi serves as a senior spokesperson and oversees the corporate team of PR professionals responsible for promoting the company’s broadband-powered consumer services, as well as TWC’s fast-growing commercial services division. Amirshahi also leads financial-related media relations, CSR-related communications and coordinates with TWC’s Washington, D.C., government affairs office.
He previously served as the head of communications for TWC’s flagship cable system in New York City.
Before joining Time Warner Cable in 2011, he held numerous roles at Cox Enterprises in Atlanta and, before that, led West Coast publicity for Viacom’s Comedy Central and Spike brands.
Amirshahi is a former board member of the Association of Cable Communicators and is currently a member of the Public Relations Society of America. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va.
“I’m very proud to be part of the continuing efforts led by NAMIC to expand our understanding of multiculturalism in our society and in our companies,” Amirshahi said. “I believe that we are at our best when we encourage each other to be vocal advocates for the inclusion of talented and prepared diverse professionals as agents of change in our vibrant, dynamic companies.”
Vice President, Legal Affairs
Fabienne Clermont, vice president of legal affairs at Discovery Communications, provides legal support to the company on all matters related to U.S. employment law.
Clermont, a 10-year Discovery veteran, also spearheads global employee compliance efforts across the company’s international network of offices. This role has recently grown to include oversight of Discovery’s global Code of Ethics training program.
Clermont is chairperson of Discovery’s Women’s Leadership Network, an employee resource group supporting development and networking for women.
Prior to Discovery, Clermont served as assistant general counsel at AOL in Dulles , Va. She began her career at the law firm of Arent Fox in Washington, D.C.
Clermont received a bachelor’s degree from University of Pennsylvania and is a graduate of the George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C. She currently lives in Chevy Chase, Md., with her husband and two children.
“I am so appreciative that NAMIC has chosen to recognize me for this honor as it further affirms my mission to support diversity and inclusion in both my company and the community,” Clermont said. “NAMIC’s efforts to foster and drive diversity in our industry should guide us collectively in our daily efforts to advance diversity in our own companies.”
Chief Strategy Officer
Fusion chief strategy officer Boris Gartner leads corporate strategy, business development and global revenue for the company. He has been a driving force in developing strategies to reach a young multicultural audience, create new sustainable business models, and find ways to use the reach and influence of the company’s platforms to empower and create positive social change.
Gartner was part of the team that launched Fusion, then a joint venture between Univision Communications and Disney/ABC Television Group. The multiplatform media company serves a young and diverse millennial audience, reaching more than 27 million viewers every month across television, digital and social platforms.
Gartner holds an advanced management degree in media and entertainment from IESE Business School, an advanced project management degree from Stanford University, a master’s degree in international business from Florida International University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Universidad de Los Andes in Colombia.
“It’s an honor to be recognized alongside a group that shares an appreciation for the true power of diversity,” Gartner said. “The demographic shifts happening in this country are a key reason Fusion exists. We’re committed to elevating diverse, underrepresented voices through the stories we tell and the people who bring them to life.”
Meghan Hooper White
Vice President, Program Acquisitions
Meghan Hooper White, vice president of program acquisitions for Lifetime Networks since 2011, oversees development and production of original “pre-buy” films, co-productions and program acquisitions for Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network.
Hooper White has spearheaded a number of films, including A Deadly Adoption, Seasons of Love and Mother, May I Sleep With Danger.
Before Lifetime, Hooper White was director of program acquisitions for NBCUniversal, where she managed acquisitions and program inventory for USA Network. From 2005 to 2007, she was director of development at Just Singer Entertainment, working on such projects as Disney Channel’s Return to Halloweentown.
Hooper White began her career at entertainment and sports agency Creative Arts Agency before joining Disney Channel, where she oversaw script coordination for such hits as High School Musical and Twitches.
Hooper White earned a bachelor’s of science in speech, graduating with honors in communication studies with a minor in psychology, from Northwestern University.
“I am honored, and humbled, to be recognized by NAMIC, an organization that I deeply respect,” White said. “As a member of the creative community, I feel it is my duty to make sure the conversation surrounding diversity is not just a conversation, but a practice.”
Vice President, Marketing Acquisition and CRM
Time Warner Cable
Marisol Martinez is responsible for driving the marketing strategy for all of the company’s multicultural segment marketing, as well as its Movers Program, Bulk MDU and Verizon Wireless partnership across the MSO’s footprint.
With more than 15 years of marketing and agency client relations experience, Martinez is experienced in developing integrated marketing communications and in product positioning and planning.
In 2013, Martinez was named “Multicultural Maven” by Hispanic Executive Magazine. In 2011, she was recognized as one of Multichannel News’s 40 Under 40 and was listed among the most influential minorities in cable by Cablefax: The Magazine.
Prior to joining TWC, Martinez held marketing positions at Unilever and Verizon Communications. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Manhattan College and a master’s degree in from Columbia University.
“I feel extremely grateful and humble to have been named a 2016 Luminary. Being recognized as one of the industry’s bright and shining stars represents an amazing honor,” Martinez said. “I’m tremendously thankful to NAMIC for creating a platform that promotes the accomplishments of diverse and talented professionals in our field.”
Vice President of Content Acquisitions
Valerie Meraz is vice president of content acquisitions for Turner’s entertainment networks. In that role, she negotiates deals for films and off-network television series for TNT, TBS, Turner Classic Movies and truTV, as well as Cartoon Network , Adult Swim and Boomerang.
The content acquired by Meraz and her colleagues supports original programming and rebranding efforts for TNT and TBS, and currently accounts for 90% of the programming on those networks.
Meraz joined Turner after serving as vice president of content acquisitions for Showtime Networks. Prior to Showtime, Meraz held positions in Disney’s Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group and in the exhibitor services and international promotions departments at 20th Century Fox.
Meraz holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of California, Los Angeles and a master’s degree in motion picture producing from the Peter Stark Producing Program at the University of Southern California.
“I owe much of my achievement to the support of mentors I met while participating in NAMIC events as an undergraduate at UCLA,” Meraz said. “NAMIC provided a forum through which I made lifelong friends and met successful executives who encouraged me on my career journey.”
ESPN Deportes Radio
ESPN Deportes Content
Oscar Ramos joined ESPN in 2006 to lead ESPN Deportes Radio. Since 2012, his responsibilities expanded to include ESPN Deportes’s digital and television content.
Ramos is responsible for the operations of ESPN Deportes Radio including talent, staffing, national programming content, scheduling, and event production. Under Ramos’s leadership, ESPN Deportes Radio has expanded to 33 affiliates nationwide, reaching close to 70% of the Hispanic market.
Ramos also oversees the content and operation of ESPN Deportes’ television and digital efforts working with editorial, production and programming teams to deliver and integrate content across platforms.
Prior to joining ESPN, Ramos sent more than 15 years with ABC Radio Networks, where he focused his efforts on marketing to the Hispanic community in the United States and radio stations across the world.
“I am honored to be recognized among such a distinguished group of professionals and by NAMIC ,” Ramos said. “At ESPN, we strive to reflect the diversity of our audience across our content and I am proud of this recognition.”
Vice President of Production Management
TLC and Discovery Life
Jhamal Robinson serves as vice president of production management for TLC and Discovery Life. He leads the team responsible for tracking the financial, logistical and qualitative performances of TLC and Discovery Life’s production plans while ensuring that all financial policies are being met.
Specializing in scheduling and budgeting, he is also responsible for analyzing production budgets and establishing workflow processes to create a link between departments and business and legal affairs.
Prior to his current role, Robinson was head of production at Yahoo Video, Style and E!. Robinson has garnered four Emmy nominations and a 2010 Daytime Emmy Award Winner for Outstanding Special Class Program.
Robinson earned a bachelor’s degree at Bethany College where he currently serves as a member of the board of trustees. He is also a member of NAMIC.
“I’m honored to be recognized with such a talented group of individuals who go to great lengths to celebrate, educate, advocate for diversity in the communications industry,” Robinson said. “I want to thank NAMIC for their commitment to ensuring the industry is inclusive of all.”
Vice President of Human Resources
OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network
As vice president of human resources at OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Talia Robinson serves as the primary liaison between the network and potential employees, facilitating the informational and formal interviewing process.
Robinson came to OWN from Talent Acquisition, where she was a consultant and talent acquisition specialist. While there, she oversaw local and national searches for professionals at all levels. Before that, she was vice president at PR Talent, performing national and international talent searches, as well as counseling clients on competitive salary structuring, benefits packaging and succession planning.
Robinson earned an Advanced Bachelor of Arts degree from Occidental College and is a member of the Los Angeles Creative Club and the Ladies Who Brunch.
“Building an inclusive and diverse workplace is a mission I am proud to take on and grateful to have such strong industry support through an organization like NAMIC, whose impact I have both personally and professionally gained so much from,” Robinson said. “I am deeply honored to be named a Luminary and to continue to support the NAMIC motto that when you embrace diversity, you embrace success.”
Chief of Staff
El Rey Network
Theresa Vargas-Wyatt, El Rey Network’s chief of staff, joined the network in 2014 devising campaigns targeting the “the new mainstream,” with the goal of transforming the network into the largest, most diverse multiplatform in history.
Prior to El Rey, Vargas-Wyatt was with Muñoz & Co., where she helped grow revenue by 110% over a five-year period. Subsequently, she advised Fortune 100 brands such as Google, Target, and AT&T on market strategies targeting English-speaking Latino consumers in the United States.
In 2014, Vargas-Wyatt coordinated efforts between Mark Zuckerberg, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, Yahoo and Don Graham to establish a $36 million scholarship fund for undocumented young people.
She holds a juris doctor and master’s of business administration from St. Mary’s University and a bachelor of arts from Texas A&M University. She resides in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband and two sons.
“At this important time in our country’s history, I’m honored to stand next to my fellow honorees who are creating and leading the narrative of our future,” Vargas - Wyatt said. “One that is innovative, accessible and most of all inclusive. I’m so happy to be on this journey with you. I cannot wait to see what we build together!”
Senior Vice President, Network Human Resources
Scripps Networks Interactive
In her role as senior vice president of network human resources at Scripps Networks Interactive, Alaka Williams , is responsible for human resources leadership of SNI’s domestic Home, Travel and Food categories.
Prior to her current role, Williams served as vice president of human resources and was responsible for providing organizational, leadership and individual performance counsel to various business units.
Williams joined Scripps Networks in 2010 after eight years with Live Nation as director of human resources and director of employee relations. She has also served as a human resources manager for Clear Channel Communications.
She is a graduate of James Madison University with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and is a Certified Human Resources Professional. Williams is also involved in the Emma Bowen Foundation’s Youth and Young Professionals program and the Year Up program in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.
“It is a true honor to be recognized by NAMIC, an industry-leading organization that raises the standards and goals for diversity in media and entertainment across all platforms,” Williams said. “I look forward to continuing to partner with NAMIC to champion this critical work that is necessary for all organizations in our industry.”