I know, that’s politically incorrect…so, in the interests of making certain I don’t get too many e-mail complaints: Welcome to cable’s Diversity Week in New York City! You’re here this week to help the industry recommit to diversity in its ranks. Never—just ask our colleague Curtis Symonds—an easy thing to accomplish. That recommitment is necessary. But allow me to take you back a ways, first. The original commitment was sparked at Walter Kaitz’s funeral in late ’79. (I wasn’t there; though I was called late that day from California and briefed…and "joined." At that time I was creating what became Multichannel News.) Ray Joslin and Amos Hostetter—who were there—wrote real checks. So did Bill Daniels and John Goddard. Something, they all joined Spencer Kaitz and Don Anderson in saying, should be done to keep Walter’s memory alive. Now, let me quote from Don’s oral history (available at The Cable Center; Don was with HBO then): "One afternoon Spencer approached me with the concept that he wanted to create a foundation in the name of his father. Because of his father’s beliefs, he felt that a foundation that championed diversity in the industry would be appropriate. So he called a group of us together. I happened to be one of them. John Goddard, who was then president of Viacom Cable, Ray Joslin who is now with Hearst Entertainment, Paul Maxwell—we were the catalysts that began the organization." That was 1980. With Don’s help, we modeled the original goals of the foundation after the White House Fellowship Program (one of Don’s cousins was one of the Fellows). It got off to a great start. And then in 1984 Ray talked me into the idea of an annual dinner in New York to raise money…I wasn’t so much against that, it was that I thought it might travel the country from major cable center to major cable center…such as Denver. But Ray, with the critical help of Ralph Baruch (to be rightly inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame next month), put together the first dinner. Tom Wheeler, then NCTA president, was honored. Ray showed up with his leg in a cast. I showed up in jeans. And Hell Week was on its way. It took only one year for Paul Kagan to launch a series of seminars during "Kaitz week." NAMIC followed suit. Even SkyFORUM joined the mix. Cocktail parties proliferated. Now we’ve got theater evenings with A&E and Cable Positive. And the foundation raised a lot of money…and along the way, lost its way as the industry consolidated, shifted and grew. The fellowship programs withered. But the fundraising kept right on going. Now a sort of adjunct of the NCTA, the Walter Kaitz Foundation has a new head (David Porter, who’s lately been with Howard U. and has an extensive background working with NAMIC and on other diversity issues) and a clear mission: Use all that money to help the industry recommit through the right vehicles…like NAMIC and the Emma Bowen Foundation. See you in Manhattan.

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Jun 10
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Diversity List – 2021 Nominations Due: July 16, 2021
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Most Powerful Women – 2021 Nominations Due: Sept 10, 2021
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