Last week, I was having a tough time of it. Working on the pre-Kaitz daily for this publication, I was trying unsuccessfully to get some basic information on the NAMIC conference; info that would, ultimately, be helpful in promoting the event. Finally, right at my drop deadline, NAMIC president Kathy Johnson rode to the rescue and saved the day. Later, after I had filed, I called Kathy back and we talked at greater length about a number of things: her career, NAMIC, diversity and the challenges of running a not-for-profit trade organization in times of increased scrutiny and corporate belt- tightening. Much to my delight, what I found Kathy Johnson to be is what everyone had told me she was: a good woman who gets things done, a woman whose word is gospel and a woman whose dedication to doing things right is right up there with the best of them. By now, most of you know NAMIC, an organization formed 16 years ago to promote a concept that for many years proved to be something of an oxymoron: cable diversity. What you might not know is that, unlike say NCTA and CTAM, until this past year NAMIC had no full-time staffers. While NCTA and CTAM developed reputations for being air-tight trade organizations run by well-compensated association professionals, NAMIC had always been considered a little looser-knit, a little less buttoned down, and ultimately, a little less professional. And while that reputation may or may not have been deserved, the fact of the matter is, the perception was there. And, let’s be honest, since they had no full-time people, NAMIC was less professional – if only by the narrowest of definitions. Believe me, as someone who spent a few years at CTAM, I know how much full-time effort it takes to appear buttoned down. But it wasn’t until Kathy and I talked this past weekend that I began to realize what an uphill struggle NAMIC had faced all these years. Forget the fact that, as former chairperson Jenny Alonzo of Lifetime told me, in the past many industry minorities have chosen not to become active participants in NAMIC for fear they’d be stigmatized in their own companies. Forget that NAMIC has always had to compete with the hustle and bustle of Kaitz Week for both publicity and speakers. Even forget the fact that, by industry standards, NAMIC is still relatively young. Until this past week, I never realized that, it has always been an all-volunteer organization. A major grant from the Kaitz Foundation in 2005 allowed NAMIC to begin hiring a full-time staff and open an office in New York. That bodes well for NAMIC and the cause of diversity in this industry, because not only does Kathy Johnson appear to be one terrific administrator, but she’s slowly but surely assembling a staff of crackerjack professionals. In fact, her latest hire took place just last week as NAMIC added Daphne Leroy, late of CBS and MTV, as director of marketing and communications. As someone with an ability to see both the 30,000-foot perspective and the smallest detail, Kathy promises to upgrade the quality of NAMIC events, with this week’s terrific Town Hall meeting, hopefully, a portent of things to come. I mentioned to her that, much like Branch Rickey told Jackie Robinson when he first broke baseball’s color barrier: because of all the deep-rooted prejudice out there, you can’t just be good; you have to be great. "That’s true," said Kathy. "It’s the old adage that you have to work twice as hard if people think you’re half as good. And that’s exactly what we’re doing." And though I might not have said this a year or so ago, after my dealings with Kathy Johnson last week, I see that’s true. And you can now count me among the hopeful believers.

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