First the good news: There are more women in cable’s senior and middle-management ranks than ever. Now the bad news: There are still too few women in the top jobs. In addition, overall, the number of women at major cable companies is stagnant. WICT’s new PAR study shows the needle is stuck at about 37% (see sidebar). Perhaps these are signs that gender equality remains an objective out of reach. While that may be, we had a difficult time paring down our choices to 100 influential cable women for this annual list. Many, like USA/Sci Fi’s Bonnie Hammer, who leads this year’s list, seem comfortable with their roles as industry leaders. Just look at how many bold moves they make, like Hammer’s calculated risk to pursue WWE. Many were skeptical of mixing the highly rated spectacle with the higher-brow fare on USA’s schedule, like Monk and The 4400. But Hammer made her decision and isn’t looking back. And speaking of looking, it’s not a surprise that Hammer seems comfortable making wrestler Triple H grimace on our cover. In a former life Hammer helped the McMahons at the start of their empire and remains a good friend of wrestling’s first couple. Still, that an executive of Hammer’s stature agreed to grace our cover in such an unconventional setting demonstrates the confidence of a woman in charge, a characteristic shared by the 100 cable women listed on these pages and many more who are not. 1. Bonnie Hammer
president,
USA Network and Sci Fi Channel
It’s not easy running two top-rated networks, but Hammer does it with class and flair. This year she wooed WWE Raw back to USA and launched the network’s first branding campaign. Sci Fi’s stranglehold on Wednesday and Friday nights helped it get higher ratings and attract more 18-49s. Top Professional Achievement in ’05: “At USA, it was two things: the launch of Characters Welcome, a vital, comprehensive brand identity—the first in the network’s 25-year history—that embraces and enhances everything we do, both on and off-air; and the return of the blockbuster franchise WWE Raw to the network. At Sci Fi, we continue to get bigger and younger, with higher ratings and more 18-49s than ever, due primarily to the sucess of two solid blocks of original programming on Wednesday and Friday.” Who has been your mentor in your career?: “Though I’ve had great mentors and role models since the day I started in the business, I’ve benefited from a unique set of circumstances over the past 16 years. During that time, I’ve been at a company that has had more owners than I can count. Though not without its challenges, the upside of constant transition is that I’ve had the opportunity to work for and with a variety of gifted people with incredibly diverse management styles. From Kay Koplovitz to Barry Diller, from Dave Kenin to the two Jeffs—Zucker and Gaspin—there’s nobody who hasn’t taught me something that’s made me a little bit smarter than I was before.” What did this mentor do for you?: “In my case, every mentor has helped me decide how I want to do things and, in some cases, how I DON’T want to do things. Both are invaluable.” How did you get where you are?: “By taking smart risks—if you haven’t stuck your neck out far enough to be scared about the outcome, it’s not an outcome worth having. But you can’t do it without the support of a great team—you’re only as good as the people surrounding you.” Assess the status of women in cable: “Because cable represented a brand new way of doing things back when it was born, it attracted a lot of risk-takers—we weren’t afraid to throw out the old rules and make up new ones as we went along. We helped create an environment where talent was encouraged and nurtured wherever it appeared, extending opportunities beyond the “old-boy network.” You can see the results today, with an amazing group of women in leadership positions throughout cable.” What barriers are still facing women?: “I don’t believe in barriers. I think that the playing field is pretty level—if you understand the rules of the game, assemble the best team possible and play to your strengths, you’ll win. Or at the very least, have some fun, which is the real point, isn’t it?” 2. Judy McGrath
chairman/CEO,
MTV Networks
McGrath is a fixture on these kinds of lists. She was No. 10 on Fortune‘s latest 50 Most Powerful Women list, which, in its salute to her, lauded MTV’s estimated 57% profit margins. A powerhouse at home and abroad, McGrath oversees the vast MTVN empire. 3. Lynn Yaeger
EVP, corporate affairs,
Time Warner Cable
Yaeger, one of cable’s most effective lobbyists, has new allies at her parent company. Earlier this year Time Warner made two heavyweight lobbyist hires: Tim Berry, the former chief of staff to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and Carol Melton, a former Viacom lobbyist and FCC official. 4. Anne Sweeney
pres., Disney-ABC TV Group, and co-chair, Disney Media Nets
In addition to expanding Disney’s global brands to new audiences, Sweeney is grappling with wireless and broadband and downloads. Case in point: Disney became iPod’s launch partner for video after Sweeney gave portable media players to her top execs. For Sweeney, thinking small (as in screens) means thinking big. 5. Abbe Raven
president/CEO,
A&E TV Networks
You can’t say 21-year AETN vet Raven wasn’t prepared to inherit Nick Davatzes’ throne last April. After all, she’d held the top jobs at A&E and History. Now she oversees both. Raven’s added reality series among other things that bolstered A&E’s ratings (up 131% among 18-34s vs. ’03) and lowered its median age (from 61 to 46). Next year: The Sopranos. Top Professional Achievement in ’05: “Becoming president & CEO, A&E Television Networks after having had the opportunity of successfully running The History Channel and A&E Network.” Who’s been your mentor? What did this mentor do for you?: “Nick Davatzes, the previous president & CEO, AETN. Nick encouraged me to take on new roles within the organization and set the standard for leadership to which I continue to aspire.” How did you get where you are?: “Lots of luck, along with passion, commitment, the willingness to work hard, a most supportive family and people along the way who believed in me and gave me a chance to try new things!” Assess the status of women in cable: “From its inception, the cable industry has always recognized and fostered an entrepreneurial spirit regardless of gender. I think the status of women in cable is thriving and will continue to evolve.” What are the barriers still facing women? “There are still not enough women in leadership roles throughout our industry as a whole.” 6. Mae Douglas
SVP, chief people
officer, Cox
Douglas gets kudos for implementing programs that make people want to join—and remain—at Cox, which has been WICT’s Top Operator for Women two years running. In addition to the WICT honor, this year the Kaitz Foundation named Douglas a Diversity Champion. Top Professional Achievement in ’05: “NAMIC Atlanta Honoree for 25th Anniversary Celebration, Kaitz Foundation Diversity Champion, WICT/Best Operator For Women.” Who’s been your mentor? What did this mentor do for you?: “I have had a number of mentors during my career. During the first part of my career they were all men who helped me understand the importance of relationships, provided exposure and support to travel internationally and encouraged and reinforced the impact of truth, character and integrity. My current mentors are not people in business. They are mentors who have helped me grow spiritually. They are able to offer a different perspective on challenges I face.” How did you get where you are?: “I joined Cox 10 years ago as the first human resource person for Cox Media, the advertising division of Cox Communications. Pat Esser was my first boss. Billy Farina, who succeeded him as VP advertising sales and now senior vice president ad sales took a risk and allowed me to work outside of human resources in a regional sales leadership position. Steve Rizley, currently Vice President and Region General Manager for Arizona, and Billy taught me everything I know about ad sales. Then 5 years ago Jim Robbins asked me to return to human resources as Chief People Officer. Prior to Cox I had over 20 years of human resources experience. Assess the status of women in cable: On the programmer side we have seen good progress—a number of women are running large programming groups. We also see more and more women running channels. On the operator side, consolidation seems to continue to affect higher-ranking women. We have seen a number leave over the last couple of years. That being said, I think WICT’s PAR initiative has put a spotlight on how women are really faring in the cable industry. We have seen improvement each year in a number of areas measured, i.e., as a result of PAR, companies are reaching out to each other for best practices. They are talking about the issues at high levels in every company. Companies are now developing a number of initiatives and programs to address shortcomings they are finding from their PAR reports. Unfortunately for women of color they continue to be underrepresented at senior levels in comparison to their white female/male counterparts.” What are the barriers still facing women?: “We clearly need to have more women with P & L experience—the industry has to invest in grooming women early in their careers. Another area of concern is in the technology arena. We have got to do a better job of recruiting and advancing women in this area. Other barriers—formal mentors—particular male mentors for females. For women of color the barrier is breaking into and penetrating the informal social networks and overcoming stereotypes.” 7. Judith McHale
president/CEO, Discovery Communications
Since joining Discovery in 1987 as general counsel, McHale has risen through the ranks and taken Discovery with her to more than 160 countries and 1.3 billion viewers. McHale is perceived by her staff, board and shareholders as keeper of the flame that John Hendricks lit 20 years ago. Mentors: “There have been a number of people who have been influential in my career. But most especially, I have been incredibly privileged to have an amazing board—John Malone, Dob Bennett, Jim Robbins, Bob Miron and most especially, John Hendricks—from whom I have learned so much.” What did these mentors do for you?: “Provide unconditional support and vision.” 8. Pam Euler Halling
SVP, marketing/programming, Insight
One of the most senior women executives on the operator side, Halling oversees marketing, programming and ad sales at Insight. This year she’s been focusing on hiring a senior team to take the company to the next stage of growth. Top Professional Achievement in ’05: “Hiring and structuring a great team to head up programming, product management and product development. Under the guidance of our COO, Dinni Jain, we have worked hard to clarify roles and responsibilities for every member of our team, and it really makes a difference when you are working in a fast-paced environment with a lot of projects on the table in varying stages of completion, not to mention the overall goal of growth.” Who’s been your mentor? What did this mentor do for you?: “I’ve been fortunate to have several mentors, starting with my boss at Continental Cablevision, Tom Willett, with whom I worked in the early days of cable marketing. He had a very scientific approach to marketing and got me started on how to structure marketing plans, create effective direct mail pieces, build a brand, manage direct sales teams, etc. and be accountable for the results.” How did you get where you are?: “So many people along the way, family, friends, people with whom I have worked directly or indirectly contributed to get me to where I am today. No one does it on their own! It also helps to have a personal goal that drives you, which I had.” Assess the status of women in cable: “I think women in cable can do and have whatever they choose in a career. You may end up taking a slightly different path than what you initially envisioned, but as one of the earlier pioneers in this business, there was never a barrier for me. If I came up against an undesirable situation, I simply moved on to where I felt my goals and aspirations could be better met and my talents better utilized.” What are the barriers still facing women?: “There may be numerous barriers that appear on the surface to be insurmountable, possibly unfair, but I believe that in time and with a good amount of self-examination, a person can figure out what’s best for them and for their careers and ultimately get to where they want to be. Just find a great boss who appreciates you and lets you put your talents and contributions to work in a non-political, people-oriented environment.” 9. Jadz Janucik
SVP, association affairs, NCTA
As the telcos try to circumvent franchising requirements on a state-by-state basis, Janucik has become the point person for the entire industry. A veteran of NCTA (she’s now on her sixth CEO), Janucik has the most extensive Rolodex of local cable executives and politicians in the business. Top Professional Achievement in 2005: “I have built an incredibly talented staff that understands the value of teamwork and practice it every day. It is their achievement as much as mine. Also survived a 6th CEO, at least so far.” Who’s been your mentor? What did this mentor do for you?: “No one mentor but many friends (both men and women in the industry) who have advised and counseled me.” How did you get where you are?: “I worked my butt off. I always ask myself how can we do this better. Are we doing enough? I’ve also been lucky to work for people who have appreciate that work ethic and rewarded it.” Assess the status of women in cable: “More women are squeezing through the cracks of the glass ceiling every year. It would be great to see more of them in the boardrooms of corporate America. In cable, women have to be ready to move from system to system (as men have) to break into operations which has been the traditional way to reach the top of cable companies. I’m not sure many women are willing or can make that sacrifice because they don’t have a wife at home taking care of the family and everything else to make it possible for them to do that.” What are the barriers still facing women?: “They’re not men, and men, who still control the boardroom, often feel more comfortable with other men.” 10. Debra Lee
president/CEO,
BET
For years, Lee was second-in-command at TV’s first channel devoted to and programmed by African-Americans. Now, as BET nears the end of its first quarter-century, she’s in charge. With founder/former CEO Bob Johnson moving on, Lee is shaping the net’s programming with new content chief Reginald Hudlin. 11. Gerry Laybourne
chairman/CEO, Oxygen
As dedicated to the industry as she is to her 5-year-old network, Laybourne regularly hits Washington to support cable’s view on issues such as must-carry, a la carte and tiering. The Cable Pioneer will chair the 2006 National Show in Atlanta. Top Professional Achievement in ’05: “Creating a successful national movement—the Oxygen Mentor’s Walk in Central Park with 60 world famous women as mentors and 250 eager, smart mentees.” Who has been your mentor in your career?: My mentors have always been my direct reports—it’s a long list including Debby Beece, Anne Sweeney, Geoffrey Darby, Herb Scannell and Lisa Hall. I’m very selective about who reports directly to me—because I have to be challenged by their brains.” What did this mentor do for you?: “They kept me honest, and mitigated my natural optimism.” How did you get where you are?: “Being driven to win for a reason—for my audience.” Assess the status of women in cable: “On the programming side, it has been awesome. There have been more than 25 women as presidents of cable networks. On the operating side, it’s not as pretty a picture.” What barriers are still facing women?: “The biggest barrier to success is expecting that there are barriers.” 12. Eloise Schmitz
SVP, finance/treasurer, Charter
Charter’s mammoth debt refinancing in October came just in time—not only for the company, but for Schmitz. Two weeks after the deal closed, she gave birth to twins. “[It] required a substantial amount of planning, clear communications, leadership and credibility internally and externally,” Schmitz said—of the financial transactions, not the twins. Top Professional Achievement in ’05: “The most significant achievement in 2005 has been the over $8 billion debt for debt exchange Charter recently closed. Charter was facing substantial debt maturities with a highly leveraged balance sheet. After considering many options and alternatives to address the maturities, we elected to enter into a debt for debt exchange that truly was a transformational change to the maturity profile for Charter. Successfully executing this transaction required substantial amount of planning, clear communications, leadership, and credibility internally and externally. This was an incredibly complicated transaction without any prototype to look to for guidance.” Who’s been your mentor? What did this mentor do for you?: “I can’t name just one mentor. I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with several people that have had a strong influence on me and many of the decisions I have made. Earlier in my career when I was in banking, one of the bank executives I consider one of my mentors, listened to my ideas and gave me the support and opportunity to execute them. Through this person I learned the importance of pushing yourself and those around you past their comfort zone and providing support to foster further leadership. All of my accomplishments that I am most proud of have resulted from actions or transactions that were well outside of my comfort zone.” How did you get where you are?: “The most important attribute that has helped me get where I am is the trust and strong relationships I’ve established. Having credibility in any field is the single most important attribute you can earn in order to create opportunities for yourself. I started my career as a commercial banker with a large regional bank and ultimately moved back home to work for a smaller bank. While bringing in programs and products employed by the larger banks, I started a communications lending group. One of my clients was Charter and through the success of this relationship, Charter recruited me to work for them. That was when Charter served about 1 million customers. Since then I have worked with Charter through an ownership change, many acquisitions, financings, management changes, and refinancings. As a result of so many changes, establishing and reestablishing trust and credibility has been critical to my success.” Assess the status of women in cable: “Opportunities for women in cable have evolved substantially over the years. There have been several great women leaders in the cable industry and am thrilled that the opportunities for women continue to expand.” What are the barriers still facing women?: “Barriers are only there if you allow them to influence you. There are so many opportunities; men and women alike just have to create them.” 13. Betty Cohen
president/CEO, Lifetime
As the former marketing whiz kid who launched Cartoon Network in 1992, great things are expected of Cohen. While not as high profile (yet) as her predecessor, Carole Black, she’s off to a great start by hiring former Fox/WB exec Susanne Daniels to head programming. Top Professional Achievement in ’05: “Joining my outstanding company as its new president and CEO.” Who has been your mentor in your career?: “Scott Sassa, when he was president of Turner Entertainment. His influence actually occurred years ago, but at a very pivotal moment in my career.” What did this mentor do for you?: “Scott gave me unqualified support initially as senior exec at TNT and then as president of Cartoon Network. He also coached me on how to win hearts and minds of male execs and made sure I had access to Ted Turner, his boss.” How did you get where you are?: “Extremely hard work, an eye for the best talent and the courage to think big.” Assess the status of women in cable: “Cable has historically been a great industry for women to build media careers. As the industry has matured, and become ready for prime time, it has been great to see how many veteran women and rising stars continue to assume key leadership positions. As consummate, multi-taskers, I believe women are especially suited for leading within the increasingly complex and fluid landscape of multi-platform programming and distribution.” What barriers are still facing women?: “I would still like to see greater representation on corporate boards.” 14. Karen Alexander
president, N.J. Cable TV Assoc.
It’s what didn’t happen this year—a proposed 6% gross receipt tax on cable and the granting of a statewide multichannel franchise to Verizon—that are Alexander’s most important accomplishments. Top Professional Achievement in 2005: “The industry was confronted with two major, unprecedented challenges during the spring 2005 session of the [N.J.] state legislature: the introduction of a new 6% gross receipt tax on cable services in the governor’s FY ’06 budget, and the prospect of statewide franchising legislation that was to be introduced on Verizon’s behalf. Through the legislative advocacy efforts of the industry, which were led and coordinated through NJCTA, the tax proposal was defeated and the introduction of franchising legislation forestalled. A lot of people worked extraordinarily hard to achieve those outcomes, and I was proud to be one of them.” Who has been your mentor?: “Two within the industry. David Breidinger, Comcast’s Eastern division VP for government affairs, was chairman of NJCTA when I joined the industry. Under Dave’s stewardship, I learned the issues, technology, players and history of the industry nationally and in N.J. Jadz Janucik, SVP of association affairs at NCTA, has played an equally strong role in my life since joining the industry. We’ve had a number of tough battles over the years, and both Dave and Jadz have provided leadership and counsel on matters large and small. Both have been invaluable colleagues and mentors, as well as very good friends.” Assess the status of women in cable: “I spent the years prior to those at NJCTA in the Washington political environment in the 1980s, where women were just beginning to emerge in larger numbers in senior positions, and then in public and private sector positions within organizations within which the higher ranks were often reserved for engineers, most of who were male. I was very pleased to find that women are present in the cable industry in greater numbers than what I was accustomed to and that the variety, height and depth of our levels of responsibilities is much higher than I knew or would have expected. It’s an area in which the industry has achieved much, but as with much of what we do, continuous improvement can bring rewards to many, women and men alike.” What barriers still face women in cable today: “The misperception that women are better equipped for certain positions within organizations simply by virtue of our gender continues to pervade our society in many areas. We all recall comments made earlier this year by an esteemed academician about his belief that women are less capable than men in the areas of math and science. While he came under fire in the public arena, it is an old belief that dies hard, and I suspect that there were many who quietly agreed with him. As more and more women fill the ranks of senior management with direct accountability for the bottom line and assume lead roles in areas not traditionally held by women, we will conquer these misperceptions.” 15. Jane Root
EVP/GM, Discovery, Military, Science Channels
Root came to DCI’s flagship channel from BBC2 last year, and while she has yet to score a breakout hit series, she snagged Discovery’s third-highest rating with The Flight That Fought Back special in September. Mentor: “Alan Yentob, currently at the BBC, has been my mentor throughout my career. He taught me never to give up on a creative idea and that people are the most important element of any organization.” 16. Sheila Willard
SVP, govt. affairs, Comcast
One of the most influential execs in D.C., Willard has been pushing Comcast and Time Warner’s Adelphia purchase (and its 3,298 franchises) though the FCC. Willard also produced a PSA campaign for Hurricane Katrina relief. Top Professional Achievement in 2005: “1. The execution of the FCC’s 394-form consent process of the Adelphia /Time Warner/Comcast deal. We are currently in the second phase of the deal (past the 120th day mark). There are 3,298 franchises involved across all deals. 2. In conjunction with Brian Kelly in the Washington, D.C. office, I produced a PSA campaign for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. This campaign, titled Mississippi Rising, is a series of 13 spots using entertainers and politicians to help promote awareness of the needs of citizens who suffered loss during Katrina. The spots are being run on cable and broadcast. 3. MetroBeat. For the past two years, we have been working with the city of Denver and surrounding communities to produce a fresh new approach to local programming, an effort that we’ve titled MetroBeat. Working with local officials, Comcast developed programming for the city channels, Web and VOD. Currently the programming is being reviewed in surveys and focus groups to determine consumer interest. The soft launch was this past July and the official launch is scheduled for November 17, 2005. Our goal is to use the MetroBeat format to transform local programming in other cities as well.” Who’s been your mentor? What did this mentor do for you?: “Many people, past and present, have been instrumental in my development, both professionally and personally: 1. Lynn Wickwire—I worked with Lynn during the franchising era at Times Mirror. From him I learned the importance of fostering a positive working environment where people can grow and succeed. 2. Barbara Lukens—my Comcast predecessor—prepared me during my seven years in the field for my corporate role upon her retirement. 3. Dan Aaron—Dan was one of Comcast’s founders and the one who really taught me about Government Affairs. I had the opportunity to work with him on a political problem in Florida, and I use the GA skills he taught me to this day. Even with this good base of support, I continue to seek help and guidance. The people to whom I look now are the GA staff in my corporate office and in the field. The best way to learn about leadership is through the eyes of the people whom we lead. I learn daily from the talented team at Comcast.” How did you get where you are?: “I got here through hard work and opportunities presented to me at the right time. I have also remained focused on my job while staying detached from company and industry politics.” Assess the status of women in cable: “It is better than when I started but still has a long way to go. Just look at the number of women who are presidents, CEOs and CFOs—not as many as I would like to see in 2005. Women as well as minority individuals still have challenges to face in the corporate cable world.” What are the barriers still facing women?: “The perception of a woman’s ability to lead is perhaps the toughest barrier to tackle. We’ve been leading on different levels forever, but it’s a concept that some people still have difficulty with, despite the level of very talented women out there.” 17. Wonya Lucas
EVP/GM, The Weather Channel Networks
Newly promoted, Lucas won favor with her boss, Weather president Debora Wilson, by spearheading Weather’s first rebranding campaign. She replaced the rounded TWC logo with a contemporary shape and font that stands out on portable devices and evokes a window frame that looks to the future. Top Professional Achievement in ’05: “Launching the new branding campaign for The Weather Channel Bringing Weather to Life. It was based on extensive consumer research that revealed the rich, emotional territory surrounding weather and how people live their lives. It was exciting to see the process lead to a strong internal and external brand mantra. Finally, one of the greatest professional achievements of my career was being tapped to become the EVP/GM of The Weather Channel networks. What a great opportunity for personal and professional growth. How did you get where you are?: “*Active, Engaged Mentors: Scores of people who have taken an interest in my professional development including Julia Sprunt, Scot Safon, Bill Burke, Tom Johnson, Terry McGuirk, Jim Walton, and Debora Wilson. There’s nothing like having people like this care about your professional and personal well-being. *Hard work: Willingness expand beyond my job description, and do the job that needs to be done. Ability to learn from and simultaneously teach those around me. *Interpersonal skills including diplomacy, listening skills and the ability to challenge the status quo. *Family and Friends: The people who keep me real: My husband, (Bruce Kirton), kids and mom (Rubye Lucas) and great friends in the biz! *Love of the industry.” Assess the status of women in cable: “On the programmer’s side, I marvel at all the women of color who are in key roles: Christina Norman, Laureen Ong and Debra Lee. When has this business had so many smart and visionary women of color as heads of networks? It’s simply inspiring. However, there is still so much more to be done. I worry most about the middle layer of women who need strong mentors to move forward. We need to keep these women engaged and to provide the support and guidance necessary to enable them to thrive in this industry.” What barriers are still facing women?: “Women still don’t have a seat at the table in key decision-making roles. In many cases, women are still relegated to traditional roles in the industry. This has evolved, but there is still a long way to go. Women are still faced with the life/balance issue. I see so many smart women leave the workforce because there is not a work situation that allows them to contribute to the bottom line, while managing their family situation.” 18. Amy Tykeson
president/CEO, BendBroadband
BendBroadband’s subscribers in central Oregon never miss out on cable’s most advanced services. One of the first small MSOs to create its own high-speed Web service, this year BendBroadband was one of the first to kick-start VoIP telephony. Top Professional Achievement in 2005: “Building and solidifying a talented leadership team to guide 140 of cable’s best associates in customer loyalty, a progressive culture and excellent performance.” Who has been your mentor?: “My father.” What did he do for you?: “Over my career, he asked the tough questions, offered encouragement and challenged me to do my best. His legacy to the industry speaks for itself. It’s complex to have one’s Dad as a boss, but how fortunate I am to know Don Tykeson in this way.” Assess the status of women in cable: good, bad, in-between?: “Women have made good strides advancing in our industry—just take a look at this issue of CableWORLD. That said, there is plenty of room for improvement in the top echelons, particularly on the operations side.” What barriers still face women in cable today?: “Taking a look across corporate America, the cable industry is not alone in the need to diversify the top ranks with women. It is a tough problem. Women have a complex path to navigate with peak career opportunities conflicting with family-raising priorities. It is difficult in corporate America to find the flexibility to balance both important worlds simultaneously. The cable industry has overcome numerous obstacles throughout its evolution. Bringing more women and diversity to the top levels is something that all of us need to keep working on. I have every confidence that our industry can blaze the trail for American women and minorities. We all know that diverse viewpoints bring strength and sustainability.” 19. Christina Norman
president,
MTV
Norman has the keys to the family car—MTV. She was promoted in May by Judy McGrath and Van Toffler after boosting VH1’s ratings 80% in prime time. How she did it: The former marketer jettisoned the old-school VH1 logo and persona for a bling-driven “celebreality.” 20. Nomi Bergman
EVP, strategy & dev., Advance/Newhouse
Although quick to credit others, Bergman is a guiding light at Advance/Newhouse, whether rolling out VoIP quickly to more than 100,000 customers, or preaching the gospel of getting women involved in technology. She may be the daughter of CEO Bob Miron, but she’s earned her stripes the old-fashioned way—by working for them. Top Professional Achievement in ’05: “I am continually proud of the terrific team that we have at Advance Newhouse (Bright House Networks), and the pride we take in servicing our customers.” Assess the status of women in cable: “I think women have a timely and important influence over today’s cable’s landscape. Our research shows us that a majority of our consumer decisions come from women, so it is particularly important that we look to the women, in our industry, to influence our way forward.” What are the barriers still facing women?: “Women often begin from a position in which they are underestimated. This is a wonderful place to be—as we may exceed expectations and raise the bar for all, not just for women.” 21. Christine Driessen
EVP/CFO, ESPN
The 20-year ESPN vet doesn’t grab the headlines, but she’s the fiscal force behind many of them. She works the numbers on programming deals, including recent multimillion dollar packages that will bring Monday Night Football under Bristol’s control and keep Major League Baseball in its sphere. She’s also among ESPN’s lead international negotiators. Top Professional Achievements in ’05: Selected as Woman of the Year for 2005 by Women in Sports and Events (WISE). Named to Board of Trustees of Fordham University. Was part of the team that concluded major programming and new-media rights deals with MLB and the NFL. Named to the 20 Most Influential Women In Sports Business for 2005 by Sports Business Journal. Who’s been your mentor? What did this mentor do for you?: “My mother was my greatest inspiration. She taught me to shoot for the stars and never forget who you really are!” How did you get where you are?: “I was fortunate to have opportunities present themselves to me throughout my career which built on an extremely strong work ethic, passion for what I do, perseverance and being confident to speak on my points of view.” Assess the status of women in cable: “Women have benefited from continued opportunities in the senior ranks of management in the cable industry. We are in the first half of the game though and still have lots of work to do to encourage women to advance and take chances for success.” What are the barriers still facing women?: “Women need to continue to be recognized for the contributions and diversity of thought and leadership style. As our industry and the general workplace embrace diversity in all forms, including thought, religion, ethnicity and ideals, barriers will fall.” 22. Robin Sangston
VP, assistant general counsel, Cox
Sangston manages 10 attorneys in Cox’s regulatory department. She learned the ropes from boss Jim Hatcher, who, she says, “was honest with me when I may not have always wanted to hear what he had to say.” Top Professional Achievement in ’05: “At the end of ’04, I received The Woman To Watch Award from the Atlanta Chapter of WICT at their first annual Red Letter Awards ceremony. It was a tremendous honor, particularly considering the talent of the other nominees.” Who’s been your mentor? What did this mentor do for you?: “Early in my career, my mentor was the only female partner in my law firm department, who was also one of only a handful of female partners who had small children. She disabused me of the 1980s myth that you could be a working mother and `have it all.’ Instead, she taught me that you can have a highly successful career and a rewarding personal life, but you have to be realistic about the sacrifices that you will have to make along the way. Today, at Cox, I have a number of wonderful role models, particularly senior execs like Jill Campbell, Mae Douglas and Ellen East, but my boss Jim Hatcher has been the one who, from the start, taught me the corporate ropes and was honest with me when I may not have always wanted to hear what he had to say.” How did you get where you are?: “Hard work, persistence, a passion for winning, a fantastic team at Cox, a supportive husband and three children, and a lot of luck!” Assess the status of women in cable: “I am generally optimistic about the opportunities for women in the cable industry today. One the one hand, I see great strides being made as more and more women move from the entry level to mid-level. As companies offer more and better development programs and more flexible policies that allow work/life balance, women are able to juggle career and family and advance in their organizations. Programs like WICT’s PAR initiative deserve great credit for that. On the other hand, I would like to see more women breaking through to the highest, most influential levels of companies in the industry, and I would like them to be able to do so without having to make the great personal sacrifices that many of the few who have made it had to make, like opting not to marry or have children, in order to get there.” What are the barriers still facing women?: “Thankfully, I don’t see any overt discrimination in our industry. I think the barriers are more subtle, and often self-imposed. For example, I think there are opportunities for women in certain functional areas, like operations, but for one reason or another women don’t pursue them. Many men that have made it to the top were willing to take risks and move their families around to get advancement opportunities. I don’t see women being as willing to do that, and, as a result, I think they miss out. I also think that if you are good, most companies are willing to work with you on your life balance issues, so rather than dropping out to raise children, I’d like to see more women negotiating flexible schedules or opting to go part-time so that they can keep their career going during the child rearing years. The real test will be what happens in the next five to 10 years when a whole generation of male execs will be retiring. I will be very disappointed if I don’t see more diversity at the executive committee level than we have now.” 23. Italia Commisso Weinand
SVP, programming and HR, Mediacom
Commisso is proud of the opportunities she’s created at Mediacom for women and minorities. She should also be proud of her programming deals, like the one she cut this year with ESPN. As she told us, “We’re more interesting than the big guys.” Top Professional Achievement in ’05: “Creating opportunities for minorities, women and in particular young minorities. Creating and building strong business relationships for my organization (past and present).” Who’s been your mentor? What did this mentor do for you?: “1) Mom and Dad—build values and principles. 2) My brother Rocco Commisso—for helping me realize my highest potential. 3) My husband George Weinand—for helping me believe that I could accomplish anything that I set my mind to. 4) David D’Ottavio—teaching, by example, how to manage people.” How did you get where you are?: “Staying focused on my goals, and the particular job at hand. Paying attention to the details, hard work, and leading with my heart and mind.” Assess the status of women in cable: “For the cable industry, a B rating.” What are the barriers still facing women?: “My view is that women in general, and no matter what industry/profession they are in, continue to struggle with priorities—family vs. work. For the wonderful women that have come to know me, I think they know the conclusion I have come to after years of personal struggle.” 24. Kim Martin
EVP/GM, WE: Women’s Entertainment
Possessor of one of cable’s best smiles, Martin’s had lots to grin about since becoming GM in December ’04. She promised to raise ratings, bolster originals and do good. She’s kept her promises: ratings are up 50% (summer ’04 to ’05), original programming’s grown 30% and she launched WE Empowers Women, the net’s first public affairs campaign. Top Professional Achievement in ’05: “Becoming GM of WE and seeing ratings increase due to our focus on original programming.” Who’s been your mentor? What did this mentor do for you?: “I’ve been fortunate to have several: Bill Goodwyn, Ruth Otte and Mike Egan.” How did you get where you are?: “Hard work and luck.” Assess the status of women in cable: “On the programming side of our business, women have unlimited opportunities. The glass ceiling doesn’t exist anymore.” What are the barriers still facing women?: “None at Rainbow.” 25. Kristin Dolan
SVP, dig. & video prod.mgmt., Cablevision
Dolan began her career at Cablevision as an intern 16 years ago; she now oversees the MSO’s Optimum division, which boasts the industry’s highest penetration of digital and high-speed customers (58% and 34%, respectively), plus nearly 500,000 telephone customers. Next for Dolan and Optimum: VOD and ITV. Mentor: Mother Rosemary. 26. Judy Girard
president, HGTV
It was little more than one year ago that Scripps installed Judy Girard as head of Shop At Home. We expected a long and prosperous run, but Scripps was so impressed by Girard’s performance that it promoted her to head of one of its crown jewels: HGTV. Top Professional Achievement in ’05: “Building a top notch staff at Shop At Home to take electronic commerce into the 21st century.” Who’s been your mentor? What did this mentor do for you?: “Al Jerome, now CEO KCET-TV, formerly head of the NBC O&O’s. What I learned was to be true to myself and combine that with who I am in business. Comparisons and cultural dictates are deadly.” How did you get where you are?: “I chose bosses and environments that operate on the preceding principle.” Assess the status of women in cable: “The number of women holding the top jobs in the industry should be of concern to all of us. It’s just not good for business in the long run.” What are the barriers still facing women?: “Work/life balance. So many women go into small businesses and consultancies to solve those issues. As long as business defines jobs as they’ve always been defined and always been performed this is unlikely to change.” 27. Lynne Costantini
SVP, programming, Time Warner Cable
Costantini’s experience as a corporate attorney comes in handy when negotiating programming deals for the No. 2 MSO. She’s learned from the best, programming chief Fred Dressler, and has amassed formidable power as a gatekeeper to the programmer minions and as a sounding board for Dressler. 28. Carolyn Strauss
president, HBO Entertainment
Strauss started at HBO as an assistant 15 years ago and cut her teeth alongside Chris Albrecht, and is living proof that success is rarely about catching lightning in a bottle. This year under Strauss, HBO launched Rome, perhaps its most ambitious original series. 29. Lauren Zalaznick
president, Bravo and Trio
Zalaznick blazed a trail at VH1 before being tapped to run Trio. Now part of the NBC Universal management team, Zalaznick aspires to put Bravo in the top 10 beside sister nets USA and Sci Fi. With five Emmy noms this year, she’s on her way. Helping her to the top are her tremendous creativity and a razor-sharp wit. Top Professional Achievement in ’05: Five Emmy Award Nominations for the highest quality nonfiction and reality programs on the dial: Inside the Actors Studio, Queer Eye, Project Greenlight, and Project Runway. How did you get where you are?: “The long answer: My college education opened up the potential for me to see that my inherent academic strengths could be applied to media as a career, not just a course of study. My film career taught me the grist, the fight and the art of media. The TV part is teaching me the need for an adaptive business mind-set against the backdrop of an artistic brand vision combined with corporate rigor. The short answer: Never be afraid to change your mind—or to be wrong. Bad decisions only come from not making one.” Assess the status of women in cable: “It’s clearly not as high as I’d like it to be if it’s separate and distinct from the notion of `men’ or just `people’ in cable. What barriers are still facing women?: “There are definitely some obstacles, and a little bias here and there, but no barriers. With the right partners, peers and bosses to support the goals of the individual, the upside seems to be getting both higher and more attainable.” 30. Kate Adams
CEO, James Cable
Adams landed the CEO post after 20 years of operations duty at Viacom Cable, Adelphia and Cablevision. With more than 60,000 customers in the Southeast, Gulf Coast and Rocky Mountain states, James Cable is giving Adams the green light to accelerate product rollouts, led by VoIP phone service. Top Professional Achievement in 2005: “Developing a turnaround strategy for James Cable.” Who has been your mentor?: “I’ve been lucky to have several wonderful ones throughout my career. Arnie Sheiffer has been very instrumental in shaping my career. We worked together at several companies and I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to work with him again at James Cable. What did Arnie do for you?: “He’s always challenged me to stretch myself, to assume greater responsibilities and take more risk. He introduced me to the opportunity I have today.” Assess the status of women in cable: “It’s improving. You see more women now in senior management positions and they have moved beyond the traditional roles of human resources and customer service to technical and executive positions. What barriers still face women in cable today?: “The industry is still male-dominated and women need more opportunities to demonstrate their capabilities. Women in the industry need to seek opportunities for advancement, and senior management needs to be open to considering women for new opportunities.” 31. Sue Ann Hamilton
EVP, programming, Charter
Hamilton’s 91-year-old grandmother taught her the value of independence and hard work. That lesson has seen her through management restructurings at Charter and has been her touchstone when cutting deals and boosting Charter’s roster of HDTV and VOD. Top Professional Achievement in ’05: “Surviving three different bosses in one calendar year.” Who’s been your mentor? What did this mentor do for you?: “My 91-year-old grandmother, Beth Robbins. By her example, she taught me the value of independence and hard work, and to `always look out for No. 1.’ And I subscribe to her explanation for why she still gets up and out the door every morning by 6:15 am: `It beats housework.'” How did you get where you are?: “With the help and support of many smart, talented, and generous people. Never underestimate the value of networking (I was recruited for my current position at a cocktail party!). More importantly, I always hire people who are smarter than I am. I couldn’t do it without them.” Assess the status of women in cable: “In the areas of programming and marketing, women are well represented on both the distributor and programmer sides, and have been for the 13years I’ve been in cable. I’ve never felt disadvantaged in my position because of gender. That said, women are conspicuously absent from many other functional areas, and from senior operations positions in particular. I hope that will change, but I don’t see many younger women in the pipeline, so I am not optimistic in the short term. What are the barriers still facing women?: “A major barrier is the misperception (frequently held by other women as well as by men) that an executive who is also a mother is a less-than-committed professional. On the flip side of that issue, however, I see a self-imposed barrier: the difficulty many of us have ceding control over family logistics and decision-making in order to be a committed professional. In a demanding position, it is impossible to `be there’ for spouses and children every time we want to be, and we can’t be all things to all people. Choosing to fulfill professional responsibilities to the detriment of personal obligations can create stress and conflict. The resulting ambivalence may cause us to limit our own opportunities.” 32. Laureen Ong
president, National Geographic Channel
Few people get to run a network from zero to 50 million subscribers in five years or less. When Nat Geo turns five two months from now, she will have about 55 million subs and an HD channel. Her secrets? Dedication, a great sense of humor and a talent for hiring very good people. She’s also WICT’s honoree this year. Top Professional Achievement of 2005: “The extraordinary success the network has achieved at every strategically important metric, including distribution, ratings and ad sales. It’s important to note that our success is due to the superb executive team we have assembled over the past few years.” Who has been your mentor?: “Anthea Disney, the senior most female exec at News Corp. She is a tremendous sounding board. She’s accessible and provides excellent counsel, such as telling you where the mine fields are. More importantly, she’s a very strategic thinker.” Assess the status of women in cable: “Good and improving.” What barriers still face women in cable today?: “Self-confidence—beyond that, part of getting ahead and reaching your goal is to find the right mentor and identify the right corporate culture that best fits your individual style. Life choices are the other main challenges that women face which can affect their career paths.” 33. Dale Hopkins
COO, G4
When programming czar Jeff Shell restructured G4, he upped Hopkins to COO. “It’s hard to find somebody with any more cable and operational expertise,” Shell says. A colleague says, “She has been through it all in cable, and she has come out on top.” Mentor: Jarl Mohn. 34. Brooke Bailey Johnson
president, The Food Network
With reality television there’s a growing sense of been there, done that. Yet The Next Food Network Star stood out this year; it was like watching the (ahem) sausage get made. It was terrific TV, and reminded us why Johnson continues to make a name for herself and Food. Top Professional Achievement in ’05: “Building Food Network’s brand and overall awareness through new prime-time series such as Iron Chef America and The Next Food Network Star. I believe in taking chances on a new show or format to see if something different might work.” Who’s been your mentor? What did this mentor do for you?: “My parents. They taught me everything about life, and I use it every day in my work.” How did you get where you are?: “My advice to people I work with is you cannot underestimate the importance of hard work. I believe putting your head down and just plain working is worth a lot.” Assess the status of women in cable: “The status of women in cable is continuously evolving. There are many great examples of women leading cable networks—Lifetime, etc.—and I think it will only keep growing. There are obviously challenges, but I think we are getting farther away from the old stereotypes.” What are the barriers still facing women?: “There are still short-sighted people out there and glass ceilings, although less than before. One of the main barriers sometimes comes from within—women have to believe in themselves and if they do I think they will go far.” 35. Susan Swain
EVP/co-COO, C-SPAN
One of cable’s triple threats, Swain is an engaging on-camera host, one of the most down-to-Earth people in cable, and a COO who this year oversaw the launch of C-SPAN’s capitolnews.org web site and its BookTV bus. Top Professional Achievement in ’05: “Four of note this year: (1) successfully marking the 25th anniversary of call-ins on C-SPAN (and hosting call ins for 23 of those years); (2) launching capitalnews.org, offering political and national news for C-SPAN customers via TV and the Internet; (3) the launch of the BookTV bus; (4) and the l0th anniversary of my professional partnership with co-COO Rob Kennedy” Who’s been your mentor?: “Our boss, Brian Lamb, continues to impress with his smarts, his curiosity and analytical skills for how things work and what makes people tick; and his incredible people skills.” How did you get where you are?: “A combination of good fortune, supportive bosses and board members, the occasional bright idea, elbow grease and working with—and for—the best darn people in the business.” Assess the status of women in cable: “As I look around the business I see many bright and talented women working in positions of responsibility and accomplishing great things. That’s a testament to the existence of many gender-blind managers who have good eyes for talent.” What are the barriers still facing women?: “I’ve always been one of those people who has been philosophically oriented toward believing that barriers need only be speed bumps to those with a destination in their sights.” 36. Deborah Blackwell
GM, SOAPnet
Blackwell combines Harvard smarts, passion (“watching soaps has taken over my life”) and humor (what soap character does she resemble? “Dr. Marlena Evans, a strong, professional woman…involved with sexy men who adore her”). Blackwell’s personality permeates SOAPnet, whose hilarious, effective marketing grabbed 11 Promax & BDA awards last summer. Top Professional Achievement in ’05: “We are thrilled that with melts on both DirecTV and EchoStar this year, SOAPnet is the #1 fastest-growing cable network year-to-year.” Who’s been your mentor? What did this mentor do for you?: “I have had two amazing mentors, both of them women. My first boss in Hollywood was Judy Polone, then president of Hearst Entertainment, who gave me my start as a development executive. She showed me the power of passion, and that you don’t have to give up your femininity to be successful. The other important mentor in my professional life is Anne Sweeney. Anne sets an example of being fearless, and she always challenges me to think big about the future.” How did you get where you are?: “I have always been a risk-taker. After business school, I started at NBC in New York and tried a number of different jobs, including production control on Saturday Night Live. Now that was a tough job! But it wasn’t until I got up my nerve to move to Los Angeles and work on the creative side of the business that my career took off. I had discovered my own passion for storytelling, and I loved being a development executive at Hearst and then running the TV movie and miniseries packaging department at William Morris. I took another big risk in 1999 when I left television to head up an Internet start-up, an experience that proved very valuable when I came to SOAPnet in its start-up phase.” Assess the status of women in cable: “Cable has always been ahead of broadcast in providing opportunities for women.” What are the barriers still facing women?: “I would love to see more women directors and writers. We are missing many great female creative voices on that side of our business.” 37. Jennifer Gaiski
VP, programming,Comcast
One of Matt Bond’s right-hands, Gaiski manages Comcast’s $5 billion programming budget and played a big part in negotiating the programming section of the Time Warner/Adelphia swap agreement. “She’s barely 30, so in time I’m certain she’ll be the No. 1 woman in cable,” a colleague says. Top Professional Achievement in 2005: “Negotiating the programming section of the TW/Adelphia Swap Agreement with Lynne Costantini. Not only did it give me the opportunity to interact with a smart, strategic negotiator, but it also gave me the chance to learn from her. Who’s been your mentor? What did this mentor do for you?: “I don’t have just one mentor. I like to collect them as a hobby. I believe that each person has something to teach me or can share with me a different viewpoint. Comcast is full of open doors and learning possibilities, even at the highest levels.” How did you get where you are?: “I’ve been with Comcast for almost nine years and before that I worked at a cable system and a cable network. I believe that I got to where I am through developing strong relationships both inside Comcast and throughout the cable industry. Being given the opportunity to prove my abilities, dedication to getting the job done, and strong work ethic to the management within Comcast was another factor.” Assess the status of women in cable: “I see more and more women in executive positions. It shows that the cable industry is working hard at balancing the playing field.” What are the barriers still facing women?: “Perfectionism stands in the way of many women and their professional development. I see so many women trying to hire the perfect person or close the perfect deal. They get stuck in the details creating so much work for themselves that they are passed by for new projects, deals, or responsibilities. There is an innate need for us to tie a bow on everything we do. When I finally accepted that everything could not be perfect, and that some details would need to work themselves out, I began to grow both personally and professionally. I spent less time working on the same projects and more time working on new projects gaining knowledge and exposure.” 38. Tonia O’Connor
EVP, affiliate sales,
Gemstar-TV Guide
When Ray Hopkins left Gemstar last year, O’Connor was a natural choice to fill his shoes. As EVP, she has guided her team to a better year than corporate expected. “This is quite a high position for the male-dominated world of News Corp.,” an exec says. Top Professional Achievement in 2005: “This was my first year serving in the role of EVP, overseeing a department of seasoned sales and marketing executives. Aside from the success we’ve had with distribution and new product deployment, this year has been extremely rewarding in the support and commitment I’ve received from the team. Most of the individuals on the team were transitioned into new roles this year or brand new to the team. Every single one of them fully embraced their objectives and challenges and have well exceeded my (and corporate management’s) expectations. They’ve done an incredible job of making me look good. Who’s been your mentor? What did this mentor do for you?: “I’ve had a few mentors and the common lesson I’ve learned from all of them is that the management and development of your team is critical to your success. Someone recommended to me that on a regular basis I should consider the time spent on employees’ development and to challenge myself in managing it appropriately. How did you get where you are?: “I firmly believe there are two key factors that have influenced my career: 1. I’ve taken a lot of risks, and always pursued the path where I felt least comfortable, but had the most to gain. It didn’t always result in the best outcome for me but, at the very least , I was guaranteed a valuable lesson. 2. I have an extremely supportive husband, who fully shares the responsibility of raising our two boys while also managing his career. Assess the status of women in cable: “There are so many incredible women in this industry whom I not only admire professionally, but with whom I’ve also had the opportunity to establish genuine friendships. If I’m to measure the overall status of women in the industry on that statistic alone, I’d say that successful women are abundant and thriving in cable. However, my observation is that there’s somewhat of an imbalance between the programmer and operator sides of the business, with networks definitely having more women in management roles. The programming departments in the major MSO’s certainly get it, but there appears to be a lot of room for growth in the operational and technical areas of the MSO’s. I guess it’s time for us to do the next “girls night” at the annual SCTE conference!” What are the barriers still facing women?: “There’s no question the primary barrier is social and the struggle of choosing between family and career. Our industry has proven that women can achieve any role desired, but at what cost? I’m not certain there’s a definitive solution for overcoming such a barrier other than advocating more flexibility while simultaneously managing the professional responsibilities. It’s entirely possible to manage with a `crackberry’ in hand on the school field trip. We should encourage both our female and male colleagues to pursue the balance.” 39. Cyma Zarghami
president, Nickelodeon TV
With Zarghami, there’s no such thing as a dud. From SpongeBob and Fairly OddParents to Nick News, hit series and personalities keep coming. They also increasingly come from Zarghami’s diginet collection, including The N and Nicktoons. Top Professional Achievement of 2005: “A few—#1 cable network for 10 years in a row; a spectacular Kid’s Choice Awards; 5 of the top 5 tween shows on cable; TurboNick, Go, Diego, Go launched for preschoolers to Dora-like ratings.” Who has been your mentor?: “Judy McGrath. I am really excited to follow her leadership and incredible spirit as she transforms MTV Networks for the digital age. Judy makes hard stuff sexy and makes people want to work hard to deliver.” What has Judy done for you?: “Her rise has been an exciting story for women inside and outside the company. Her relentless creative passion propelled her through MTV Networks, and we all have a lot to learn from her.” Assess the status of women in cable: “There are many amazing women in cable. At the moment, it feels OK. Women need to always remember to champion women, and diversity needs to be a priority.” What barriers still face women in cable today?: “We need to constantly work through the different communication styles of men and women. We need to fight stereotypes and we need to keep good talent rising to the top. And everyone needs to be accountable.” 40. Lisa Hall
president/COO, Oxygen
There is effective and then there is Lisa Hall-effective. Hall spent the year wooing the banking community for a round of debt financing, then capped it off by cutting a major distribution deal with Comcast. Said one banker, “Oxygen’s ability to secure debt financing…demonstrates the confidence the financial markets have in Lisa Hall.” 41. Deborah Enger
SVP, affiliate sales & support, Starz
Enger retooled Starz’s point-of-contact team (which provides support to CSRs and other front-line people) and synced it up with affiliate sales. The streamlined operation resulted in a 300% increase in affiliate participation in Starz promotions and a 24% reduction in departmental operating costs. Top Professional Achievement in ’05: “Completed the 18-month transformation of the Starz corporate point of sale department to deliver efficient, effective and future reaching programs that support front-line sales.” Who’s been your mentor? What did this mentor do for you?: “Gail Sermersheim, VP/GM Home Box Office. She taught me how to stay in your strength and ask for what you want.” How did you get where you are?: “With the support of my husband-Roger, two sons-Josh and Taylor. and the great people I’ve worked with.” Assess the status of women in cable: “We’re doing well in all areas except at the senior-most levels and in the technology side of the business.” What are the barriers still facing women?: “At the highest level the game is still unchanged. There aren’t enough women at the executive circle level to add their perspective to top decision making. Women either don’t get into the exec circle because they aren’t in the inner circle of influencers or because they themselves opt out. We need to figure out both sides of this phenomenon and find solutions.” 42. Marlene Dooner
VP, investor relations, Comcast
As Comcast has grown from an MSO to a media powerhouse and Fortune 500 member, Dooner’s role as the main conduit to Wall Street has become exponentially important. A WICT Woman to Watch, she’s earned a spot here because of her role in telling Comcast’s story. 43. Linda Yaccarino
EVP/GM, Turner Enter. Sales & Mktg.
While purists cringe at product placement, sometimes it can be done seamlessly, like when Yaccarino’s group signed with Dodge and got its vehicles placed in six episodes of the series Wanted. That’s just one reason why Jack Myers said Turner had the top TV sales division of 2005. Top Professional Achievement in ’05: “One of the major initiatives we are focusing on at the moment is Earth to America!, a high-profile TBS event that we are filming from The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas, to air on TBS Nov. 20. Airing this event, and sponsoring the actual festival, fits in with TBS’s `very funny’ branding. This is an opportunity for us to deliver to our clients a programming event that goes way beyond the traditional media buy. Sponsorships for this project exhibited the breadth of innovative and creative positioning our team is capable of developing for clients. These sponsorships were not built overnight. Using multiple platforms such as on-air, on-line, VOD, broadband and wireless, we provided an opportunity for our advertisers to reach the consumer in a variety of mediums. The variety of different packages we developed for each of our clients and delivered through multiple platforms demonstrates our capabilities and how we can develop custom initiatives that go beyond the traditional 30-second spot. Who’s been your mentor? What did this mentor do for you?: “There is not one single person. I’ve had the good fortune to be surrounded by a few key individuals who’ve supported me throughout my professional career. They have not only helped shape my professional career, but also provided the type of unique perspective that helps balance it with my personal life.” How did you get where you are?: “I believe to be successful in any business it takes a tremendous amount of commitment, conviction and passion for what you do. To possess all three of these components is the first step on the road to your personal success.” Assess the status of women in cable: “Specifically, I am very proud of Turner’s commitment to the development of its female employees and am impressed by the variety of ways the company carries out this mission. Our company continually supports, nurtures and grows strong, talented people, both men and women. I am fortunate to be surrounded by intelligent, creative and innovative women who are part of my core team every single day.” What are the barriers still facing women?: “I am fortunate enough to work for Turner Broadcasting, a company which serves as a model for supporting personal and professional growth for men and women. There are always challenges for both men and women in the workplace. You have to start with finding balance in both your professional and personal lives. If you succeed in finding this balance, it will certainly enable you to thrive in both areas.” 44. Louise Bryson
EVP, dist. & aff. bus. dev., EVP/GM, Lifetime Movie Network
Often it takes a new set of eyes to see the obvious. Perhaps that’s why after Betty Cohen came to Lifetime and started looking for the right person to run LMN, she didn’t have far to go. Right under her nose was Bryson, who was already heading affiliate sales. 45. Marlene Dann
EVP, Court TV News
In the controlled insanity of live TV, Dann remains calm despite making hundreds of snap decisions, like when to jump from coverage of a murder case to a remote at another trial. And when other networks clamor for legal talking heads, Dann captains “anchors away,” booking Nancy Grace and Catherine Crier and cementing Court’s rep as the legal go-to network. Top Professional Achievement in ’05: “Successfully covered the nation’s most important trials, moving the network’s daytime coverage into the #2 cable news network slot in terms of viewers and demographics in key quarters. Court TV has become the fastest growing cable news in daytime and its audience has increased significantly over the last several years. Fueling the unprecedented growth were the network’s anchors whose appearances on other broadcast and cable networks drove viewers to Court TV. The verdict in the Michael Jackson case earned the network the highest rated number in the network’s history followed closely by Scott Peterson.” Who’s been your mentor? What did this mentor do for you?: “There have been many mentors in both my personal and professional life and I have benefited collectively from all of them. I have observed their styles and sought advice from many of those with whom I have had the privilege to work and respect.” How did you get where you are?: “Hard work, persistence and a passion for what I do. Always a believer in the team approach to management, I truly respect the people with whom I work and hope that these feelings translate to a working environment that brings about the best in everyone.” Assess the status of women in cable: “Continued growth and hopefully the continued mentorship of top female managers who are in positions to bring qualified women up through the ranks.” What are the barriers still facing women?: “Throughout my working career, I have seen the gradual entry of top qualified women into key executive positions. However, unspoken barriers still exist in more subtle and sophisticated ways. I am confident that women will continue to seek and achieve the equality they have earned and deserve.” 46. Chris Moseley
EVP/CMO, Hallmark Channel/Hallmark Movie Channel
There are from-the-gut marketers and classically trained brand builders. Once in a while you find someone like Moseley, who’s both. This year Hallmark ended its fourth year by leading ad-supported cable nets in total day growth and prime-time household and key demo delivery. Top Professional Achievement in ’05: “Being part of this executive team since `the little channel that could’ first launched, one of the most successful launches in cable history. As of 2005 (our fourth year), Hallmark Channel ranks #1 among ad-supported cable nets for growth in total day and prime time household and key demo delivery.” Who’s been your mentor?: “Jane Maas, a former boss, author, David Ogilvy’s first female creative director, and mother of the amazing `I Love NY’ campaign. She recruited me from the ranks of self-taught, TV station promotion managers and trained me in the `Ogilvy way’ of building brands and businesses.” How did you get where you are?: “Luck, sense of humor, my dad’s work ethic (he’s still working at 94), collaborative style, awesome teams and an astonishingly supportive husband.” Assess the status of women in cable: “There are more opportunities historically for women in cable than in many other fields. WICT’s PAR initiative is showing significant middle management growth. There’s still room at the top, with role models for up-and-coming middle managers like industry leaders Anne Sweeney, Judy McGrath, Char Beales, Jill Campbell, Lynn Yaeger, Janice Arouh, Laura Masse and Dale Hopkins.” What are the barriers still facing women?: “All business is about successful relationship-building at its core. There are still barriers from `Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars.’ I recommend women in business stay current with sports.” 47. Connie Zerden
VP/GM, Showtime Networks
This year’s offbeat series Weeds not only thrilled critics, but the show’s promotion was appropriately whacky—thanks in part to the leadership of Zerden, a 15-year Showtime vet who worked her way up the ranks and now manages its Southeast region. Top Professional Achievement in ’05: “Led Showtime’s SE region to secure an unprecedented level of promotional support for our 2005 new series launches.” Who’s been your mentor?: “Bob Mann, VP & general manager of Showtime’s Dallas office, was my former supervisor and taught me the value of trusting my gut when it comes to people.” How did you get where you are?: “All of my industry experience—15 years—is with Showtime. I started as an account manager, worked in various sales positions, took a finance position to round out my experience, then switched back to sales management before becoming VP/GM. On a personal note, I grew up with parents who gave me to confidence to go for the gusto in life.” Assess the status of women in cable: “Although women have made great strides in our industry, senior level executive positions are still dominated by men. Women continue to make progress, but we have a long way to go. What are the barriers still facing women?: “The biggest barrier to women is their lack of belief in themselves. Women are more inclined to stay in the background and less inclined to self-promote, a valuable skill that most men seem to learn at an early age.” 48. Catherine Avgiris
SVP, finance, Comcast Online/Voice
Comcast got its digital phone initiative running under Avgiris. The VoIP-powered venture was deployed to customers in 11 markets during 2005; service will be launched in all other Comcast locations by mid-2007. Top Professional Achievement of 2005: “Successfully launching Comcast Digital Voice in 11 markets.” Who has been your mentor?: “Bob Masucci. He gave a 6-year manager out of public accounting the opportunity to manage a small, publicly held company. There I got involved in operations, investor and shareholder relations, human resources and sales.” Assess the status of women in cable: “There are increasing numbers of women in middle management positions, so the future prospects [for senior management women in cable] are promising.” What barriers still face women in cable today?: “I don’t think there are any barriers to success for women. It’s a question of how hard you want to work, and what risks and sacrifices you’re willing to make.” 49. Carla Stratfold
SVP, RealNetworks
Stratfold might appear higher on this list a year from now if RealNetworks accomplishes all it wants to in cable. She’s the Internet company’s chief architect of cable deals, starting with high-speed versions of Real’s popular Rhapsody music service (already on Comcast.net) and Arcade-brand games. Next up: a VOD service for TV. Top Professional Accomplishment of 2005: “Working with MSOs to bring Rhapsody music and Arcade games to their high-speed customers has been rewarding. I would have to say working closely with Time Warner Cable for their online TV trial in San Diego was a special achievement. Building sale environments for content to be delivered to all devices in the home, be it IPTV video delivery for the PC, or sending content to other home devices, is exciting for our industry.” Who has been your mentor: “Rob Glaser. His vision, both with technology and how it impacts industries, has helped me think outside the box for our customers. Rob challenges me to innovate, whether it is new business models or new technology. Innovation helps us help our customers to compete and win. That kind of coaching is very invigorating.” Assess the state of women in cable: “I have been very impressed with the women I have met and worked with. They are great. Women in the cable industry are extraordinarily passionate about their work. They really do go home and think about the potential of cable and ways the industry can change the lives of the customers they serve. Women in cable are also very strong competitors who are continually looking for ways their industry can compete against telcos and DBS.” What barriers remain for women in cable today?: “I don’t believe there is anything that keeps women from going forward that is intentional. It is evolutionary. Women are in very high profile, powerful positions in the industry, and while we look forward to more women CEOs, it just takes time. It also takes awareness. We need to reach out to young women before they reach the workforce. Talk to them in high school. Help them see their potential to be business executives so that they can start to focus on the skills they will need. It would be great if the cable industry could find a way to reach out to women early in their education to show them the possibilities.” 50. Vanessa Wittman
EVP/CFO, Adelphia
Wittman appears regularly on top 50 and top 10 lists in this magazine because of the way she’s led Adelphia through its bankruptcy woes. With Adelphia eventually falling under Comcast or Time Warner, Wittman’s next move should be interesting. The Second 50 (in alphabetical order) Programmers: Janice Arouh, SVP, network distribution & service, Hallmark
Bridget Baker, EVP, distribution, NBC Cable
Debby Beece, pres., programming & mktg., Oxygen
Nicole Browning, president, affiliate sales & marketing, MTV Networks
Jennifer Dangar, VP, new media distribution, Discovery
Susanne Daniels, president, entertainment, Lifetime Entertainment
Genia Edelman, VP, affiliate sales & marketing, Gospel Music Channel
Rosa Gatti, SVP, corp. comm. & outreach, ESPN
Stacie Gray, SVP, marketing; exec. creative dir., In Demand
Jessica Heacock, SVP, aff. mktg., MTV Networks
Eleo Hensleigh, EVP, worldwide brand strategy, Disney ABC
Kate Juergens, SVP, programming & development, ABC Family
Dena Kaplan, SVP, marketing, GSN
Daphne Kwon, president/CEO, Expo TV
Lori Lebas, SVP, affiliate operations & syndication sales, ESPN
Linda McMahon, CEO, WWE
Sheila Nevins, pres., docs & family prog., HBO
Eileen O’Neill, EVP/GM, Discovery Health, Fit TV
Susan Packard, president, Scripps Networks
Vivian Schiller, GM, Discovery Times
Ellen Schned, SVP, affiliate ad sales & mktg., Court TV
Susan Scott, SVP, distribution, The Weather Channel
Olivia Smashum, EVP, affiliate marketing, HBO
Maureen Smith, GM, Animal Planet
Pat Smith, VP, creative director, Turner South
Stephanie Smith, SVP/GM, Comcast SportsNet
Chris Tancredi, SVP, Music Choice
Cathy Weeden, VP/GM, Sun Sports Net/FSN FL
Debora Wilson, president, The Weather Channel Companies Operators: Colleen Abdoulah, president/CEO, WideOpenWest
Elaine Barden, VP, marketing, Comcast Bay Area
Sherita Ceasar, VP/GM, Charter
Susan Coker, VP/treasurer, Cox
Ellen East, VP, communications, public affairs, Cox
Carol Hevey, EVP, operations, Time Warner Cable
Charisse Lille, VP, HR, Comcast
Vicki Marts, Cox (SCTE board member)
Judy Meyka, SVP, programming, Adelphia
Melanie Panna, VP, HR, Comcast
Lynne Ramsey, SVP, HR, Charter
Natalie Rouse, ethnic marketing manager, Comcast No. Calif. Others: Char Beales, pres/CEO, CTAM
Margaret Boller
, founder, Eclipse Marketing
Diane Burstein, counsel, NCTA
Ann Carlsen, founder, Carlsen Resources
Jennifer Cistola, VP, Go2Broadband/CableLabs
Michele James, founder, James & Co.
Yvette Gordon-Kanouff, VP, strategic planning, SeaChange
Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, president & CEO, WICT
Terri Richardson, VP, product marketing mgmt, C-COR Women of Color Have Made Strides, Says WICT’s PAR Initiative Survey One of the most encouraging trends in WICT’s new PAR survey of 33 companies is that 40% of women in cable are people of color. Three years ago, the first PAR study found 13.2% of all employees were women of color; they now represent nearly 15% of all workers. Another promising sign: 28% of the companies surveyed had no formal pay equity policy. Back in 2003, the PAR survey found 71% of the companies surveyed lacked a pay equity policy. —Simon Applebaum

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