Few organizations can boast that they have the clout and reputation to bring together the most influential people of color in the communications industry. Even fewer can do so in a blizzard in Denver, CO. But that’s exactly what the National Association of Multiethnicity in Communications and the Walter Kaitz Foundation were able to do earlier this week, Oct 26-28, at their annual conference and dinner.
NAMIC, established in 1980 and led by Kathy Johnson, is the premiere organization that “educates, advocates and empowers for multi-ethnic diversity in the telecommunications industry.” Members include cable operators and programmers to new media professionals, on-air talent and entrepreneurs. Think of it as the “who’s who” of people of color in the media and communications industry.
Each year NAMIC hosts an annual conference to recognize companies who exemplify the NAMIC mission and to provide a forum for discussion amongst the best and the brightest in the business. General morning and lunch sessions featured engaging speakers like Chris Hughes (co-founder of Facebook and mastermind behind My.BarackObama.com) and Dr. Sanjay Gupta (Chief Medical Correspondent, CNN). One conference attendee, Andrea Agnew of Comcast, had this to say after hearing Dr. Sanjay Gupta speak, “[he] truly embodied the spirit of humanitarianism”. Throughout each day of the conference, concurrent panel sessions around hot topics in the industry stirred up thought provoking dialog amongst the conference attendees. Panel topics like “Diversity in White: Personal Journeys of White Male Executives”, “Leading with your Right” and “Tribalization of Social Media: How to Become a Chieftan” challenged participants to engage in candid discussion with key leaders in the industry. Still other panels like “Winning Program Formulas” moderated by industry heavy weight Pearlena Igbokwe (SVP Original Programming for Showtime; responsible for the hit series Soul Food) offered attendees practical guidance and insight to the world of multi-ethnic content and programming.
Once night time hit, not even the Denver blizzard could keep conference attendees from taking the time to unwind and network with fellow NAMIC colleagues and friends. NAMIC’s most recent Executive Leadership Development Program graduates, Class VIII, took over local hot spot Jazz at Jacks for some post conference music, food, fun and yes…the cupid shuffle. Good times had by all.
Following the three day NAMIC conference, attendees whose companies sponsor the Walter Kaitz Foundation were treated to an evening of elegant dinning and a program honoring this year’s Diversity Champions, Comcast and Turner Broadcasting. The evening was hosted by TJ Holmes who proved to be both a captivating master of ceremonies and surprisingly funny. The Walter Kaitz Foundation was established in 1980 and functions as an advocate for diversity in the cable and telecommunications industry. The event raised over one million dollars and was yet another fantastic production by the organization led by Executive Director David Porter.
As a member of the NAMIC organization, graduate of ELDP Class VIII and a supporter of the Walter Kaitz foundation I can say with great sincerity that these organizations are well worth supporting and membership is truly priceless. If you are in the media/communications industry or are interested in learning more about it, I encourage you to join!