The Alliance for Women in Media (AWM) hosted its inaugural Gracies Leadership Awards luncheon, formerly called Women Who Lead, Tuesday, November 13 to a capacity crowd at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.
Keynote speaker Pam Oliver connected with the audience as she recounted her struggles and triumphs as a woman in the media industry. She spoke of winning a Gracie Award earlier this year and shared, “So many people asked me what it meant to me to receive a Gracie Award, and I always say it was really a career moment. I have received numerous awards that I am very proud of and grateful for, but the Gracie sits on my desk. It just gives me inspiration, and it says something about what women are able to accomplish.”
Seven female leaders in media were honored at the event. Highlights from their speeches include:
- The first honoree, Dara Altman, EVP and chief administrative officer, Sirius XM, said, “Women, Jews and all minorities of every kind do not have the same opportunities. Every day I try to ensure, however I can, that those unheard and under-observed people and voices are heard and that no one is told, like they told my mother, that she has no place at the table. I want to thank the Alliance for Women in Media for everything you do to make this a more inclusive industry and to shine a light on deserving women.”
- Lynn Beall, EVP and COO of media operations, TEGNA recognized the incredible work her team has done in today’s media climate. She said, “We’ve really tried, with the way the world is going today, to reinvent journalism. It has been the most challenging and messy time of my career because it’s hard. We’ve actually turned over our company to the best and brightest through innovation summits and pilots, and they have come up with content we could not have even imagined a couple of years ago.”
- Despite a big day in the news for CNN, honoree Allison Gollust, EVP and chief marketing officer, CNN, and Jeff Zucker, president, CNN were in attendance. During her acceptance, Gollust said, “There has never been a more important time in the news business to do what we do.”
- After thanking her “girl tribe” and husband, Jeanine Liburd, chief marketing & communications officer, BET Networks went on to say, “We can say everything that we want to say, but if we’re not doing the actions to make it happen then what’s the point? If you walk into a board room and everyone looks like you, you’re not being diverse and you’re not being inclusive. You’re not walking the walk.”
- In accepting the honor, Beth Neuhoff, president and CEO, Neuhoff Communications said, “We need to go out of this room and not just tell each other what we know, which is that having women in management, in the c-suite and on boards is good for cultural diversity, but you know what, it’s also great for investor returns. We need to show that and prove that, which we can…”
- Carole Robinson, chief communications officer, BuzzFeed addressed the importance of including men in the conversation about equality in the workplace. She said, “If we want to impact change we need to clarify what strong and equal representation is and how valuable it is to have everyone at the table. None of the rules have changed. The rules are the same ones we learned in fifth grade; we keep our hands to ourselves and treat others with respect.”
- Jo Ann Ross, president and chief advertising revenue officer, CBS said, “Founders of AWM were way ahead of their time understanding women have a lot to contribute and a lot to say. Many of us here have power and privilege, and what I believe is our responsibility, to help other women excel in this business.”
“Now more than ever before, we have a responsibility to create conversation and shine the spotlight on the success and progress of women in media,” said Heather Cohen, AWMF board member and EVP, The Weiss Agency. ”We not only want to honor those deserving recognition but show the next generation what is possible. Our purpose at AWM is to bring intelligent, accomplished, dedicated women (and men) together to share ideas, experiences and some ‘you go, girls!’”
Sponsors of the event were Ford Motor Company, BET Networks, BuzzFeed, CBS Corporation, CNN, Cox Media Group, FOX Sports, Katz Media Group, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, Neuhoff Communications, SiriusXM, TEGNA, vCreative and WideOrbit.