800 Media Professionals Celebrate Industry Diversity Strides at THF’s Annual Awards Dinner and Fundraiser

Russell Simmons, John Ridley among awards presenters

For the 23rd year, the T. Howard Foundation (THF) brought together top media industry leaders at its annual Diversity Awards Dinner—but this year was different. Nearly 800—a record—media and entertainment professionals attended and supported THF and its programs for minority college students and young professionals seeking careers in media.

At the Diversity Awards Dinner, which took place on Wednesday, March 23 at New York City’s Cipriani Wall Street, THF recognized HBO and ABC for outstanding leadership in the area of diversity. Additionally, THF saluted its most recent internship program class and new hires, and acknowledged the internship host companies and employers.

“In 2015, THF placed 106 students in paid internships in the industry. The same year, 43 THF Internship Program alumni were hired into the industry, with an additional hired outside of media by such respected companies as Accenture, KPMG and Deloitte,” said Jo Pamphile, THF President & CEO.

Jasmine Shockness (THF ’11), Manager of Sales and Business Development at Viacom, spoke to attendees about her journey from THF intern at NBCUniversal to a full-time employee in the media industry. Shockness was acknowledged as THF’s 2016 Rising Star.

Russell Simmons, entrepreneur, author, activist and philanthropist, presented THF’s Corporate Excellence Award to his friend and colleague, Richard Plepler, Chairman & CEO of HBO. Simmons recounted his long-standing friendship with Plepler and professional relationship with HBO.

Accepting the Corporate Champion Award on behalf of Channing Dungey, President of ABC Entertainment, was Academy Award winner John Ridley. Dungey is the first African American to head a major network, and Ridley is the creator and executive producer of ABC’s “American Crime,” for which he has received an Emmy.

Additionally, THF presented two Diversity Partner Awards to Crown Media Family Networks and Microsoft Corporation. Bill Abbott, Crown Media’s President & CEO and Martin Sacchi, General Manager, Business Development, Media & Entertainment Group at Microsoft Corporation accepted the awards. Both companies have supported the Diversity Awards Dinner for more than four consecutive years.

During the evening, THF presented a silent auction with more than 30 items and exciting experiences donated by companies supporting the dinner, including tickets to a seven-day Disney Cruise, 2017 Super Bowl, season finale of “Project Runway,” and tapings of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”

Diversity Awards Dinner emcee, Juju Chang, Co-Anchor of ABC News’s “Nightline” led a live auction during dinner, featuring tickets to the 2017 college football championship game and a private 10-person dinner at the Food Network Kitchen and Studios.

A spontaneous live auction surprise happened when Mark Kang, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Distribution at INSP, took to the stage and auctioned off tickets to a Rihanna concert at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. The generous winner gave the four tickets to THF interns.

Earlier in the day, THF hosted its 2nd annual Diversity Meet & Greet for New York-based Internship Program alumni who are actively seeking full-time positions in the media industry. Human resources representatives and recruiters from AMC Networks, Disney and ESPN Media Networks, Grey Group, HBO, Reuters and Viacom gave presentations and networked with more than 30 THF alumni.

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Record Number of Media Professionals Celebrate Diversity at Annual Dinner

Tribute to ESPN’s Stuart Scott is emotional evening highlight

On Wednesday, March 25, a record-setting 720 people representing all business functions of the media industry came together to celebrate diversity at the T. Howard Foundation’s (THF) 22nd Annual Diversity Awards Dinner, held at New York’s Cipriani Wall Street. THF recognized major media corporations and executives for their consistent support of the annual dinner and outstanding leadership in the area of diversity.

ESPN's Sean Bratches and Susan Scott, sister of the late ESPN anchor Stuart Scott
ESPN’s Sean Bratches and Susan Scott, sister of late ESPN anchor Stuart Scott

A highlight of the evening was a tribute to the late ESPN sports anchor Stuart Scott and an announcement of the establishment of the Stuart Scott-T. Howard Foundation Internship at ESPN. Scott was a long-time THF friend, supporter and three-time Diversity Awards Dinner emcee.

Rosalyn Durant (THF ’97, ’98), T. Howard Foundation Board member and VP, College Sports Programming, ESPN, introduced a tribute video to Stuart Scott. His sister, Susan Scott, accepted a commemorative plaque presented by Sean Bratches, EVP, Sales & Marketing, ESPN, and reflected on the impact her brother made on all whose lives he touched.

Roland Martin, Host and Managing Editor, NewsOne Now, TV One, emceed the Diversity Awards Dinner program for the second time.

THF also saluted the internship class of 2014, the students’ host company partners and acknowledged new hires.

The following media industry leaders were honored at this year’s Diversity Awards Dinner:

Michael Schwimmer, CEO, Fuse Media, right, after Charlie Ergen, left, presents the Executive Leadership Award.Michael Schwimmer, CEO, Fuse Media, right, after Charlie Ergen, left, presents the Executive Leadership Award.

Executive Leadership Award
Michael Schwimmer, CEO, Fuse Media

As CEO of Fuse Media, Michael Schwimmer oversees cable television networks NUVOtv (formerly SíTV), the premier English-language destination for Latino entertainment, and national music network Fuse.

Charlie Ergen, Chairman and Co-Founder, DISH Network, served as a Diversity Awards Dinner Chair and presented the Executive Leadership Award to Michael Schwimmer.

 

Ozzie_TylerOzzie Areu, right, accepts the Champion Award for Tyler Perry.

Champion Award
Tyler Perry, Filmmaker, Actor and Philanthropist
Accepted by Ozzie Areu, President, Tyler Perry Studios

Tyler Perry is an established American actor, director, screenwriter, producer, playwright and author. In 2012, he teamed up with Oprah Winfrey in an exclusive deal to bring scripted programming to the OWN network.

Diversity Partners Awards
The Foundation presented its first Diversity Partners Awards to non-board member companies that have supported the Diversity Awards Dinner for more than four consecutive years.

The Foundation presented its first Diversity Partners Awards to non-board member companies that have supported the Diversity Awards Dinner for more than four consecutive years.

T Howard Foundation 22nd Annual Diversity Awards Dinner
Dane Snowden, right, accepts the Diversity Partners Award for NCTA

National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA)
Accepted by Dane Snowden, Chief of Staff

NCTA is the principal trade association for the U.S. cable industry and has supported the Diversity Awards Dinner for nine consecutive years.

T Howard Foundation 22nd Annual Diversity Awards Dinner
Dan Rather, right, accepts the Diversity Partners Award for AXS TV


AXS TV

Accepted by Dan Rather, Anchor and Managing Editor, Dan Rather Reports

AXS TV is the cable industry’s leading general entertainment network for live event programming and is a premier destination for some of the nation’s biggest music festivals. AXS TV has supported the Diversity Awards Dinner for five consecutive years.

The evening’s program featured a balance of media industry newcomers and veterans, including:

T Howard Foundation 22nd Annual Diversity Awards Dinner
THF’s Rising Star, Soon Kwon, right, poses with emcee Roland Martin

THF’s 2015 “Rising Star”: Soon Kwon, THF ’09 (Showtime Networks), Writer/Producer, On-Air Promotion and Digital Content, Showtime Networks.

Award and tribute presenters:

  • T Howard Foundation 22nd Annual Diversity Awards Dinner
    Jordan Stewart, right, presents the Champion Award to Ozzie Areu for Tyler Perry

    Jordan Stewart, THF ’13 (Smithsonian Channel), and former intern, Tyler Perry Studios

  • Ismabel Cueto, THF ’12 (nuvoTV), Human Resources Coordinator, Amplify
  • Priscilla Aviles, THF ’10, ’12 (Univision, Discovery Communications), Ad Sales Planner, DISH Network

The Diversity Awards Dinner also included a silent auction featuring more than 30 national media-related items and experiences, with all proceeds benefitting the Foundation’s programs and services.

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