WICT Southeast Announces 2022 Board of Directors

Women in Cable Telecommunications Southeast Chapter announces the members of its 2022 Board of Directors.

WICT Southeast is one of 24 Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) chapters across the U.S., Latin America, UK and Europe. WICT consists of over 10,500 members globally. The Southeast Chapter is the third largest local chapter with approximately 800 members.

WICT Southeast represents the diverse functions of the cable industry and brings together members located in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. Each member has their own dynamic experience, distinctive perspective and background.

Gimette DeLaughter (Cox) incumbent Vice President rises to President in 2022. Jamelia Smith (Cox) previous Sr. Director of Mentoring in 2014/2015 transitions to Vice-President. Shelley Hoffmann (Healthgrades/Red Ventures) incumbent President will move to Immediate Past President. With over 30 positions, spanning over 15 different companies, our 2022 board is sure to accomplish great things in the coming year. Please make sure to check out the entire list of our 2022 board members and congratulate your fellow WICT friends and colleagues.

PresidentGimetteDeLaughterCox Communications
Vice PresidentJameliaSmithCox Communications
Immediate Past PresidentShelleyHoffmannHealthgrades/Red Ventures
Senior TreasurerAqueelah Traylor-MorganWarnerMedia
SecretaryLesliePodraskyDiscovery, Inc
Advisory Board/Executive ChampionSheriMcGaughyMcGaughy Law
Senior Director of ProgrammingCindyHughesCox Communications
Senior Director of PartnershipsKerriHayesUPtv
Senior Director of Marketing/CommunicationsLisaConklinCox Communications
Senior Director of MembershipLizzetteTarver
Senior Director of MentoringErikaWeaverDiscovery, Inc
Senior Director of Red Letter AwardsKaseyWhiteCox Communications
TreasurerStacyHurdCox Communications
Director of CommunicationsChristinaThompsonCox Automotive
Director of DesignAnaAdlerAna Adler Creative
Director of Social Media MarketingCrystalScalesComcast
Director of TechnologyLydiaSan GeorgeAT&T
Director of Membership GA & ALLoriJacksonCox Communications
Director of Membership TNPending
Director of Outreach/PhilanthropyAngelaCannonUP Faith & Family
Director of Programming ALShannonAndrewsComcast
Director of Programming GAVincineBrownComcast
Director of Programming GAAllisonJacobsWarnerMedia
Director of Programming TN KnoxvillePending
Director of Programming TN NashvilleMelissaHarrisTelecom Training Corporation
Director of Mentoring GA & ALKimBowman-ScottCox Communications
Director of Mentoring TNKatieFarritorRFD-TV
Director of PartnershipsTamminaHartComcast
Director of Red Letter AwardsPending
Director at Large – BylawsChrisMorterCox Communications
Director at Large – PartnershipsMichaelWigginsCox Communications
Director at Large – Executive OutreachKathyHatalaBlueprint RF/ Cox
Director at Large – Chapter ExpansionJanineBowlingCommscope
Director at Large – FinanceNatashaPrewittThe Weather Group
Director at Large – Virtual TechnologyCatherineEllisComcast
Director at Large – Absentee CoverageAnneLoescherScripps Networks
Director at Large – Diversity & InclusionLynnetteSmithThe Weather Channel

Membership Spotlight: Kay Allen

Our Membership Spotlight features members sharing their experiences in the WICT organization. Each month, a different member will be spotlighted and showcased in our blog.

This month, we’re excited to spotlight Kay Allen, Comcast Director of University Relations/Talent Programs/DE&I.

Kay Allen, Comcast
Director of University Relations/Talent Programs/DE&I

What propelled you to join WICT Southeast?

I wanted an opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals in an environment that promoted growth and connection for its members. After having the privilege to attend the 2014 Red Letter Awards and witnessing an amazing group of women being honored and recognized for their impact in the industry, I WAS SOLD! I knew then that WICT Southeast was the place for me, and I’ve made it my mission to remain a member year after year ever since.

At WICT both women & men are encouraged to be a catalyst and set the wheels of change in motion. In your experience, share your thoughts on some key benefits of being a member of WICT and why individuals should join or consider renewing their membership?

Some key benefits of being a member of WICT Southeast revolves around the access you get when you are a member. Aside from the catalogue of webinars/events you get access to as a member, you also get exposure to powerhouse professionals that can give you firsthand knowledge to take your “LIFE” to the next level. Leveraging your membership is totally up to you, like anything else in life, the more you put into it the more you will get out of it.  

How has WICT Southeast played an important role in your professional/personal life?

WICT Southeast has played a role by giving me tips for career success and by providing real-life examples of how to be a game changer professionally and personally. In addition to career tips, I have grown substantially when it comes to networking and public speaking due to attending events with professionals of all backgrounds and experiences.

Over the past year the world has faced major challenges. What is one piece of practical advice you have gained from WICT Southeast events that can benefit others?

Be Brave, Be Kind, Be Flexible! With everything that happened last year I believe we all can agree that the human side of who we are was brought to the surface. I love the fact that though our efforts may have been delayed, WICT Southeast never stopped moving. I feel closer than ever to WICT and respect all the gems within leadership who kept up the momentum. Your passion is appreciated, and we all have you to Thank for ensuring that WICT Southeast is better than ever.

An inspirational event: What I learned from Phenomenal Woman – the Secret to My Success

From left to right: Moderator LaPorsche Thomas and panelists Beatrice York, Sujata Gosalia, Tina Simmons and Sandy Howe

By Shannon Andrews

Inspirational is the word I would use to describe Thursday’s Phenomenal Woman: The Secret of My Success panel discussion. Listening to Beatrice York (Afiniti), Sujata Gosalia (Cox Communications), Tina Simmons (Comcast), and Sandy Howe (WICT Global Board Executive) share about the things that contributed to their achievements in their lives and careers left me awestricken.  

Beatrice shared that the best way to navigate through imposter syndrome is to use it for building your brand. Grow those skills that you believe that you are lacking. We don’t have to wait to get that seal of approval from someone. We decide how we show up and what our brand is.

Finding what brings you joy is essential when thinking about your career. Sujata mentioned that she finds joy in helping people. Another great takeaway was to ask for advice from people at all levels from different walks of life. We can learn from anyone; we don’t have to wait for a senior leader to give us a pearl of wisdom.

Using the drama to change the business was a turning point in Tina’s career. She encouraged us to network with others when we don’t want anything and not expect a connection to equate to a job offer. We also need to reshape the way we think of HR; it’s not just the place that you go when someone’s in trouble. HR is a breeding ground of knowledge about the business and knows the best ways to navigate your career.

One story that stood out to me was Sandy sharing how she was initially unsure of why she was asked to attend a meeting of male leaders. As the meeting progressed, she was able to add valuable insights tapping into her technical experience that others in that meeting did not possess. Sandy understood that she was invited to meetings because others were confident in her abilities and knew her value.

To close out the event, each panelist shared one thing that they believed was their secret of success. The responses included resilience, curiosity, being fearless, having the humility to understand that others have helped you along the way, and optimism that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I leave you with this one question to ponder; what is the secret of your success?

Shannon Andrews is an Atlanta native who is in the process of publishing her first book and writing her second. She is a wife, mother of 2, daughter, sister, cousin, aspiring CEO, and the Manager of Reporting Analysis at Comcast NBCUniversal in the Business Insights IS Solutions Strategy team.

Chapter End of Year Message

Renita Griskel
2020 – 2021 Chapter President
WICT Southeast

Hello WICT Southeast Members!

What a year!  When “Connect to your peers, your industry and everything around you” was chosen as the WICTSE Touchstone for 2020, our Ruby Anniversary, no one had any idea how critical that touchstone would be for so many people.

My plans for the chapter were well underway when COVID-19 hit. The quick actions of the WICTSE board created a new plan of action allowing us to pivot from in-person events and programs to connect to all of you using virtual platforms.  While we all miss the one on one interaction, this necessary change gave many people throughout Atlanta, Knoxville, Nashville and Birmingham a chance to participate in all of our WICTSE programs. 

Members of our chapter were hit with unemployment, dealing first-hand with the severity of the virus and the uncertainty of what’s ahead. I am proud that one of the first things we did after the widespread onset of COVID-19 was partner with Feeding America to help feed families in need. Many of you supported this initiative and gave generously allowing us to surpass our goal and provide thousands of meals to families in our WICT Southeast footprint. 

The WICTSE response to COVID-19 is just one example of how the organization is in step with evolving widespread issues affecting our industry and community. Social injustice, specifically involving the black community is on the minds of many. I am so proud of how we addressed the issue with our Black Lives Matter: A Movement Not A Moment interactive panel discussion. We had the uncomfortable conversations and separated fact from fiction leaving participants informed and empowered!

We connected with all of you this year addressing the unique needs of 2020 along with the leadership development opportunities that WICTSE consistently provides. Global Mentoring, Tech It Out, Speed Mentoring and Resilience: Standing Strong showcased the mission of WICT to create women leaders who transform our industry. We did that as well with additional programs and events that targeted navigating the unprecedented times of 2020: Maintaining Motivation Through Uncertainty, Mind Your Business, The Art of the Staycation, WICT Happy Hour and of course S.T.I.R. Socialize, Talk, Interact, Remember. And we discussed the changing landscape of the cable industry with LGBTQ+: Exploring the Future By Learning From the Past.

This year we honored 7 amazing women for their accomplishments in the cable telecommunications industry during our first virtual Red Letter Awards. The gala was highly attended and well received. I am so proud of the honorees and the tremendous team behind the scenes who worked tirelessly to make this year’s gala one to remember! We also provided three chapter scholarships to this year’s virtual WICT Leadership Conference. WICT Global provided unparallel content, speakers, and workshops. I am happy that WICTSE was able to help three members attend for free!

While all of this was going on, we celebrated our chapter’s 40th Anniversary! We highlighted the work of the many women who came before us to lay the groundwork for the WICT Southeast Chapter. We learned about their journeys, challenges, and successes, through photos, interviews, and videos throughout the year.

So, as you can see, it’s been a busy and historic year. The pivot of events and programs was intense at times, but also an opportunity for growth. While there were challenges, our resilience is powerful! None of the work this year could have been accomplished without the help, support and expertise of the WICT Southeast board. I am grateful to have 31 talented women at my side committed to the mission of WICT.  Thank you all so much, I am truly honored to have worked with you! Thank you to Maria Brennan, WICT President and CEO and WICT Global for your tremendous encouragement and guidance. And thank you to the WICT Southeast membership for allowing me to be your president.  It was my privilege to lead the WICT Southeast Chapter this year and I look forward to what’s ahead for 2021!

Thank you!

 Renita Griskel

WICT Southeast President

Black Lives Matter: The conversation continues

The dynamics of being a Black woman in the workplace

by Ciji Townsend

Black Lives Matter is more than a moment, it’s a movement. WICT Southeast is committed to ongoing conversations that generate awareness for Black women in our industry. Our recent panel discussion and interactive session, attended by more than 350 industry professionals, focused on the impact of the heightened race awakening on Black women in the telecommunications industry.

Ciji Townsend
Cox Communications

It’s been a few weeks since the panel discussion and member, Ciji Townsend has had time to digest the stories and information. In the post below, she shares her thoughts and perspective.

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Black women in the workplace need your empathy, not sympathy.

The conversation kicked off with a powerful response from Dawn Douglass, Vice President Programming at Bounce TV, “When you see a news story, you sympathize. When I see a news story, I see people that look like my loved ones.” Dawn immediately set the tone and struck a chord with me. It was in that moment, that I thought about the countless times that I’ve watched a news segment and immediately thought to myself that the incident being covered could include my brother, cousin, husband or even me. Yet, when I arrived at work, the same new story was simply just a story discussed briefly at the water cooler. It’s in those moments that empathy is needed to break down the walls of understanding that accompany the cycle of systemic racism. 

Code-switching is real for Black women in the workplace.

After a brief explanation of code-switching, moderator Kenya Brock, Director of Digital Operations and Marketing at Katz Networks/E.W. Scripps, asked panelists to share a time they had to code-switch at work. “I’ve been doing it my whole life,” exclaimed Andrea Bibbs, Senior Director, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy at WarnerMedia News & Media. And I could sense the head nods from the other black women in the audience. Our experiences of worrying more about our hairstyles, tone of voice, posture and good manners in the workplace have an uncanny resemblance. Even worse than the worry, we all know that the time and effort put into code-switching can affect our performance and productivity.

But where do we start? Who carries the responsibility for change? 

It was mentioned by the panelist that change starts with leadership. And I couldn’t agree more. But I don’t think that change starts and stops with a company’s hierarchy. Change starts with everyone the minute that they are made aware. My hope would be that each of the attendees that were not familiar with the challenges that black women face in the workplace would take the newfound information and adjust their behavior and way of thinking. 

And just to be clear, Black women aren’t asking for a handout. 

What I loved most about the conversation rooted in “invisible work,” is the reminder that Black women work hard, many Black women work longer and harder than most of their peers. So, a handout is not the answer. The ask is that where credit is due, it’s appropriately applied. So many Black women are completing stretch projects and added tasks with ease and often don’t receive credit. Sonya King, Founder and CEO of Creator’s Architect said it best, “We’re given the work because we can do it, not because we should do it.”

Much of injustice stems from access to privilege

In the second half of the event, Sonya provided data for a deeper dive on the impact of privilege. She touched on access, education, earning power, mortality and home ownership. Seeing data explaining the path of privilege was beyond eye opening. Access to education leads to higher earning power which leads to easier access to home ownership. And learning that Black people are three times more likely to be killed by police was shocking but perhaps not a surprise.

#Sayhername

Dana Dawson, Lead Project Manager at Cox Enterprises, ended the presentation highlighting the countless women who have been killed by police, many names people hadn’t heard of. It was sad, painful and continues to be our reality.

Stay tuned and stay engaged

It’s clear this discussion was insightful, meaningful and needed for our WICT Southeast members and advocates. And we’re not stopping the conversation. Stay tuned for how we’ll keep the momentum going and for how you can be part of it.

We want to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment letting us know the most impactful part of the presentation for you.

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Ciji Townsend is a Pure Barre enthusiast, book club fanatic and the host of the being BALANCED podcast. When she’s not sharing her perspective with WICT SE members, she keeps her plate full as a Senior Manager of Internal Communications at Cox Communications.