WICT Southeast Celebrates 40 Years!
Reflections from our history…40 years in the making
Throughout the year we will be highlighting quotes, stories and more from former WICT Southeast leaders and members.
Reflections on 40 years of WICT Southeast by Kathy Gray
I formed so MANY incredible relationships and friendships over the years. In my various roles in WICT, I gained so much insight and many leadership skills from the wonderful women I served with! What an incredible opportunity I had leading a Board of diverse professionals, many of whom more senior in their business roles than I. So much mutual respect, support and guidance. I credit WICT with my professional development as a leader, a strategic thinker and communicator.
Check out our cool WICT Southeast photos from past events!
Reflections on 40 years of WICT Southeast by Kathy Hatala
Women’s leadership has certainly evolved and I believe we are seeing some of that impact in the WICT PAR reports – but there is more work to do – not only for women in corporate leadership positions, but focusing on diversity as well. There is a great quote by a diversity educator who says, “Diversity is being asked to the party…Inclusion is being asked to dance”. I believe we still need to make more of an effort to not just “check the box” of diversity in organizations but making sure everyone is given the opportunity to participate, for their voice to be heard and given equal opportunity for advancement and pay. We have a long way to go.
Former WICTSE Chapter Advisor
Make-A-Wish, Chief Operating Officer
Veronica Sheehan has been a member of WICT for many years and was named WICT Southeast’s Chapter Advisor in 2008. Earlier this year we had the privilege of speaking with her about being a part of WICT and here’s what she said:
Veronica shares her first exposure to the organization. It was one that helped guide her professional path.
“I was very, very fortunate in 2001 to apply. It was the first time I applied and I got selected for the Betsy Magness Program. And it was really honestly my first introduction into WICT and it was life changing. I didn’t really know a lot about the Betsey Magness program. Friends of mine had told me it was a great opportunity and so I was looking forward to it, but it was pivotal to me as a leader. It was pivotal to me as a person. The women I’ve met that are my Betsy sisters are dear dear friends and they are my sisterhood and I know if I needed any one of them at any time I could just say help. I said after that program was over that I would do whatever I can to give back.”
Veronica has very straightforward advice for women as they walk into ‘the room.’
“If you’re the only woman in the room you have an opportunity to really shine. Take advantage of it. Don’t focus on that you’re the only woman in the room, focus on I’M THE ONLY WOMAN IN THE ROOM!”
So how does Veronica really feel about WICT?
“When you get involved in any organization outside of your day to day you learn and you grow. And then specifically to help women pursue their greatness in the cable business was such an honor for me to be able to do that. We’re very, very fortunate that this even started 40 years ago. Now, there’s still room to grow. There’s still need. We still have a long way to go.”
DID YOU KNOW…
REFLECTIONS OVER 40 YEARS
- The Southeast Chapter, formerly known as the Atlanta Chapter, played a key role in shaping the careers of women in the cable & telecommunications industry all over the world.
- The Atlanta Chapter was 1 of 3 original or inaugural chapters of Women in Cable.
- In the 1970’s, only 20% of the nation’s households with TVs were cable subscribers.
- Out of the then 4,000 cable systems across the country, women’s representation at industry shows and the like was less than 20 members total.
- One of those women, Gail Sermersheim, who later became the Founding President of Women in Cable & Telecommunications, was present and accounted for. (Cablevision, 1989)
From the Boardroom to the Ballroom:
Gail Sermersheim, WICT Founding President
As a WICT co-founder, first WICT President, co-founder of CTAM, 2002 Cable Hall of Famer, NCTA Vanguard Award winner, and WICT Southeast Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Gail Sermersheim is no stranger to both challenge and triumph. A trailblazer with many firsts, Sermersheim’s perseverance, authenticity and passion for results were keys to her success both in and out of the boardroom.
To read more about Sermersheim’s amazing
Jill Slavin, National President & Former WICT SE Board Member (1980-1996), on change in the workplace:
I am 79 years old, a member of the Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem generation and I find it very discouraging to find that, 1) Younger women have no idea of what has been done for them and 2) Sexism is still alive and well. In the cable industry, the glass ceiling was shattered a long time ago – Geraldine Laybourne was founder and president of Nickelodeon and several other women headed up large networks and cable channels.
When I was national president in the early nineties, the challenge was for women to obtain board seats. I also find it discouraging to hear “I’m no feminist, but…”. If men and women do not pick up the feminist banner, it’s not going to happen. If women still allow men to think they are “helping” with the housework it’s not going to happen. If women drop out of the workforce for years to have children, it’s not going to happen. It’s not easy to “have it all” but if you want it it’s doable.
#metoo and #timesup on the other hand give me hope. It’s real and it needs to be fixed and I salute the brave women who are carrying the banner. I have been happily married for 58 years and traveled extensively on business for my entire career. I was never assaulted but I was approached and demeaned many times in many ways. I swallowed hard and moved on. I wish I had been braver.”
To learn more about this WICT SE trailblazer visit: https://www.cablecenter.org/programs/the-hauser-oral-history-project/s-listings/jill-slavin.html
Congratulations to the WICT Southeast Chapter on 40 years of creating women leaders. As one of the oldest & largest chapters in the WICT network, I’m in awe of all the Southeast Chapter offers to our local members. Thank you for being a shining example of success to the entire WICT community!
Maria E. Brennan, CAE
President & CEO
Women in Cable Telecommunications