By Sherri Killam-Williams
Special to TelevisionWeek
A cross-continental leap and a bolstered staff highlighted the 25th anniversary year for the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications.
The organization had its roots on the West Coast, where it was founded in 1980 by a small group of African American leaders, including current board member Douglas Holloway, president of cable investments for NBC Universal.
This past January NAMIC moved from Costa Mesa, Calif., to New York and the staff increased from three to nine. The organization, originally dubbed the National Association for Minorities in Cable, was created to raise awareness, create opportunities and shape the future.
While minorities in the communications industry have made progress during this time, there is still much to be done to diversify the industry, said NAMIC Executive VP Kathy Johnson.
“I think there has been some modest improvement,” she said. “But overall what is borne out is that there are a lot of people of color in the industry, but the numbers are pretty stagnant in executive leadership. It’s an area where we still have a lot of room for progress. Some companies focus on entry-level positions but don’t focus on advancing those in the pipeline. That’s what our initiatives are designed to do.”
NAMIC hopes to foster leadership qualities among its members through education initiatives that receive funding from the Walter Kaitz Foundation. The newest initiatives, the NAMIC Leadership Seminars, are two-day sessions based on the group’s Executive Leadership Development Program at UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Management. The seminars are intended to help managers and supervisors develop leadership skills that will help them move into positions of greater responsibility. The first was held in New York in July; the second is scheduled for Dec. 12-13.
“We asked companies to nominate individuals for the 40 seats available at the first one-we had over 60 nominations,” Ms. Johnson said. “We’re doing a second one in Atlanta in December, and we hope to be able to expand into additional markets.”
Another NAMIC program is the Diversity Roundtable, a forum for cable/telecommunications industry executives to discuss and share their challenges and best practices for fostering diversity.
Ms. Johnson said she appreciates the people who volunteered in the group’s early years. “People were really passionate about our events and educational programs, and that helped sustain us,” Ms. Johnson said. Today NAMIC counts more than 1,500 members in 17 chapters nationwide.
A 25th anniversary gala celebration will be held Dec. 1 in New York. Comcast Corp. Chairman Brian Roberts will be honored for leading his firm’s efforts in encouraging and supporting diversity in the telecommunications industry.