WASHINGTON, D.C. – Neil Smit, President & CEO, Comcast Cable and Executive Vice President, Comcast Corporation, and Patty McCaskill, Senior Vice President & Chief Programming Officer, Suddenlink Communications, are the 2014 recipients of the cable industry’s top honor, the Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership.
In its 50th year, the Vanguard Awards are presented annually by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) to individuals to who excel in both business and personal commitment to their colleagues, and whose accomplishments merit the recognition of the entire cable industry.
The 2014 Vanguard Awards will be presented on Wednesday, April 30, 2014, at a reception and awards ceremony during The Cable Show 2014 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, CA.
A complete list of 2014 Vanguard Award honorees, along with a description of each award, follows.
Distinguished Vanguard Award for Leadership
Each year, two awards are presented, one to a man and one to a woman, who have consistently demonstrated the highest level of cable industry leadership. This year’s recipients are:
Neil Smit, President & Chief Executive Officer, Comcast Cable and Executive Vice President, Comcast Corporation
Smit is responsible for all business aspects of Comcast’s cable operations. He joined Comcast in March 2010 from Charter Communications where he served as Chief Executive Officer and Director for five years. Prior to joining Charter, Neil was the President of Time Warner’s America Online Access Business, where he oversaw Internet access services, including America Online (AOL), CompuServe and Netscape ISPs. He also served at AOL as Executive Vice President, Member Services, and Chief Operating Officer of MapQuest. Neil also was a regional president with Nabisco and served in a number of management positions at Pillsbury. For five and a half years, Neil served on active duty with the Navy SEAL Teams and retired from the service as a Lieutenant Commander. Smit currently serves as Chairman of the Board for the NCTA as well as Chairman of CableLabs. He serves on the board of directors for C-SPAN and is on the Executive Committee of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Board of Trustees. He is a member of the Board of Visitors for Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University.
Patty McCaskill, Senior Vice President & Chief Programming Officer, Suddenlink Communications
Joining Suddenlink in February 2003, McCaskill is responsible for managing all of Suddenlink’s content relationships with media ownership groups, television stations and cable networks. She has more than 33 years of experience in cable industry management and operations, with an emphasis in programming, marketing, sales, customer service, strategic planning and budget development. Before joining Suddenlink, McCaskill was Vice President, Programming and Pay-Per-View, Charter Communications, and founder and president of McCaskill Communications Consultants. Earlier in her career, she served as Vice President, Central Region, for the Travel Channel, Advertising Product Manager for Southwestern Bell Publications, and Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Warner AMEX/QUBE in St. Louis. A member of the Cable Pioneers Class of 2002, and the Wonder Woman Class of 2009, McCaskill founded and served as a past-president of the St. Louis Chapter of WICT and is a past member of the WICT national board. She also serves as a member of the CTAM Advanced Cable Solutions Consortium and has been annually listed by CableFax as one of the Most Powerful Women in Cable.
Vanguard Award for Cable Operations Management
This award recognizes the efforts of cable's system managers, who work under intensely competitive conditions in today's dynamic telecommunications environment and who are critical to the cable industry's success at the local level. This year’s honorees are:
Philip Meeks, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Business Services, Time Warner Cable
Meeks oversees all aspects of operations, sales and marketing for the company’s rapidly growing business services unit. Prior to joining Time Warner Cable, Meeks served as Senior Vice President of Cox Business, and was the co-founder and lead executive for a start-up company focused on enhancing the supply chain between technology vendors and value added resellers in the Internet security, data storage and VoIP markets. Throughout his 20 years of service at MCI Telecommunications, Meeks served in various strategy, sales and account management roles, including Senior Vice President of Sales Operations and Senior Vice President of Strategic Ventures and Alliances. He started his career at AT&T Information Systems/Southern Bell in 1979 and progressed through various sales and marketing leadership roles.
John Pascarelli, Executive Vice President, Operations, Mediacom Communications Corporation
Pascarelli has 31 years of experience in the cable industry and has been part of the Mediacom team since 1998. Pascarelli has served in many positions during his tenure including: Executive Vice President, Operations; Senior Vice President, Marketing and Consumer Services; and Vice President of Marketing. Before joining Mediacom, Pascarelli was Vice President of Marketing for Helicon Communications Corporation and Corporate Director of Marketing for Cablevision Industries. Prior to that time, Pascarelli served in various marketing and system management capacities for Continental Cablevision, Inc., Cablevision Systems and Storer Communications. Pascarelli is a member of the board of directors of the CTAM and is a Cable TV Pioneer inductee.
Vanguard Award for Programmers
Cable’s creative programming services make the industry a leader in the home entertainment and news and information business. This award recognizes innovation, leadership and individual achievement of NCTA’s programmer members. This year’s honoree is:
David Nevins, President, Showtime Networks Inc.
Nevins is an Emmy® Award-winning producer and veteran network and studio programming executive. Under his leadership, Showtime has launched eight consecutive hit series, including the new record-breaking, critically-acclaimed series Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex, as well as Homeland, Shameless, and House of Lies – all of which rank among the network’s top rated shows. Homeland was the first project Nevins green lit at the network, which has won the Peabody, Golden Globe and Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama series, marking a first for Showtime programming. Nevins is responsible for developing, acquiring and supervising all aspects of programming for all of the Showtime Networks channels, across all genres. He also oversees Showtime Sports, and the company’s scheduling, research, acquisitions, home entertainment, business affairs, marketing, creative, digital, and corporate communications teams. Prior to joining Showtime, he served as President of Imagine Television from July 2002 until June 2010, where he oversaw production and was an executive producer for the acclaimed Emmy and Golden Globe® Award-winning series 24, among others. Previously, Nevins served as Executive Vice President, Programming, at Fox Broadcasting Company, and Senior Vice President, Primetime Series, at NBC.
Vanguard Award for Science & Technology
This award honors individuals who have played a significant role in product improvement as well as in the design and development of engineering techniques. This year’s honoree is:
Yvette Kanouff, Executive Vice President, Corporate Engineering & Technology, Cablevision Systems
Kanouff is responsible for the implementation of the company’s strategic technology and critical engineering objectives, as well as identifying emerging technology opportunities. In addition, Kanouff oversees the development and integration of new products for the company, from conceptualization to implementation, as well as the design of mechanisms to enable customer feedback. She is also responsible for the integration, testing and deployment of support systems for internal company use, and the selection of appropriate frameworks and standards for internal technology development efforts. Prior to Cablevision, Kanouff served as President and Chief Strategy Officer of SeaChange International, Inc. and as Time Warner Cable’s Director of Interactive Technologies. Kanouff has won an Emmy for her work on video-on-demand with SeaChange and holds several patents on VOD-related digital technologies. Broadcasting & Cable has named her one of the 11 most influential women in the television industry. CableFax has included her numerous times on its Top 100 Women list, named her the industry’s “Top Techie” for 2011, and included her in its “Digital Hot List” for the past three years. Other accolades include the 2001 Multichannel News Wonder Woman award and the Woman in Technology award from the SCTE and WICT.
Vanguard Award for Government & Community Relations
This award recognizes individuals who have had a significant impact on promoting a positive public image and advocating public policy positions for the cable industry at the national, state and/or local levels. This year’s honoree is:
DeDe Lea, Executive Vice President, Global Government Relations, Viacom, Inc.
Lea has served as Executive Vice President of Government Affairs since 2006 and is responsible for directing domestic and international public policy issues. She served as Senior Vice President of Government Affairs from September 2005 through 2006. Prior to Viacom, Lea served as Vice President of Government Affairs for Belo Corp, and as Vice President of Government Affairs of the former Viacom Inc. Earlier in her career, Lea held a variety of positions with the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), beginning as a legal intern and ultimately serving as Senior Vice President of Government Relations. Ms. Lea also held sales and account executive positions with television and radio stations in Washington, D.C., including WTTG-TV, WDJY and WRQX radio.
Vanguard Award for Marketing
This award honors an individual who has been instrumental in the development of marketing approaches that significantly enhance cable's public image and increase customers. This year’s honoree is:
Coleman Breland, President, Turner Network Sales, Inc.
As president of Turner Network Sales, Coleman oversees all affiliate sales, marketing, interactive television and new technology business development for the news and entertainment networks of Turner Broadcasting. In addition, Breland supervises the sales and multiplatform negotiations for Turner’s 10 domestic basic cable networks, as well as the partnerships developed by the Business Development group and Turner Private Networks. He also manages the affiliate marketing and affiliate ad sales groups and works to further align their efforts with the networks’ partners. Breland was most recently chief operating officer of Turner Network Sales. He joined Turner Home Satellite in 1994 as Vice President of Marketing, developing advertising and marketing strategies and programs as well as analyzing consumer research and agency selection and management. Prior to joining TBS, Inc., Breland served as Director of Marketing and Communications for Arthur Andersen/Andersen Consulting in Atlanta for more than six years. Breland currently serves on the board of the Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Board of Advisors for the Center for Ethics at Emory University, and on the board for the Covenant House of Georgia.
Vanguard Award for Associates & Affiliates
This award recognizes the important contributions of equipment manufacturers and service suppliers to cable industry innovation, growth and progress. This year’s honoree is:
Maria Brennan, President & Chief Executive Officer, Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT)
As the public voice of WICT, Brennan is an experienced spokesperson and advocate for both media industry and workplace equity issues. Prior to joining WICT, Brennan served as the President of American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT) and worked with numerous diversity-based nonprofits including the National Association of Women Business Owners and The International Alliance of Women. With more than 23 years of executive management experience with associations ranging in size from 2,000-33,000 members, Brennan has particular expertise in the areas of strategic planning, communications, advocacy and resource development. Brennan was named among CableFAX’s list of Most Powerful Women in Cable annually since 2010. Brennan is an award-winning writer, having received an EXCEL Award for her byline, “Hear Me Roar.” She was elected to serve on the Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard University in 2007, and is a member of its strategic planning and communications board subcommittees. She is a charter member of the FCC’s Diversity Advisory Board where she is currently serving her fifth term. Brennan is a former Commissioner of the Girl Scouts Healthy Media Council, and she serves as a coalition member of WIPP—Women Impacting Public Policy.
Vanguard Award for Young Leadership
The growth of cable is in large part due to the energy, vitality and creativity of the many young people working within the industry, and the Young Leadership Award recognizes those individuals who have already made a mark on the industry and its constituents. This year’s honoree is:
Maggie McLean Suniewick, Senior Vice President, Strategic Integration, Comcast Corporation
Suniewick is responsible for strengthening ties across Comcast and NBCUniversal by leading the corporation’s Symphony efforts; leveraging the collective assets of Comcast, NBC’s cable and broadcast networks, and Universal Studios and Parks to maximize scale and scope for important company-wide initiatives, like TV Everywhere. From 2010-2013, Suniewick served as Vice President, Programming for Comcast Cable where she oversaw editorial and programming across all video platforms and consumer products, including Xfinity On Demand, XfinityTV.com and the Xfinity TV Player app. Previously, Suniewick served as Vice President, Strategy and Development for Comcast Interactive Media, and spent seven years with Oxygen Media where she helped to launch the network in February of 2000.
Attending the Awards Ceremony
Admission to the Vanguard Awards ceremony and reception at The Cable Show 2014 in Los Angeles is by ticket only. Tickets may be purchased at $125 per ticket or $1,250 per table of 10 seats. Please visit www.thecableshow.com/Vanguards for purchasing instructions. If you have questions or require assistance, please contact Katie Mousavian at 202-222-2355 or [email protected].
Media Attendance: The Vanguard Awards event is open to the media at no cost, but reservations are mandatory. Media may make reservations by contacting Pam Ford at [email protected] no later than April 29, 2014.