As the entertainment and telecommunication industry’s leading national foundation dedicated to advocacy around diversity, equity and inclusion, the Walter Kaitz Foundation provides resources and significant funding to key organizations that support vital programs and initiatives that further diversity’s impact. The foundation was initially established in 1980 as a non-for-profit with the purpose of advancing the contributions of women and ethnic minorities in cable telecommunications and today serves the broad embrace of diversity and inclusion across the entire industry.
Michelle Ray is Executive Director of the Walter Kaitz Foundation, the leading advocacy organization for inclusion and equity in media and entertainment. In this role, Michelle drives evolving conversations around making the workforce more inclusive while working to create access and professional advancement opportunities for diverse professionals, women, and underserved communities.
By keeping her finger on the pulse of socio-cultural movements, engaging in strategic partnerships with other DEI-focused organizations, and leading fundraising efforts that make it possible to issue targeted grants that super serve diversity focused organizations, Michelle ensures that the Foundation’s programs, initiatives, and funding activities are positioned for optimal efficacy and impact.
Committed to improving representation throughout the industry, Michelle continuously expands the vision and reach of advocacy events like the Foundation’s annual fundraising dinner and the Hollywood Creative Forum. Both of these annual events help to fuel the corporate and creative pipelines of our vast industry with diverse talent who represent the future of media and entertainment.
Michelle is a graduate of McGill University in Montreal, Canada with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Political Science. She is a 2015 graduate of WICT’s prestigious Betsy Magness Leadership Institute – Class 31; a 2010 graduate of NAMIC’s highly respected Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP) at UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Management; and a 2002 graduate of CTAM’s Executive Management Program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Business.
As Senior Marketing Manager, Jackie Szmaja is responsible for the coordinated management of the Foundation’s marketing and digital assets. Creating and curating content that supports the organization’s goals, brand objectives and online strategy.
Jackie maintains the Foundations website, social media assets, e-news, and digital fundraising channels in addition to being the primary contact for vendor and partner relationships.
Ms. Szmaja has extensive marketing experience with national associations, non-profits and media organizations. A graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Marketing as well as a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University.