The Walter Kaitz Foundation was founded in 1981 and the first fundraising dinner was held in 1988 with some of the industry’s most senior executives spearheading the Foundation’s efforts. At its inception, the Foundation recruited Fellows, many of whom were accomplished in their own careers, to join the burgeoning cable television industry. As the Foundation evolved into a grant-making organization, the emphasis changed to funding the important work of the industry’s diversity and inclusion organizations including The Emma L. Bowen Foundation, the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) and Women in Cable & Telecommunications (WICT).
Meet Kaitz Fellow Janet Uthman and learn how finding an ad in a magazine changed her career trajectory and how she is helping shape today’s telecommunications industry.
Kaitz Class: 1992
Current Role:VP, Inclusion & Multicultural Marketing, Comcast
How did you learn about the Kaitz Foundation?
I was about to graduate from UCLA’s Anderson School of Business when I saw a small Kaitz ad in Black Enterprise Magazine. The ad stated that the organization was looking for people of color for management positions in the telecommunications industry.
What were you doing at the time you applied to the Walter Kaitz Foundation?
I was about to complete my degree in entertainment marketing, so I thought “nothing ventured, nothing gained!” I submitted my application and a few weeks later found out I was accepted to attend a meeting in Chicago to meet executives from various cable networks and multi-video platform distributors. I met approximately 20-30 other candidates from around the country. I recall being divided into small groups where we had to complete case studies in small teams and present in front of these executives. At the end of the process, each recruiter decided who they wanted to interview.
What was your position upon entering the industry?.
A few weeks after the meeting concluded, I received a job offer from the Disney Channel in Burbank. I immediately accepted a role as Sales Strategy Manager, responsible for increasing market share for the Disney Channel.
Tell us about your progression in the industry?
After a couple of years, I moved to the Affiliate Sales team where I led a team responsible for working with cable operators to transition the Disney Channel from a premium channel to a basic channel. After six years with Disney, I moved to Washington, DC to join the corporate marketing team for BET. Soon after that my former boss from Disney was recruited by Comcast. He hired me to lead Sales and Marketing for the Baltimore City system. I’ve been with Comcast a total of 15 years and have had an opportunity to reinvent myself several times. My current role as VP of Inclusion and Multicultural Marketing is the perfect blend of my purpose (diversity and inclusion) and my passion (multicultural marketing). It has been so rewarding driving a culture of inclusion among our 22,000 employees across the Northeast Division.
When did you first attend the Kaitz dinner?
I attended my first Kaitz Dinner around 1994 or 1995.
What was your most memorable Walter Kaitz Dinner? Why?
It was surreal sitting at the table with top executives from Disney.
What other industry organizations – WICT, NAMIC, Emma Bowen – have you been involved in and how?
I have been a member of WICT for several years. Additionally, I am on the board of the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA).