The 35th Anniversary Walter Kaitz Foundation Fundraising Dinner offered an opportunity for some introspection while charting the course for the future by celebrating the Foundation’s legacy in recognizing past trailblazers while anticipating its future in embracing new leadership. Most importantly, the Foundation raised over $1.4M to continue its work of advancing the contributions of women and multi-ethnic professionals in the media and telecommunications industry.
Michelle Ray made her debut as Executive Director of the Foundation, after serving as deputy executive director for several years. Ray received rousing applause from the audience upon taking the stage. “Tonight, we are delighted to celebrate the Kaitz’s Foundation’s 35-year history, but we are cognizant of keeping a clear focus on the future,” she said. “Diversity means nothing without inclusion, parity and equity. We will keep that top of mind as we work with our amazing industry partners as we forge ahead.” Ray also announced that beginning in 2019 the T. Howard Foundation will join NAMIC, WICT and the Emma L. Bowen Foundation as a grant beneficiary.
An evening of exquisite entertainment was provided by violin virtuosos Sons of Mystro, with a welcome message by Nia Franklin, Miss America 2.0 2019, and the evening’s host Pamela Silva Conde, Co-Anchor, Primer Impacto, provided courtesy of Univision. Over the course of the evening, the Foundation recognized Boys and Girls Clubs of America as its Diversity Advocate and TV One received honors as the Diversity Champion.
The year’s event was co-chaired by Josh Sapan, President & CEO AMC Networks and Dave Watson, President & CEO Comcast Cable, Senior EVP Comcast Corporation. However, the two turned over their hosting duties to three “Rising Leaders” within their companies, Danielle Phillips, Supervisor, Business Operations Compliance and Affiliate Relations, Comcast; Grace Chung, Director, Transformation Strategy, AMC Networks and Sowan Sawyer, Director, Scheduling, Sundance TV.
Spencer Kaitz, who established the Foundation as a tribute to his father Walter, shared that the idea for the first Fundraising Dinner was conceived around his dinner table in a brainstorming session with former California State Assemblywoman, Gwen Moore, who served as the first chair of the state’s telecommunications committee. Also participating in the planning were John Goddard, Don Anderson and BET founder, Bob Johnson. He further added that the first dinner hosted 300 attendees who contributed $500 per person. Contrast that against the 35th Anniversary dinner which hosted just under 900 attendees, some of whom had entered the industry via fellowships from the early days of the Foundation.
The 36th Annual Dinner is already confirmed for September 18, 2019, at the Marriott Marquis NYC.