For over 35 years, WICT has worked diligently to help advance women in the cable industry. One of the ways we do this is by shining a spotlight on some of cable’s most influential women.
WICT’s highest honor is the Woman of the Year award This honor is bestowed on a woman who has made increasingly significant contributions throughout her career to her company and the cable industry. She embodies WICT’s Touchstones of Leadership, and is at the top of her game. She also shows great resolve to help others along their career path. Woman of the Year nominations are open to all female members of WICT.
Woman to Watch award is bestowed on a woman who shows tremendous promise for transforming the industry through her professional accomplishments. She has already demonstrated exemplary leadership skills, as well as a strong dedication to the industry and her organization. Woman to Watch nominations are open to all female members of WICT.
The 2016 honorees were celebrated at the 2016 WICT Touchstones Luncheon held on September 19, 2016, during the WICT Leadership Conference.
2016 Woman of the Year
Chief Programming, Content & Brand Officer
Scripps Networks Interactive
Kathleen Finch is Chief Programming, Content & Brand Officer for all six of Scripps Networks Interactive's U.S. brands -- HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel, DIY Network, Cooking Channel and Great American Country. Since Finch was appointed to her new role in August 2015, household primetime ratings have risen at all six networks.
Previously, as President of the Home Category, Finch led HGTV, DIY Network and Great American Country to record ratings and revenues. She launched such notable talent-driven series as Ellen's Design Challenge, The Property Brothers, Love It or List It, The Vanilla Ice Project and DIY Network Blog Cabin, the first ever interactive home renovation series produced on-air and online.
Finch is a graduate of Stanford University, the CTAM Executive Management Program, WICT's Betsy Magness Leadership Institute (Class 13), WICT's Senior Executive Summit at Stanford GSB, and the Scripps Leadership Institute. She has been honored as a "Woman to Watch" by WICT, is listed each year among the most powerful women in cable by Cablefax: The Magazine, and was recognized by Multichannel News as a "Woman to Watch." She was also named one of TIME's "100 Industry Innovators to Watch" and featured in Broadcasting & Cable's "The Next Wave: B&C's Annual Salute to Women Who Make a Difference."
2016 Woman to Watch - Programmer
Senior Vice President, espnW and Women's Initiatives
Laura Gentile is Senior Vice President, espnW and Women's Initiatives, ESPN. She was instrumental in launching espnW, ESPN's first dedicated business built to serve women who love sports, debuting in December 2010 as a blog and evolved as of April 2011 to an enhanced website. It is now a multimedia business encompassing digital, social, television, films and events such as The espnW: Women + Sports Summit.
Gentile previously served as Vice President, Chief of Staff at ESPN. In that role, she worked directly with George Bodenheimer, President, ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports, on all aspects of the company's business. Gentile joined ESPN in January 2003.
A graduate of Duke University, she earned an MBA from Boston College. Gentile was a fellow of WICT's Betsy Magness Leadership Institute Class XVII, and was named to Street and Smith's Sports Business Journal "Forty Under 40" class of 2012. She was appointed to the U.S. Department of State's Council to Empower Women and Girls Through Sports, developed by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. In 2013, espnW and Gentile received WICT's Signature Accolade for their Global Sports Mentoring Program.
2016 Woman to Watch - Operator
Senior Vice President, Beltway Region
As Senior Vice President of Comcast's Beltway Region, Mary McLaughlin leads multidisciplinary teams of more than 5,000 employees focused on transforming the customer experience and delivering Comcast's best-in-class products to more than two million customers in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., as well as parts of Delaware, North Carolina and West Virginia.
McLaughlin joined Comcast in 2006 as Area Vice President for New Hampshire and has since served as Area Vice President for the Greater Boston South operating area and as Senior Vice President of Comcast's Western New England Region prior to her current role.
McLaughlin graduated from Bridgewater State College and Suffolk University Law School. Acknowledging the admiration she has earned as a leader in the industry, Cablefax: The Magazine named her a "Top Regional Player" in the publication's annual "The 100" top power players list each year from 2011 to 2015 and one of the "Most Powerful Women in Cable" in 2008 and 2014. WICT's New England Chapter also honored her in 2013 with the "Career Achievement" award and in 2009 with the "Industry Leader of the Year" award.