40 Under 40: 'MCN' Selects Young Execs Helping Their Companies Grow

Apr 23, 2013

40under40 0

40under40 0

For the eighth consecutive year, the editors of Multichannel News have chosen 40 movers and shakers under the age of 40 (as of Dec. 31, 2012) helping their companies grow and succeed and playing a role in mapping the future of multichannel video and telecommunications. These individuals represent a cross-section of disciplines, including creating and acquiring programming, cable operations, engineering, marketing, ad sales and legal affairs. They all have one thing in common, though: they’ve come a long way in a relatively short time and continue to make invaluable contributions in their areas of expertise. Meet some of the key people, under a certain age, moving and shaping the industry.

TODD ARATA
Vice President, Brand Development and Communications
Comcast Cable
Age: 39

Todd Arata leads development and implementation of the Comcast Cable brand strategy and experience. Most recently, he led the initiative to redefine and successfully implement the new Xfinity brand vision and 2012 creative campaign architecture, “The Future of Awesome.” The campaign drove a double-digit uptick in brand momentum and brand consideration with non-customers in just four weeks.

Arata’s vision, combined with his innovative thinking and creativity, has significantly enhanced Comcast’s brand marketing discipline and impact in the marketplace.

Prior to joining Comcast, Arata worked at The Coca-Cola Co., managing the strategic development and integrated marketing communications for the Coca- Cola brand across all media and key partnerships (Summer and Winter Olympics, the NCAA, American Idol, NASCAR, Six Flags and Disney). Earlier, he worked at Ogilvy & Mather, rising up the ranks to senior partner, global account director. While at Ogilvy, he managed IBM’s worldwide marketing communications, including the development and execution of brand advertising, sports marketing, and direct and digital marketing strategies.

Arata holds a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Utah. He resides in Wayne, Pa., with his wife, Bryn, and their three children.

SAM BLACKMAN
CEO
Elemental Technologies
Age: 36

Sam Blackman has led his company’s growth into the leading supplier of video solutions enabling multiscreen content delivery, building innovative products used by leading content programmers and service providers.

He co-founded Elemental Technologies in August 2006 with two other experienced hardware and software engineers from Pixelworks, a company that builds image-processing chips. Disappointed by repeated investor rejections, the founding CEO left. The remaining founders took a hard look at strategy, and decided to build products using a completely different technology. Blackman took over as CEO and refocused the company on winning customers.

Despite these challenges, Blackman has led the way at a growing firm with more than 60 employees and rapidly increasing revenues. After receiving seed funding from several sources in 2007, Elemental raised its first round of capital and launched its first commercial products in 2008.

Prior to Pixelworks, Blackman held engineering positions at Silicon Graphics and Intel. He earned an MBA from University of Oregon, a master’s of science in electrical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Brown University. He is an avid Ultimate Frisbee player and is passionate about protecting Oregon’s environment.

MICHAEL ARAGON
Vice President and General Manager, Global Digital Video and Music Services
Sony Network Entertainment
Age: 39

Michael Aragon manages the end-to-end service functions of delivering a high-quality global entertainment service to a variety of Sony Internet-connected devices, via PlayStation Network and the Video Unlimited and Music Unlimited services. He has led successful implementations internationally across many Sony network-enabled devices, along with more than 250 global studios and TV-network partners.

Since he first joined Sony in 2008, Aragon has been intimately involved with the development and rapid growth of its digital-video efforts. He spearheaded the company’s Video Unlimited Internet video-on-demand service, from writing the business plan and negotiating content deals to building and managing the team that launched and now operates it. Today, Video Unlimited offers more than 100,000 films and TV shows to 120 million Sony Entertainment Network accounts.

Aragon most recently spearheaded and launched a complete redesign of the PlayStation Store video user experience, which led to double-digit revenue and customer growth. He also continually drives studio negotiations to bring a satisfying VOD experience for consumers while also establishing successful revenue streams. For instance, he has locked in next-day air deals with most major television networks and delivered digitally exclusive and pre-air content.

JOHN BRZOZOWSKI
Fellow and Chief IPv6 Architect
Comcast
Age: 39

A proven technology leader, John Brzozowski has been the driving force behind Comcast’s IPv6 transition and deployment since the program began in 2005. His efforts continue as he advances the adoption of IPv6 across all of Comcast’s infrastructure and services. He continues to be instrumental in encouraging the adoption of IPv6 across the content and consumer electronics ecosystems.

Brzozowski has contributed significantly to many standards and technologies critical to the adoption of IPv6 globally, across voice, video and Internet-based communications and services. He works closely with CableLabs on DOCSIS, PacketCable, Home Networking and SDN specifications, as well as with numerous IPv6 working groups in a range of industries.

He is an active contributor on a range of Internet-related topics globally and was an instrumental contributor in both World IPv6 events. He’s also someone who can talk cross-generationally, from young (“dude!”) to older. He’s at once respectful and edgy, resourceful and fun, Multichannel News’ columnist Leslie Ellis said.

He has a bachelor’s degree in finance from Saint Joseph’s University and a master’s degree in information systems from Drexel University. He lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and three children.

LAUREN BURACK
Vice President, Marketing
IFC
Age: 33

Lauren Burack found her calling in marketing when she landed a job assisting the heads of public relations and marketing at Court TV.

She was soon promoted into the marketing department and worked across all of its areas, developing her love of cable marketing.

Burack began at IFC in 2004 as manager, event marketing, executing brand-defining events and promotions, and was later promoted to various vice president roles. In her current position, she oversees the network’s consumer marketing efforts encompassing media, events, promotions, partnerships and affiliate-based activity.

She conceptualizes unique media plans that communicate the network’s “Always On. Slightly Off ” brand, original programming strategy and major tent-pole initiatives.

Most recently, she and her team conceptualized the “Portlandia Co-Op” as a way to galvanize the passionate fans of the hit IFC original series, Portlandia. The Co-Op allowed viewers to support their favorite comedy series by creating handmade coffee cozies, taking over the Portlandia Twitter handle (@ifcportlandia) and sending IFC their own Portlandia-themed photos, to inspire artwork used in print and outdoor advertising.

More than 3,000 viewers joined the Co-Op, which helped Portlandia deliver its highest premiere ratings in the show’s three-season history.

SABRINA CALUORI
Vice President, Social Media and Performance Marketing
HBO
Age: 31

An award-winning and outstanding digital leader in social media, since 2007 Sabrina Caluori has demonstrated her strategic insight, commitment to excellence, passion and creativity by building on the company’s innovative efforts to engage HBO consumers.

During her tenure, she has developed and led HBO’s social-marketing strategy for both the HBO and Cinemax platforms and key social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Get Glue. To further broaden the premium network’s footprint, in 2011 she was responsible for the concept, build and launch of HBO’s innovative Webby Award-winning social-TV website, HBO Connect.

She also is responsible for all search marketing efforts — defining strategy and precision execution for HBO’s search engine marketing. Social and search activities drive an enormous amount of traffic and engagement with HBO platforms, and to expand on that strategy, she also assumed oversight for our branded online video platforms (such as YouTube and iTunes podcasting).

Most recently, Caluori launched the HBO GO social presence on Twitter to help build consumer awareness of the product and encourage usage. She and her team continue to dedicate themselves to enhancing and evolving users’ experiences, helping to build on HBO’s presence via social media.

AIMEE CARLSON
Vice President, Digital Development & Production, Universal Cable Productions
NBCUniversal
Age: 34

Aimee Carlson leads the creative and strategic direction in developing and producing original, quality content for the digital marketplace and other platforms.

Prior to joining UCP, she was editor, movies and television for MySpace, where she oversaw editorial content for the social-networking site’s movie and television initiatives, including blogs, original video series and live streaming events.

She has also held positions at DailyMotion and VH1.

Her first success at UCP was carving out a complex distribution deal with Machinima, the leading online content site with more than 187 million subscribers for gaming and original content targeted to 18-to-34-year-old men, for Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome, the latest saga in the signature Battlestar Galactica franchise, which UCP produces.

Blood & Chrome follows the early years of fighter pilot William Adama (played by Edward James Olmos in the Syfy series).

The series launched on Machinima’s YouTube channel in November 2012, reaching more than 8 million views over its five-week run. Longtime fans of the series and newly introduced Battlestar aficionados eagerly consumed this new chapter online.

SEAN COCCHIA
Senior Vice President, Business Operations And General Manager
Disney Channels Worldwide
Age: 39

Sean Cocchia has served in a variety of executive roles throughout The Walt Disney Co. over the past 15 years, leading to his recent promotion to a newly created role. He is responsible for strategic management of the more than 100 kid-driven, family-inclusive entertainment channels and feeds available in 169 countries and 35 languages. He also supervises internal and external business relationships and oversees DCWW’s relationship with Walt Disney International. Cocchia works closely with the Disney ABC Television Group Franchise Management team on new business models and opportunities. Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer, Disney Channels Worldwide, said Cocchia is “a brilliant strategist and a strong manager, with an incredible perspective on our global businesses.”

Cocchia previously served as senior vice president and general manager, Radio Disney, where he helped solidify its position as the top 24-hour radio network devoted to kids, tweens and families. Prior to that, he was senior vice president, business planning and development, Disney Channels Worldwide.

He is an ardent supporter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the Trevor Project and Children’s Hospital L.A.

CRAIG COOGAN
Director, Product Line Management, CMTS/CER Products
Arris Group
Age: 38

Craig Coogan is on a mission to help service providers provide world-class broadband based services that are reliable and exciting for their end customers.

He frequently speaks at trade shows and customer sites, educating customers on the benefits of DOCSIS and how to architect and deploy DOCSIS-based services in a way that is tailored to the needs and requirements of each operator while remaining cost-effective and efficient.

In his current role, he works with cable operators around the world to ensure that the cable-modem termination system (CMTS) and converged edge router (CER) products developed by Arris will have the features to meet operator needs for providing advanced triple-play services — high speed data, telephony and video — to residential and business customers for years to come.

Among recent customer interactions, he worked closely with Liberty Global in the network-wide launch of EuroDOCSIS 3.0 and was the lead Arris engineer working with Virgin Media to trial 100 Megabits-per-second service in 2006.

He received his bachelor of science degree in electrical and computer engineering at The Ohio State University.

BRADLEY FELDMAN
Vice President, Video Product Management
Cablevision Systems
Age: 37

Bradley Feldman is a driving force behind the development and success of Cablevision’s cutting-edge video product offering for residential and commercial customers.

Since he joined Cablevision in 1999, Feldman has guided the company’s transition to an all-digital platform. Through this process, he has overseen Cablevision’s significantly enhanced content offering, including a robust HDTV lineup, compelling international channel additions and thousands of on-demand titles. He also manages Cablevision’s video pricing and packaging, driving revenue growth while meeting the diverse needs of its customers. He is also responsible for developing the strategy and managing the operations for Optimum TV’s advanced interactive services, featuring DVR Plus, the Optimum App and Optimum TV to Go.

Feldman steered the migration, pricing and package of Bresnan Communications’ TV services to Optimum TV, bringing customers additional, better-quality channels, including many high-definition channels for free, local broadcast stations in HD and thousands of titles of on-demand shows and movies.

Feldman holds a bachelor’s degree from Stony Brook University, an MBA from Hofstra University and is a 2008 graduate of CTAM’s Cable Executive Management at Harvard Business School.

ERIC CONRAD
Vice President, Sports Programming
GM, FIFA World Cup and FIFA Properties Univision Deportes
Age: 34

Eric Conrad oversees sports programming, acquisitions and content-development operations across all Univision Communications platforms. He also leads Univision Deportes’ coordination of the soccer World Cup and other FIFA properties, ensuring that the company capitalizes on the world’s largest sporting event with clients, partners and viewers.

Conrad had a hand in developing the business strategy of 24-hour sports channel Univision Deportes Network and has set the course for the Univision Deportes brand and its programming evolution across all platforms — broadcast and pay TV, radio, online and mobile. He was also instrumental in increasing Univision Deportes’ original sports programming from 1,700 hours to more than 11,000 hours.

Before joining Univision, he was senior director of programming and acquisitions for ESPN and ESPN Deportes. Prior to that, he was manager for Latin American/U.S. Hispanic Sales and Marketing for Major League Baseball, where he was successful in increasing the brand’s sponsorships and advertising revenue in the region by 140%.

He started his career in the National Basketball Association’s International Television and Media department, where he identified prospective telecasters and negotiated agreements. He received his bachelor’s degree from Colgate University.

SHANNON DRIVER
Vice President, Media Strategies And Partnership Marketing
HGTV and DIY Network
Age: 35

A true master of relationships, Shannon Driver has been with Scripps Networks Interactive for nine years, serving in a variety of roles (ad sales marketing, marketing/brand partnerships, media strategies/buying, experiential marketing). That range contributes to her well-roundedness as a marketing professional. She considers her ability to blend multiple interests and leverage brand assets to be her secret to success.

Notable accomplishments include inking innovative audience and brand-building partnerships for HGTV/DIY Network with Disney Theme Parks, Major League Baseball, the Bristol Motor Speedway and Old Navy. She also launched innovative, brand-building experiential marketing initiatives at the Mall of America, the SXSW festival, Comic-Con and the CMA Fan Fest.

Driver also negotiated a truly unique media buying partnership with DirecTV — a first for the pay TV industry. And she has led a data-based initiative to streamline HGTV and DIY promotional inventory to maximize viewership conversion and increase ratings.

In 2011, while working full-time, Driver received her MBA from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where she earlier received her bachelor’s degree.

LEE FLASTER
Senior Vice President, Planning, Strategy and Business Operations
Telemundo Ad Sales
Age: 38

In his current role (since December of 2010) Lee Flaster partners with various business units to develop business strategies and partnerships focused on revenue growth opportunities for Telemundo Network, Telemundo Station Group, mun2 and Telemundo Digital. He also supports network sales, marketing and ad sales by providing leadership for strategic planning, pricing and inventory management.

He is part of the sales-management team that increased Telemundo’s revenue by 23% and its upfront revenue haul by almost 50% since the 2009-10 upfront. The team also increased Telemundo network CPM pricing by 30%, outpacing the market and most general-market networks.

He had been a vice president for the previous three years and, before joining Telemundo, served as a director at MSNBC. He joined NBCUniversal in 1999 within the NBC Cable group and is a GE Six Sigma Black Belt.

Earlier in his career, he worked in management consulting with A.T. Kearney. He worked and lived in Dieren, Netherlands, and Nottingham, England, while consulting.

He received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Columbia Business School.

LAUREN GELLERT
Senior Vice President, Original Production and Development
WE tv
Age: 39

Lauren Gellert is responsible for developing and producing brand-defining original series that drive viewership, build buzz and support WE tv’s overall business and revenue goals. She is the executive in charge of production and development for all of the network’s originals and manages its relationship with outside production companies and producers. Prior to WE tv, she held various positions at Ion Television, RDF/Zodiak USA, truTV, Court TV and VH1.

Under Gellert’s watchful eye, WE tv is launching and developing an ambitious slate of unscripted originals that she both brought to the network and has overseen since joining in April 2012.

Upon joining WE tv, she quickly realized that the network needed to carve out a distinctive space in the evolving women’s programming landscape, and WE tv’s offerings had to reflect the challenging and complicated lives of women today. She devised a strategic development process that has resulted in production deals with some of the country’s most well-known and well-respected producers such as GRB, Leftfield Productions, Ryan Seacrest Productions, Asylum Entertainment, Think Factory and 3Ball Productions.

Gellert graduated with honors from Northwestern University.

SANDRA GIRADO
Senior Director of Meetings and Events
National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications
Age: 38

Sandra Girado is responsible for planning and managing NAMIC’s annual portfolio of educational and special events, as well as new activities that are created for its membership and the industry.

Since joining NAMIC in June 2005, she has been an integral member of the association’s events team, delivering powerful meeting experiences for NAMIC board meetings, chapter leadership events, the NAMIC Executive Leadership Development Program, leadership seminars and other education programs. In her first year, she leveraged her expertise to conceptualize and produce a one-of-a-kind gala celebrating NAMIC’s 25th anniversary.

Girado began her career as programs administrator for the International Council of Shopping Centers, where she was responsible for managing educational programs, including faculty recruitment and curriculum scheduling. In that position, she also facilitated programs in Asia, Mexico, the Middle East and Moscow. Girado also worked with the EastWest Institute, where she was responsible for planning global homeland security conferences for the international community. Additionally, she was the special events manager for New York-based publisher Lebhar-Friedman.

She is a graduate of Manhattan College.

RAQUEL GOTTSCH
Executive Vice President of Marketing
Rural Media Group
Age: 28

The daughter of a self-made media mogul — Rural Media Group founder and chairman Patrick Gottsch — Raquel Gottsch has been faithfully devoted to her network brands and media family since the first launch of RFD-TV in 2000.

Rural Media Group formed in 2008, after the initial expansion of flagship network, RFD-TV, led to the acquisition of FamilyNet and creating of Rural TV.

She has overseen all of RMG’s major marketing and broadcast events, including the Tournament of Roses Parade, where, for the past five years, she has not only coordinated the logistics, public relations, marketing and staff, but has also helped to pitch the advertising theme and creation of RFD-TV’s award-winning float designs.

The 2011 RFD-TV float, “A Salute to Roy Rogers,” included 100 horses from various equine associations all over the United States, members of Roy Rogers’ family and a special appearance by the legendary cowboy’s horses, Trigger and Bullet.

As the tactical planner for the marketing functions that occur across all Rural Media Group properties, she is the constant go-to-person for her staff and colleagues.

MESSAI GESSESSE
Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs
TV One
Age: 38

Messai Gessesse is a jack of all trades when it comes to dealing with various facets of legal affairs. His resume spans working for National Basketball Association greats Patrick Ewing and Michael Jordan to managing TV One’s popular coverage of Election Night 2012.

In the past year, he managed all business and legal affairs of TV One’s ad sales upfront event, including securing the venue and talent, and successfully negotiated various amendments to TV One’s affiliate deals, increasing their commercial ad load time.

He is responsible for negotiating, drafting and finalizing the network’s programming and production-related agreements, including licenses, acquisitions, on-air talent, services and sponsorships. He also negotiates strategic partnership deals, including the network’s agreement with Apple to launch TV One content on iTunes, and various affiliate agreements with numerous cable and telco operators.

Before joining TV One, Gessesse spent six years practicing sports law, most recently as associate counsel at the Strickland Management Group and its successor, Blue Entertainment Sports Television, in Washington, D.C., where he represented such NBA clients as Rasheed Wallace in a wide range of legal areas. Earlier, he worked in legal and business affairs at the SFX Basketball Group.

TOM GORKE
Senior Vice President, Content Distribution and Marketing
Viacom Media Networks
Age: 37

In addition to signing deals with Viacom Media Networks’ digital partners around the world, Tom Gorke oversees a portion of the media giant’s traditional linear business and continually pursues new partnerships that drive its business forward.

He led Viacom to deals with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and other emerging providers from a position just several years ago in which Viacom had very little revenue coming from these types of distributors. Reporting to executive vice president of content distribution and marketing Denise Denson, he has led all of Viacom’s subscription video-on-demand deals and has played a key role in advancing the company’s TV Everywhere initiatives.

He struck early ad-supported clip syndication deals with companies like AOL and Microsoft and led the transactional business into arrangements with Apple, Amazon, Sony and others. Two years ago, he transitioned into the Content Distribution and Marketing group, working on both linear and digital distribution.

Prior to 2005, he served as manager of strategy and investments for Viacom Interactive Ventures. He began his career as an investment banker at Alex. Brown & Sons as a fi nancial analyst in the Consumer Group.

JAAFER HAIDAR
Vice President of Mobile
Synacor
Age: 36

As head of Synacor’s mobile and multiscreen strategy, Jaafer Haidar is the mastermind behind the tech company’s transformations from classic portals for MSOs to cross-device, touchscreen-enabled, next-generation start pages for cable providers, as well as satellite, telecom and consumer-electronics companies.

Haidar was co-founder and CEO of Carbyn, an HTML5 platform that seamlessly delivers apps, games, email and storage in one unified experience, until the company was acquired by Synacor in 2012.

Before that he was an executive at Accenture, working with clients such as Warner Bros., America Online and AT&T, as well as other leading media and information and communications technology companies. He sits on multiple committees at the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada and is an avid start-up mentor.

Haider is a recognized authority on mobile cloud computing and app development and has presented on the future of mobile applications and cloud computing to world leaders at the United Nations and U.S. State Department.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Western Ontario and, in his spare time, enjoys boxing and playing soccer, hockey and basketball.

KATIE ILCH
Vice President of On/Off Air Media Strategy
Food Network and Cooking Channel
Age: 37

Katie Ilch is known as a game-changer where media strategy is concerned. She is able to look at on- and off-air media strategy and find pioneering ways to optimize and create synergy, delivering big marketing results to Food Network and Cooking Channel.

One example of her inventive nature: Ilch crafted a plan to air a five-minute teaser for the Food series Worst Cooks in America six weeks ahead of the season premiere, so digital video recorder users with season passes would record the show and get a sneak peek of the series.

She has contributed to all-time ratings highs within Food Network’s core demographic of 25-to-54-year-old viewers, as the channel comes off of its most-watched year ever in 2012.

A Scripps Networks Interactive employee since 2010, Ilch also has taken an active leadership position in driving the networks’ pro-social efforts, increasing the support and presence for Food Network’s exclusive pro-social partner, Share Our Strength, across all network priorities.

A graduate of Rutgers University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology, she resides in Jersey City, N.J.

BECKY JONES
Vice President of Marketing and Research
Viamedia
Age: 35

Becky Jones is a 14-year cable-TV advertising veteran, having started in sales support and research at Tele- Communications Inc. and continuing in that capacity at AT&T Media Services. She is one of Viamedia’s original corporate employees, recruited to assist in the design of the company’s initial strategy for corporate marketing, research tools and field applications.

At Viamedia, Jones’ primary oversight is corporate communications, marketing and research. She leads a marketing team that assists sales efforts across the company. She also oversees Viamedia’s social media platforms and overall marketing and publicrelations efforts.

As one of the top female executives at the leading U.S. independent advertising rep firm, Jones has been an instrumental key to Viamedia’s success over the past decade.

In addition to developing, implementing and overseeing the organization’s marketing and branding, she is also responsible for Viamedia’s strategic partnerships with key industry affiliates.

She also maintains high-level vendor relationships with the leading research organizations in the business.

MIKE LAW
Senior Vice President, Video Activation
Carat USA
Age: 37

As the head of TV and digital-video strategy and media investments across all of Carat’s brand clients, Mike Law leads his team in helping clients successfully move their video strategies beyond the traditional TV screen by connecting digital with linear TV.

His innovative video strategies have been instrumental in helping Carat win big pieces of business, including Macy’s and, most recently, Sony PlayStation. He also drives the adoption of new and advanced advertising platforms and leads greater internal convergence at Carat.

Law has furthered the conversation around advanced TV platforms through his work with Dish Network and DirecTV, as well as cable operators Cablevision Systems, Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

Prior to his current role, he was director of media strategy and TV investments at Pfizer.

He also had an earlier stint at Carat, where he oversaw consumer media strategy for several major brands that generated more than $10 billion in revenue.

He has a strong knowledge of the sports media business and has worked on accounts including Adidas, Reebok, Red Bull, Philips and Quiznos.

MELISSA INGRAM
Senior Counsel, Business and Legal Affairs
Aspire
Age: 33

Melissa Ingram is responsible for providing legal counsel for all aspects of Aspire’s operations and for negotiating agreements across all of its business units — a critical function for a new network.

She successfully oversaw the process of Aspire becoming the first and only national cable-television network to receive certification as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and is the network’s liaison with the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council.

Ingram joined Aspire last August from GMC TV, where she was senior counsel of business and legal affairs. In 2011, she was awarded a scholarship from the Walter Kaitz Foundation and was nominated for and selected to attend the Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) Rising Leaders Program in San Diego.

Earlier, she was an associate lawyer with an Atlanta-based boutique entertainment firm, The Carter Law Firm. She earned her law degree from the University of California, Berkeley (Boalt Hall) School of Law and her bachelor’s degree in English from Spelman College.

She resides in Atlanta with her husband and daughter.

ALEX KAPLAN
Vice President, Revenue and Product Marketing
DirecTV
Age: 36

Alex Kaplan leads DirecTV’s revenue team, responsible for more than $4 billion in subscription revenue across sports, premium and pay-per-view channels.

Kaplan, who joined the satellite-TV firm in 2006, has exceeded revenue targets on the “NFL Sunday Ticket” out-of-market game package for five consecutive years, achieving more than 20% year-to-year growth, the company said.

He also negotiated the first-ever gaming console partnership with Sony Playstation, making NFL Sunday Ticket available to both DirecTV and non-DirecTV subscribers.

Earlier in his career, he was senior manager of marketing for American Express’ International Product Group. While there, he developed and executed an online event content strategy that resulted in the successful launch of a dedicated entertainment content portal in six international markets. He also negotiated and implemented a successful Formula One partnership offering American Express card members preferred worldwide access to all Formula One race events.

Previously, he was a senior account executive at Octagon Worldwide. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University and an MBA from New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business.

SARAH MADIGAN
Senior Vice President, Business Affairs
Univision Communications
Age: 36

Sarah Madigan is charged with securing broad distribution of Univision’s genre-specific broadband channels and the expansion of the company’s content portfolio across all platforms, including UVideos, its bilingual digital video network.

During the past year, she was part of a team that developed and struck deals with top multichannel-video programming distributors Dish Network, Verizon Communications, AT&T and Cablevision Systems. She also helped coordinate a groundbreaking business agreement with Xbox and UVideos, further increasing the widespread distribution of Univision programming. This was the first time Univision brought programming to a video-game platform.

She began her career in network television broadcasting and communications at BBC Worldwide America. She also holds a law degree: Earlier in her career, she was an associate in the Media and Entertainment Department at Greenberg Traurig, where she represented a wide range of broadcast and cable networks. She was previously an associate in the corporate department at WilmerHale.

Madigan earned a law degree from Boston College Law School and a bachelor’s degree in English from Trinity University.

HOLLY HENDERSON MAUER
Vice President of Distribution
Crown Media Family Networks
Age: 39

Holly Henderson Mauer is responsible for increasing distribution of Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel by developing and implementing effective sales strategies. Promoted from director of distribution, she oversees important national accounts, including DirecTV, Cox Communications, AT&T U-verse and Verizon FiOS TV. In 2012, she secured positive repositions for Hallmark Channel with Charter Communications and Suddenlink Communications, representing 110,000 new subscribers and resulting in a total of 113,000 unduplicated subscribers.

With expert client-relations skills and creativity, Mauer has raised awareness and increased distribution through meaningful affiliate partnerships. She is a genuine leader externally and internally, with a knack for anticipating the needs of her colleagues and clients. She secures affiliate participation for co-branded, cross-platform marketing campaigns and local marketing partnerships through selling, creating, and promoting new partnerships and promotions.

Recently, she also successfully negotiated a key marketing partnership with the National Cable Television Cooperative and Charter.

Earlier, she was a director of affiliate sales at TV Guide Networks, and before that she was director of communications for Orange County, California.

HEATHER MORAN
Senior Vice President, Programming and Strategic Development
National Geographic Channel
Age: 40

Since she was promoted to her current title in 2008, Heather Moran has been responsible for developing the ever-evolving programming and scheduling strategy for National Geographic Channel, National Geographic Channel International and Nat Geo Wild, all while managing the supplying of new and innovative programming and being sure that projects are commissioned domestically as well as across the globe.

Examples of her successful programming strategy can be seen in the last year with Doomsday Preppers, Wicked Tuna, Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden and the most-recent smash success, Killing Lincoln, all of which set network tune-in records.

Prior to establishing a solid track record with NGC, Moran served as vice president of programming for the Style Network, where she also managed the scheduling and acquisitions departments. Before that, she was director of programming for TLC.

Moran earned a bachelor’s degree from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and spent a year studying archaeology and Middle Eastern studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

EMILY NASITS
Director of Broadcast Relations
National Hockey League
Age: 34

For more than a decade, Emily Nasits has worked for sports leagues, managing their production partnerships with national and regional television partners. It’s her job to ensure that the relationships between the league, its clubs and the networks remains strong, the on-screen product is innovative and entertaining for fans and the integrity of the game is never compromised.

Currently, she manages relationships on behalf of 35 television partners that broadcast more than 1,250 games each year, including NBC/NBC Sports Network, Fox Sports Networks and Comcast SportsNet in the United States and CBC, TSN and Sportsnet in Canada.

For all NHL special events, she coordinates all broadcast/entertainment integrations and strategic programming opportunities of rights holders, clubs, internal departments and venues. She has implemented and regulated innovative broadcast technologies such as overhead cameras in arenas, in-net cameras, robotic cameras on the glass, and skycam at the NHL Winter Classic.

“I’m reminded every day that the cornerstone of any job is building genuine relationships, both internally and externally, and being willing to do the hard work,” she said. “If you are committed to excelling in those two areas, the opportunities are endless.”

MICHAEL MCCARLEY
President, Golf Channel and NBC Golf Media
Age: 39

Since joining forces with NBCUniversal in 2011, the Mike McCarley-led Golf Channel has become the fastest-growing network on television (among networks in 80 million-plus households) and has maintained that status for two consecutive years, according to channel reps.

Prior to being named president of Golf Channel by then-NBC Sports Group chairman Dick Ebersol on Feb. 2, 2011, McCarley teamed with Ebersol and others to shepherd extraordinary growth and success during an 11-year tenure at NBCU.

Now under the leadership of NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus and president Jon Litner, McCarley led NBC Sports’ highly successful “Big Event” strategy, which marshaled all NBCU assets to make the audiences for the biggest events in sports (including the Super Bowl and the Olympics) even bigger.

He came to NBC from USA Triathlon, the national governing body for the sport, in association with the U.S. Olympic Committee. He also spent one year as publicrelations assistant with the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.

“Success in sports and television is built upon a foundation of strong relationships, and I have been lucky enough to work with not only a tremendous team at NBC Sports, but partners across the industry, most recently golf,” McCarley said.

ERIK MORENO
Senior Vice President, Corporate Development
Fox Networks Group
Age: 39

Erik Moreno is responsible for identifying new business and strategic opportunities at Fox Networks Group, as well as working on acquisitions and joint ventures. He also is co-general manager (with Salil Dalvi of NBCUniversal) of the Mobile Content Venture (MCV), a joint venture of 12 broadcasters that deliver Dyle mobile television to consumers in the United States.

He is an experienced and seasoned professional in the telecommunications, consumer Internet and media space who has worked in multiple high-level corporate development roles for large networks and media companies, specializing in identifying strategic opportunities, ventures and acquisitions.

Moreno previously served as director of corporate development for eBay and was vice president of corporate development and strategy for Level 3 Communications, a global wholesale telecommunications company.

Moreno began his career at Gleacher & Co., a boutique investment bank specializing in mergers and acquisitions.

He is a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and resides with his wife, Cara, and their three children in Los Angeles.

JEN NEAL
Executive Vice President, Marketing
E! Entertainment
Age: 40

Jen Neal oversees and directs all marketing initiatives for E!’s global pop-culture brand, including advertising, media strategies, creative, brand alliances, promotion and integrated marketing across all platforms. In 2012, she played an integral role in harnessing E!’s ongoing momentum to develop and execute the brand evolution strategy that included the network’s new look, logo, brand campaign and “Pop of Culture” tagline.

In 2013, she will oversee the launch campaigns for NBCUniversal-owned E!’s three new high-profile original series: What Would Ryan Lochte Do?, Playing With Fire and The Wanted Life (working title).

Neal’s extensive experience spans many platforms, including entertainment marketing, advertising and media. Most recently, as chief marketing officer for BBDO North America, she was responsible for driving BBDO North America’s evolution and growth, including the positioning and branding of the agency.

Prior to BBDO, Neal was at Omnicom’s PHD, where she was responsible for running the New York office and all client relationships on the East Coast, including entertainment brands Discovery Networks, HBO, BBC and Travel Channel.

JASON PRESS
Vice President of Advanced Application Engineering
Comcast
Age: 39

Jason Press is responsible for managing the engineering, quality assurance, delivery management and operations organization for Comcast’s interactive products and Internet-protocol video platforms. His focus is on delivering exciting new products, consumer experiences and capabilities to millions of Comcast customers by showcasing how technology, content and communications can be leveraged across computers and mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to deliver compelling entertainment and information services.

Since joining Comcast in 2008, he has made significant contributions to the overall growth of the company by building innovative entertainment products and features such as XfinityTV.com, which enabled an industry first authenticated viewing experience online, and the Xfinity TV app.

Prior to Comcast, he held leadership positions at Condé Nast Publications, where he was responsible for interactive technologies for more than 25 magazines and Internet brands including Style.com, Portfolio.com, Brides.com, Vogue and Lucky. He began his career in consulting with PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Press graduated from the University of Florida and resides in Bryn Mawr, Pa., with his wife and three children.

LAWRENCE RAFFEL
Vice President of Digital Content
FearNet
Age: 39

Lawrence Raffel is charged with overseeing all interstitial programming for the linear TV network and serving as the editor-in-chief of FearNet.com. He is also in charge of the development and production of all of the online initiatives associated with the multiplatform programming service, including such interactive elements as community polls, celebrity interviews and horror-focused convention coverage.

Raffel is tireless when creating content for his online community — he knows his audience well and each day produces interesting products with a unique voice that are shared around the globe.

He joined FearNet in 2006 and played a key role in launching the website.

Raffel was also instrumental as a member of the FearNet executive team as it began to develop — and ultimately launch — the linear TV network in October 2010. Earlier in his career, Raffel launched MonstersAtPlay.com, an independent hor ror review website.

Among Raffel’s favorite films and directors are Tenebre by Dario Argento, Blood and Black Lace by Mario Bava, Fascination by Jean Rollin and Videodrome by David Cronenberg. His favorite entry in the Friday the 13th series is Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives.

He is a graduate of Temple University.

LAURA SHER
Senior Vice President of Legal and Business Affairs
AMC Networks
Age: 39

Laura Sher supports IFC and Sundance Channel with legal counsel and business-development services, including licensing, foreign distribution and production finance.

She also handles key initiatives for the channel including formation of internal studio structure and maximizing disposition of digital rights from original programming deals.

As a strong team player, she worked closely with the AMC Networks legal and business-affairs teams on international distribution deals with Tricon (for IFC) and Passion Distribution (for Sundance Channel) for multiple original series.

As a creative legal mind and a resourceful executive, she has constructed non-traditional business models within select deals and projects, so both channels have an opportunity to maximize their digital rights and increase revenue.

She has held key positions within AMC Networks, formerly Rainbow Media, joining the programmer in 2007 as senior counsel for IFC.

Earlier, she practiced law at O’Melveny & Myers, focusing upon intellectual property licensing and litigation, and as general counsel for Al Roker Entertainment.

Sher holds a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College and is a graduate of Yale Law School.

RYAN SMITH
Vice President, Content Acquisition
AT&T
Age: 37

Ryan Smith is responsible for content strategy and acquisition for all AT&T platforms: TV, broadband and wireless. He reports to Jeff Weber, president of content and advertising sales.

Smith joined AT&T in 2008 and manages principal affiliate relationships with Disney/ESPN, NBCUniversal/Comcast, Viacom, A+E Networks, Scripps Networks Interactive, The Weather Channel, TV One and AXS TV. He also oversees a team that handles all international and religious networks and numerous emerging networks for U-verse TV, which, after growing about 20% in 2012, has more than 4.5 million video customers.

Previously, Smith worked at Comcast Cable. There, his responsibilities included developing complex models for deal negotiations and coordinating compliance of executed agreements.

Prior to that, he was employed at Fox Cable Networks and executed affiliate-sales strategy for both national accounts and a regional sales force.

He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an MBA from University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business. He and his wife, Heather, have three children.

ADAM WEINSTEIN
Vice President, Programming Acquisition
Cablevision Systems
Age: 39

Adam Weinstein’s 15-year career on the programmer side and now with Cablevision Systems offers him a unique perspective with significant depth.

Weinstein’s roles at Rainbow Media (now AMC Networks) included viewer relations, media relations, affiliate relations, affiliate sales, affiliate marketing and consumer marketing. His accomplishments at IFC, WE tv, Bravo, AMC and Sundance Channel drove viewership and revenue.

Today, he is the lead negotiator for many of Cablevision’s key transactions, including numerous broadcaster retransmission-consent agreements and sports programming rights.

Additionally, he uses his sharp instinct for compelling video content and smart licensing approaches to play an integral role in Cablevision’s high profile negations, including with Fox Networks Group, Scripps Networks Interactive, ABC, ESPN, NBCUniversal, Univision and many others. His contributions will influence the programming landscape in the largest DMA (New York) for years to come.

Weinstein is a Long Island University alumnus.

TODD WHITING
Senior Vice President
NBCUniversal Cable and New Media Distribution
Age: 36

Todd Whiting has been on the fast track to success: He’s been promoted three times in less than four years at NBCUniversal, having joined in 2004 in the Management Associates Program. He was one of the first executives hired into NBCU’s newly formed Digital Media division the following year.

Ultimately, Whiting’s love for TV and film steered him to Domestic TV Distribution. He specializes in working with small and emerging networks, along with the Spanish networks, which creates significant incremental value and allows NBCU to further monetize an aging TV and film library, including with such new outlets as Netflix.

Distributing films to Spanish networks has been an area of growth for his team in past years.

In 2008, he provided key analysis and sales support for the off-network sale of The Office to TBS and the groundbreaking deal bringing the 2008 Universal Pictures slate to FX Network.

He began his career in communications and sales after graduating from Pepperdine University in California, and holds an MBA from the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia.

MICHELLE LECORN STRONG
Vice President Of National Accounts
A+E Networks
Age: 40

Michelle LeCorn Strong defines the new leadership in the multiplatform world, doing business in a landscape that requires a range of skills, from developing new feeds from an international partner to creating new widgets with the “biz-dev” team.

She joined A+E Networks in 2009. As an integral part of the A+E deal team, she has oversight of some of the programmer’s largest affiliate partnerships, negotiating linear, video-on-demand, TV Everywhere and mobile deals. She is innovative, strategic and diligent in her approach to solving issues and identifying key opportunities as the lead negotiator for A+E’s content distribution business.

She is also a major contributor in the industry as a promoter of multiethnic diversity, at A+E and in a prior role at ESPN. She was recently named to the NAMIC board of directors.

She received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and an MBA from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. She lives in New York with her husband, Richard.

MICHAEL WINNEKER
Director, Content Distribution
Veria Living
Age: 32

Michael Winneker has managed and expanded distribution for Veria Living by 50% since March 2012. With his expertise and strategic vision, he has signed linear agreements with cable providers Cablevision Systems, RCN and GCI and continues to spearhead and drive these deals, with plans to make the network available in more than 50 million homes by mid 2014.

He also has completed agreements and overseen digital and IPTV deployment with Roku, iTunes, DishOnline.com and Amazon. Looking forward, he is currently coordinating Veria Living’s video-on-demand initiative to strengthen the network’s presence.

Winneker is a marketing and distribution professional with more than 10 years experience working in both cable television and radio. He comes to Veria Living from Right Network, where he was director of distribution operations and launched the startup into 16 million homes.

Prior to that, he was distribution manager for the Defense Department’s Pentagon Channel and was part of an Emmy Award-winning team. Earlier, he spent time at both Motorola and Greater Media. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Temple University.

LANEY WOOLFOLK
Director of Marketing
Clearleap
Age: 30

As the director of marketing for this cloud-based video services provider, Laney Woolfolk is the driving force shaping Clearleap’s strong presence in the news, at trade shows and on key industry panels.

Clearleap’s IP video platform simplifies and accelerates the delivery of “TV Everywhere” services, and her efforts have brought the company to the attention of such content firms as Scripps Networks Interactive. Late last year, SNI said it would use Clearleap’s solution to prepare all the live and archived content for all of its networks (except Great American Country) for streaming to alternative platforms. The technology will also support dynamic ad insertion when Scripps and its affiliates are ready to go that route.

In her free time, she also is planning a “small Southern wedding” for 250 people in June, and has completed 10 marathons and 50 half-marathons.

A graduate of Vanderbilt University, Woolfolk worked as an account executive at Ogilvy & Mather. She was part of the Time Warner Cable 360 account team that developed the widely recognized “Power of You” brand.

Prior to joining Clearleap, Woolfolk served as marketing manager at Total Technology Ventures.


View publication: http://www.multichannel.com/distribution/40-under-40/142854

Contact Information

Synacor Corporate Communications
Name
Synacor Corporate Communications
Email
press@synacor.com

Investor Contact

Send your questions for the Investor Relations
department to:

ir@synacor.com

Email Alerts

*
*







 
Enter the code shown above.