Amy Burton

November, 2022

Blog, Gracies Leadership Award

Haajrah Gilani’s Experience at the 2022 Gracies Leadership Award

On my way to the Gracies, a truck parked and filled with men honked at me as I crossed the street.

I found the blare so perplexing that I stumbled and fell in the middle of the street. In my mortified state, I picked myself up, dusted off my skirt and continued my walk.

When I arrived, I quietly shared the elevator with other attendees. I had copies of my resume and writing samples in my folder. I had remarks and questions in my mind. Still, we rode up to the eleventh floor in complete silence.

It’s so easy to feel small.

In classrooms and meetings, I try to be myself even if it’s at the expense of coming off annoying or any of the other connotations that come with being a confident woman.

But being a 21-year-old in a too-big blazer and no industry connections while standing on a Tribeca rooftop can be intimidating. I found myself nervously drinking water and wandering around, hoping my apprehension wasn’t apparent.

When I began meeting the other college students attending the event, I traded my third glass of water for a state of ease. We exchanged our ambitions and shared our anxieties of not fitting in with the accomplished lineup.

Somewhere along the way of being incredibly impressed by the attendees in my age group, I thought to myself, “there’s a reason why I’m here.”

As strange of a thought as was, I had to come to terms with the fact that I was invited to the Gracies, that I had every right to feel a sense of belonging in the vast room. The room was simply too big for me to feel conscious about how much space I took up.

Once I sat with the rest of my table, I began to think about how the event wasn’t incredibly different from a lecture. Like in any traditional academic setting, I was here to learn.

Of the seven honorees, Valerie Blackburn, Nancy Daniels, Marie Donoghue, Kim Godwin, Wendy Goldberg, Chesley Maddox-Dorsey, Debra OConnell and Dawn Porter along with the event’s keynote speaker, Soledad O’Brien, there was never a dull moment.

Nearly every honoree spoke about moments like the perturbing truck honk or hushed elevator ride, about critical points that caused them to question the value they brought to a room. And, still, all of them managed to overcome these doubts, woes and setbacks.

At one point during her acceptance speech, one of the speakers had to pause and ask for water. While we all laughed it off, I kept thinking about this moment for the rest of the event and how there was power to it.

The more I watched these high-achieving women accept awards with hearts-on-their-sleeves speeches, I realized that asking for help or tearing up on stage are acts that require admirable amounts of vulnerability.

Women are punished constantly for traits commonly associated with femininity, like openly displaying our emotions. If there was anything I took away from my time at the Gracies, it’s that strong women don’t shrink because of their weak moments.

While I fell, I also stood up. While I didn’t introduce myself in the elevator, I still made it to the event. While I don’t always feel my own value or power, that doesn’t negate from its existence.

Haajrah Gilani is a recipient of the 2022 Google News Initiative Student Fellowship. She is currently a student at Temple University, and we look forward to seeing how she continues to shape the world of media in the future.

Amy Burton

November, 2022

Blog, Gracies Leadership Award

Megan Hatlee’s Experience at the 2022 Gracies Leadership Awards

Being chosen as a 2022 Mattel Fellowship recipient at the Gracies Leadership Awards was an experience I will never forget as I continue to develop my career as a media professional. Throughout the afternoon, I was able to absorb wisdom from leading women in the media industry, including Soledad O’Brien, Nancy Daniels, Debra OConnell, and Wendy Goldberg. Every honoree had a unique and inspiring story to tell. One of the most important lessons I learned from these women and their stories is that adversity is common and can be defeated, and challenges can be overcome through the power of unity and the support of one another. I left the Gracies Leadership Awards with an overwhelming feeling that I can find success in any field of work that I may decide to pursue in the future. This is largely due to the fact that I stand on the shoulders of women before me who have helped pave the way and who have broken glass ceilings in order to open doors for those following in their footsteps.

I also had the opportunity to network with individuals from a variety of media companies on a multitude of platforms. I spoke with men and women who have spent decades in the broadcast radio industry and shared their experience of having lived through the evolution of radio and seeing first-hand the changes that have occurred through time. Some others in attendance had just started their careers in the industry, getting their feet wet in television or advertising. We shared our common goals for the future and issues currently at hand in the media industry. There was a wealth of information to be learned from every individual in attendance, be it an honoree, an AWM board member, or a fellow student being sponsored by Mattel or the Google News Initiative.

I am beyond grateful that I had the opportunity to share this experience with other women studying journalism and media from across the country. We fostered friendships, shared life stories, and discussed our passions about the future of the media industry. Being able to spend the afternoon with ambitious, like-minded women was an invaluable experience. Knowing that I am entering the media industry with so many courageous and driven women by my side is both comforting and empowering. I would like to extend my gratitude to Mattel for making this fellowship possible and to the Alliance for Women in Media for hosting the celebratory Gracies Leadership Awards ceremony where women in the media industry can be recognized for their outstanding efforts and groundbreaking contributions to society.

Megan Hatlee is a recipient of the 2022 Mattel Student Fellowship. She is currently a student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and we look forward to seeing how she continues to shape the world of media in the future.

Amy Burton

October, 2022

Blog, Membership

Member Spotlight: Zena Burns, Futuri

In the October 2022 issue of “A Minute with Membership,” AWM’s members-only newsletter, we heard from member Zena Burns, SVP, Content and Special Projects for Futuri.

Why are organizations like the Alliance for Women in Media important today?

Real talk: I wish organizations like the Alliance for Women in Media weren’t necessary. I wish women at all levels of media organizations stood on equal footing with men. But while we’ve made incredible strides over the years, we’re not there yet, so organizations like the Alliance for Women in Media are crucial for helping to level the playing field. As you say, the Alliance for Women in Media connects, recognizes, and inspires women across the media industry, and I love that AWM has so many different ways for women to learn, grow, and support one another. Because if we don’t support one another, we’re never going to get to that place of equal footing. 

What inspired you to become a member?

As I was progressing in my career in media and getting to a place where I had some juice, I felt that I had a responsibility to other talented women to help them move forward as well. I’d benefitted from that support from other women as I was moving up the ladder, and I wanted to pay it forward.

Also, I’d been unbelievably lucky to develop a strong network of personal and professional friends in the industry where we could have candid conversations about our experiences and help each other strategize on how to overcome gender-related obstacles in the workplace. This is not something that everyone has. When I learned more about the Alliance for Women in Media, I saw that it was a way for me to grow and learn from a broader community, and also give back by sharing my own experiences and helping others avoid some of the many, many mistakes I’ve made over the years!

What is your greatest advice, to women or men, no matter where they are in their career?

This is something I learned from Martha Nelson, the former Editor-in-Chief of Time Inc, when I was Music Editor at Teen People Magazine back in the day: “Long life, long career.” There are so many different ways to use that advice. On one hand, it’s a way to put setbacks in perspective. I use it primarily to remind myself that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something. Professionally, if you have an opportunity to advance by stabbing someone in the back, or by being less than truthful when trying to get a deal done, it’s going to come back to you in a negative fashion one way or another. Like Warren Buffett says, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to destroy it.” So with me, what you see is what you get, like it or not, and I sleep well at night. Have I missed a few opportunities to advance because of that? Sure. But beyond the fact that it’s just not who I am, the stress and pressure associated with acting like that just isn’t worth it. It goes back to a cheeky but useful phrase my dad started using with me as early as I can remember: “You don’t have a good enough memory to be a liar.” I don’t want to have to remember what story I told what person!

On the advice front, I just launched a new podcast on this topic — My 23-Year-Old Self: True Stories From the Come-Up. It features conversations with successful women in media, entertainment, and technology (and some good male allies) about the advice they’d give their younger selves as they were growing their careers. It’s designed for young women in those industries, and really anyone who’s interested in hearing great stories and advice from accomplished and amazing women. You can follow or subscribe on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. I’d love to hear feedback on the teaser and ideas for women you think should be featured on the show!

Zena’s Bio

Zena Burns has spent more than two decades at the forefront of developing iconic brands in the media, entertainment, and technology spaces. As SVP, Content & Special Projects at Futuri, Burns runs content creation efforts tied to its innovation initiatives; known for its groundbreaking software solutions rooted in AI, Futuri helps its thousands of broadcast and digital publishing partners worldwide grow audience and revenue through wise use of technology.

Before Futuri, Burns was SVP, Programming Partnerships, in iHeartMedia’s NPG team, having started at then-Clear Channel NYC in 2006 as the radio industry’s first Digital Program Director. She’s also a proud alumnus of TEEN PEOPLE Magazine, where, as Entertainment Director and Music Editor, she played a key role in driving pop culture and giving early looks to countless numbers of today’s superstars. 

Knowledge Areas

Radio, audio, television, video, digital, content creation, programming, journalism, strategy, communications, writing, marketing.


For more information about “A Minute with Membership,” AWM membership, or with suggestions for future member spotlights, please contact amy.burton@allwomeninmedia.org.

Alliance for Women in Media to Honor Seven Female Leaders at Gracies Leadership Awards

October 4, 2022 (New York) – The Alliance for Women in Media (AWM) is pleased to announce the seven honorees for the Gracies Leadership Awards on Monday, November 14, 2022, at Tribeca 360 in New York, New York. Google News Initiative is a presenting sponsor of the awards.

The annual event provides an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the significant impact women have made in the media industry, while also spurring to action and emboldening female leaders in attendance. 

The list of this year’s honorees include the following:

  • Nancy Daniels, Chief of Content, TNets, Discovery, Animal Planet, & Science Channel
  • Marie Donoghue, Vice President, Global Sports Video, Amazon
  • Kim Godwin, President, ABC News
  • Wendy Goldberg, Chief Communications Officer, iHeartMedia, Inc.
  • Chesley Maddox-Dorsey, Chief Executive Officer, American Urban Radio Networks
  • Debra OConnell, President, Networks, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution
  • Dawn Porter, Founder, Trilogy Films

AWM previously announced Soledad O’Brien award-winning journalist, CEO of Soledad O’Brien Productions, philanthropist, and author, as the keynote presenter. The organization also announced investing in the next generation of women in media through partnerships with Google News Initiative and Mattel creating two unique fellowship programs for students pursuing a career in either journalism or media.

“It is an exceptional honor to recognize and celebrate this strong lineup and powerhouse of women leaders in our industry,” said Becky Brooks, President, Alliance for Women in Media. “Soledad O’Brien as our keynote speaker will undoubtedly create an unforgettable event for everyone in attendance,” added Brooks.

Special thanks to sponsors of the Gracies Leadership Awards including Google News Initiative as a presenting sponsor, ABC News, American Urban Radio Network, Clear Channel Outdoor, Disney Media & Entertainment, Hallmark Media, Katz Media Group, Mattel, and NCTA – The Internet & Television Association. For sponsorship or advertising information about the Gracies Leadership Awards, or any other AWM/F opportunity, please contact Becky Brooks.


About the Alliance for Women in Media (AWM): The Alliance for Women in Media connects, recognizes, and inspires women across the media industry. AWM is a diverse community – whether type of media, job, or global location – that facilitates industry-wide collaboration, education, and innovation. Established in 1951 as American Women in Radio & Television (AWRT), AWM is the longest-established professional association dedicated to advancing women in media and entertainment. AWM harnesses the promise, passion and power of women in all forms of media to empower career development, engage in thought leadership, and drive positive change for our industry and societal progress.

Media Contact:
Becky Brooks
Becky.Brooks@allwomeninmedia.org
859.226.4240

Gracies

October, 2022

Blog, The Gracies, Video Blog

Gracie Awards Call for Entries Opening Soon

The 48th Annual Gracie Awards call for entries will be opening soon and everyone is looking forward to seeing the extraordinary content that will be submitted! The Gracie Awards recognizes exceptional content at the national, local, public, and student levels throughout radio, television, and digital media. It is a prestigious award that celebrates the work done by, for and about women.

Deborah Horne, the 2022 recipient of the On-Air Talent [TV – Local] Gracie Award, had this to say about what winning a Gracie meant to her, “For me, because it is coming at this time in my career, it has meant that all of these years of doing this job that I love, that I was born to do, I’ve made a difference in a way that I did not anticipate.”

Ms. Horne went on to say, “To be in a position where women are being recognized for the work we have been doing, that alone makes this a very special day and an incredibly special award.”


The Call for Entries for the 48th Annual Gracie Awards will be opening on Thursday, October 13, 2022.  Entry eligibility air dates are January 1, 2022 – December 31, 2022. If you have any questions about entering, please contact gracies@allwomeninmedia.org.

Amy Burton

September, 2022

Blog, Membership

Member Spotlight: AWM Connects Alum Alex Razo and Lindsay Guentzel

In the September 2022 issue of “A Minute with Membership,” AWM’s members-only newsletter, we hear from two of the 2021 AWM Connects mentees about their experience with the inaugural mentorship program, what they are doing now, and the advice they would give to future AWM connects participants.

AWM Connects is a virtual mentoring program that will connect young/new professionals with senior level executives throughout television, radio, and digital media. The inaugural event was held in December 2021 and we are excited to announce that it will be back on December 14, 2022! If you would like to receive an alert when the 2022 AWM Connects information goes live, please email amy.burton@allwomeninmedia.org

How did the 2021 AWM Connects program have an impact on your career and/or your outlook on your career path?

ALEX RAZO: While it was a wonderful experience getting to meet and learn from the mentors, what made the program extra special was also connecting to the fellow mentees. Meeting women who are currently going through similar experiences was cathartic and helped reignite my love of broadcasting at a time when I really needed the boost.

LINDSAY GUENTZEL: Prior to applying for the 2021 AWM Connects program, I felt kind of lost. The pandemic combined with a new ADHD diagnosis — add in an intense couple of years in Minnesota where I live and work in news – I wasn’t sure what I even wanted anymore. Even just applying felt like a shot in the dark. So, when I found out I was accepted into the program, I was elated. It felt like someone had looked at all the work I’ve done, most of which I had either forgotten about or had been too hesitant to promote, and thought I was good enough. 

And then to meet my mentor and have her ask questions about my career and to have her be genuinely engaged. It was so energizing. It was such an awesome reminder of the power we have to inspire people by simply being present. And it was the reminder I needed to keep pushing myself, to keep going after my own goals and aspirations. As cliche as it might sound, it made me feel like I belong, that my talents and my skills belong. 

What new endeavors have you undertaken since the AWM Connects program in December 2021?

RAZO: While I’ve continued to maintain the high standards and ratings for both of my shows, I will also be given the opportunity to join one of our reporters as he begins production on the latest installment in his documentary series for the station and iHeartMedia.

GUENTZEL: In May of 2022, I launched Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel, a podcast collaboration with ADHD Online, a telemedicine healthcare company based in Grand Rapids, Michigan that provides ADHD assessments, medication management and teletherapy. My own ADHD diagnosis was truly life-changing, the answer to a question I had been looking for my entire life but didn’t even know. So, to be able to combine my love of storytelling in a way that’s helping people, it’s overwhelming in the best way. I do still have career goals that aren’t tied to my ADHD, but it feels like every role I’ve had over the last 15 years was meant to prepare me for this. That this is what I’m meant to do. 

Why are organizations like the Alliance for Women in Media important today?

RAZO: I think organizations like the Alliance for Women in Media are important because it’s wonderful to have a sense of community. Every person I’ve met and interacted with in and through the organization has been kind, forthcoming and very willing to help.

GUENTZEL: We’re finally seeing results after years and years of talking about the importance of representation. Organizations like Alliance for Women in Media, along with this mentorship program, help speed up those timelines for change. They also work to increase accountability and transparency and they instill a sense of community and support for people working in jobs that have been under fire for the last six or seven years. 

What advice would you give someone who is interested in participating in the next AWM Connects mentorship program?

RAZO: Don’t be afraid to ask questions…it may feel intimidating to speak with the mentors, but they WANT to talk to you! Also, connect to your fellow mentees…it’s just as rewarding connecting with them as it is with the mentors.

GUENTZEL: Know what you are looking for before you head in. And by that, I mean, be able to give your mentor a list of actual things you need help with. Need your demo looked at? Have the file in a Dropbox folder so you can forward it immediately. Have a specific organization you want to work for but don’t have a foot in the door? Tell them. Don’t hold anything back. Outside of asking for $1 million dollars and expecting to get it, go in thinking the sky’s the limit. Because for your mentor, that truly might be the case. And you do not get enough time in the mentorship – or in life – to be demure. Get after it. 

Bios

RAZO: Alex has over 5 years of radio and broadcasting experience. After graduating from Cal State Northridge in 2017, she began working for KFI AM 640 in Los Angeles as a producer. KFI is one of the most listened to news-talk radio stations in the country and serves all of Southern California. Alex started her career there as an intern for the morning show while as a student, and after being hired part-time was promoted to being the full-time producer of both morning shows (Wake Up Call and the Bill Handel Show) only a few months later.

GUENTZEL: My name is Lindsay Guentzel and I’m the host and producer of Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel, a podcast collaboration with ADHD Online that explores the often-misunderstood world of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. I really like to work and I’m incredibly ambitious so a lot of time, there’s no distinct line showing where work ends and my life begins. But when I do take a break, I enjoy running, eating delicious food (preferably cooked for me, although I do love having the time to try new recipes at home), attending sporting events outdoors in nice weather, and anything crafty and creative. 

Knowledge Areas

RAZO: Radio, television, communications, video and audio editing, news writing and editing, research, media relations, programming, field producing, digital and social media management.

GUENTZEL: Radio, television, content creation, audio, producing, journalism, on-air talent, writing, and media relations.


For more information about “A Minute with Membership,” AWM membership, or with suggestions for future member spotlights, please contact amy.burton@allwomeninmedia.org.

Guest Author

August, 2022

Blog, Membership

Member Spotlight: Michelle Duke, National Association of Broadcasters

In the August 2022 issue of “A Minute with Membership,” AWM’s members-only newsletter, we heard from member Michelle Duke, President of the NAB Leadership Foundation and Chief Diversity Officer at NAB.

Why are organizations like the Alliance for Women in Media important today?

While women are making great strides in our industry, we still aren’t at parity with the number of men in leadership positions and certainly not in ownership. Organizations like the Alliance for Women in Media offer women the opportunity to be recognized for their contributions to the industry and network with other women who are making a difference. AWM and AWM Foundation are also a source of information and industry connections for women who are building toward leadership positions in media. 

What inspired you to become a member?

I have been a member of AWM since it was the American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT). I joined because of the opportunity to network with and be mentored by women who were making significant strides in the fields of television and radio. As the organization has expanded its reach to include all women in media, I have had the opportunity to learn from women who work in every facet of the media space. As a result, I’ve developed life-long friendships, fruitful partnerships, and a broader knowledge of the industry. I was honored to serve on the board of AWM for many years. It was a privilege to help shape the direction of the organization. Now, I strongly encourage individuals who want to be connected, build opportunities for others, and contribute to the advancement of women in our business to get involved at the committee or board level. 

What is your greatest advice, to women or men, no matter where they are in their career?

Make it a point to ask yourself with some degree of frequency if you are happy and having fun. Then, be brave enough to change the situation if you aren’t. That doesn’t always mean leaving a job or industry. It could, but it might also mean restructuring your current role, reinventing yourself, returning to school, giving back to others, or finding a side hustle that brings you joy. For me, happiness has been a significant key to success.

Michelle’s Bio

Michelle Duke has over 30 years of experience in the media industry working as a journalist, and a nonprofit and trade association executive. She is currently the President of the National Association of Broadcasters Leadership Foundation (NABLF) and the Chief Diversity Officer of the National Association of Broadcasters.

Before joining the NAB Leadership Foundation in January 2005, she was the Director of Leadership Programs for the Newspaper Association of America. She started her media career as a reporter for the now defunct, afternoon daily The Nashville Banner, which was based in Nashville, TN. Duke received her Bachelor of Science in journalism from Middle Tennessee State University.

Knowledge Areas

Radio, television, diversity, strategy, leadership development, recruitment and retention, writing


For more information about “A Minute with Membership,” AWM membership, or with suggestions for future member spotlights, please contact amy.burton@allwomeninmedia.org.

Guest Author

August, 2022

Blog, The Gracies

My Experience as a Gracies Judge

It is a privilege and unmatched opportunity to screen the countless amazing productions submitted for the Gracie Awards.  Over the years, I can barely remember few entries that did not make this a very competitive awards program. In many cases, it is difficult to limit oneself to watching only enough to rate the content as our inclination is to sit and watch or listen – everything is incredibly compelling.  

The Gracies are synonymous with the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation. Judging Gracie entries is one of the most enjoyable experiences I have annually in the world of media. With the mantra, “by women, for women, or about women” as the overarching philosophy, judges indulge in viewing and evaluating the production values as well as the content of television, radio, and digital media.

Gracies judging has evolved over the years. Ten years ago, it was a collaborative group effort, with everyone in-person, and has evolved as our world has to include virtual judges. Prior to the Covid-19 Pandemic, I judged in-person in Washington, DC for a weekend, beginning on Friday evening with dinner and networking with other judges. Saturday morning, judging began in small groups in separate rooms with a specific number of entries assigned to each group.  Any remaining submissions not completed on Saturday would be completed Sunday morning. Two very intense but delightful days!

With submissions growing each year, judging is now offered virtually and in-person to be inclusive of experts from across the country in all media genres. The number of entries submitted for each category varies, and the work is subdivided into manageable amounts of entries assigned for each judging group.

Often the programs are new, or just new to me, and I’m drawn into the subject. Most judges will tell you they keep a notepad nearby to jot down the names of programs to add to their personal viewing or listening.  

Not only have I been a judge for the last eleven years, but I had the opportunity to host the Gracies judging weekend at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, where I was the Director of the Studio Operation. Groups of judges utilized control rooms, studios and edit suites. How quickly the judges bonded over the shared experience of screening the countless works!

In-person judging is a wonderful networking opportunity for industry peers to gather. Working with other media professionals from around the country is another invaluable benefit of being a judge. To connect with women who are executives, producers, programmers, representing the countless fields of work in media is informative and gratifying. After all these years, I still look forward to the opportunity to participate and recognize the amazing talent of the women in media. I hope to see you in person in 2023 as we gather to experience and celebrate more outstanding content by, for and about women.

Vija Udenans has served as a Gracies Judge for eleven years. She is recently retired after working for over 40 years in the media industry.

Guest Author

July, 2022

Video Blog

NOTE FROM 2021 SCHOLARSHIP WINNER, OMOSE IGHODARO

My dream to attend Columbia University’s Journalism school was achieved, thanks to the generous educational scholarships offered by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation (AWMF).

Since being named the 2021 recipient of the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation & Ford Empowering America Scholarship, my dream is becoming a reality. Last month, I graduated from Columbia University, grew my platform AfroVibes.com, an online platform spotlighting African leaders and connecting the African diaspora to new levels, and will begin a new position at Bloomberg News this fall.

As a young Nigerian-American, the AWMF scholarship supported me and gave me confidence during a time where I hesitated to believe in myself. I’m grateful to have been introduced to many amazing leaders in media through AWMF as well.

I want to personally thank you for your generosity and vote of confidence. Without scholarship patrons willing to support women in media, students like myself would not be able to pursue advanced degrees that in turn, help to further propel diversity within the media community.

This week, I had the opportunity to attend the 47th annual Gracie’s Award Luncheon in New York which gave me much hope and inspiration. I saw several talented, diverse, award winners which reemphasized the possibilities for a recent graduate like myself.

So, thank you – I’m one step closer being a future media mogul. Stay tuned!

Omose Ighodaro is a Columbia University Journalism School Graduate, Masters of Science, Class of ’22. She was the recipient of the 2021 Alliance for Women in Media Foundation and Ford Empowering America Scholarship. We look forward to seeing even more from Omose in the future.