Seven “extraordinary female leaders in the communications industry” were honored April 24 by New York Women in Communications which raised $112,000 for scholarships. It has awarded $1.5M+ for that purpose so far.

Savannah Guthrie & O'Dwyer's associate publisher Jane LandersSavannah Guthrie and O'Dwyer's associate publisher Jane Landers.

Katie Couric, award-winning journalist and author, presided over the Matrix Awards luncheon in the Sheraton New York Times Square before a gathering of 800+. It was the 47th straight year of the awards.

The honorees and their presenters were:

  • Savannah Guthrie, co-anchor of "TODAY" and NBC News chief legal correspondent – presented by Matt Lauer, co-anchor of "TODAY.”
  • Susan Credle, global chief creative officer, FCB – presented by Julie Kent, artistic director, The Washington Ballet. 
  • Gretchen Carlson, journalist and women's empowerment advocate – presented by Paul Feig, writer, director, producer.
  • Judy A. Smith, founder and CEO, Smith & Company – presented by Byron Pitts, Co-Anchor, ABC News "Nightline.”
  • Rukmini Callimachi, foreign correspondent, The New York Times – presented by Lydia Polgreen, editor-in-chief, The Huffington Post. 
  • Nancy Weber, executive vice president/chief marketing officer, Meredith National Media Group – presented by Tom Harty, president and chief operating officer, Meredith Corp.
  • Kristin Lemkau, chief marketing officer, JPMorgan Chase – presented by Gregg Lemkau, co-head of Global Mergers & Acquisitions, Goldman Sachs.

Women in Communications Honorees
(L to R) Nancy Weber, EVP/chief marketing officer, Meredith National Media Group; Kristin Lemkau, chief marketing officer, JPMorgan Chase; Judy Smith, founder & CEO, Smith & Company; Savannah Guthrie, co-anchor of "TODAY" & NBC News; Rukmini Callimachi, foreign correspondent, The New York Times; Gretchen Carlson, journalist and women's empowerment advocate; Susan Credle, global chief creative officer, FCB

photo: Kellen

Past honoree Couric, who noted that “65 million Americans think highly of Hillary Clinton,” said, “Today we will be meeting seven women who are shaping our world and changing it for the better.”

Jackie Kelley, global COO of Bloomberg Media, said, "These seven women play an exemplary leadership role in their organizations.” They are deeply involved in mentoring and are “leading women in communications across all fields They are truly people who are connecting the world.”

NYWICI, with 2000 members, is unique in that it supports women across all roles in communication industry and in all levels, she said. “We have students; we have CEOs. We’re not just honoring the past and present; we’re recognizing the future."

Hearst Was Sponsor

The event was opened by sponsor Hearst’s chief content officer, Joanna Coles, who said, as she surveyed the women in the audience, “This is Vice President Mike Pence’s nightmare."

Carlson, in 2016, after more than a decade at Fox News, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox and CEO Roger Ailes. The case was settled for $20 million. She now works as an advocate for victims of sexual harassment in the workplace.

"Over the last nine months I heard from thousands of women, many of whom have shared their stories of shame and pain for the first time,” she said. "I never expected to be the face of sexual harassment, but now it is one of my missions. I already started my advocacy on Capitol Hill, changed laws to ensure a better workplace for all women, and for the first time ever I’m writing playbook for women in my upcoming book, ‘Be Fierce.’”

Jenna Bush Hager, Sheinelle Jones & Dylan Dreyer(L to R) Jenna Bush Hager, Sheinelle Jones & Dylan Dreyer

Hoda Kotb & Kathie Lee Gifford(L to R) Hoda Kotb & Kathie Lee Gifford

photos: Jane Landers

“My life motto I wrote on my wrist to this day, carpe diem, which means seize every day, every opportunity, and never ever give up. Keys to success are being ultra organized, visualizing yourself achieving every goal and understanding the beauty of learning from failure. I’m here today to inspire you to speak up because as women we will not be underestimated.”

Carlson thanked presenter Feig "for being one of the enlightened men who publicly supported me in incredibly tough times. And most of all for making Bridesmaids.” [a movie Feig produced in 2011].

Remarks of Matrix Recipients

Kristin Lemkau: "In the field of communications when things like brain hacking and fake news are suddenly a thing, you realize it’s the people who are going to make a difference. I have two pieces of advice for the scholarship students in the audience. One is personal and the other professional. Personal. Choose your partner well. There is no more impactful decision to your career and to your life than the person you choose to raise children with. They can either be supportive or disruptive in ways you can’t yet anticipate. Second, find your tribe....have each other’s back. Help each other out. Look out for each other. You will have more of an impact as a force together. Work is great, but people are better."

Savannah Guthrie: “I got here not because I’m a woman, or despite being a woman – I got here just being a woman. I’m not the tough as nails, blazer-wearing 80’s working woman who for me, growing up, was the stereotypical image of feminism. I am a combo platter of anxiety and calm, confidence and doubt, fear and courage, vulnerability and invincibility, fragileness and solid, granite strength. I am all of these things at once. Being successful in your career is a really good thing. But it is not an ultimate thing. I’m at my best when I remember this and at my worst when I do not.”

Rukmini Callimachi: "I was dreaming of becoming a foreign correspondent, but apparently my full-time beat had become Christmas tree lighting ceremonies. Find that one ray of light, that one tiny interesting detail that might make people care.The skills I learned, How to make something boring, interesting, are the exact same skills that I use today when I am sitting across from a captured Islamic state fighter looking him in the eye, asking him to describe to me the atrocities that he's committed.” 

Nancy Weber: "My advice for young professionals, is to look for and take advantage of every opportunity. I think some of the best ideas come from getting together and having a good old brainstorm. One thing I learned, If you can dream it you can do it. Big ideas are only possible with the support of a team that believes in your vision."

Judy Smith: “Don’t try to be someone that you’re not. You are enough at who you are. It’s the kind of things that you become passionate about that grows on you. Controversy over the years has seemed to find me and chose me basically. We often talk about the fixer. In this country, we are at a point where there is a lot of dissension, a lot of distrust, and a lot of conflict. I think too often we always readily accept limitations. There are always challenges especially for women and particularly for minorities. I often say that excellence is a great equalizer. That is something that I really strive for myself."

Susan Credle: "Usually what you know best is what you tell best. The single greatest piece of advice I would give any person coming up in advertising or journalism is what you do matters very much. The long game is about the value of what you put out into the world so care about that.”