Ten women leaders in the communications industry were honored at the 2018 Matrix Awards April 23 before a crowd of nearly 1,000 at New York City's Sheraton Times Square.
Savannah Guthrie, one of last year's honorees, emceed the event.
The "Today" show co-anchor put herself on the spot, mentioning a hot mic recently caught her swearing. She used that as a segue to say, "I feel safe that what we have before us today is a tour de force of female badassery.”
(L to R): NBC anchors Sheinelle Jones, Savannah Guthrie & Dylan Dreyer
photos: Jane Landers
Guthrie referred to the award winners as "Women who performed. Women who produced. Women who pioneered. Women who pushed. Who persisted."
Guthrie conveyed to the crowd to come together and work towards a common goal. "All the honorees have prepared. They have over prepared. They've used their voices and got heard. They push for a seat at the table, and then they got to the head of the table. So much has changed this last year in our industry. Some has been painful and personal, and some has been long overdue. We must not tire until we have obtained a workplace for our sisters and our daughters. Where we are on equal footing with our colleagues, in opportunity, in respect, in pay, no more, no less. This is the goal,” Guthrie said.
Debut of Incite Award
(L to R): Jodi Kantor, Emily Steel & Megan Twohey
NewYork Times reporters Jodi Kantor, Emily Steel and Megan Twohey received the first Matrix Incite Award for their coverage of sexual harassment allegations lodged against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and Fox TV's Bill O'Reilly. "Today's honorees managed to not only reveal abuses of power by two of the most prominent men in America, they helped spark the global reckoning that continues to reshape our society for the better.” said by A.G Sulzberger, publisher of The New York Times, in presenting the awards.
“We now understand that harassment and abuse is not a private shame, it’s a collective problem, a gigantic hurdle in the quest for equality,” said Kantor.
Steel noted the reporting started more than a year before the #MeToo movement set off a global reckoning, as "the chorus of women’s voices grew louder and louder and the world finally listened.”
Twohey said the investigation spanned the generational shift in leadership at the New York Times. "We are so grateful that A.G. and his father had our backs every step of the way. In the end, the entire institution rose up behind us to confront bullies and protect the vulnerable."
Guthrie stressed that the winners are, "Reporters whose writing and reporting were nothing short of an earthquake in our industry and then in every industry in the battle against sexual misconduct in the workplace."
(L to R): Amen Mugisha, Wendy Clark, Kim Kelleher & Shelley Zalis
Matrix Award winners and presenters
Remarks of Matrix winners
(L to R): O'Dwyer's associate publisher Jane Landers, Mika Brzezinski & Joe Scarborough
Halle Berry: Spoke about kindness and quoted Mark Twain, “That kindness is the language that blind people see and deaf people hear. And kindness is not something they were born with. It's a quality that we have to work very hard at. And I have to say; it's not always easy! But I always choose.”
“Always follow your intuition” was the advice for the scholarship honorees as they step forth in their careers. "Our intuition is our guide that's our compass. That's our North Star that tells us the way to go in every circumstance.” Berry went on with encouragement, "Don't act out of fear. Don't act out of someone else's fear for you or someone else's limited thinking. Go do it!"
Mika Brzezinski: "To be among this distinguished group of remarkable women is the most incredible honor. Obviously, we're living in very strange times. Politically tumultuous, socially significant and constantly turbulent.”
Brzezinski shared with the audience, "It's all about being a woman, and it's all about being exactly who you are. Knowing what that is, knowing what that value is and making sure you get it across. And let me tell you something, that's sexy. Know your value.”
Kim Kelleher: “As a leader, I take seriously the responsibility to help make other leaders. For me, that starts with leading by example, operating with skill, intelligence, integrity, being open, being honest, listening, constructive feedback, looking out for others, making sure other voices are heard and giving credit where credit is due. And maybe most of all, by being the kind of leader who is part of somebody else's tribe. Somebody who holds out their hand when somebody needs it and doesn't let go when someone grabs on. My advice is to find your tribe, be a part of somebody else tribe and to go on out there and lead."
Betsy Kenny Lack: “I was taught to think big, take risks and always ask why not. Why can't I do that?” Snapchat provides the opportunity to do just that where there is “an openness to experiment and take risks--no idea is too crazy to pitch.” In advice about being a woman in the world today, Lack mentioned, “I think it’s about the possibility, options and choice. That, mixed with a little bit of fight, and a little bit of struggle.” In speaking about the next generation of leaders when they hit their speed bumps, that's where we come in. In those times, when things are murky, and life is unfair, and choices are really really hard, I‘ve learned that experience really matters, longevity matters, and perspective and wisdom, which just takes time and cannot be rushed."
Dia Simms: “Who you are as a brand and as a human being and contributor to this world, is what will really be in the summation of your story." In thanking IPG and NYWICI, Simms said, “this is truly a necessary event that brings together a group of women both on the stage and in the world that could likely solve all of the world's problems.” She went on to say that research shows, “women CEO’s outperform their peers 3:1”, which is negotiation power for your next salary, "simply if you want to do for your heart, do it for your wallet because women are just good for business.”
Her mother taught her all things are possible and would say, "what does not knowing have to do with finding out." The impact on Simms to this day has been, "I cannot say the words, "I don't know," without feeling like it's some kind of filthy curse word.”
Alexandra Trower: “I try to pass along to every woman that I work with or mentor, that it is so important to ask for help and it’s just as important that we give that help to each other as women.” Trower went on to say, "that's what makes Matrix Awards so especially meaningful to me because the one common thread of my career has been, that every step I've tried to bring other women up with me" and "the higher we climb, the greater is our responsibility to bring other women along with us."
Shelley Zalis: Zalis spoke on the “the importance of using your voice, and it starts with confidence,” and "that leadership is certainly not about height, and it is certainly not about age. It is absolutely about action.” That action is "a bravery that is inside all of us and is fueled by a fierce kind of bravery that is uniquely female. That every growing tribe of women who speak up, women who speak out, women who follow their words with action is every one of us in this room.” “It is not about passing down the torch, it is about sharing the torch” and “one moment of mentorship can lead to a lifetime of impact.”
Interpublic hosted event
The 2018 Matix program title, Make It Happen, designed by FCBNY advertising agency, "reflects the moment we're living in right now. When women around the world are united, activating under a shared cause, to create lasting change in politics, the workplace, media and beyond.” spoken by Michael I. Roth, chairman and CEO, Interpublic Group who employs over 24,000 women in digital, PR, events, advertising and media companies across the globe.
The Matrix is a key fundraiser for NYWICI and the scholarships awarded to 20 recipients, "the next generation of women coming into our industry” whom "cultivate future leaders in our business,” said Roth. "As leaders, it's important to use our positions as a platform to build solutions to change the broader environment. This year's honorees exemplify what being a leader means. They have helped shape the communications industry into what is today and serve as important issues that we must continue to address. This event always inspires me and our company to do better.”
"For the past 48 years, New York Women in Communications has recognized extraordinary women whose achievements and leadership have made a remarkable impact on the lives of those around them", explained NYWICI president Meredith Long. "They are truly women who connect the world," Long said. She serves as Chief Revenue Officer, North America, Quantcast.
Long continued: "NYWICI is over two thousand members strong and unique in that we support women's throughout every aspect of communications and at every level. Our members represent different generations, backgrounds and aspirations. We come together to learn from Lean on and connect with one another. Our members gather not only to create opportunities for themselves but also to pay it forward to the generations of women just starting their careers. Trust me when I tell you this is truly a sisterhood of support.”
Guthrie summed up the evening. "Because you know what good women working together is? Pretty much unstoppable. May we do so with the right combination of firmness, kindness gentleness pushiness and grace. I admit that's a hard balance to achieve and we will not always get it right. But we're women. Aren't we used to kind of juggling the impossible? When all seems hopeless, sometimes it's okay to say we feel a little hopeless. We can look with pride to the next generation of leaders. They're already here."