Diversity Woman Magazine

FALL 2012

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

Issue link: https://diversitywoman.epubxp.com/i/91258

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Page 24 of 79

We Mean Business > Madison, 60, who was born and raised in Harlem, is of African-American and Asian descent. Her grandfather was a Chinese merchant who ended up in Ja- maica and married a local woman. Madi- son has visited China four times, and this past summer she attended a convention in Toronto of descendants of Chinese who traveled around the world as merchants. Diversity Woman talks diversity, hoops, and DNA testing with Madison. Diversity Woman: In 2007, you were about to retire from a long career in tele- vision. Then something happened that changed your mind. Tell us about that. Paula Madison: I was getting ready to re- tire from NBC Universal, when my then boss, Jeff Zucker, asked me if I would consider leading the diversity council as an executive. At first I turned him down, as I didn't want to be in an advisory role, and I thought I had risen as far as I could in local television management. I was ready to retire and enjoy life. Ten [radio talk show host] Don Imus Power Suit Paula Madison From NBC to Hoops S By Jackie Krentzman omeday Paula Madison will finally be able to retire. She's been trying for five years, but she's dis- covered that there is still too much she needs to accomplish. Madison, the first African-American woman to run a network-owned station in a top-five market (KNBC in Los Ange- les), has a distinguished 30-plus-year ca- reer in TV management, largely working for NBC and NBC Universal. In 2007, she was about to retire when Don Imus got in the way. Te conten- tious radio talk show host made a racist www.diversitywoman.com comment on air, and as a result, Madison decided to forego retirement and take NBC Universal up on an offer to become its first chief diversity officer. Later that year, her family company, Williams Group Holdings, bought the Los Angeles Sparks franchise in the WNBA, and Madison, along with her husband, Roosevelt, became involved in the franchise on a day-to-day basis. Today, she serves as the chair of the board of directors. Williams Group Hold- ings also owns a cable network, the Africa Channel, along with investments in real estate, emerging media, entertainment, and communications. made his unfortunate statement about the Rutgers women's basketball team [Imus called the players "nappy-headed hos"]. Tat statement affected me, and I decided to take the diversity role. I thought NBC Universal could benefit from a dedicated diversity executive. Tat same year, our family got the of- fer to buy the Sparks, and we decided to invest in the team, to support women's professional athletics, which as a field was not nearly as forthcoming and rig- orous as it should be. So I went to my grandnieces and grandnephews, who ranged from 10 to 15, and asked them if they wanted to own a professional sports team, and they were like "Yes!" So we said, "Let's do it." DW: What were some of the diversity initiatives that you launched at NBC Universal? PM: We have seen over the years that in entertainment, the growth of diversity was incremental, not exponential, so we thought we should insert some sort of cat- alyst that would spawn bigger outcomes. Fall 2012 DIVERSITY WOMAN 23

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