News

Women We Love

3/21/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

I had to grab my hankie — more
than once — during the 2011 Wonder Women
luncheon last week.

I wasn’t getting emotional because host
Susie Essman of Curb Your Enthusiasm, sitting
at my table, had lobbed an F-bomb my
way (she had).

It was more because of the poignant,
sometimes heart-wrenching stories from this
year’s honorees.

The Wonder Women luncheon is by far my
favorite event we put on each year. The cable
industry, though certainly dominated by
men in the early days, has a legacy of strong
women, starting with Betsy Magness, the
first accountant for a near-bankrupt outfit
that would become the largest cable operator in the U.S.,
Tele-Communications Inc.

The latest class of Wonder Women honorees had the
same grit and determination.

Stephanie Mitchko recounted how a math mistake,
though embarrassing at the time, would highlight a valuable
life lesson that guided her in the male dominated
world of engineering. Lisa Schwartz
spoke of the high bar set by her father, who
worked two 40-hour a week jobs for years to
support the family. And no matter what lifelesson
he taught, it typically began with, “This
is America!”

Families and supporters of all the honorees
filled the room, including Stephanie Mitchko’s
father, there the day after his retirement,
as well as Michelle Kim’s fiancé and mother.

I was especially touched by the stories of
Grace Killelea, daughter of Italian immigrants
who came to the U.S. while in grade
school. Killelea’s mother, who could neither
write nor speak English, turned to a neighbor,
Mary Ryan, for help. Ms. Ryan’s rigid but loving
ways gave young Grace the confidence to not only become
a polished public speaker, but a senior vice president
for talent at the largest cable operator in the U.S.,
Comcast.

Now that’s girl power.

September