On Thursday June 9, Folio: hosted its annual Top Women in Media awards luncheon, where a crowd of over 200 attendees gathered at the Yale Club in New York City to celebrate the 102 honorees’ accomplishments, often achieved against a glass ceiling in an industry traditionally dominated by men.
Folio:’s vice president Tony Silber and associate editor Greg Dool hosted the event. As each honoree made her way to the stage at the front of the room to accept her award, Silber or Dool briefly shared her accomplishments. A screen to the left of the stage showed each honoree’s photo and job title, and occasionally a video played for an honoree in which staff, friends, or family highlighted her accomplishments.
Two guest speakers also joined on stage: Liz Vaccariello, editor at large of Reader’s Digest, and Sherin Pierce, publisher and vice president of The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
The honorees were split into six different categories: corporate visionaries, director-level doers, entrepreneurs, mentors, industry leadership, and rising stars. When the honorees received their awards, they shared their answer to a question specific to their category.
Despite the different questions, there was a theme of pride and camaraderie throughout the afternoon—of women uniting together to celebrate each other and their fight for a future of equal pay and opportunity, among other rights.
Janine Kahn, executive editorial director of digital at Lumina Media, highlighted this feeling, saying, “One of my favorite things is just how it’s such a female dominated space. It’s incredible. I’ve never once felt that there was something I couldn’t do, that anything was off limits. At Lumina Media, I run a team that’s about 90% women, and I want them to feel the same way—that there’s no limits to what they can do.”
The sense of camaraderie extended to each honoree’s team, a feeling that was first noted by Kathleen Connolly, executive vice president of sales at UBM Tech Events & Media: “My team has its own hashtag, #Collab. And that’s what we decided to do, really try for collaboration across all media, print and digital, to drive that engagement.”
Many of the women said that their favorite thing about working in media is the people with whom they work, as well as the fast-paced nature of the industry and the challenges they face.
Among those challenges, the importance of maintaining a connection with readers, whether through traditional print magazines or other digital or mobile platforms, was often cited. Stacy Shoemaker Rauen, editor-in-chief of Hospitality Design, noted, “Our goal is to be the number one connector in the space. I think the challenge for 2016 is how to do that effectively, to make meaningful connections for our advertisers and readers.”
Other honorees shared lessons they learned from past mistakes, such as Elizabeth Green, CEO and founder of Brief Media LLC. One of her most memorable mistakes was when she fired the company’s second biggest client. “But I will tell you the hard work that we did that year and the work that it caused us to do, evaluate every process, every position, every resource, was followed by 5 years of consecutive double digit growth,” Green said.
It was also notable how many of the honorees cited other people who have faced and broken down barriers, both in and out of the media industry, as inspirations.
Elizabeth Line, VP of activation and operations of 23 Stories at Condé Nast, attributed her success in media to “the examples set by others in the industry. Many people I actually don’t know personally, many of you in the room—I am always so inspired by people who are breaking down barriers in their own industry.”
In a similar vein, a number of the rising stars honorees highlighted how proud they are of the growth and recognition they amassed for their brands. Liza Haar, group managing editor at UBM Medica, who joined the brand as editor of Diagnostic Imaging, said, “B2B publications have their own unique audience challenges, and on top of that I really didn’t know my audience so I immersed myself in the field…and I’m proud to say that today I have a growing and engaged audience.”
While all of the honorees addressed different aspects of the magazine media industry, its challenges and its future, above all they emphasized the importance of magazine media and journalism in their lives, and the importance of encouraging young women to enter the industry. Remy Spreeuw, publisher of 5280 Publishing, summed it up perfectly, saying, “I just want to say on behalf of the next generation, reciprocate and mentor."
The event ended with a group photo of the honorees on stage with their awards. During the event, Folio: raffled off a ticket for the upcoming Folio: Show, which Elisa Camahort Page, chief community officer at SheKnows Media, won.
You can see the full list of honorees and their profiles here.