BET Executive to Headline Women Leading Women

Career Climbers / 9th February 2018

BET Networks executive Donna Blackman will discuss women in business and the #MeToo movement on March 1, 2018, as the honored guest at the seventh annual Women Leading Women. The free event will kick off a monthlong celebration of Women’s History Month at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

“I don’t know a woman in corporate America who has not been sexually harassed or discriminated against — who does not have a #MeToo story,” says Blackman, Senior Vice President of Business Operations at BET Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom.

Prior to joining BET, Blackman held several finance leadership positions at Marriott International and KPMG. She is a 2010 graduate of the Smith School’s executive MBA program.

Blackman said she is inspired by the women who have come forward with stories of workplace abuse in recent months, launching a national conversation. “I’m inspired by the fact that this was not a moment that happened over a weekend and then just went away,” she said. “This is not that hidden secret anymore that I have to go and hide and not talk about.”

Despite the progress, Blackman said reforms are still needed across all sectors. “These things are not just happening in business,” she said. “They’re not just happening in Hollywood. They’re happening to the person who is cleaning rooms at a hotel or a waitress at a restaurant. It’s not a particular industry. It’s the culture.”

Putting more women on senior leadership teams will help drive change, but Blackman said companies must do more than meet quotas. “Just because you have a seat at the table does not mean you have a voice in the room,” she said.

During Women Leading Women, she will draw on her executive experience and her journey from the Bronx in New York City, where she grew up, to North Carolina State University, where she became the first member of her family to graduate from college.

Her résumé since then shows a long history of trailblazing and trying new things, starting in 1999 when she left KPMG and came to Marriott with no hospitality experience. “Every job I’ve had since then is something I’ve never done before,” she said. “And with each change I’ve had, it’s led to a better opportunity for me.”

Women Leading Women is a signature event of the Smith School’s Office of Diversity Initiatives under the leadership of Senior Director Sharon Strange Lewis, a Smith School executive MBA graduate. The conversation will be moderated by Smith School professor Nicole Coomber.

Smith alumnae and other women are invited to attend, but seating for the event will be limited. To reserve space, please visit rhsmith.umd.edu/womenleaders and click “Register Now.”

Also during Women’s History Month, a CEO@Smith forum will feature Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert at 6 p.m. March 14 in Van Munching Hall. The school will also share 31 daily profiles of women faculty contributions as part of Women Leading Research.

Women Leading Women
What: Free event for women, featuring BET Networks executive Donna Blackman

When: 6-9 p.m. Thursday, March 1, 2018
Where: Frank Auditorium, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College ParkInformation: rhsmith.umd.edu/womenleaders

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