Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hitting the Ground Running

By Sean Strub

Just over two weeks ago, I succeeded Steve Villano as Cable Positive's President and CEO. I’ve admired Cable Positive for a while now, and it is with great pleasure that I accept this new role. I am honored and excited to be a part of the great team Steve has put together and by the opportunity to build on Cable Positive's tremendous record of accomplishment. Steve and I will still be working together at Cable Positive for the next several months, to facilitate a smooth transition and introduce me to Cable Positive's regional chapters and industry leaders.

My first week on the job was a total immersion in the cable industry, as it was during the NCTA convention in Washington, DC. The week was a whirlwind, and I returned to the office with great enthusiasm, a profusion of ideas and a two inch stack of business cards.

I was struck by the tremendous pride expressed by so many people in the industry and the genuine warmth and friendliness with which I was greeted. The only comment I heard more often than "welcome to the industry!" was "you've got big shoes to fill, succeeding Steve!”

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow was our MC at Cable Positive's Power Awards ceremony during the convention. Insight's Michael Willner introduced Rachel, who presented awards to Rainbow Media's Josh Sapan and Charter Communications' Neil Smit for their leadership and commitment in the fight against HIV. Nearly 200 people attended the event, including Showtime’s Matt Blank, Cablevision’s Jim and Charles Dolan as well as many others.

Rachel spoke movingly of her own record of AIDS activism--which is exceptionally admirable--and how the HIV epidemic has been a defining influence on her generation. I am proud to note that Rachel was once wrote POZ Magazine (which I founded) back before she had her show on Air America.

Here are a few clips of the ceremony:

We also unveiled at the convention the results of Cable Positive's first Youth AIDS Media Institute (YAMI), funded by the Motorola Foundation, which brought 17 young people (ages 16 to 23) from several states together to work intensely for six days to create a multi-platform peer-to-peer HIV education campaign. The resulting campaign (including video PSAs, a website, print and mobile components) is fantastic and demonstrates how much more effective HIV education and prevention campaigns can be when they are created by the communities they intend to educate or influence.

Check out the website at or click here to see one of the No LOL in HIV public service announcements. We will be rolling this campaign out nationwide over the next several months. If there are teenagers you care about, send them a note urging them to check out

What this group of exceptional young people accomplished in just a few days is remarkable, in large part because they are remarkable. Everyone who interacted with the YAMI participants--Cable Positive staff and board members, Zenita Henderson and other representatives from Motorola and others in the industry--found great inspiration in the extraordinary creativity, energy and commitment of the young people who became “YAMIU’s” first graduating class.

Their final presentation brought tears to the eye of more than one observer. Right afterwards, Mediacom’s Italia Commisso-Weinand leaned over to me and whispered "with kids like these, there's hope for the world." Italia's right, because hope is what it's all about.

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