On Oct. 28, 2014, women in communications gathered at AOL to honor nine rising stars for the annual WiCi Awards. Emceed by 2014 Matrix Award winner Dyllan McGee, founder & executive Producer, MAKERS, this peer-nominated award recognizes the extraordinary talent of emerging leaders making significant contributions in the changing landscape of communications. Here are some of the insights and inspirational messages from the honorees:
Don't be afraid to share ideas or switch paths. Zain Habboo (@zainyh) – Senior Director for Digital & Multimedia Strategy, United Nations Foundation
Zain wishes she had known that she shouldn't be afraid to share ideas. Even dumb ones. When she left National Geographic for the United Nations Foundation, she was petrified of moving from for profit to non-profit. But if was during this career change that she was given the best advice she's ever received: It is just a different bottom line.
Love who you work with and what you do. Sarah Hofstetter (@Pezmeister1) – Chief Executive Officer, 360i
Sarah says you should have a lot of conviction in what you believe in and a tremendous amount of perseverance to go for what you believe is right and find a way to make it happen.
In chaos comes great opportunity. Stacy Martinet (@stacymartinet) – Chief Marketing Officer, Mashable
Stacy says she is most inspired by the women and the men who are behind her, like her team at Mashable. She says they have totally different points of view and motivate her to break barriers and lift them up. The next generation gives her hope in the future.
Fail Hard, Fail Fast, Fail Often. Reshma Saujani (@reshmasaujani) – Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code
Reshma thinks resilience contributes the most to success. She believes if you haven't failed, you haven't tried.
Relationships are everything. Who have you had lunch with lately? Mara Schiavocampo (@maracamp) – Correspondent at ABC News
Mara's advice is to spend your lunch break networking, not slaving away at your desk. She also believes that success is not a straight trajectory. Keep your eye on the prize and focus on the finish line, and eventually you'll get there.
Fake it until you make it. Maureen Sullivan (@MaureenS9) – President, AOL.com & Lifestyle Brands
Maureen says you don't have to have all of the answers to be ready to take on a new role in your career. She believes the three most important ingredients for success are passion, commitment and work ethic. Maureen is inspired by people who are unrelentingly optimistic and are never deterred despite what obstacles come their way.
There is nothing wrong with being afraid. J. Courtney Sullivan (@jcourtsull) – Best Selling Author: Commencement, Maine, and The Engagements
J. Courtney says if she's not a little bit terrified, a new project probably isn’t worth pursuing! She likes to remind herself that it's an honor to have a job as an author; so no complaining, more working.
The worst they can do is say 'no.' Danielle Weisberg (@DMWeisberg) and Carly Zakin (@cbzakin) – Co-Founders, theSkimm
This gem from her mom was the best advice Danielle has ever received. And what do you do when you hear no? Say thank you and make the next pitch better to get to YES. Carly says their "aha" moment was when they realized they had a business in front of them. It was life changing and balancing personal and professional success is something that Danielle strives for.
“NYWICI is delighted to celebrate these nine remarkable, driven women who inspire others by their accomplishments and ability to stay ahead of the rapidly emerging trends of our industry,” said Linda Descano, CFA, NYWICI president and managing director and Head, Content & Social, North America, Citi. We hope you will join us for the WiCi awards next year!
— Brittany Hennessy
The 2014 Award Winners
Zain Habboo, Senior Director, Digital & Multimedia Strategy, United Nations Foundation
Born in Iraq and raised in Jordan, educated in England, Zain now calls Washington, D.C., home. As the Senior Director for Digital and Multimedia Strategy at the United Nations Foundation, Zain develops and oversees digital, video, photo and mobile strategy for the Foundation and its 17-plus worldwide campaigns and initiatives. Her team's ambitious mission — to engage citizens around the globe with the lifesaving work of the United Nations — has resulted in the creation of viral memes (the #unselfie) and social media innovations (#Instacorps), as well as participation in groundbreaking convergences such as the Social Good Summit, and much more.
Zain is quickly becoming known for her creative and strategic force behind “Digital Surge Days,” such as a day of programming around the International Day of Happiness in partnership with the artist Pharrell Williams, and marquee UN-related days such as Momentum 1000 and MDG500.
Prior to joining the United Nations Foundation, Zain spent 14 years at National Geographic, first in the magazine’s prestigious photo editing department. She was tapped by senior executives to help launch and steer the society's nascent digital presence into an award-winning Internet standout.
Zain serves on the board of the Petra National Foundation, the sister organization of the Petra National Trust in Jordan. She is an active member of the young professional Jordanian community in Washington, D.C. She lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland, with her husband and two young sons.
Sarah Hofstetter, Chief Executive Officer, 360i
Sarah is CEO of 360i, which was named this year's top digital agency by Advertising Age, Adweek, MediaPost and Mashable, in addition to being recognized among the industry's most innovative companies by Fast Company and Creativity. This success builds on four years of distinguished agency recognitions, including being named a “Best Place to Work” by Advertising Age and Crain’s New York Business.
Since joining 360i in 2005, Sarah has created and rapidly evolved the agency’s industry-leading brand strategy, social marketing and emerging media practices, helping brands such as Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola, OREO and others connect with more than 250 million consumers every day. Brands turn to Sarah to help them transform their communications by putting digital and social behaviors at the center of their marketing strategy, creative and overall communications. Additionally, under Sarah’s watch, 360i has won numerous awards for digital innovation at Cannes, The CLIOs, New York Festivals, The One Show and The Shorty Awards.
Sarah currently sits on the 4 A’s Board of Directors, and she was named to the 2014 AAF Hall of Achievement. Sarah has been recognized by Advertising Age’s "40 Under 40," the Adweek 50 and CableFAX's “Digital Hot List,” and among the Stevie Awards 2012 “Female Advertising Executives of the Year.” She is frequently quoted in publications including The Wall Street Journal, Advertising Age and The New York Times.
Previously, Sarah served as 360i’s President and Senior Vice President of Brand Strategy & Emerging Media. Prior to joining 360i, she was President and Founder of Kayak Communications, a marketing agency focused on developing brand strategy and communications plans for new media brands. Before starting her own agency, Sarah spent ten years at Net2Phone, one of the world's first providers of VoIP technology. Sarah lives on Long Island with her husband and two children.
Stacy Martinet, CMO, Mashable
Stacy is the Chief Marketing Officer of Mashable and sits on the company’s Operating Committee, which directs the company’s strategy, planning and operations.
Stacy leads integrated marketing and communications, including brand, creative services, social media, corporate communications, external affairs, events and the company's social good initiatives. Stacy joined Mashable in December 2010 and the brand has since expanded globally, doubling its social media following and significantly increasing its monthly traffic. In January 2014, Mashable secured its first external capital raise.
Stacy has spent her career at the intersection of media, technology and social media. Before joining Mashable, Stacy spent nearly a decade in corporate communications and digital marketing at The New York Times. She was part of the team that launched the company’s first social media strategy. While at The New York Times, Stacy was recognized multiple times with the company's Chairman's Award.
In 2012, Stacy was named the youngest member of PR Week’s 40 Under 40 list. This year, she was named a Social Media MVP by PR News, a Top Influential CMO on Twitter by Forbes, and was named to ExecRank’s Top CMO List 2014. Stacy occasionally writes for Mashable about marketing trends and has contributed to The New York Times and Cosmopolitan Magazine.
Stacy is an active member of New York Women in Communications. She also serves on the board of Plant-A-Fish, an oceanographic and ecological health non-profit. She is a graduate of Towson University.
Reshma Saujani, Founder & CEO, Girls Who Code
Reshma is the Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a national non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology and prepare young women for jobs of the future.
In her groundbreaking new book Women Who Don't Wait in Line, Reshma advocates for a new model of female leadership focused on embracing risk and failure, promoting mentorship and sponsorship, and boldly charting your own course — personally and professionally.
After years of working as an attorney and supporting the Democratic Party as an activist and fundraiser, Reshma left her private sector career behind and surged onto the political scene as the first Indian American woman in the country to run for US Congress.
Following the highly publicized race, Reshma stayed true to her passion for public service, becoming Deputy Public Advocate of New York City and most recently running a spirited campaign for Public Advocate on a platform of creating educational and economic opportunities for women and girls, immigrants and those who have been sidelined in the political process. A true political entrepreneur, Reshma has been fearless in her efforts to disrupt both politics and technology to create positive change.
Reshma is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Yale Law School. She was recently named one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in New York by the New York Daily News, Forbes' Most Powerful Women Changing the World, Fast Company's 100 Most Creative People, Ad Age's Creativity 50, Business Insider's 50 Women Who Are Changing the World, City & State's Rising Stars, and an AOL/PBS Next MAKER.
Mara Schiavocampo, Correspondent, ABC News
Mara is an ABC News correspondent based in New York. She reports for all ABC News programs and platforms.
Prior to joining ABC News in February 2014, Mara was a correspondent for NBC News as well as the anchor of “Early Today” on the NBC network and “First Look” on MSNBC.
An Emmy Award-winning journalist, Mara has covered nearly every major news story of the last decade, including the Boston Marathon bombing, Hurricane Sandy, the Occupy Wall Street protests, the Gulf oil spill, the Haitian earthquake and the 2008 Presidential election.
Mara has received numerous accolades and awards, including an Emmy Award for her coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, the National Association of Black Journalists’ Emerging Journalist of the Year Award (the only broadcast journalist ever honored), an astounding seven Telly Awards and a NY State Broadcasters Association Award for Outstanding Hard News.
Before joining NBC News, Mara worked as an international contributor and commentator for numerous news outlets and websites, including Current TV, Yahoo!, NPR, Ebony magazine, UPTOWN magazine and more. Mara started her career in broadcast journalism at ABC News as a desk assistant at ABC News Radio in 2001 and a producer for “ABC News Now” in 2004.
Mara has a multi-cultural background. She holds dual Italian-American citizenship and has traveled extensively, residing for a time in Somalia, Italy and the Philippines. Mara speaks fluent Italian, and functional Spanish and French.
Mara received her Bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of California at Los Angeles, and went on to earn a Master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Maryland. She is a longtime member of the National Association of Black Journalists. She lives in Harlem with her husband, daughter and their rescue dog.
J. Courtney Sullivan, Bestselling Author
J. Courtney is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Commencement, Maine and The Engagements. Maine was named a Best Book of the Year by Time magazine, and a Washington Post Notable Book for 2011.
The Engagements was one of People Magazine’s Top Ten Books of 2013 and an Irish Times Best Book of the Year. It is soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon and distributed by Fox 2000, and it will be translated into 17 languages.
Courtney’s writing has also appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Chicago Tribune, New York Magazine, Elle, Glamour, Allure, Real Simple and O: The Oprah Magazine, among many others. She is a co-editor, with Courtney Martin, of the essay anthology Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Maureen Sullivan, President, AOL.com & Lifestyle Brands, AOL
As President of AOL.com and Lifestyle Brands, Maureen is one of the key leaders at AOL, leading all elements of the AOL.com experience — including product and programming as well as managing the AOL.com business and distribution network. Additionally she oversees the AOL Lifestyle Brands portfolio, which includes MAKERS, StyleList, Kitchen Daily and StyleMePretty.
Prior to her current role, she was the SVP of Brand, Marketing and Communications at AOL. She oversaw the global brand development and led the global re-branding of AOL and developed the creative elements of the AOL Brand, including the AOL brand identity and creation of the AOL Artists program. Maureen managed consumer marketing initiatives and media investments, including sponsorships, partnerships and corporate events. She also oversaw all elements of integrated communications including public relations and internal communications and was responsible for the company’s CSR initiatives.
Before AOL, Maureen served as Chief of Staff for Tim Armstrong at Google, where she managed partnership development and business planning. She graduated from Stanford University and serves on the board of the non-profit, Network For Good.
Danielle Weisberg, Co-founder, theSkimm
Growing up in Chicago, Danielle was exposed to politics at an early age from family dinner table discussions. While attending Tufts University, Danielle interned for Boston Magazine and MSNBC, which turned her into a full-fledged political junkie. Upon graduating in 2008, Danielle went to work for NBC News in Washington, DC where she covered everything from the election and inauguration to TARP hearings and health care reform rallies for "Nightly News" and the "Today" show.
In 2010, Danielle moved to New York, where she currently resides, to produce for MSNBC's "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell" where she learned way too much about the tax code and spearheaded a campaign with UNICEF.
Carly Zakin, Co-founder, theSkimm
Carly became addicted to the Today Show at age 5 — not their target demo — and fell in love with the news. While studying at the University of Pennsylvania, she began interning for NBC News.
After graduating in 2008, Carly began work for CNBC's primetime development division and went on to produce MSNBC news documentaries both in New York and DC. From breaking news and writing for the political unit, to personal finance and documentaries on the Kennedy family and interviewing Tom Brokaw on the Berlin Wall, she has made a career out of sharing stories. Carly also enjoyed a brief stint producing reality television, where she or may not have had to spend 8 days with a polygamist family.