M+E Connections

Baca, Hamilton, Hildebrandt Win WiTH Leadership Awards

Women in Technology Hollywood (WiTH) named three winners of its annual Leadership Awards Nov. 3 at the SoCal Women’s Leadership Summit, honoring leaders and advocates for women in the entertainment technology field.

The awards recognize those who exemplify WiTH’s pillars in both their work and communities, with a focus on those who excel in professional development, mentoring and networking, and community engagement.

The 2023 winners are Nancy Baca, director of licensing financial systems at Disney, Kelly Hamilton, CIO at Sony Pictures, and Melanie Hildebrandt, EVP and CIO at Endeavor.

Nancy Baca

Nancy Baca, director of licensing financial systems at Disney, has been an integral part of WiTH since its inception. Her passion lies in mentoring women and underrepresented individuals in the tech field. Nancy’s work with Knowledge Circles 4 Impact, WiTH’s mentoring program, has had a profound impact, creating a ripple effect that benefits mentees, colleagues, and future generations.

Kelly Hamilton

Kelly Hamilton’s journey from SVP of finance to CIO at Sony Pictures is a testament to her inspirational leadership. She actively advocates for diversity, equity, and inclusion, both internally and externally. Kelly has increased the visibility of women in leadership roles and fosters an environment where diverse voices drive innovation and value in the industry.

Melanie Hildebrandt

Melanie Hildebrandt, EVP and CIO at Endeavor, is a dedicated supporter of women in tech. She actively participates in WiTH and STEM Advantage, a WiTH-supported charity. Melanie has not only fundraised successfully for STEM Advantage but has also brought STEM Advantage Scholars into paid intern roles at Sony Pictures. Her commitment to hiring and developing women in IT is truly inspiring.

Other nominees for the Leadership Awards included:

• Katie Hinsen, director of technology, Marvel Studios
• Filiz Bahmanpour, VP of product, Gracenote
• Carol Danoff, chief procurement officer, Warner Bros. Discovery
• Eileen P. Drake, former CEO and president, Aerojet Rocketdyne
• Cara Sheppard, president, Picture Shop
• Shazzy Angulo, Unreal development supervisor, WildBrain
• Jessica ‘Sica’ von Medicus, CG supervisor, Nickelodeon Animation
• iAsia Brown, senior producer, Xbox Game Studios publishing, Microsoft
• Tammy Choy, VP and CIO, The Aerospace Corporation
• Samira Panah Bakhtiar, director of global media and entertainment, Amazon Web Services

The annual SoCal Women’s Leadership Summit was presented by Qvest with sponsorship by Softtek, and took place at Nya Studios, located in the heart of Hollywood.

The full-day event, themed “Us, Our Org, Our Community,” offered a dynamic lineup of presentations and discussions. Attendees enjoyed engaging sessions such as “STEM in Media,” “Courageous Leadership,” and “Ethical AI.”

One of the highlights of the summit is the Leadership Awards, which recognizes outstanding leaders and advocates in the entertainment technology sector. These individuals not only excel in their professional roles but also embody WiTH’s principles through their work, community engagement, mentoring, and networking. Past recipients of the award include industry luminaries like Nancy Faginas-Cody, Cristina Mancini-Jones, and Theresa Miller.

WiTH, founded in 2014, plays a pivotal role in advancing women in entertainment technology.

The WiTH Steering Committee, responsible for selecting Leadership Awards winners, comprises representatives from prominent organizations such as Amazon Studios, Microsoft, Lionsgate, NBCUniversal, Paramount, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and The Walt Disney Company.