Neil Smit, president & CEO, Comcast Cable and executive vice president, Comcast Corp., and Patty McCaskill, senior vice president & chief programming officer, Suddenlink Communications, were announced as this year’s recipients of the cable industry’s Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership.

Now in its 50th year, the Vanguard Awards are presented by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) to individuals to who excel in both business and personal commitment to their colleagues, and whose accomplishments merit the recognition of the entire cable industry.

The 2014 Vanguard Awards will be presented on April 30 at a reception and awards ceremony during The Cable Show 2014 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles.

A list of 2014 Vanguard Award honorees, along with a description of each award, follows.

Distinguished Vanguard Award for Leadership

Each year, two awards are presented, one to a man and one to a woman, who have consistently demonstrated the highest level of cable industry leadership. This year’s recipients are:

Neil Smit, Comcast

Smit is responsible for all business aspects of Comcast’s cable operations.  He joined Comcast in March 2010 from Charter Communications where he served as chief executive officer and director for five years. Prior to joining Charter, Neil was the president of Time Warner’s America Online Access Business, where he oversaw Internet access services, including America Online (AOL), CompuServe and Netscape ISPs.

Patty McCaskill, Suddenlink Communications

Joining Suddenlink in February 2013, McCaskill is responsible for managing all of Suddenlink’s content relationships with media ownership groups, television stations and cable networks.  She has more than 33 years of experience in cable industry management and operations, with an emphasis in programming, marketing, sales, customer service, strategic planning and budget development.  Before joining Suddenlink, McCaskill was vice president, programming and pay-per-view, Charter Communications, and founder and president of McCaskill Communications Consultants.

Vanguard Award for Cable Operations Management

This award recognizes the efforts of cable's system managers, who work under intensely competitive conditions in today's dynamic telecommunications environment and who are critical to the cable industry's success at the local level. This year’s honorees are:

Philip Meeks, executive vice president & chief operating officer, Business Services, Time Warner Cable

Meeks oversees all aspects of operations, sales and marketing for the company’s rapidly growing business services unit.  Prior to joining Time Warner Cable, Meeks served as senior vice president of Cox Business, and was the co-founder and lead executive for a start-up company focused on enhancing the supply chain between technology vendors and value added resellers in the Internet security, data storage and VoIP markets.

John Pascarelli, executive vice president, operations, Mediacom Communications

Pascarelli has 31 years of experience in the cable industry and has been part of the Mediacom team since 1998.  Pascarelli has served in many positions during his tenure including: executive vice president, operations; senior vice president, marketing and consumer services; and vice president of marketing.  Before joining Mediacom, Pascarelli was vice president of marketing for Helicon Communications and corporate director of marketing for Cablevision Industries.

Vanguard Award for Science & Technology

This award honors individuals who have played a significant role in product improvement as well as in the design and development of engineering techniques.  This year’s honoree is:

Yvette Kanouff, executive vice president, corporate engineering & technology, Cablevision Systems

Kanouff is responsible for the implementation of the company’s strategic technology and critical engineering objectives, as well as identifying emerging technology opportunities.  In addition, Kanouff oversees the development and integration of new products for the company, from conceptualization to implementation, as well as the design of mechanisms to enable customer feedback. Prior to Cablevision, Kanouff served as president and chief strategy officer of SeaChange International, and as Time Warner Cable’s director of interactive technologies.

Vanguard Award for Programmers

Cable’s creative programming services make the industry a leader in the home entertainment and news and information business.  This award recognizes innovation, leadership and individual achievement of NCTA’s programmer members. This year’s honoree is:

David Nevins, president, Showtime Networks

Nevins is an Emmy Award-winning producer and veteran network and studio programming executive.  Under his leadership, Showtime has launched eight consecutive hit series, including “Ray Donovan” and “Masters of Sex”, as well as “Homeland,” “Shameless,” and “House of Lies.”

Vanguard Award for Government & Community Relations

This award recognizes individuals who have had a significant impact on promoting a positive public image and advocating public policy positions for the cable industry at the national, state and/or local levels.  This year’s honoree is:

DeDe Lea, executive vice president, global government relations, Viacom

Lea has served as executive vice president of government affairs since 2006 and is responsible for directing domestic and international public policy issues. She served as senior vice president of government affairs from September 2005 through 2006.

Vanguard Award for Marketing

This award honors an individual who has been instrumental in the development of marketing approaches that significantly enhance cable's public image and increase customers.  This year’s honoree is:

Coleman Breland, president, Turner Network Sales

As president of Turner Network Sales, Coleman oversees all affiliate sales, marketing, interactive television and new technology business development for the news and entertainment networks of Turner Broadcasting.  In addition, Breland supervises the sales and multiplatform negotiations for Turner’s 10 domestic basic cable networks, as well as the partnerships developed by the Business Development group and Turner Private Networks. 

Vanguard Award for Associates & Affiliates

This award recognizes the important contributions of equipment manufacturers and service suppliers to cable industry innovation, growth and progress. This year’s honoree is:

Maria Brennan, president & chief executive officer, Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT)

As the public voice of WICT, Brennan is an experienced spokesperson and advocate for both media industry and workplace equity issues.  Prior to joining WICT, Brennan served as the President of American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT) and worked with numerous diversity-based nonprofits including the National Association of Women Business Owners, The International Alliance of Women and ASWA

Vanguard Award for Young Leadership

The growth of cable is in large part due to the energy, vitality and creativity of the many young people working within the industry, and the Young Leadership Award recognizes those individuals who have already made a mark on the industry and its constituents.  This year’s honoree is:

Maggie McLean Suniewick, senior vice president, strategic integration, Comcast Corporation

Suniewick is responsible for strengthening ties across Comcast and NBCUniversal by leading the corporation’s Symphony efforts; leveraging the collective assets of Comcast, NBC’s cable and broadcast networks, and Universal Studios and Parks to maximize scale and scope for important company-wide initiatives, like TV Everywhere. From 2010-2013, Suniewick served as Vice President, Programming for Comcast Cable where she oversaw editorial and programming across all video platforms and consumer products, including Xfinity On Demand, and the Xfinity TV Player app. Previously, Suniewick served as Vice President, Strategy and Development for Comcast Interactive Media, and spent seven years with Oxygen Media where she helped to launch the network in February of 2000.