2021 Featured Speakers

Lineup subject to change


Rabia Abedin
Manager, Early Career Programs & Diversity Outreach, DreamWorks

Rabia Abedin is an experienced Talent Acquisition professional and DEI activist. Currently, she is the Manager of Early Career Programs & Diversity Outreach at DreamWorks Animation, the animation arm under NBCUniversal's Filmed Entertainment Group.

For the last three years at DWA she has been responsible for developing and implementing early career programs, increasing BIPOC representation across the studio and executing immersive experiences for students and junior BIPOC artists. Formerly, she was at The Walt Disney Company for six years in human resources and talent acquisition, focusing on hiring, employer branding, and talent development.

Rabia holds a Bachelor's in English and Business Management from the University of California Irvine and as well as a Master's in Public Administration from the University of Southern California and currently resides in Oceanside, CA.



Cris Abrego
Chairman, Banijay America Group,
President and CEO, Endemol Shine Holdings
Chair, Television Academy Foundation

Cris Abrego was named Chairman of the Americas, Banijay and President and CEO, Endemol Shine Holdings, in November 2020. In his new role, Abrego oversees both the North American and Latin American divisions of Banijay, the world’s largest international content producer and distributor.

In North America, Abrego now leads a stable of award-winning unscripted and scripted production studios that includes Bunim/Murray Productions, Authentic Entertainment, Truly Original, 51 Minds Entertainment and Stephen David Entertainment.

Additionally, Abrego has oversight of Endemol Shine Latino, the company’s Spanish-language sales and development arm that leads all original programming initiatives across Latin America, including Mexico City-based studio Endemol Shine Boomdog, Banijay Mexico & US Hispanic and Endemol Shine Brasil.

Hit series under Abrego’s purview in the U.S. include Big Brother (CBS), MasterChef (FOX), LEGO Masters (FOX), Wipeout (TBS), The Real Housewives of Atlanta (Bravo), Keeping Up With the Kardashians (E!), Ink Masters (Paramount Network) and the upcoming launches of Foodtastic (Disney+), Pride & Prejudice: An Experiment in Romance (Peacock), The Surreal Life (VH1) and Ripley (Showtime). Spanish-language series include Mira Quién Baila (Univision), LOL: Last One Laughing (Amazon), ¿Quién Es La Máscara? (Televisa), MasterChef Mexico (Azteca), Tu Cara Me Suena (Univison) and Súbete a Mi Moto (Amazon), as well as Brazilian hit series MasterChef Brasil (Bandeirantes/Discovery), All Together Now (Teen) (Record), Extreme Makeover Home Edition (GNT/Globo) and Game of Clones (Amazon/Record).

The former co-founder and chief executive of Endemol Shine-owned studio 51 Minds Entertainment, Abrego is one of the leading creators and producers of reality television in the U.S., recognized globally for pioneering the celeb-reality genre. Abrego previously served as CEO, Endemol Shine North America and Chairman, Endemol Shine Americas, positions he held from November 2016 through Banijay’s 2020 acquisition of Endemol Shine Group.

Abrego, who sold 51 Minds Entertainment to Endemol in 2008, helped create the celeb-reality genre with the 2003 launch of “The Surreal Life” on The WB Network. He followed the success of “The Surreal Life” with a string of celeb-reality series for VH-1, including “Flavor of Love,” "Rock of Love with Bret Michaels” and numerous other hit series. At its height, 51 Minds Entertainment was producing more than 150 hours of programming a year for VH1 alone.

He began his career at Bunim/Murray, where he worked in production on original unscripted hits “The Real World” and “Road Rules.”

As one of the highest-ranking Latinos in television, Abrego has made inclusion a top priority for his team at Endemol Shine and within the entertainment industry, as well. He recently led Endemol Shine North America’s launch of the company’s first Diversity and Inclusion committee.

Abrego was also recently elected Chairman of the Television Academy Foundation, making him the organization’s first-ever Latino chair. And he is helping spearhead the TV Academy Foundation's unscripted diversity internship program with leaders from across the reality TV industry.

In 2013, Abrego started a scholarship fund at his alma mater, Mountain View High School in El Monte, Ca., which provides college tuition and additional resources for student athletes. The program, led by Abrego’s mother Tina, has helped more than 25 student-athletes attend four-year universities nationally.

Abrego released his first book in 2016, “Make It Reality: Create Your Opportunity, Own Your Success.” He currently resides in Los Angeles, California with his wife and three children.



John Aoshima
Sequence Director, Maya and the Three

John Aoshima is an Emmy and Annies nominated Television Director known for Disney’s Gravity Falls, Ducktales, and Fox’s primetime animated comedy, American Dad!. John turned his passion for art and film into earning his BFA degree at CalArts. After a long career in television animation, he shifted his focus towards feature films and has worked on Laika’s Oscar nominated feature, Kubo and the Two Strings as Head of Story. Since joining Netflix Animation in 2018, John has taken a role as Sequence Director for CG-Animated Epic Series, Maya and the Three created by Jorge R. Gutiérrez and is now Co-Directing on CG-Animated feature with Shannon Tindle on Ultraman.



Kristal Babich
Story Artist, Maya and the Three

Kristal Babich is a story artist currently working on an unannounced feature at Netflix animation. She is originally from Miami, Florida, where she grew up watching anime and drawing comics. Through many detours, and winding career paths, Kristal eventually ended up in Los Angeles to pursue storyboarding for animation. Her past projects include Tumble Leaf, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, Pantheon, We the People, and Maya and the Three.



Bob Boden
Producer, Funny You Should Ask

Emmy Nominee Bob Boden's career in all forms of non-fiction and unscripted/alternative TV programming has included senior management and production functions for a variety of television studios, networks, and production companies. He is frequently acknowledged as an industry leader in the game and reality genres. In 2008 he was named to the top 50 Reality TV Power List by the Hollywood Reporter.

He is currently Executive Vice President, Production and Development for Byron Allen's ENTERTAINMENT STUDIOS, a global media company. He also serves as Executive Producer of the nationally syndicated comedy celebrity game show Funny You Should Ask.



Gloria Calderón Kellett
Executive Producer, Co-creator, Co-showrunner, Director, and Actress, One Day at a Time

Gloria Calderón Kellett is the executive producer, co-creator, co-showrunner, director, and actress on the critically acclaimed sitcom One Day at a Time. Coming later this year, her new Amazon Original series, With Love, is the first series coming out of an overall deal between her company and Amazon Studios.

The proud daughter of Cuban immigrants, Calderón Kellett graduated from Loyola Marymount University and went on to earn a Masters degree in Theatre from the University of London. She spent her early years as a writer/producer on numerous shows including Devious Maids, Rules of Engagement, and How I Met Your Mother. Her acting credits include Jane The Virgin, Angie Tribeca, Dead To Me, How I Met Your Mother, and One Day at a Time. She also appeared as a narrator on Drunk History (New Orleans). In directing, Calderón Kellett has worked on episodes of One Day at a Time, Mr. Iglesias, Merry Happy Whatever, United We Fall, and the Mad About You revival.

She is an ambassador for the non-profit ReFrame and launched a “Hollywood 101” web series with Buzzfeed’s PeroLike. The series offers free advice to new artists at the beginning of their entertainment careers.

Awards for her work include The Television Academy Honors, The Geffen TrailBlazer Award, Mental Health America Media Award, ALMA Award, Imagen Award, Vanguard Award, NHMC Award, Sentinel Award, and The Voice Award. She has been honored as an industry leader by The Hollywood Reporter in their Top Women in Entertainment issue, the THR100 list issue, and their 50 Agents of Change issue.



James Pearse Connelly
Production Designer

James Pearse Connelly is an Emmy-winning production designer acclaimed for his work on iconic shows such as NBC’s The Voice and The Kelly Clarkson Show, Bravo’s Top Chef, Netflix’s Nailed It! and more.

Connelly was honored with his first Primetime Emmy Award for his work on the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009 and his second Daytime Emmy Award for his work on The Kelly Clarkson Show in 2020. In the years following, he has been recognized for his bold production design with sixteen additional Emmy nominations and nine Art Directors Guild Award nominations for shows including The Masked Singer, The Voice, and Netflix's Bill Nye Saves The World.

Well-versed in the medium of TV, Connelly has made a name for himself designing for an array of television genres - from reality competition to variety to late night to live spectacle. Additional
credits include Foodtastic, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, America’s Most Wanted, Global Citizen Live: Los Angeles, Fox’s New Years Eve, Teen Choice Awards, World of Dance, Making It with Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, History of Swear Words, Craftopia, and The Kids Tonight Show. Connelly also served as principal art director on the 2010 Oscar-nominated feature film The Kids Are All Right.

Additionally, Connelly’s creative design company JPConnelly specializes in production design for special events and experiential activations for companies like Fifa, Supercell, Twitter, Twitch, Activision, and LinkedIn. JPConnelly prides itself on its use of experiential production design and storytelling techniques to create innovative, immersive environments.

A dedicated member of the Television Academy since 2007, Connelly has served an active role on the Peer Group Executive Committee for Production Design and is currently serving as Governor and two years Chairman of the Primetime Show Committee.



Sandra Equihua
Creative Consultant, Maya and the Three

Sandra Equihua is a painter, voice actress, character designer and creator from Tijuana, Mexico. She designed most of the female characters in the animated feature The Book of Life for which earned her an Annie award for best feature animation character design. She collaborates, voices and designs for all of Jorge R. Gutierrez's animation projects including most recently the Emmy nominated Son of Jaguar VR short for Google. Along with her husband Jorge, they created the multiple Annie and Emmy Award­–winning animated television series El Tigre, The Adventures of Manny Rivera for Nickelodeon for which she won both an Emmy and Annie for her character designs. Equihua is currently consulting and designing characters for Gutierrez's animated event limited series Maya and the Three for Netflix Animation. 

 



Adrienne Faillace
Producer, Television Academy Foundation

Adrienne Faillace is the Producer for the Television Academy Foundation’s The Interviews: An Oral History of Television. She produces and conducts interviews, oversees the cataloging and research for the oral history collection, edits interviews for Emmy magazine, and serves as a co-editor of The Interviews’ website. 

Prior to joining the Foundation, Adrienne assisted with the Paley Center for Media’s television festivals and public programs, produced events for the American Red Cross, Bay Area Chapter, and wrote scripts and researched content for KMTP-TV in San Francisco.

Adrienne studied television history at the post-graduate level in Northwestern University’s Department of Radio, Television and Film, received a Master of Arts in Television, Radio and Film from Syracuse University, and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Princeton University.



Harry Friedman
Executive Producer, Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune

Harry Friedman is television’s most prolific game show producer of all time. In his current position as Executive Producer of the two most lasting and successful syndicated programs ever, Wheel of Fortune and JEOPARDY!, he has produced more than 9,500 episodes of the iconic shows to date. His decades-spanning career is marked by his unique ability to honor the traditions of the past while keeping an eye towards the future, tweaking both programs just enough to keep them current and on the cutting edge. Under his stewardship, Wheel of Fortune and JEOPARDY! have transcended the game show category and are among the most buzzworthy programs of any type on television today.

Friedman is a multiple Emmy® Award winner, a Peabody Award winner, and a three-time Guinness World Record® holder; he also has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and has been inducted into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

A member of the Writers Guild of America-West and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Friedman lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Judy. Together, they are champions of philanthropy. The pair supports Omaha’s Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, and multiple scholarship funds for deserving college students. Friedman is also a co-founder and board member of the Marlene F. Landy Cancer Foundation, which provides support to cancer patients while undergoing treatment. To date, more than 400 families have received assistance.

Additionally, the Friedmans have established The Harry and Judy Friedman Family Foundation, a private foundation supporting programs that aim to assist children by reducing hunger and increasing educational opportunities. The foundation also supports veterans of the U.S. Armed Services and programs dedicated to the rescue and humane treatment of animals.



Jorge R. Gutierrez
Creator/Director, Maya and the Three

Jorge R. Gutierrez is a Mexican animator, painter, voice actor, writer, and director. Born in Mexico City and raised in Tijuana, Gutierrez has completed various films, cartoons, illustrations, and paintings exploring his love with Mexican pop and folk culture. He was the director & co-writer of the Guillermo Del Toro produced animated feature The Book of Life for Fox which earned him a 2014 Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Animated Feature Film. He was also the writer & director of the Emmy nominated Son of Jaguar VR short for Google. Along with his wife and muse, Sandra Equihua, they created the multiple Emmy Award–winning animated television series El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera for Nickelodeon. Gutierrez  most recently wrote and directed his animated event Maya and the Three for Netflix.


 


Ivana Kirkbride
Global Director of Content Strategy and Programming, Facebook Inc.

Ivana Kirkbride is the global director of content strategy and programming for Facebook Inc. where she oversees content investment and strategy, content acquisition programs, development, and programming across the Facebook family of apps including Facebook Watch, Instagram Video and Messenger Watch Together.

Prior to joining Facebook, Kirkbride served as general manager for OTT Entertainment at Verizon Media. As chief content officer for Verizon's video service go90, she executed a focus on premium content. Under her leadership, go90 earned over 90 major award nominations including an Oscar for best animated short film Dear Basketball—the first for an ad-supported video platform. She also served as head of content for Vessel and held several executive roles at YouTube.

Kirkbride is a 2018 Henry Crown fellow with the Aspen Institute and is a member of the Producers Guild of America and International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. She also serves on board councils for the Consumer Technology Association and VidCon.



Jenni Matz
Director, Television Academy Foundation

Jenni Matz is the Director of the Television Academy Foundations’ Interviews: An Oral History of Television. With her guidance the program launched its award-winning website, which contains cross-referenced access to our 900+ long-format, oral history interviews with television pioneers from Betty White to Larry Wilmore. Jenni started working at the Foundation in 2008 as its first digital archivist, supervising the entire digitization project of over 3,500 hours of video, and working with colleagues in the archival and information technology fields to create a fully indexed, time-based content management system. Along with producing The Interviews and managing its online presence, Jenni works to enhance use and access of the Interviews, including licensing the footage to third parties.

Previously, Jenni was the manager and producer of the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, a collection of in-depth interviews with comedians spearheaded by comedy legend Bill Dana. She worked for over 20 years in documentary television production as a producer, editor, and researcher, including work on the award-winning American Experience documentary Hoover Dam, a 16-part series on American Literature for Annenberg CPB, and as a Line Producer for Diane Sawyer. She is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker. She is Chair of the Moving Image Craft Documentation Alliance (MIC’D) comprised of colleagues from practitioners of visual oral histories in L.A. including SAG, DGA, WGF, and the Motion Picture Academy.

Jenni has a J.D from Southwestern Law School, a Masters in Library and Information Sciences from Simmons College, and a B.A. in Philosophy from Bates College.



Matt Strauss
Chairman, Direct-to-Consumer and International, NBC Universal

Matt Strauss was named Chairman, Direct-to-Consumer and International in August of 2020. In this role, Strauss is responsible for all aspects of Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service; Fandango, a global digital network serving more than 67 million monthly visitors with best-in- class movie information, ticketing, trailers, home entertainment, and fan merchandise; and International Networks, a division that delivers quality content and compelling brands to over 176 territories across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and Asia Pacific. He reports to Mark Lazarus, Chairman, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming.

Prior to joining NBCUniversal in 2019 to lead Peacock and NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises, Strauss was Executive Vice President, Xfinity Services for Comcast Cable, where he led the strategy and development of best-in-class products and services that served more than 30 million customers across Comcast’s residential lines of business - including Xfinity TV, one of the nation’s largest pay-TV distributors of video and entertainment services; Xfinity Internet, the nation’s largest gig provider; Xfinity Home and Xfinity Voice.

Under Strauss’ leadership, Comcast transformed its video and Internet services with industry- leading experiences on the TV and across devices, including the Emmy Award-winning Xfinity X1 guide and voice remote, Xfinity Stream, Xfinity Flex, Xfinity xFi, ultra-fast gigabit speeds, the nation’s largest and fastest Wi-Fi network, home security and digital home automation features and controls.

He previously served as Executive Vice President, Video and Entertainment Services for Comcast Cable. In that role, Strauss led the video business through a period of unprecedented results and in 2016 alone, helped the company reach positive video subscriber growth for the first time in a decade. With a focus on innovation, personalization, and seamless access to the best entertainment experiences across platforms, he helped redefine the entertainment viewing experience for Xfinity TV customers with Xfinity X1, Xfinity Stream, cloud DVR, live in-home streaming across devices, the industry’s first talking guide, and the Emmy-Award-winning voice remote.

Strauss joined the senior management team at Comcast in 2004 as the Senior Vice President, New Media, where he led content acquisition and strategic development of all on demand and cross platform programming properties and services.

Prior to Comcast, he served as the Executive Vice President and General Manager of Rainbow Media’s on demand service Mag Rack, where he pioneered the video on demand model with one of the first national on demand networks. Prior to this, he served as Vice President of Business Development for Rainbow Media, where he led the organization’s acquisition strategy for new and traditional media. He also held several management positions with Disney-ABC, including serving in the Strategic Planning department for the ABC Television Network.

Matt holds a B.S. from New York University’s Stern School of Business and resides in Cherry Hill, NJ with his wife and four children.


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