Geraldine Laybourne, the pioneering media executive at Nickelodeon and founder of Oxygen Media, will receive the Bresnan Ethics in Business Award by the Syndeo Institute at the Cable Center at the center’s Cable Hall of Fame induction ceremony on April 18 in New York.
Laybourne became a star media executive first as a creator of children’s and educational programming at Viacom’s Nickelodeon, where she spent 16 years and ran the network starting in 1984. She then served as president of Disney/ABC Cable Networks (1996-98) and was founder, chairman and CEO of Oxygen Media, the younger-women-focused cable network that launched under an intense spotlight in 2000 and was sold to NBCUniversal in 2007. She is in the Cable, Broadcasting+Cable and Television Academy halls of fame, was in the first group of Multichannel News Wonder Women and has received numerous other awards and honors, including Emmys, Peabodys and Parents’ Choice awards. She currently is on the boards of Betaworks, Common Sense Media Growth, The Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet and the Youth Opportunity Union (YOU) Advisory Boards and is vice chairman of Vital Voices, an organization that supports and develops promising women leaders around the world. She recently retired from the Vassar College board of trustees.
In a statement, Laybourne said: “What an honor to receive this award in Bill’s name. A role model to all of us, Bill was passionate about using business as a jumping-off point to make the world a better place. I love that so many of us, in the formative years of cable, built businesses that gave back to the communities we served. I’m particularly proud of the mentoring efforts we started that now live on all over the world. I started casually asking young women to take a walk rather than going out for a meal. We formalized it in 2006 by launching the first-ever Mentors Walk in NYC, and now there are 175 walks taking place annually. I think Bill would heartily approve of all these wise women giving advice to the next generation of leaders by taking a walk.”
Michael Willner, board chairman of the Syndeo Institute at The Cable Center, said: “Gerry is a true trailblazer in the cable industry — from building Nickelodeon into a top-rated network to creating Oxygen and leading Disney/ABC, her career achievements are unrivaled. She has tirelessly served the industry through her work on numerous boards and the thousands of women she has mentored. Her unwavering dedication to the early learning community is game changing. It is a special honor to present my good friend with the 2024 Bresnan Ethics in Business Award.”
Past recipients of the Bresnan Award include Pat Esser, Bill Daniels, Decker Anstrom, Ted Turner, June Travis, Brian Lamb and Bill Miron. More about the award and a 2000 Cable Center oral history interview with Laybourne can be found here. More about the Cable Hall of Fame and the upcoming ceremony at the Ziegfeld Ballroom can be found here.