Nat Geo's Ong Feted at WICT Gala

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Get outside your comfort zone and take risks - that was the message from National Geographic Channel President Laureen Ong, honored last night as Women in Cable and Telecommunications Woman of the Year.

Ong, who has headed Nat Geo from its inception nearly five years ago, recalled that she was encouraged by her father to order a different meal every time her family went out to dinner. (At Chinese restaurants, that often meant ordering chicken and pigs' feet.) The drive to venture into the unknown later became essential in her longtime career as a cable executive, Ong told the crowd of industry heavyweights gathered at the gala event.

Ong was feted with a mock National Geographic special, in which executives from the network and its parent companies, the National Geographic Society and Fox, described the "rare female species" known as Laureen Ong.

In presenting Ong with the award, National Geographic Society President and CEO John Fahey won laughs from the crowd by joking that Ong was the "first offspring of the marriage between Fox and the National Geographic Society." He added: "It reminds me of the plot of Rosemary's Baby."

The gala, held at the Hilton Washington in Washington, D.C., also honored WICT's two "women to watch" - Comcast's VP of Investor Relations Marlene S. Dooner and Cox's VP of Communications and Public Affairs Ellen East. A&E Network took home top honors for programming for its Christopher Reeve-directed movie The Brooke Ellison Story and its documentary Bearing Witness, about five female journalists in Iraq.

Also honored last night were the high rankers in a WICT-sponsored study to track workplace progress for females in the cable industry. The study, Pay Equity, Advancement Opportunities and Resources for Work/Life Support, found that of the 33 companies that participated, Cox was the best operator for women in cable, Discovery was the best programmer for women in cable, The Weather Channel was the best for pay equity, Oxygen was the best for advancement and Cox was the best for work/life resources.

The WICT Foundation is a charitable organization that aims for change in the cable industry through research, development, advocacy and education. Former View co-host Lisa Ling, who hosts Nat Geo's Explorer, emceed last night's event.

Ong, who has headed Nat Geo from its inception nearly five years ago, recalled that she was encouraged by her father to order a different meal every time her family went out to dinner. (At Chinese restaurants, that often meant ordering chicken and pigs' feet.) The drive to venture into the unknown later became essential in her longtime career as a cable executive, Ong told the crowd of industry heavyweights gathered at the gala event.

Ong was feted with a mock National Geographic special, in which executives from the network and its parent companies, the National Geographic Society and Fox, described the "rare female species" known as Laureen Ong.

In presenting Ong with the award, National Geographic Society President and CEO John Fahey won laughs from the crowd by joking that Ong was the "first offspring of the marriage between Fox and the National Geographic Society." He added: "It reminds me of the plot of Rosemary's Baby."

The gala, held at the Hilton Washington in Washington, D.C., also honored WICT's two "women to watch" - Comcast's VP of Investor Relations Marlene S. Dooner and Cox's VP of Communications and Public Affairs Ellen East. A&E Network took home top honors for programming for its Christopher Reeve-directed movie The Brooke Ellison Story and its documentary Bearing Witness, about five female journalists in Iraq.

Also honored last night were the high rankers in a WICT-sponsored study to track workplace progress for females in the cable industry. The study, Pay Equity, Advancement Opportunities and Resources for Work/Life Support, found that of the 33 companies that participated, Cox was the best operator for women in cable, Discovery was the best programmer for women in cable, The Weather Channel was the best for pay equity, Oxygen was the best for advancement and Cox was the best for work/life resources.

The WICT Foundation is a charitable organization that aims for change in the cable industry through research, development, advocacy and education. Former View co-host Lisa Ling, who hosts Nat Geo's Explorer, emceed last night's event.

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