About the Nominees
The nominees for the 6th Annual WiTH Leadership Awards represent a diverse group of women who have not only achieved remarkable success in their respective fields but have also made profound contributions to their communities. These outstanding individuals have been nominated for their exceptional leadership, dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and their unwavering commitment to advancing women in technology. All of the nominees embody the spirit of WiTH and the values it stands for. Their stories of leadership, advocacy, and innovation inspire us all. We eagerly await the announcement of the winners at the SoCal Women’s Leadership Summit 2023, where we will celebrate their outstanding contributions to the entertainment technology industry and the broader community.
Let’s take a closer look at some of this year’s remarkable nominees:
Shazzy Angulo is the Unreal Development Supervisor at WildBrain and is the creator of Mitzy Makes It, which is a series of educational videos and children’s books she created to change the stigma around STEAM and inspire a new generation of builders, creators, and makers. She has her Master’s in Computer Science from USC and has been working in the innovative technology space for 6 years.
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.
Filiz Bahmanpour, Vice President of Product at Gracenote, is breaking down barriers in the digital supply chain. She collaborates across organizations to solve problems related to metadata governance. Filiz is also involved in mentoring through WiTH’s program, providing valuable resources to the next generation of industry leaders. Her impact on the industry extends far and wide.
Samira Panah Bakhtiar
Samira Panah Bakhtiar is a dynamic leader in tune with the powerful relationship between digital media and technology. As Director of Global Media & Entertainment Amazon Web Services (AWS), she leads a high-performing, multi-generational team of builders and champions diversity (close to half her org is gender diverse). Over the past 2 decades, her work has led to strategic alignment and business transformations with some of the world’s largest media players. Samira is passionate about advancing the status of women in technology, she is a presence in media, tech, and the LA & NYC-based entrepreneurial community, as well as throughout major nonprofits and social impact organizations (Bridge2Act, Together1Heart, Summit Series, Soho House). Samira continues to find ways to connect and inspire other ambitious women in tech, most recently serving as the Co-Founder of the Women@ AWS Industries and a Director at Large of The WICT Network.
iAsia Brown also known as “The Tech Picasso” is an eccentrically prodigious humanist, she is a globally recognized Storyteller, and commissioned artist. Always investing in human capital, “People First,” she has the unique ability to advance people by helping them to understand their value and apply it to their lives. Self proclaimed, “Coolest Nerd You’ll Ever Meet”. Her approachability, ambition, accountability and integrity has allowed her to advance in the Tech World full throttle. iAsia speaks at conferences worldwide about her experiences with PTSD , Anxiety, Diversity Equity & Inclusion all while on roller-skates, she loves to bring people along and devotes a lot of her time helping veterans, transitioning service members, members of the LGBTQIA and anyone who happens to cross her path career switch into tech.
Tammy L. Choy is vice president and chief information officer of The Aerospace Corporation. In this role, she provides leadership to Aerospace’s information technology, security, and safety organizations. She oversees operations, strategic planning, and policy initiatives for computing resources and infrastructure, corporate security, environmental, health and safety, and the development of programs and services critical to the success of the corporation. Choy assumed this position in December 2017. Choy has a long career solving some of Aerospace’s most complex operational problems and brings extensive information technology experience developing enterprise solutions that protect information belonging to the U.S. Air Force, intelligence community, and commercial customers. She began her career at Aerospace in 1985 as an intern in the Engineering and Technology Group (ETG). She was later promoted to a member of the technical staff in ETG’s Electronics and Sensors Division. Throughout her career, Choy has held positions of increasing responsibility including engineering specialist in ETG’s Computer Systems Division followed by senior engineering specialist, and chief engineer in Enterprise Information Services (EIS).
Carol Danoff, Chief Procurement Officer at Warner Bros. Discovery, has an impressive career trajectory, transitioning between prominent companies. Her dedication to treating others with care has left a lasting impact on those she has worked with. Carol’s story is not only one of professional success but also of personal integrity and inspiration.
Eileen P. Drake
Eileen P. Drake, former CEO and President of Aerojet Rocketdyne, is a dedicated mentor and advocate for professional women. She played a pivotal role in the Space Workforce 2030 Pledge, promoting inclusivity in the aerospace industry. Eileen’s involvement with the Girl Scouts of the USA’s National Board of Directors showcases her commitment to leadership development.
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, EVP & 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.
Katie Hinsen, Director of Technology at Marvel Studios, is a true leader in the field of technology development for productions. Beyond her professional achievements, Katie is an advocate for women and diversity in the industry. She runs the bluecollarpostcollective and publishes data on DEI in post-production, actively mentoring newcomers and ensuring they have networking and learning opportunities.
Picture Shop President Cara Sheppard’s extensive understanding of the end-to-end production, creative, technical and post production pipeline, is fueled by nearly 20 years of experience in production, broadcasting, and post. She began her career as a freelancer in production, advancing to post production supervisor before joining British broadcaster Sky as a manager. Segueing from her role at Sky to facility management, she rose to managing director of Warner Bros. De Lane Lea, the award winning sound and picture facility in the heart of Soho. Next came the legendary Twickenham Film Studios, where she served as managing director. She was appointed president of Picture Shop, the picture division of Streamland Media. She serves on Streamland’s executive committee which is the largest post-production company in the world. Her focus is on building a truly global, connected network of first class post production finishing facilities with top tier talent. Cara brings a unique combination of technical knowledge, production and post leadership, and the ability to work with and be a creative partner to clients and post production talent.
Jessica ‘Sica’ von Medicus
Jessica is an experienced CG Lighting and Generalist Artist. Currently in Los Angeles area. Sica is an industrious and capable generalist and lighting artist, with an ability to find a solution to any projects needs. Team player mentality with 3 years of leadership experience, coupled with a positive and humble attitude.
The WiTH Board of Directors is responsible for selecting the Leadership Awards winners and comprises representatives from some of the most prominent organizations in the entertainment technology sector, including Microsoft, Lionsgate, NBCUniversal, Paramount, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and The Walt Disney Company. Their expertise and commitment to recognizing excellence ensure that the awards reflect the highest standards of achievement in our industry.
To learn more about the SoCal Women’s Leadership Summit and Register to attend, CLICK HERE