Chang, Alava, Iverson, Skorus-Neely Win WiTH Leadership Awards

Women in Technology Hollywood (WiTH) named four winners of its 5th Annual Leadership Awards Nov. 4 at the SoCal Women’s Leadership Summit in Los Angeles, honoring leaders and advocates for women in the entertainment technology field.

The awards recognize those who exemplify WiTH’s pillars in both their work and communities, with a focus on those who excel in professional development, mentoring and networking, and community engagement.

The 2022 winners are Annie Chang, VP of creative technologies for Universal Pictures and NBCUniversal; Marcela Alava, special assistant to President Biden, and deputy director of technology for the White House; Eric Iverson, director of product strategy for Amazon Studios; and Nina Skorus-Neely, Digital Advisor, Microsoft.

“When we created the awards, we thought ‘How can we celebrate people who are doing amazing work out there?’” said Nadya Ichinomiya, executive director, head of the Agile Center of Excellence for Sony Pictures Entertainment, and WiTH Foundation chairwoman. “Seeing the list of people who were nominated for this award, there are so many people who are doing amazing work out there to create a more diverse, accessible, equitable world, specifically in media and entertainment.”

Annie Chang, VP of Creative Technologies, Universal Pictures and NBCUniversal

Annie Chang is responsible for designing next-generation workflows across film and helping to develop emerging immersive media experiences. Prior to joining Universal in early 2018, Chang was in technology roles for Walt Disney Studios and Marvel Studios, where she was in charge of providing technology solutions for movie productions in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Chang has served as the AMPAS ACES Project Chair and co-chair of the AMPAS SciTech Council, and as chair of the Interoperable Master Format (IMF) Working Group at the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE).

“To me she is a legend, and one of the most impactful role models I have ever met,” Christina Aguilera, president of the WiTH Foundation, and head of technology workflow and strategy for Amazon Studios, said of Chang.

“It’s wonderful to be recognized by your peers for the work you do, and I just look for ways to give back,” Chang said.

Marcela Alava, Special Assistant to the President, Deputy Director of Technology, White House

Marcela Alava is a former divisional CIO of worldwide home entertainment information technology at Sony Pictures Entertainment, Alava went on to be the head of technology at the Hispanic Scholarship Fund where she built their technology roadmap from the ground up. She poured her time, energy, and technical acumen into that organization which, like Women in Technology Hollywood, is focused on giving back and creating opportunities for their community.

“She’s always been very, very involved with the WiTH community, but also across many other organizations, including STEM Advantage, Step Up Women’s Network,” said Theresa Miller, CIO and EVP of IT for Lionsgate. “She is fearless, someone I admire so much.”

“This organization means so much to me,” Alava said. “I ask you to continue to shine that light, continue to convene, continue to show up and support each other.”

Eric Iverson, Director of Product Strategy, Amazon Studios

Eric Iverson is the director of product strategy for Amazon Studios and has been a highly committed and vocal advocate and ally for women in tech in the entertainment industry for many years. He participated in the planning and instruction at the UCLA Extension Women in Leadership CIO Certification program. He has partnered with WiTH on various initiatives and programs. And he has been a mentor in the WiTH Mentorship program and has been a formal and informal mentor and sponsor to many women at the various studios.

“He’s a mentor to so many people, helping develop the next generation of CIOs,” Ichinomiya said of Iverson.

“By far and away the most honored I feel in my life, this is super important to me, your work is super important,” Iverson said.

Nina Skorus-Neely, Digital Advisor, Microsoft

Nina Skorus-Neely is a digital advisor for Microsoft. An executive board member of the WiTH Foundation, Skorus-Neely serves as secretary of WiTH, was the lead producer of the 2021 SoCal Women’s Leadership Summit and created the strategic planning initiative for the WiTH Foundation, setting the roadmap and actions needed to fulfill WiTH’s mission. She is also co-chair of the Professional Development Committee and was host of the Connection Corner webinar series that provided outlets for WiTH stakeholders to increase skills while networking.

“I couldn’t be happier to see this individual being recognized,” Aguilera said. “She has dedicated countless hours directly to our organization, and she has been instrumental in our growth, and irreplaceable in helping is find our direction.”

“I feel humbled just being in this group,” Skorus-Neely said. “I’m here to tell you that while our trajectory is better, there’s still a ways to go.”

WiTH also announced that four new members to its board, including Shelley Andagan, Women in Games ambassador and director of game studio partnerships and executive producer for Qualcomm; Filiz Bahmanpour, VP of product and studio solutions for Nielsen’s Gracenote; Chang, VP of creative technologies for Universal Pictures and NBCUniversal; and Dawn Martin, senior product manager for Riot Games.

The SoCal Women’s Leadership Summit was presented by Softtek, PacketFabric, Amazon Web Services, Cognizant, Deluxe, Expert.AI, FilmTrack, Google, KeyInfo, Los Angeles Duplication and Broadcasting, Method, and Premiere Digital. The event is produced by MESA in association with the Hollywood IT Society and Women in Technology Hollywood.