DEG’s Canon Club Empowers the Community of Women in Home Entertainment

As part of its mission to promote products, platforms and distribution channels that support the movie and TV industry, one of the goals of the DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group has been to help cultivate a vibrant community for women in entertainment and technology. To aid in that effort, DEG created Canon Club, which strives to be a place where women at all levels and in all sectors of the digital entertainment business are welcome to share knowledge and build their business networks.

Canon Club was founded in 2014 during a lunch organized by DEG president and CEO Amy Jo Smith and attended by a small group of women who held senior posts across the digital entertainment industry and related businesses. Robin Tarufelli of Deloitte, Canon Club’s chair since 2019, and board advisor Darcy Antonellis of Amdocs were among the initial group. That first gathering took place in Beverly Hills at a restaurant on Canon Drive, providing the group with its name.

“DEG’s goal with Canon Club has always been to provide women at all levels of media and entertainment a community to foster knowledge and communication, and to help all of the great, talented women in our industry find their voices to influence the evolution of this dynamically evolving business,” Smith said.

At Canon Club’s core are a series of salons, held in-person, and since the COVID pandemic also virtually, that bring female executives together to learn from speakers and one another. Recent salons have featured Sara DeWitt, SVP and GM of PBS Kids; female founders Paulette Pantoja of Blu Digital Group, Teresa Phillips of Spherex, and Nelly Voukaki of Looper Insights; senior Edelman executives speaking on leading with empathy; and Catlin O’Shaughnessy Coffrin of Captivating Co. on Building Your Personal Brand.

In mid-October Canon Club will for the second time present a daylong management training for members produced in partnership with Xperi. On Oct. 18, members will participate in a Developing Courageous Leadership Workshop, based on the work of Dr. Brené Brown and her playbook for developing brave leaders and courageous cultures, Dare to Lead.

Canon Club also offers less-structured, informal networking events, such as a recent lunch outing to the Academy of Motion Pictures Museum, hosted by DEG and Giant Worldwide.

In 2023, after a few years of mostly virtual events, Canon Club has hosted multiple in-person events all over Los Angeles, culminating with the Hedy Lamar Awards on Nov. 7 at The Skirball Center.

To foster the spirit of knowledge sharing and inspiration for all women in the business of home entertainment, DEG under the auspices of Canon Club in 2017 created the Hedy Lamarr Awards to recognize and inspire pioneering work by the multi-faceted female leaders in the entertainment industry. Each year the organization recognizes both industry executives and female college students whose studies in the fields of entertainment and technology have shown exceptional promise. The 2023 Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment Technology will be presented to Shalini Govil-Pai, VP and GM of TV Platforms at Google. In 2023, Dean Elizabeth Daley of the USC School of Cinematic Arts also will be honored with the Hedy Lamarr Inspiration Award for her pioneering adoption of cutting-edge technology into curriculum and practice.

In addition to Tarufelli and Antonellis, Canon Club’s current advisory board includes vice chair Meri Hassouni of Giant Worldwide, Blu Digital Group CEO Paulette Pantoja, Cineverse’s Yolanda Macias, Intel’s Allison Gordon, Microsoft’s Dametra Johnson-Marletti, Movies Anywhere’s Karin Gilford, NCBUniversal’s Nadia Haney, PBS Distribution president Andrea Downing, Premiere Digital Services’ Michele Edelman, Spherex co-founder and CEO Teresa Phillips, Vizio’s Katherine Pond, Whip Media president Carol Hanley, Xperi’s Loren Nielsen, as well as Janice Pearson and Jessica Schell.

The group is already busy planning a robust slate of activities for 2024.

“As part of Canon Club’s 10th anniversary next year, look for a new emphasis on the inclusion and early career development of younger female executives,” Smith said.

Canon Club membership is inclusive — any employee of a DEG member company is welcome to participate. More information about the group or its events can be found by visiting DEGonline.org/canon-club/ or emailing meegan@degonline.org to be included on its mailing list.

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DEG’s New ‘4 Cups of Coffee’ Mentoring Program

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group on June 5 kicked off a new mentoring program, “4 Cups of Coffee,” at the “Cocktails & Coffee” event at Sony  Studios in the Norman Lear Commissary. Under the program, the DEG’s Canon Club will match women in search of mentors with one of its advisors or other women executives for 30-minute career conversations, either in person or over the phone, up to four times per year. The Canon Club was established by DEG to provide women at all levels and in all sectors of digital media the opportunity to share knowledge and build their business networks. Last month, the DEG announced the appointment of 10 advisory board members to provide input on Canon Club event programming, rotate as host at speaker-driven salons and social/networking events, serve as founding mentors in the “4 Cups of Coffee” program, and judge the annual Hedy Lamarr Awards for Women in Entertainment and Technology, among other responsibilities. The advisory board is led by chair Robin Tarufelli of Deloitte, and vice chair Meri Hassouni of Giant Interactive. Other members are Loren Nielsen, DTS; Sofia Chang, HBO; Dametra Johnson-Marletti, Microsoft; Karin Gilford, Movies Anywhere; Andrea Downing, PBS Distribution; Cheryl Goodman, Sony Electronics; Nadia Haney, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment; and Darcy Antonellis, Vubiquity. Other Canon Club mentors include Beth Kearns, 20th Century Fox; Heathyr Jozel-Garcia, ABC Studios; Samara Winterfeld, DTS; Ken Williams, ETC@USC; Kejo Swingler, HBO; and Rachel Crang, Paramount Pictures.

DEG Creates Advisory Board for Canon Club

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group May 20 announced the creation of an advisory board of senior executives for its Canon Club, an organization in which women at all levels and in all sectors of digital media share knowledge and build their business networks.

The 10 appointed Advisory Board members will provide input on Canon Club event programming, rotate as host at speaker-driven salons and social/networking events, serve as founding mentors in the “Four Cups of Coffee” mentoring network, and judge the annual Hedy Lamarr Awards for Women in Entertainment and Technology.

The advisory board will be led by chair Robin Tarufelli of Deloitte and vice chair Meri Hassouni of Giant Interactive. Other board members include Loren Nielsen, DTS; Sofia Chang, HBO (DEG board director); Dametra Johnson–Marletti, Microsoft (DEG board director); Karin Gilford, Movies Anywhere; Andrea Downing, PBS Distribution (DEG board director); Cheryl Goodman, Sony Electronics; Nadia Haney, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment; and Darcy Antonellis, Vubiquity.

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“I’m thrilled to work with these seasoned executives to take Canon Club to the next level,” said Amy Jo Smith, president and CEO of the DEG, in a statement. “Many of our advisors are longtime members and active supporters of DEG, and each of them comes to this new role enthusiastically and with a strong commitment to increase opportunities for women in entertainment and technology.”

The appointment of the board coincides with the launch of new benefits, activities and events for Canon Club members and a renewed focus on networking and career development.  DEG will help facilitate networking and career development. Programs include “Four Cups of Coffee,” which will match women in search of mentors with more senior executives for a cup of coffee and career conversation up to four times each year. Mentors (In addition to advisory board members) include Beth Kearns, 20TH Century Fox; Heathyr Jozel-Garcia, ABC Studios; Samara Winterfeld, DTS; Ken Williams, ETC@USC; Kejo Swingler, HBO; and Rachel Crang, Paramount Pictures. Another program is the DTS Management Training Program under which sponsor DTS will invite up to 20 Canon Club members currently in management positions to participate in a one-day management training program, with the goal of preparing more women for senior leadership positions in digital media. All eligible female executives at DEG member companies may apply.

Canon Club Members are invited to meet the advisors and mentors and sign up for coffee with a mentor at a kick-off networking reception scheduled for the evening of June 5 at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City. Visit degonline.org for more information.

Canon Club is made possible by the support of presenting sponsor Deloitte, and sponsors DTS and PBS Distribution.

All executives and staff at DEG Member companies are automatically members of Canon Club and are invited to participate in Canon Club activities at no additional cost. Individuals outside DEG Member companies can purchase annual memberships for $199 per year (half price for students). Companies that are not members of DEG can purchase Canon Club sponsor memberships by emailing Andi Elliott (andi@degonline.org).