Fireside Chat with Anne Sweeney
Ms Sweeney is a member of the Board of Directors at Netflix, the Board of Trustees at the Mayo Clinic, and a Deans Distinguished Fellow at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. Prior to embarking on a new chapter in the entertainment industry in 2015, she was co-chair, Disney Media Networks, and president, Disney/ABC Television Group, which includes The Walt Disney Company's global entertainment and news television properties, owned television stations group, as well as radio and publishing businesses.
In this role Ms. Sweeney oversaw ABC Studios, the ABC Owned Television Stations Group, and the ABC Television Network, which provides entertainment, news and kids programming to viewers via more than 200 affiliated stations across the U.S. She also oversaw Disney Channels Worldwide, a portfolio of over 100 kid-driven, family inclusive entertainment channels, including Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Jnr, Disney Cinemagic, Hungama, GXT and Radio Disney brands. Additionally, Ms. Sweeney's responsibilities included cable networks ABC Family, the company's equity interest in A&E Television Networks, and Disney's publishing imprint, Hyperion.
In 2005, Ms. Sweeney led the industry into the digital era when the Disney/ABC Television Group became the first media company to put television content on new platforms. The group was the first to leverage iTunes, the first to introduce an ad-supported full episode player online, and the first to deliver an application for the iPad. Under her leadership, the Group continues to combine high-quality content with strategic use of traditional and emerging distribution platforms to deliver compelling news and entertainment viewing experiences to hundreds of millions of people around the world.
From October 2000 to April 2004, Ms. Sweeney served as president of ABC Cable Networks Group and Disney Channels Worldwide, where under her leadership Disney Channel more than quintupled its subscriber base. In April 1998, she also oversaw the successful launch of the 24-hour channel Toon Disney (now known as Disney XD), and later the launch of SOAPnet in January 2000.
Ms. Sweeney joined The Walt Disney Company in February 1996 as president of Disney Channel and executive vice president of Disney/ABC Cable Networks. Previously she was chairman and CEO of FX Networks, Inc., since 1993. During her tenure there, she presided over the launch of two basic cable networks, entertainment-focused FX and FXM: Movies from Fox, Hollywood's first studio-based movie network.
Before joining Fox, Ms. Sweeney spent 12 years at Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite in various executive positions.
Active in organizations both within and outside the television industry, Ms. Sweeney currently sits on the boards of The Fulfillment Fund, and the Board of Visitors for UCLA Anderson. She is a prior board member of the boards of AFI, the A&E Television Networks, Hulu, The Paley Center for Media and Special Olympics.
Ms. Sweeney has repeatedly been named the "Most Powerful Woman in Entertainment" by The Hollywood Reporter, one of the "50 Most Powerful Women in Business" by Fortune and one of "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women" by Forbes. In 2008 she was honored with the Broadcasters Foundation of America's Golden Mike Award for Outstanding Contributions to Broadcasting, the Matrix Award for television from New York Women in Communications, Inc., as well as the National Cable & Telecommunications Association's Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership. Ms. Sweeney was inducted into the Cable Center's Hall of Fame in October 2007 and recognized by the Producers Guild of America in 2006 with the President's Citation for her efforts on behalf of diversity across the Disney/ABC Television Group. In 2005 she was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable "Hall of Fame," and in 2004 received the Muse Award from New York Women in Film & Television. She has been honored repeatedly by Women in Cable & Telecommunications -- as Executive of the Year in 1994, Woman of the Year in 1997, and in 1998 as the recipient of the Advocate Leader Award from WICT's Southern California chapter. In 1995 she received the prestigious STAR Award from American Women in Radio and Television. She was inducted into the American Advertising Federation's Advertising Hall of Achievement in 1996. In 2002 she received Women in Film's esteemed Lucy Award and has been awarded the Cable Television Public Affairs Association's President's Award.
Ms. Sweeney earned a BA degree from The College of New Rochelle and an Ed. M. degree from Harvard University.
Kara joined Upfront as a partner in November 2014. Before joining Upfront, Kara co-founded Moonfrye, a children’s e-commerce company which merged to become Seedling. Prior to Seedling, Kara spent close to seven years at IAC where she acted as the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Urbanspoon and Citysearch. Prior to Urbanspoon/Citysearch, Kara co-headed the M&A group at IAC where she lead some of their most successful acquisitions, notably Urbanspoon, Dictionary.com and Aston Hotels. While at IAC, Kara also served as a board member to Hatch Labs, IAC’s mobile technology incubator, where she was the seed investor and advisor to Tinder. Kara also spent time at Morgan Stanley, Microsoft, and Battery Ventures.