Channeling Her Support: Media Industry Innovator Empowers Female Business Leaders

By Tyler Strand

As a child, Kathy Dore (72BA, 84MBA) spent many Saturday mornings alongside her father at Owens Brush Company in Iowa City—watching the diligence behind his work as president of the toothbrush and hairbrush manufacturer. The quality father-daughter time—suggested by Dore’s mother—sparked her interest in business and laid the groundwork for her future career as a media industry leader. “It taught me a real work ethic and exposed me to a business environment,” says Dore. “My mother very subtly supported an expansive view of what a woman could be and do.”

Dore merged her interests in business and the arts through her studies at the University of Iowa and matched her parents’ determination and creativity to become one of cable television’s top executives. The Regina High School grad rose through the ranks at Rainbow Media, where she served as president of entertainment services for cable networks AMC (American Movie Classics), IFC (Independent Film Channel), WE (Women’s Entertainment), and Bravo. Among Hollywood Reporter’s annual list of “100 Most Powerful Women,” Dore increased Bravo’s subscriber base from less than 500,000 households to more than 68 million and later served as president of CanWest Media, one of Canada’s premier media companies. Today, she lends her leadership knowledge as senior advisor of vision and strategy for consulting firm Proteus Inc. to help businesses achieve success.

Dore returned to the UI to give a “Life with Phil” talk on Nov. 8 at the Black Box Theater in the Iowa Memorial Union. The annual fall lecture, hosted by the UI Center for Advancement, highlighted the many ways students are affected—and can influence others—through philanthropy.

Dore first envisioned herself a Hawkeye during recess at St. Mary's Catholic Elementary School—across the street from what is now the Pappajohn Business Building. Standing on the playground, she peered through the fence at the college students walking to class and dreamed of being one of them. After school, Dore crossed the Hancher footbridge and UI Theatre Building on her walk home, occasionally stopping at Burge Hall for a Cherry Coke. Says Dore: “Iowa permeated my being from a very early age.”

Though Dore started college at the University of Missouri, she transferred to Iowa as a junior and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication and theatre arts. She attained an MBA 12 years later after stints in Washington, D.C., and at ACT and the UI Alumni Association. Dore worked at Merrill Lynch while completing the MBA but found her path as an affiliate marketing manager with Rainbow Media’s parent company, Cablevision Systems Corporation.

Dore maintained her connection to the UI throughout her rise in cable television and continues to support fellow Hawkeyes. During her 44 years of continuous financial support, Dore started a communication studies fund to support students’ academic and professional conference expenses. In 2015, she established the Kathleen Dore-Henry B. Tippie Women’s Leadership Program, which includes training, mentorship, and scholarships to support female MBA students. A longtime champion of women’s empowerment in the workplace, Dore has strived for gender-balanced teams that she says lead to deeper discussion, better listening, and stronger performance. “My goal is to see more women take leadership roles,” says Dore. “Let’s ensure that women have the tools and the level of experience and talent to be equal participants in whatever group, team, or company they join.”

Dore says Iowa gave her a sense of perspective that made her a more thoughtful and strategic leader. It taught her resilience and pragmatism—and affirmed the importance of valuing individuals within a larger organization. She says: “[Iowa] is all about people and though it’s a huge institution, there’s a real focus on how it impacts individuals.”

Although Dore admits she wasn’t aware of all the ways philanthropy affected her as a UI student—including through providing quality instructors, facilities, and opportunities outside the classroom—she now fully understands how the contributions of many helped her throughout her UI education and career. “It’s impossible to achieve success without the involvement, engagement, and support of other people every step of the way,” says Dore. “Iowa teaches you to have high expectations of yourself and deliver on those in an independent and open-minded manner.”

To find out more about the Life with Phil talk and past speakers, please visit wp.foriowa.org/philwashere.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Jessica Mattes in advance at 319-467-3533.

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