Gena McCarthy

Before she became the authority on reality programming, McCarthy cut her teeth in children's television, working as a copywriter and publicist in 1993 for the PBS affiliate WQED in Pittsburgh. The University of Pittsburgh alum quickly moved up the ranks, working as a coordinating producer on the game show "Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego" (PBS 1996-97), where she was nominated for her first of many Emmy awards. She was then eventually named Manager of Development and Production of National Projects and oversaw PBS's movies series, "WonderWorks Family Movie," which adapted popular children's books into films. Before reality television proliferated every network, McCarthy was there in the early stages as an executive producer at TLC from 1998 to 2004, where she co-developed and produced some of the channel's most profitable series such as: "Junkyard Wars" (2001-04), "In A Fix" (2004-05) and the network's first hit primetime wedding series, "For Better or for Worse" (2003-05). From there, McCarthy switched networks to Discovery and continued to expand her reputation in reality. She became Senior Vice President of Development and Production, where she not only managed development and executive-produced some of Discovery's most notable series, including "Dirty Jobs" (2005-2012), "Mythbusters" (2003-16) and "Deadliest Catch" (2005-), but also oversaw all of the networks primetime specials. McCarthy continued to work her way up the reality ladder and parlayed her success at Discovery to take over the same position at the new rebranded women's network WE tv (Women's Entertainment) from 2006 to 2008. Her knack for wedding-related content and foresight into the growing popularity of the genre helped to create the hit series, "My Fair Wedding" (2008-13) and the staple of all wedding entertainment - "Bridezillas" (2004-13). McCarthy's extensive experience in both reality television and women's entertainment served as the perfect training ground for her position at Lifetime, which she took on in 2010. Lifetime handed her the reins to oversee all of the company's strategy, development and production of unscripted programming as the network became one of the big players in the realm of reality entertainment. In addition to growing the network's already hit series, she helped to bridge these shows into successful spin-offs such as "Project Runway All Stars" (2012-) and "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition" (2012-13). At the top of her game, she continued to expand the network's reality wheelhouse, with the creation of a slate of new shows including "Double Divas" (2013) and "Preachers' Daughters" (2013-15). McCarthy continued to prove herself instrumental to the network's brand and success and served as a regular panelist at industry summits and speaker for women's leadership events.