Maria Kennedy leads one of the biggest direct response teams in the industry at Discovery Communications. She is a long-time member of the Response Advisory Board and has served on the Board of Directors for the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) and the Electronic Media Marketing Association (EMMA). In 2015, she was inducted to the Direct Response Hall of Fame. Under her leadership, the DR division of Discovery has grown to 13 U.S. Networks. She was also an integral player in launching the paid-programming division on three of those networks. Kennedy, who began her career as a sales assistant in 1990, was the first to offer five-minute avails — that she calls “mini-mercials” — which started airing on the Discovery Networks 10 years ago. Among her career highlights to date, she lists: the rebrands and launches of BBC, Travel Channel, Investigation Discovery, OWN, Velocity, AHC, Destination America, Discovery Family and — most recently — Discovery Life; bringing the U.S. Hispanic long- and short-form DR and paid programming back in-house; and leading Discovery to be one of the first to sell VOD successfully. Under her leadership, the team is now selling digital, as well.