As senior director of TODAY Show operations, Elizabeth Laskie-Gonzalez, ’95, is working for an organization she has admired since she was a child growing up in Skaneateles, N.Y.
“I’ve always loved NBC,” she said. “I would look at the TV Guide and always want to see NBC in the top ratings, and I was an avid TODAY Show watcher when I was a kid. I would watch the show from 7 to 7:20 and that was when I knew I had to get on the bus. I always wanted to be informed and be aware of what was going on in the world, so it was sort of natural for me to be drawn to NBC.”
After graduating from Niagara University’s theatre program, Laskie-Gonzalez briefly moved back home before heading for New York City in 1996. She worked a couple of jobs, including in the NBC Store at 30 Rock, and took acting classes and did auditions during her free time.
Her job in the NBC Store ultimately led to her current role.
“While I was working in the store, I got a job in the NBC page program,” she said. “I figured, at minimum, it would help me be better at understanding what it was like on the other side of the camera—why not give myself an education in television production that I didn’t have?”
The NBCUniversal Page Program is an entry-level, yearlong program that prepares graduates for employment within the company. Pages rotate between three full-time assignments to gain a well-rounded experience and exposure to the media industry.
Laskie-Gonzalez completed assignments with Saturday Night Live—"a pinch-me moment that I never took for granted,” she said—and news media relations before being chosen as the third assistant for Bob Wright, then CEO of NBC.
Upon completing the program, she was hired at Weekend TODAY, and then went to Later TODAY/3rd Hour of TODAY. She left the TODAY family to work on the John Walsh daytime talk show at NBC Entertainment. Although the show was cancelled after only a year and a half, Laskie-Gonzalez was able to get into the Directors Guild, which opened the door to associate director positions.
Laskie-Gonzalez left NBC to freelance as a production manager for a car racing series, a job that required a lot of travel. After two years with sports, she was eager to return to a more “stable life,” so when a colleague told her about a position at Dateline, she applied and was hired. Although the role was traditionally that of an office manager, she was able to draw on her production background and take on additional responsibilities that interested her, which allowed her to continue to grow in her career.
She remained with Dateline for seven years before being invited to rejoin the TODAY Show.
In her current role, she works behind the scenes to ensure the weekday news and entertainment program is running smoothly. That requires managing more than 300 people on a 24/7 basis and making sure they have the tools and resources they need to do their jobs.
“It’s just a matter of trying not to drop any balls and prioritizing what we need to prioritize every day,” she said. “In theory, you shouldn’t really know I exist.”
Laskie-Gonzalez also works with interns and enjoys mentoring the young employees. She notes that seeing former interns and hearing how something as simple as a half hour conversation impacted their careers is one of the most rewarding aspects of the job.
“I really enjoy helping people navigate their careers and their next steps and their opportunities for growth and stimulation,” she said. “I think giving critique and guidance for some people can be challenging, but I always come from an educational perspective, so it’s something that I enjoy doing. “
Her work with the TODAY Show has given her some of her most memorable experiences, including going to the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, meeting former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, and being part of the team that won a daytime Emmy in 2020. The TODAY Show also received a Peabody Institutional Award in April.
Although her current career seems unrelated to her undergraduate studies in theatre, Laskie-Gonzalez notes that the theatre program gave her a well-rounded liberal arts education and the ability to manage her time.
“When I was in school, I didn’t think it was abnormal that I was literally in class from 8 or 9 o’clock in the morning until night, and then I had to go work in the theatre when I was acting in a show. I thought that was just normal life,” she said, adding that she was also active on committees and as an RA and an RD during her four years on Monteagle Ridge.
That experience has taken her up the ranks at NBC, and she is grateful, she said.
“I went to a Catholic school on purpose, so my faith is the most important thing in my life,” she said. “I would never work in a place that I didn’t feel proud to be working for, morally and ethically, and the TODAY Show is a brand I’m really proud of.”