For 15 years, Liz Flamenbaum has worked in television production management and is currently a Senior Unit Manager at National Geographic, where she’s spent the past five years. Liz primarily works on unscripted television shows, including Nat Geo’s natural history programming, shows about pets and vets, and the iconic shark programming event, Sharkfest.
“I’ve always enjoyed the ability to create content that entertains while educating,” Liz says.
Liz is responsible for managing the schedules and delivery of hundreds of hours of shows across the linear National Geographic channels and on Disney+. She’s also a board member for Nat Geo PRIDE, one of National Geographic’s Business Employee Resource Groups.
1. What is your biggest accomplishment? What was your biggest challenge?
Getting to where I am in my career has been a great accomplishment for me. I started out in TV production 15 years ago with an art degree, no contacts, and no experience. I worked my way up from unpaid internships while working at a Jo-Ann Fabrics to a Senior Unit Manager at a great network working with amazing people every day. I’ve still got a ways to go, but if nothing else I can say that I got where I am by working my butt off!
2. June is LGBTQ+ Pride month. What does this month mean to you?
I spent a lot of my life in the closet, not only hiding my authentic identity from my family and friends, but also from myself. Joining the LGBTQ+ community has helped me feel comfortable being who I truly am. This is the first year where I am fully out and proud!
3. Who is your LGBTQ+ role model or inspiration?
I’m an old millennial. The LGBTQ+ role models when I was growing up were limited and had so much pressure on them. I remember Ellen DeGeneres’ character coming out on her sitcom and the backlash from that, I remember Will & Jack kissing in front of Al Roker, and Homer Simpson freaking out that John Waters was going to turn Bart gay. I remember how groundbreaking these moments were and I’m ecstatic about how far we’ve come. I love that younger generations have so many role models they can look to for guidance and inspiration – Elliot Page; Janelle Monáe; Pete Buttigieg; Kate McKinnon; Sarah McBride; Demi Lovato. There are so many incredible people doing so much for the community just by being open and being themselves.
4. How does being part of the LGBTQ+ community inform your work at National Geographic?
I work on the content team and have tried to position myself as a resource for our content creators. My day-to-day work is mostly logistics, but when I can influence a decision to be more inclusive I do. I also am a board member for Nat Geo PRIDE and I’m part of a working group across Disney that is focused on alleviating the complexities of gender transition for our colleagues. I’m spending my free time trying to better the lives and experiences of my fellow LGBTQ+ employees.
5. After working from home for the past year due to the pandemic, what has been the silver lining for you?
My vegetable garden and house plants have been getting so much extra love! They bring me so much joy and I’m glad I have the time to give them the attention they need to thrive. I’m hoping I get a good zucchini haul, but those little baby fruits popping out are so damn cute it’s worth it regardless.