Savalle Sims '92


Savalle Sims Hosts Immersion Visit at Warner Bros. Discovery for Our Time Has Come Students

As chief legal officer for Warner Bros. Discovery, Savalle Sims ’92 oversees the company’s global legal teams and manages all legal issues across nearly 20 offices worldwide for the media and entertainment conglomerate. In addition to that charge, she says she also feels a responsibility to foster an inclusive workplace at the company. That core value is what led Sims to host a group of 45 Our Time Has Come (OTHC) Scholars and Leaders on March 28 at the company’s New York City headquarters.

“The goal is to expose bright, young, diverse minds to potential careers in media and give them a window into what’s possible for them here,” she says. “There’s this misconception that if you don’t know how to make a television show or a movie, there's not a career for you here. In fact, our jobs span multiple career sectors, including communications, engineering, human resources, technology, accounting, law and more. There are tons of opportunities besides being a day-to-day storyteller and maker of content.”

Sims specifically wanted students to hear from people they could identify with, either because of their cultural background or their Syracuse University connection. “If you can show that someone else has walked in their path, then you show that what they want to achieve is actually possible,” she says.

The program began with a welcome from Sims and a fireside chat between she and CNN correspondent Boris Sanchez ’12.

A Cuban immigrant who grew up in Miami, Sanchez shared his own journey and the desire to give voice to the voiceless that led him to Syracuse’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. He emphasized the importance of preparation to achieving goals and the value of putting yourself in uncomfortable situations so that you can grow and learn.

Sims and Sanchez also talked about professionalism and the choices students will have to make based on the work environment they choose. “The younger generation has very strong feelings about showing up to work as their authentic selves,” says Sims. “So, there was some discussion about whether you have to conform to a corporate culture. For me as an executive, it’s very important to be authentic, but it’s also very important for me to be professional. I don't believe those two things are in conflict with one another, but you do have to understand that relationship.”

Students next heard from a panel of Syracuse alumni working at the company in various roles, including Lisa Williams-Fauntroy ’91, senior vice president of business affairs and legal; David Melia ’03, senior vice president of scheduling and program strategy at Food Network and Cooking Channel; Sarah O’Connell ’18, manager of promotion and planning at HBO and MAX;  and OTHC alumna Jeanelle Beach ’03, vice president of people and culture.

“These are people who work in very different jobs across the company who all shared how Syracuse prepared them for their roles, their challenges and what they like about what they do,” says Sims.

Following a networking lunch with alumni, students were treated to a tour of CNN by correspondents Athena Jones and Polo Sandoval. The day concluded with a session about internship opportunities and entry-level jobs, which offered practical information about how students might embark on a career at Warner Bros. Discovery.

Sims herself had a circuitous route to the media company. As a Syracuse University undergraduate, she majored in marketing and transportation distribution management in what is now the Martin J. Whitman School of Management. But by the time she graduated, she realized she was more interested in helping people solve problems and decided to pursue law school.

After earning a legal degree from Notre Dame Law School, she spent two years clerking for a judge, then joined a small law firm in Washington, D.C., where she specialized in litigating divorce cases involving complex business assets.

WBD Group Photo

While there, she represented a woman married to an attorney who was then president of ABC News. “I started thinking about how a corporate attorney at a law firm becomes president of a news network,” she says. “It really sparked something in me.”

Sims had always loved television. “I got my own little TV in my room when I was 10,” she says. After a decade as a partner in a large law firm handling a variety of litigation, an opportunity opened to oversee litigation at Discovery, which Sims viewed as a unique opportunity to marry her interests. That was 2011. She was named to her current post in 2022.

Sims was back on campus with her husband Turnell Sims ’90 to speak to students and alumni at the Office of Multicultural Advancement’s Multicultural Breakfast during Orange Central in October 2023. It was there that the idea for the immersion trip to Warner Bros. Discovery germinated.

“It is critical for our students to be exposed to various professional opportunities, corporate environments and alumni in leadership roles who can support and mentor them,” says Rachel Vassel ’91, G’21, associate vice president of multicultural advancement. “We are looking forward to offering an increased number of immersions in a variety of fields with the support of alumni like Savalle.”

The OTHC student participants raved about their experience. Aspiring data analyst Gabriel Davila-Campos ’25 says the visit allowed him to see how data science is applied in a field he’d never previously considered. “Seeing firsthand how data shapes stories and decisions at CNN showed me the real power of data in the media world,” he says. “This visit made it clear: I want to dive deep into data, find cool insights and use them to make a difference, all while keeping things honest and ethical. Warner Bros. Discovery was a great example of how to do this right, and it’s exactly the kind of approach I aim to bring to my future career, blending technical skill with ethical integrity.”

Even those without direct career links found the experience invaluable. “This experience was not only educational, but also inspirational. It underscored the importance of diversity, resilience and the relentless pursuit of one’s aspirations,” says Sashana Kinghorn-Bodley ’25, an OTHC Leader who plans to pursue a career as an obstetrician/gynecologist. “I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all involved for this unparalleled learning experience and for reinforcing the belief that with dedication and support, significant strides in diversity and inclusion can be achieved in every industry.”

Sims says she gained as much from the experience as her guests. “These students are so engaged, so curious, and asked questions far beyond anything I was thinking about when I was a college student,” she says. “It was delightful to have the privilege to spend time with them and to get insight into what they're thinking, what matters to them, what troubles them and what they hope for.”