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Richie May Be Right Pick As WNBA President, But Did League Wait Too Long?
Published April 22, 2011
with timing of Laurel Richie announcement
THE RIGHT PICK: SLAMONLINE.com's Ben York wrote the NBA and David Stern "took their time in finding a replacement for Donna Orender, and they got it 100% right." The WNBA is entering its 15th season, and it has a "realistic opportunity to truly prosper and thrive but it needs a solid foundation and developmental plan to get there." York: "Richie’s success both in the for-profit and non-profit world correlate perfectly with the WNBA and its core values." With Richie’s success as Senior VP & CMO of the Girl Scouts of America and "through altruistic passions such as her time with Big Brothers Big Sisters, it seems there is a deep appreciation for reaching children at a young age and inspiring success." The WNBA needs to "grow the game at a younger level and the connection Richie has with the Girl Scouts shows an innate desire to impact young women early on." Meanwhile, York noted Richie does not have a basketball background, but Stern did not either when he became NBA Commissioner in '84, and "look how much the NBA has grown since the time he took over" (SLAMONLINE.com, 4/21). ESPNW.com's Michelle Smith wrote Richie's background with the Girl Scouts "provides a template for selling the concept of the empowerment and capabilities of young women," while her experience with Big Brothers/Big Sisters "will give her perspective on the power of the grassroots experience" (ESPNW.com, 4/21).
WILL HER SKILLS TRANSLATE? AD AGE's Rich Thomaselli noted Richie is credited for moving the Girl Scouts "away from its cookies, craft and camping reputation" by rebranding the organization as being "more forward thinking, including activities such as robotics, fashion design, space camps and more." She also spent more than 20 years at Ogilvy & Mather, but whether her "marketing and brand management skills translate to the WNBA remains to be seen." The most recent agency exec to "make the move to running a league did not have a happy ending." Carolyn Bivens in '05 stepped down as President & COO of Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative Media North America to become LPGA Commissioner, and "her tenure was marked by controversy" (ADAGE.com, 4/21).