SBJ/October 31-November 6, 2011/People and Pop Culture

Sarah Farnsworth, senior vice president of public affairs, San Diego Padres

After Iraq and Afghanistan, Farnsworth on duty with Padres

After working in the Defense Department, serving as the chief of staff at the USO, and traveling frequently to Afghanistan and Iraq, Sarah Farnsworth has moved to the San Diego Padres as senior vice president of public affairs. “I am responsible for our community relations and our military program and our communications overall,” Farnsworth said. She spoke with staff writer Kristen Heimstead.

Age: 44
New title: Senior vice president of public affairs, San Diego Padres
Previous job: Deputy assistant secretary of defense for community and public outreach, U.S. Department of Defense
First job: Worked on crew on a sailboat in the Virgin Islands
Education: B.S., political science and journalism, California State University, Sacramento
Resides: San Diego with 10-year-old daughter
Executive most admired: Melanne Verveer of the State Department and Evelyn Lieberman of the Smithsonian Institution
Last book read: “The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood,” by Helene Cooper, New York Times reporter and friend
Favorite musician/band: Toby Keith because of the time I spent with him in Afghanistan and Iraq. He is so incredibly selfless.


What is the biggest challenge in your new position?
Earning the trust of others in the baseball industry since I am new. One of the greatest pieces of advice I’ve ever received was from a former mentor, “Always be very transparent and communicate, and don’t try to be any different than who you really are.”

What is the biggest professional risk you've taken?
I don’t consider anything ever being a risk, but maybe this one, moving to a new city in a new industry.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
My work with the USO, especially in the early days of the Iraq war and being a small part of developing programs to support our troops. It was a wonderful gift to meet soldiers and Marines in Iraq and then often see their families in Germany, and be able to bring messages to their family and say, “He’s doing really well, you’d be proud of him!”

What is your biggest professional disappointment?
Maybe not being able to thank everyone enough. I don’t think you can ever really say thank you enough.

What career advice do you have for people wanting into this industry?
Follow your basic principles of life: work hard, maintain a sense of humor, always stay open-minded, don’t limit yourself and learn as much as you can everywhere you go.

What is one element that you would like to change about the sports industry?
Not necessarily changing, but I think those in the sports industry … are such leaders in the community and are role models for young children here and all around the world, and I think we need to be aware of that incredible honor and responsibility.

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