SBJ/October 8-14, 2012/Game Changers

Game Changers: Dawn Aponte

Photo: MIAMI DOLPHINS
Aponte, in the Dolphins’ draft room, is one of few women in the football side of the business.
Dawn Aponte
Miami Dolphins
EVP, Football Administration

Dawn Aponte is one of the few women on the football side of the business in the NFL, handling all player transactions at the Miami Dolphins. Nevertheless, she says her largely unique position has been a non-issue as she’s worked her way up through the ranks in the sport. “I have been afforded tremendous opportunities,” she said. “There really aren’t many females who work solely on the football side. Katie Blackburn of the Bengals comes to mind.”

Ironically, Aponte got her start when she filled in for a family friend on maternity leave from the New York Jets in 1991. She went back to college at the University of Delaware that fall, but the Jets asked her back, and she ultimately won a full-time job there. She departed in 2006, spent three years at the NFL as vice president of labor finance, and after a brief stop at the Cleveland Browns, she landed at the Dolphins in 2010. There, she handles all player contracts and CBA matters and, she said, interacts with just about every department in the league.

— Daniel Kaplan

  • What is the best advice you’ve ever received?: From my mother: “Life isn’t always fair; it’s what you make of it.”
  • What advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?: Concern yourself with the things that you can control.
  • How would you describe effective business leadership?: It starts with a clear vision that is carried out through effective communication and accountability.
  • Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: Bill Parcells, for providing me with opportunities and support in an area of the industry (football operations) that I feel not many people would have done.
  • The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: The transient nature.
  • One attribute I look for when hiring is …: Integrity.
  • My vision of success is …: Ever-evolving.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

“With her unique background working at both the team and league level, Dawn has been an invaluable resource to everyone in the Dolphins organization. … Dawn has done a great job managing the strategic planning for our salary cap, player negotiations and football operations budgets. Working closely with [general manager] Jeff Ireland and [head coach] Joe Philbin, she has been instrumental in building a strong foundation for the Miami Dolphins.”

  • Stephen Ross, Miami Dolphins owner
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