SBJ/October 8-14, 2012/Game Changers

Game Changers: Wendy Lewis

Photo: E. LEE WHITE
Lewis holds her newest prize possession: a baseball
signed by members of Team Uganda after the Little
League World Series.
Wendy Lewis
MLB
SVP, Diversity and
Strategic Alliances

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig often says baseball is a social institution with social responsibilities. Wendy Lewis, his senior vice president for diversity and strategic alliances at MLB, is often where the rubber meets the road on his remarks. Lewis runs the league’s thriving Diverse Business Partners program, helping expand the game’s reach to minority- and female-owned businesses. This past summer, Lewis spearheaded the league’s first Diversity Business Summit, a one-day event aimed at further expanding baseball’s pool of minority and women employees and vendors. The summit, more than a half-decade in the making, drew representatives from all 30 MLB teams, MLB Advanced Media, MLB Network and 10 minor league clubs. And in part through the efforts of Lewis, MLB has earned four consecutive top marks in racial diversity in hiring from the Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida.

“The commissioner has embraced my group and made this a very big deal,” Lewis said. “I feel very blessed to have that kind of institutional trust, and having that trust made a big impact in how we’re able to reach the businesses and communities we serve.”

— Eric Fisher
  • Crowning professional achievement: The launch and successful implementation of the MLB Diversity Business Summit.
  • Biggest professional disappointment: Not having my dad present when I received one of the 2011 WISE Women of the Year Awards. We had planned for it, but he passed away prior to the ceremony. He was there in spirit.
  • What is the best advice you’ve ever received?: Faith is believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.
  • How would you describe effective business leadership?: Being as committed to ROP (return on people) as you are to ROI (return on investment).
  • Women in sports business you’d most like to meet: The moms of the Ugandan Little League World Series team. The story of the players is priceless. I would love to congratulate their families and hear their stories of overcoming obstacles as well as living with the unique celebrity of their children.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

“Wendy’s been an absolute innovator with regard to helping minorities get employment in the sport, getting more minorities in and selling their goods and services. It’s something we need to do more of, and she’s been an absolute tower of strength as we go after that.”

  • Jerry Reinsdorf, Chicago White Sox owner
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