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SBJ/Sept. 9-15, 2013/Game ChangersPrint All
Making a difference in the industry.
Developing new approaches.
For these reasons and more, we recognize the executives in this section as our 2013 Game Changers.
This is the third year we’ve produced our Game Changers publication. The goal once again, as it’s been each year, is to shine a light on a group of women — some you might know, others you might be reading about for the first time — who are contributing to the success of the industry, doing so in myriad ways.
Of course, Game Changers is not the only occasion on which we focus on successful women in sports. Our Forty Under 40 and Champions programs both serve to tell stories of women having an impact on the industry. The influence of women in sports can be seen in our news stories on a regular basis, as well.
Our hope with Game Changers is that by providing a dedicated section for these women and their stories there is a recognition of their achievements and successes while also spotlighting their paths taken — realizing that shared stories and relationship development can inspire achievements and successes for others.
For this publication, in addition to telling their stories, each Game Changer completed a survey aimed at getting to know more about her. Each woman also was asked to provide a photograph that showed her holding, or pictured with, something of significance to her. Some women selected elements from their work environment. Others looked to family or other outside interests. Each selection was unique.
These are the Game Changers for 2013.
Photo: ALLISON HARRELL / NFL
Augenthaler has fond memories of the 2006 reopening of the Superdome.Organizational DriversMary Pat AugenthalerNFL | Vice President, Events
Don’t ask Mary Pat Augenthaler her favorite Super Bowl commercial. She hasn’t seen one in 17 years working for the NFL events group. She’s too busy stage-managing the game.
As one of the senior events specialists at the league, Augenthaler oversees major events, especially the Super Bowl. In the past year, that means getting ready for this season’s New York Super Bowl — and in particular, Super Bowl Boulevard, the outdoor, 10-block stretch through midtown Manhattan that will be part of the game-week festivities.
When she arrived at the NFL in the mid-1990s, she said she was aware of being a female executive at the league in part because she was the only one in the room. But, she said, there was never any different treatment, and in some ways, it helped her stand out.
Her favorite event? Helping reopen the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina.
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: Commissioner Goodell. I have been lucky enough to work for and learn from him for the majority of my career.
- Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Danica Patrick. She’s fearless.
- Best advice you’ve received: From Joe Browne, longtime NFL EVP of communications: “Don’t only compare yourself to other women in the industry. Compare yourself to leaders like Roger Goodell and Jeff Pash. Gender shouldn’t matter.”
- What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: That I’m an early bird. I get so much accomplished in the mornings. When I was 18, I could sleep till 1 p.m.
- The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: Continuing to find ways to be innovative in an industry with so many creative minds at work.
- My vision of success is …: Being physically healthy, emotionally happy, motivated and aspirational.
“As head of special events for the NFL, Mary Pat holds the access keys to the kingdom. If Warren Buffett wants to get into Roger Goodell’s tailgate party, he has to go through Mary Pat.”
Photo: COURTESY OF NWSLSOCCER.COM
2011 World Cup scrapbooks were Bailey’s gift to every U.S. player, coach and staff member.Organizational DriversCheryl BaileyNational Women’s Soccer League | Executive Director
hen Cheryl Bailey is asked about her professional stops along the way to being named executive director of the National Women’s Soccer League last November, she sums it up by saying, “Someone took a chance on me, which is the story of my life.”
What she declines to add but is easily apparent is how Bailey made the most of each opportunity. From starting the first women’s college soccer program in Ohio — something she did at age 23, while athletic director (and an assistant professor) at Denison University — to becoming general manager of the U.S. women’s national soccer team (from 2007 to ’11), to her leadership of the NWSL today, Bailey has followed one guiding principle.
“I work with people and not over people,” said Bailey, whose career path also includes time as senior associate athletic director at the University of Wisconsin, where she worked from 1990 until 2005. “That has served me well. It’s a lot more fun to work with people, which I think I learned from playing sports as a kid. Look, I don’t know communications, I don’t know technology — but I hire talented and dedicated people, and we learn from each other.”
- Crowning professional achievement: Being a part of a team at the University of Wisconsin in the early ’90s that turned the athletic department around. We took them “From Red Ink to Roses” (to borrow a book title) and provided many more opportunities for women.
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: Phyllis Howlett. Phyllis served as the associate commissioner/senior woman administrator in the Big Ten. She was willing to take a chance on me when I was an athletic director at the Division III level and recommend me for a Division I associate athletic director job at Wisconsin.
- What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: I have always loved being part of a team, but somewhere along the way I was told that I could actually lead the team, and while that never was a real priority for me, it has provided me the opportunity to effect change.
“With the short amount of time U.S. Soccer and our team owners had to undertake the NWSL project, Cheryl’s leadership, patience, experience and intellect were invaluable. There were so many moving pieces involved in getting a professional league up and running, and Cheryl made sure everyone stayed focused and on point.”
Photo: STEVE FREEMAN / NBAE
Brenner holds an NBA basketball, which she sees as a universal constant for the game she loves, whether it is played on MSG’s hardwood or a dirt court in Sub-Saharan Africa.Organizational DriversMelissa Rosenthal BrennerNBA | Senior Vice President, Marketing
The NBA already boasts one of the largest social media communities in the world, with some 400 million “likes” and followers on various social media outlets, according to league metrics. Look for that number to continue to grow under Melissa Rosenthal Brenner.
As senior vice president of marketing for the league, Brenner oversees the NBA’s social media efforts, driving a steady stream of new creative programs and partnerships. Consider that the NBA this year partnered with Twitter to deliver near-real-time postseason highlights, available just minutes after the action, fueling both traffic and interest during the NBA’s most visible period.
“We have young, tech-savvy fans,” Brenner said. “They consume all things NBA, and our job is to use the fervor of our fans to serve them the right content on the right platform at the right time.”
Considering that Brenner’s track record at the league includes additional groundbreaking deals with YouTube and Facebook, count on the NBA continuing to create even more successful social media partnerships and programs down the line.
- Crowning professional achievement: Helping to build, with a truly amazing team, the most trafficked social media sports presence in the world.
- Biggest professional disappointment: That we can’t make every opportunity work. There are so many interesting ideas in social media.
- Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Marissa Mayer. Yahoo has a very significant digital sports presence, and she’s obviously an extremely successful executive.
- Best advice you’ve received: Listen, listen and listen. (And when you get what you want in a negotiation, stop talking.)
- What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: Some things are still as important to me as they were then, and some are not remotely as important now. Also, that I’ve actually worked at the same place for more than 15 years.
- The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: Staying on top of the insanely fast-changing world of social media/technology.
“Melissa has been a true pioneer in the social media space. She has been with the league for almost 16 years and was an early adopter in new media, and under her leadership, we have built one of the largest social communities in the world. What makes her so good in leading our social media efforts is that she also has worked in other departments and understands that social media marketing is just part of our larger global marketing efforts.”
Photo: STEVE FREEMAN / NBAE
A block of the original Maples Pavilion court evokes strong memories for the former Stanford basketball player.Organizational DriversAmy BrooksNBA | Senior Vice President, Team Marketing and Business Operations
Amy Brooks played basketball at Stanford, where she also earned her MBA — a skill-set combination that is paying big dividends for her work as an NBA senior vice president.
Brooks, who has worked in the league’s team marketing and business operations department for the past six years, was named head of the division this summer. The new role calls for her to manage some 40 employees who help drive business at all 30 NBA teams.
It’s a high-profile position, but Brooks can bank on her experience in taking over management of the department while putting her own stamp on the job.
“We are fortunate to have a great foundation in TMBO, and I’d like to double down on some areas like analytics and innovate in some new areas in the arena experience,” she said.
“We are fortunate to have teams that are eager to share best practices.”
- Crowning professional achievement: Recently being appointed head of the NBA’s TMBO department, a group of some of the brightest business minds in sports.
- Biggest professional disappointment: Never being good enough to play in the WNBA.
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: Stanford GSB professor George Foster, who taught me that data and analytics are the way to differentiate yourself in the sports marketing industry.
- Best advice you’ve received: From my college coach, Tara VanDerveer: “Don’t make a million-dollar move and then take a nickel shot.” (i.e., It’s the final result that matters.)
- What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: I’d be surprised that two decades later I still don’t know how to cook. Just ask my kids.
“Amy is extraordinarily talented and driven and has a vast knowledge of our team business operations. From day one, she came with an extraordinary passion and she still comes with fresh and creative ideas.”
Photo: KEITH CEPHUS PHOTOGRAPHY
Beach time is a nice break for Carpenter and her daughter, Samone Marie.Organizational DriversJacqie CarpenterCIAA | Commissioner
After completing her first year as commissioner of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, Jacqie Carpenter is pleased with the stability and cohesion the past 12 months have brought. “We’re just touching the surface, but in the first year I feel we’ve been able to set a foundation and a ground on how we want to move forward this upcoming year,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter spent nine years at the NCAA, earning the role of director of championships and alliances, before taking over leadership at the conference of historically black colleges and universities. Through enhancing the CIAA’s championships and developing the CIAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee leadership programs, all while keeping the conference within its financial means, Carpenter feels the conference is moving in a direction that can better support its student athletes, an area she considers her main focus. “I think [the student athletes] can see and feel that there’s more of a focus on them,” she said.
Under Carpenter’s leadership, the CIAA re-evaluated contracts and agreements and scaled down certain expenses, ultimately cutting $1 million from the budget and ending the year without a deficit after several years of financial challenges. The conference also underwent a rebranding effort, which saw its logo changed in January. But Carpenter is mindful of the CIAA’s century-long history, as well. “This conference is 101 years old,” she said. “There’s a lot of history surrounding it, so as we move forward, we want to continue to tell those stories and make sure people understand the history of what the CIAA is about.”
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: James Battle, past director of athletics at Virginia Union University. He was the first to give me an opportunity to enter the field of intercollegiate athletics.
- Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Laurel Richie. I am impressed with her background and career path in serving in the corporate world, but also in the community. She is the first black woman to run a professional sports league, and I am the first black woman to serve as full-time appointed commissioner.
- Best advice you’ve received: Trust and keep God first in everything you do. (From my mother, Eunice McWilliams, 1946-2007.)
“Jacqie is a role model in every sense of the word. She feels a deep sense of responsibility to teach and mentor, and has positively impacted countless young professionals in this business.”
Cohig joined the NHL in 1996 after helping establish the Colorado Avalanche.Organizational DriversSusan CohigNHL | Senior Vice President, Integrated Marketing
For the last 17 years, Susan Cohig has been a difference-maker for the NHL in its relationships with corporate sponsors. Among her present-day responsibilities, Cohig manages the league’s U.S.-based partnership marketing, oversees the sponsorship renewal and upsell process, negotiates licensing of league and club properties, and produces the league’s annual business meetings.
Her effectiveness can be seen in the NHL’s fan-sponsor loyalty numbers, which are often among the best for the major team sports.
In addition, according to the NHL, direct partner spending with the league increased by more than 75 percent between 2009 and 2012 under Cohig’s direction.
A Colorado native, Cohig cites her start in the sports world in the early 1990s — overseeing sales and corporate service under Tim Leiweke at Ascent Entertainment, which owned the NHL Avalanche and NBA Nuggets — as crucial to her professional development. “What I learned from Tim is that it’s all about customer service and listening,” said Cohig, who has been in her current position since 2009. “It’s not just about the sale, but understanding what works for your league partners. That sustains a long-term relationship.”
It also sustains a long and successful career.
- Crowning professional achievement: Being a part of the management team that moved the Quebec Nordiques to Denver to launch the Colorado Avalanche, then having the team win the Stanley Cup in its inaugural season; and while working full time at the NHL, I was able to attend law school and earn my law degree. I wouldn’t have been able to achieve such a milestone without the support and inspiration of NHL senior management.
- Best advice you’ve received: 1) Listen. 2) Customer service distinguishes the great organizations from the merely good ones. 3) Be a student of the business, not only your own but of your partners.
- What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: That I would be working in sports and living in New York City.
- The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: Making sure I keep up with innovations in our business, especially digital technology.
“Susan has amazing bandwidth and tackles every project with the same positive attitude, all the while keeping a laser focus on results. Her broad understanding of our teams’ businesses makes her highly effective in assisting them with problem solving and looking for new opportunities to expand their brand.”
Photo: TOM KIMMELL
From horses to bobsleds to people, Gamez gets them to the Games.Organizational DriversLeslie GamezU.S. Olympic Committee | Managing Director, International Games
In terms of logistical challenges in sports, nothing ranks higher than getting Team USA to an Olympics.
In February, the U.S. Olympic Committee will charter transportation for more than 1,000 people to Sochi. It will deliver uniforms and opening ceremony outfits for 200-plus athletes, and it will ship 20 sea containers abroad loaded with everything from bobsleds to medication to guns. It’s an enormous operation, and it will be handled by a small team of 11 employees led by Leslie Gamez, the USOC’s managing director for international games.
Gamez joined the USOC in 2002 and has overseen its Olympic travel and logistics ever since. She manages the organization’s medical facilities on-site at each Games and arranges everything from athlete flights and housing to spectator passes for support staff. She even manages the transport of horses for equestrian competitions. “Horses actually have microchips with passports and go through customs and immigration like people,” Gamez said. “They want to make sure the horse is the horse that you say it is.”
But horses aren’t the prime challenge. The biggest challenge is the fact that every two years, the Olympics shift to a new country, with different shipping and travel rules. “You have to learn what’s required to do business in Russia, what’s required to do business in Brazil [for 2016],” Gamez said. “It’s different than London. It’s different than Vancouver. Visa [and] passport requirements vary from country to country. It’s all challenging, and it’s all fun.”
- Crowning professional achievement: Serving as the games director for the U.S. team for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. It was my first time leading our largest Games.
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: Jerry Lace, former executive director at U.S. Figure Skating. In my formative years, Jerry was my boss and he was a no-nonsense kind of guy who had an incredible work ethic, high expectations and challenged each person to achieve more than they thought they could.
- Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Heidi Ueberroth. Her experience as a leader in NBA global operations must present her with exciting and challenging opportunities on many fronts: gender, culture and language. I’d like to know how she navigates through these challenges.
“Leslie must ensure that the athletes receive the necessary services in the most seamless way possible to be able to perform at the best of their ability. She has been extremely successful in achieving this goal, and we often rely on her experience and knowledge to help us evaluate the service levels and operations delivered by organizing committees at the Olympic Games.”
Photo: MONTANA PRITCHARD
Garrity this year became the PGA’s first female chief administrative officer and general counsel.Organizational DriversChristine GarrityPGA of America | Chief Administrative Officer, General Counsel
Christine Garrity has spent the last 23 years with the PGA of America. She began her career with the organization in 1990, as director of contract administration. She continued with the group in the decades to come, working in various roles. In March of this year, she became the first female chief administrative officer and general counsel for the group, responsible for its work with government relations, legal affairs, special events, membership, and diversity and inclusion operations. She reports directly to PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua and manages a staff of 35.
Garrity had an affinity for sports while growing up, playing basketball, volleyball and softball through high school. Now also a golfer for the past 10 years — she has a handicap of 20 and, as she says, is “hoping to get it lower” — Garrity helps promote the sport through programs such as the PGA’s Diversity Scholarship Program and National Golf Day.
She also marks as an annual highlight the opportunity to serve as parliamentarian at the PGA of America’s annual meeting, a role she has filled since 1993, when she was director and legal counsel. As parliamentarian, Garrity manages the order, rules and decorum of the meeting. “It is very stressful, but it’s a good kind of stress,” she said. “I love the challenge.”
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: My father, who is a retired college professor. He was responsible for starting my love of sports at an early age.
- Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Rachel Alexandra, because of my love for horses and all that she has achieved, especially when she defeated the colts in the 2009 Preakness and achieved Horse of the Year honors. It is inspirational to see the girls beat the boys, in any sports or business context. (Note: Garrity has an affinity for the sport; she raises racehorses.)
- Best advice you’ve received: From my legal mentor, Steve Sacks, a retired senior partner at Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C.: Understand your audience and know how to communicate effectively with them.
- What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: I would be very surprised about the person I’ve become today because at age 18 I was in nursing school. It wasn’t until we did our first rotation of clinicals that I realized nursing was not for me.
“For nearly two decades, I’ve watched Christine at the table structuring some of the most significant contractual arrangements that are positively impacting the PGA and will do so for years to come — from a commercial standpoint as well as from a membership association perspective. She excels at pushing her team out front and empowers them to lead and grow. She’s also been a role model on how to achieve the elusive work-life integration that so many professionals, particularly career-oriented women, seek.”
Photo: SEAN EDMONSTON / ISC
Miller has played a key role as NASCAR restructured four major divisions.Organizational DriversPaula MillerNASCAR | Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer
When Paula Miller took over human resources at NASCAR in 2008, the sport was facing some of its biggest challenges. Sponsorships, attendance and ratings were all under pressure, with an economic recession starting to take hold. NASCAR Chairman Brian France decided the organization needed to reconsider how it was set up and how it approached everything from marketing and communications to competition and digital media.
Over the next four years, the organization restructured four major divisions — communications, competition, partnership marketing and media — and hired four new senior executives from outside the NASCAR industry. Miller, who is a member of NASCAR’s executive council, played a pivotal role in all of it. She helped advise France as he looked to marry his goals for the company with structural changes, and she spearheaded the searches that led to key hires in the process.
It’s organizational changes and the prospect of making major hires like those that attracted Miller to human resources when she left business school at Purdue University. She’s always believed that the key to a company’s success rests in marrying its business plan with a plan for attracting and retaining talented executives. “In the back of the house, you manage payroll, health care, compensation and everything else,” Miller said, “but it’s the connection of the business strategy to the talent strategy that helps ensure the business will be successful. It’s the people who deliver on the CEO’s strategy.”
- Crowning professional achievement: Shaping NASCAR’s executive leadership team for the future.
- Biggest professional disappointment: That I didn’t spend even more time working internationally. (Before NASCAR, Miller was on the traveling audit staff at General Electric and worked in Mexico, Hungary and Singapore.)
- Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Pat Summitt. She has grit, class and a winning spirit.
- Best advice you’ve received: Do what you love, and you will love what you do.
- What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: That I am in sports. I always considered myself the “corporate type,” but sports requires the same demands of traditional business and is a lot more fun.
- The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: Identifying best-in-class talent and integrating it into the sports environment.
“[Paula] has a very strong compass and has demonstrated over the years that she knows how to ensure that she is focused on the right things, at the right time. She considers all points of view before making decisions and is very fair. She is a role model for other women in executive positions. She knows how to establish and nurture relationships in and out of work.”
Getting her start in accounting, Milthorpe never saw herself working in sports.Organizational DriversKathy MilthorpeLPGA | Chief Financial Officer
Kathy Milthorpe has overseen the finances of the LPGA at three different times in her life. First hired as director of finance in 1986, coming in from the group’s outside accounting firm (the former Coopers & Lybrand), she stayed until 1996. She came back to the LPGA in 1999 as chief financial officer after having run a men’s senior tour event in California, but she left again in 2005 to take a job at International Speedway Corp. She’s been in her current position again at the LPGA since 2010.
Her impact has been seen across those years. In 1993, she was the lead LPGA executive responsible for the creation of a child care center for women athletes, the Smucker’s LPGA Child Development Center. In the last year, Milthorpe led the development of, and is now implementing, a three-year strategic growth plan for the tour. The plan aims to develop the tour across its areas of operation, including tournaments and its overall fan following.
- Crowning professional achievement: The ability to have three different tenures at the LPGA under a variety of leaders.
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: Charlie Mechem, the former LPGA commissioner (1991-95), because he was a very seasoned executive with the talent of being the smartest person in the room but made you feel like the smartest person in the room.
- Best advice you’ve received: Work hard and be fair to others, and the rest of it will happen naturally.
- What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: I never thought I would be working in sports. Going into accounting, I didn’t think I’d end up in sports.
- The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: Not enough time in the day.
- My vision of success is …: A collaborative team that accomplishes goals together.
“Kathy is a unique blend of overwhelmingly high capacity and laser-sharp strategic thinking skills. It is virtually impossible to give Kathy more work than she can handle — and trust me, I’ve tried. In addition, Kathy understands the history and personality of the LPGA but can still challenge the status quo, given her experiences outside the LPGA. Due to her ability to bring strategic insight to any situation, she is involved, in one way or another, in almost every business decision we make at the LPGA.”
Photo: STEVEN KOVICH
Myers developed her love of sports by playing Little League the first year girls were allowed to play.Organizational DriversDiana MyersWTA | General Counsel
Diana Myers says she knows she has done a good job if no one mentions her name. As general counsel of the WTA, her job is to analyze all legal contracts for the organization, ranging from sponsorship deals to agreements with tournaments. She also has oversight of player conduct, doping and governance issues.
Myers spent a good part of the past year structuring the WTA’s deal to move its season-ending championships from Istanbul to Singapore starting next year, though she never actually went to the event’s new home. She just spent a lot of odd hours in the office to accommodate the 12-hour time-zone difference between St. Petersburg, Fla., where the WTA is headquartered, and Singapore.
“I spent a lot of 24-hour days [working on Singapore],” she said.
She calls herself the “closer” because she often is called in at the end of the deal. And so far, she adds, she has no blown saves on her record.
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: I am very grateful to David Shoemaker, who not only hired me at the WTA but also was a great mentor for making the crossover from a legal role to a business role.
- Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Amy Trask, the former CEO of the Oakland Raiders. I would love to meet the person who could manage Al Davis.
- Best advice you’ve received: If you have never walked away from a deal, you have done a lot of bad deals.
- What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: How well-traveled I have become.
- The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: With a 10-month schedule and the offseason period being even busier, it is hard to book vacation plans that won’t result in one or more change fees.
- My vision of success is …: Happiness in equal doses at work and home.
“I have had the privilege of working with Diana over the past nine years, and she has played a significant role in not only negotiating and completing complicated sponsorship, licensing and media agreements for the WTA, but in providing significant contributions in the governance of the tour, its Code of Conduct policies, as well as its participation with the game’s drug testing and sport integrity programs. The WTA is fortunate to have Diana as its general counsel.”
Photo: ANTHONY MARKWARD
Ng is an outdoors enthusiast along with her beagles Buster and Hobbes.Organizational DriversKim NgMLB | Senior Vice President, Baseball Operations
Kim Ng has long been tagged as a trailblazer and role model in baseball: Youngest executive and first woman to present a salary arbitration case (at age 26, while with the Chicago White Sox); youngest assistant general manager in the game, when she was hired to that position by the New York Yankees at age 29, a role she later also held with the Los Angeles Dodgers; first woman to interview for a team general manager job in baseball history (with the Dodgers, in 2005).
It’s a tag, trailblazer, she wears reluctantly, preferring to focus on her job. And that responsibility now with the league involves a variety of critical issues, including helping to improve international baseball development in areas such as the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Venezuela, and running the league’s scouting bureau. As a result, her extensive influence within the game and industry at large continues to grow.
Ng has not given up on her goal of landing a team job after having been a finalist candidate now with three clubs. But for now, she’s enjoying the ability to help shape the game on a macro level. “With a club, you’re sort of up to your eyeballs every day and are very focused on the daily issues and wins and losses,” she said. “In this role, you have some more ability to think long term. Both perspectives are great, and it’s been gratifying to see things take shape from both levels.”
- Crowning professional achievement: When one of the MLB club owners was questioned about how much control his next general manager would have over personnel decisions, he was quoted as saying, “He or she will assess who their personnel will be.” It was then that I knew I had helped change a way of thinking. However, just as important to me was being a member of the 1998 N.Y. Yankees world championship team/staff — a team that defined utter relentlessness.
- Biggest professional disappointment: Not being hired as a general manager.
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: Brian Cashman. He saw past traditional gender lines and gave me my first opportunity to become an assistant general manager.
- Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Pat Summitt. She has managed to combine great leadership with performance.
- Best advice you’ve received: Keep your eye on the ball.
“Kim Ng has been a credit to every organization she has worked with in Major League Baseball. … We are lucky to have her as an integral part of MLB. Kim has great leadership skills, and I expect her to become the first female general manager in Major League Baseball.”
Photo: PETER J. WEBB
A baseball collection has grown along with Webb’s accomplishments in the Southern League.Organizational Drivers
Southern League | President
It’s often been said that the sports industry is something of an old boys’ club. And then there’s the realm of minor league baseball. Arguably even more tradition-bound, the affiliated minors did not have a female league president for its first 111 years of its existence. Until last year.
Lori Webb made history by becoming president of the Class AA Southern League, succeeding the late Don Mincher. Webb started with the league in 1994 as an executive assistant. Steadily, she rose through the leadership ranks, and when Mincher died early last year, Webb had become the natural choice to succeed him. She has since been part of a sweeping series of shifts in the affiliated minors that have included numerous affiliation and team ownership changes and a new embrace of national marketing strategies.
“Things are changing very rapidly in our business right now, and it’s very exciting,” Webb said. “What we’re doing now is going to bring us a lot more national recognition, but the important thing is to also not lose the things that make minor league baseball special.”
- Crowning professional achievement: Being elected president of the Southern League of Professional Baseball Clubs in 2012 after working with the league since 1994.
- Biggest professional disappointment: Reaching my goal of being elected president, and my parents did not live long enough to enjoy this achievement with me.
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: Don Mincher. After he was elected in 2000, we had a 12-year working relationship and friendship. He allowed me to take on as much responsibility as I could handle, and then some — and he mentored me along the way. He was always supportive of me and willing to answer all my questions and explain many of the finer points of baseball when I needed clarification. He showed me that it is possible to attain your goals with patience and humility.
- Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Danica Patrick. She broke through the gates of a male-dominated sport and has continued to set and reach goals for herself in the race car industry. To do this she must surround herself with smart people to help her, and she has made many risky business decisions that have allowed her to remain competitive and reach her goals.
- Best advice you’ve received: When faced with a difficult decision, sleep on it. Things will look different in the morning.
- What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: At age 18, I was graduating from a small-town high school and dreamed of being a secretary in a doctor’s office, getting married, having a family, and living in a cobblestone house a few miles away from my hometown in upstate New York. I would have never believed that my marriage to my high school sweetheart would lead to living in several different states, meeting new people from all walks of life, and eventually working in baseball, much less becoming president of a professional baseball league in the South.
- The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: Not being able to relate to all of the on-field incidents the same way the players and managers do because I never played organized sports. Although I continue to learn about these things, I do look at them from a different perspective.
“I’ve been very impressed with her thought process and her demeanor, the way she works through problems and issues. She is extremely capable.”
Photo: DALLAS COWBOYS
The Jones family has a longstanding partnership with the Salvation Army.Team LeadersCharlotte Jones AndersonDallas Cowboys | Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer
When Charlotte Jones Anderson was growing up, her dad, Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys’ owner, told her she could become president of the United States.
She isn’t leading the country (at least not yet), but especially in football-mad Texas, what she’s doing with the Cowboys and the NFL might be regarded as more important work anyway.
One of the highest-ranking female executives in the NFL, Anderson this year became the first female head of a major NFL committee, leading the group that oversees the NFL Foundation. As part of that work, she oversees the NFL’s Heads Up Football program and all of the youth football safety initiatives of the league. At the Cowboys, she oversees all strategies and applications surrounding the team’s brand as it is presented to fans globally. And her efforts extend beyond football, as well.
She is wrapping up a three-year term as the first woman to serve as chair of The Salvation Army’s national advisory board. She also is chairwoman for the local organizing committee for the 2014 NCAA Final Four, preparing for men’s college basketball’s championship weekend coming to the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium.
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: My father. His drive, passion, pride and enthusiasm have always inspired me.
- Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Billie Jean King: a leadership figure and a true game changer.
- Best advice you’ve received: My father always told me you needed a high tolerance for ambiguity. You have to be prepared to redirect the best of plans and change given the circumstances presented.
- What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: That I am working in my family’s business — and that my family’s business is football.
“Jerry [Jones] gets credit for building the brand, but Charlotte makes it shine.”
Photo: ANDY DADDIO / COLGATE UNIVERSITY
Chun is a history buff and collector of Winston
Churchill memorabilia, including this out-of-print book.Team LeadersVicky ChunColgate University | Director of Athletics
hen Vicky Chun first stepped foot on the Colgate University campus as a freshman in 1987, she never imagined that 26 years later she would be running the school’s athletic department.
Chun was named interim AD on Aug. 1, 2012, before taking the position permanently on Jan. 1. Not long after, the school’s board approved a $38.7 million facilities project that will help Colgate remain competitive in the changing landscape of collegiate sports. That project calls for an ice rink, locker rooms, training and meeting space, and offices for the school’s men’s and women’s soccer, ice hockey and lacrosse programs.
Chun is one of eight minority women leading a Division I program. She received both an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree from Colgate, and she remained on campus after that as a volleyball coach (assistant, 1993-94; head coach, 1994-97). She ultimately moved into administration, a pursuit that saw her work for several years with the NCAA, but she returned to her alma mater in 2006 as an assistant athletic director. She’s continued on from there, and in the past year she’s seen the Patriot League school win titles in football, women’s soccer and volleyball.
Said Chun, “Our expectations are to win, and we don’t see size or money or anything like that getting in our way.”
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: Mark Murphy. He hired me as a volleyball coach when he was the AD at Colgate. ... It amazes me that he always has time to talk and text and email. That’s been an incredible experience.
- Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Kim Ng (see story).
- Best advice you’ve received: That there will always be work to do the next day.
- The biggest challenge I face working in sports business is …: Prioritizing.
- My vision of success is …: Winning championships.
“With her background as an athlete and as a coach, she knows Colgate inside out and she knows athletics from all different perspectives. And she’s always looking to improve and get better. … She’s very passionate. I saw that both as a coach, with the countless hours she put in, and now the same as an administrator.”
Photo: UTSA ATHLETICS
Hickey poses with UTSA items of significance, including the 2012-13 Western Athletic Conference Commissioner’s Cup.Team LeadersLynn HickeyUniversity of Texas at San Antonio | Director of Athletics
Just a few years ago, Lynn Hickey introduced her new football coach, Larry Coker, in the most modest of settings. “We had one football and one helmet that we used as props at press conferences,” laughed Hickey, the athletic director at UTSA.
The Roadrunners now are in their third season of football, but Hickey still is driving them down a path of firsts: This year marks the school’s inaugural season in Conference USA.
“When [consultant] Bill Carr came in and did a feasibility study for football in 2006, he said our dream conference would be Conference USA,” Hickey said.
Charting a new course is nothing new for Hickey. As a young athlete, her dad took her to see the Wayland Baptist Flying Queens, a women’s basketball barnstorming team in Oklahoma.
She was hooked by the sport. That love of basketball led her into coaching and, eventually, to the AD job at UTSA and to a spot on the NCAA men’s basketball committee, where she served for five years. She was just the second woman to be named to the committee.
Those experiences helped shape Hickey’s vision for UTSA. “Because of where we are now, there’s a lot more visibility nationally, but you also deal with increased pressures and increased expectations on the financial side,” she said.
- Best advice you’ve received: The most important help or direction I have received is the expectations/lifestyle that my parents gave to me. They gave my brothers (I have four younger ones) and me the confidence to dream big — and then instilled in us a work ethic to make those dreams come true. They taught us to have faith (believing in ourselves) and passion (giving all we can). The expectation they had for us in our academic and athletic pursuits was to be responsible and to out-work those around us by consistently taking care of all the little things every day. They instilled in us the concept of being coachable and leading by example of effort and commitment.
- What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: I was very shy, so I think the biggest surprise is how comfortable I am doing speaking engagements. I still get nervous but I enjoy making presentations and speaking to all different kinds of groups.
- The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: Fundraising.
- My vision of success is …: Being a significant “servant” leader who has a positive impact and takes care of others.
“When I think of leaders who exude integrity, Lynn Hickey is at the top of the pyramid. You know the old saying, ‘You either have it or you don’t’: Lynn has it 10 times over. It is always a joy to work with a person who is reasonable, rational, prudent and objective, and Lynn represents that at the highest level. Our friendship goes back more than 20 years, and those attributes still represent so much of who she is. She is trusted.”
Photo: FRANK MCGRATH / INDIANA FEVER
A WNBA title for the Fever highlighted Krauskopf’s big 2012.Team LeadersKelly KrauskopfIndiana Fever | President, General Manager
Kelly Krauskopf has worked for the Indiana Fever since the club’s inception in 1999, but the past year has been a milestone for the accomplished executive.
Krauskopf was named team president following the Fever’s 2012 WNBA championship win last fall, a step up from her role as chief operating officer. She earned the promotion not just with the team winning the championship, though. Also key was the work she did to land a marquee sponsorship for the team with Finish Line. That deal, which put the company’s name on the Fever’s jersey, has been part of a significant financial bump for the franchise. Since last year, Indiana has seen its revenue climb 61 percent, and its season-ticket base for 2013 is up 25 percent compared with 2012.
The team announced recently that this season it would be profitable for the first time in the club’s history.
“As a franchise, there were two goals going into last year,” said Krauskopf, who came to Indiana after working as director of basketball operations with the WNBA when it was founded in 1996. “One was to win a championship, and we got that done. From a financial standpoint, I wanted us to secure a marquee partner, and doing that makes us a viable business. It was a huge boost going into [the 2013] season, and all our revenue streams have grown from that.”
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: In the early days, I would have to say Lynn Hickey (see story). She believed in my ability at a young age to start a marketing and fundraising program for women’s sports at my alma mater, Texas A&M University.
- Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Dawn Aponte. I love the fact that a female is at the top of an NFL team’s football operation. (Aponte is Miami Dolphins executive vice president, football administration.)
- Best advice you’ve received: Listen to your gut instinct; it never steers you wrong.
- What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: That the sport of basketball can take a girl from south Texas all over the world — even to the White House.
“As an athlete, businesswoman with the WNBA and others, and for 14 years from start to today with the Indiana Fever, she has exemplified a spirit and dedication that is rarely seen. Kelly’s perseverance in our sport and our community and her undying commitment to young women both in sport and life has been immeasurable.”
Lewis, with photos of her boys, led the Whitecaps from a former second-division club to an MLS expansion team in 2011.Team LeadersRachel LewisVancouver Whitecaps | Chief Operating Officer
Rachel Lewis celebrated her 10th anniversary with the Vancouver Whitecaps in August and had plenty to reflect upon with pride. The only female chief operating officer with an MLS franchise, Lewis is credited by team ownership for getting the former second-division club tabbed as an MLS expansion team that began play in 2011.
“It was our goal to play in the best league in North America,” said Lewis, 38, who started her career with the Whitecaps in 2003 in event management and was named COO in 2007. “That first MLS match was an unforgettable moment.”
Over the last year, Lewis formed the Whitecaps’ partnership with the British Columbia government and the University of British Columbia to build the National Soccer Development Centre, where the team began training this season. The Whitecaps are averaging more than 19,000 fans in BC Place, which is scaled to 21,000 for soccer. The club also is looking to qualify for the playoffs for the second straight season. Not bad for a 3-year-old MLS franchise.
“We’re seeing big crowds and an incredible supporters’ culture,” Lewis said. “The focus moves to building a sustainable business model and continuing to upgrade our player development.”
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: Whitecaps FC owner Greg Kerfoot. He has provided me with tremendous opportunity and shown unwavering support and belief in me.
- Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Billie Jean King.
- Best advice you’ve received: Follow your passion.
- The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: The impact wins and losses have on the business and morale. You have to build a strong fan base and business model that supports the club win or lose.
- My vision of success is …: Canada becomes a dominant force in world soccer, and I continue to have a happy, healthy family.
“Without Rachel, the Whitecaps wouldn’t be in Major League Soccer today. She did so much of the work, including putting the financials and the ideas together. She really owned it. Rachel doesn’t have to be in the front of the room or banging on a table to get a job done. She’s calm and consistent and well-prepared for any situation. Some people kick the ball in the air. Rachel moves the ball downfield.”
Photo: ATLANTA HAWKS
Penningroth’s grassroots marketing approach involves “finding champions of the Hawks out in the community to tell our story for us.”Team LeadersAiley PenningrothAtlanta Hawks / Philips Arena | Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer
As senior vice president and chief marketing officer of the Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena, it’s Ailey Penningroth’s job to spotlight the team’s brand in Atlanta’s cluttered sports market. She has gone about that work in a way that has distinguished her, using nontraditional marketing efforts such as a word-of-mouth strategy to move the Hawks’ brand deeper into the community.
“It is very much consumer-to-consumer instead of business-to-consumer,” said Penningroth, a Harvard University graduate, of her grassroots approach. “The idea is to find champions of the Hawks out in the community to tell our story for us.”
Penningroth, a former NBA league office executive who came to the Hawks in 2004, played a key role in helping the Hawks market their bold plan that waives ticket fees for fans who buy tickets online. What started as a thank-you to fans after the 2011 lockout has become an integral part of the team’s marketing strategy. She also was the project manager for the team’s Red program, the Hawks’ sit-down, a la carte dining option offered to nonpremium ticket holders. The program included the design of a $2.6 million space inside the arena.
“We have turned our focus on making sure our fans know that we are Atlanta’s team,” she said.
- Crowning professional achievement: Taking my mother, who raised me on NBA basketball, to her first Atlanta Hawks game, and my father, who’s a scientist, to his first (yes, first) Monster Truck Jam, both at Philips Arena.
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: [WNBA senior executive] Paula Hanson. She had the experience, wisdom and confidence to teach and then provide me with truly incredible educational opportunities and responsibilities.
- Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Mary Wittenberg, president and CEO, New York Road Runners. I lived in New York City working for the league office after graduation. I was always fascinated by the mingling of long-distance track with towering skyscrapers.
- Best advice you’ve received: The trick is not to rid your stomach of butterflies but to make them fly in formation.
- The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: That I can’t attend a sporting event without switching full speed into hyper-analysis of everything other than the game.
“Ailey is a smart, solution-oriented executive with a tireless work ethic. From her early days working at the league office, we all knew that she possessed that special blend of intelligence and tenacity that would greatly benefit any organization. Fortunately, the Atlanta Hawks and the NBA have been the beneficiaries of her extraordinary talents.”
Photo: NANCY PIERCE
Adding football at UNC Charlotte has been the biggest challenge and achievement of Rose’s career.Team LeadersJudy RoseUniversity of North Carolina at Charlotte | Director of Athletics
Judy Rose was just the third female athletic director in the country when the Charlotte 49ers promoted her to the top job in 1990. She was the first female administrator on the NCAA men’s basketball committee in 1999. Just a few years after that, she served for two years as NACDA’s president. But none of those experiences compares to starting a football program at the Charlotte university. The school has spent the past four years preparing for its inaugural season this fall.
Rose remembers telling Eric Hyman, the athletic director at Texas A&M, that Charlotte planned to institute football. “He said, ‘Judy, are you crazy?’” Rose recalls. “But we’ve accomplished a lot here, and this is a new challenge.”
A former assistant basketball coach under Pat Summitt at Tennessee, Rose said starting football has created time and staffing challenges that will strain the athletic department unlike anything they’ve done before. “The pressure I feel now is having enough time and not feeling guilty because I might have to miss a game in soccer or volleyball,” she said. “I was an Olympic-sport athlete and I knew we didn’t make money, but it was important to me that the staff came to our games. I also might not know all of the student athletes as well; you just can’t. I feel guilty about that too. But this is a new challenge and, perception-wise, football makes you more of a complete university and more of a complete athletic department.”
- Crowning professional achievement: Adding the sport of football.
- Biggest professional disappointment: Not doing it sooner; probably have missed potential opportunities.
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: Two: C.M. Newton and DeLoss Dodds. Both seasoned ADs from large institutions, they took me under their wings, and I credit them both for my being selected as the first woman to serve on the NCAA men’s basketball committee.
- Best advice you’ve received: My husband told me, “It is your responsibility to educate men on how you expect to be treated” (in regard to being the third female AD in Division I).
- What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: That instead of coaching student athletes, I now coach the coaches and administrators.
“Judy Rose is an outstanding administrator. I closely observed her as a member of the men’s basketball committee, and she performed as well as any member in my memory. She clearly understood men’s basketball and provided valuable insights to the committee and the total basketball community. She has been a loyal and valuable committee alum and still has an impact on NCAA basketball, both as an athletic director and a former member of the committee.”
Photo: NEW YORK YANKEES
Tymon’s strong ties to the U.S. armed forces are recognized with the Outstanding Civilian Service Award, one of the military’s highest civilian awards.Team LeadersDeborah TymonNew York Yankees | Senior Vice President, Marketing
There was a time in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the New York Yankees were nowhere near the industry colossus they are now: A midtier performer in attendance among major league clubs; no lucrative team-owned extensions into cable TV, facilities or concessions; and middling brand power.
Deborah Tymon, the club’s senior vice president of marketing and a 29-year employee of the organization, has been a key, behind-the-scenes player in the franchise’s transformation into a global giant.
Hailing from a military family (her father fought in Okinawa in World War II), Tymon also has been the club’s main liaison to the U.S. military and veterans. The Yankees’ long connection to America’s armed forces has since rippled through the rest of baseball and is among the sport’s key community outreach components. Tymon earlier this year received the U.S. Army’s Outstanding Civilian Service Award, one of the military’s highest civilian honors.
“This is something where you had a combination of my own personal passion, a long-standing emphasis of the Yankees and the Steinbrenner family, and where we are as a country,” Tymon said. “Those contacts continued to evolve and are very important to this team, and our sport.”
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: George M. Steinbrenner III.
- The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: Blending current social media with traditions.
- My vision of success is …: Realizing that there is so much more to accomplish.
“She’s the heart of the Yankees. Through a long career, she’s developed many creative ideas that have helped polish the Yankee brand, and she’s shown fierce loyalty and dedication to the Yankees and the Steinbrenner family.”
Photo: DAVE HAWKINS PHOTOGRAPHY
Bridgestone supplies Firestone tires for the IndyCar Series, keeping Boggs on the move.Corporate PartnersLisa BoggsBridgestone Americas | Director of Motorsports
WWhen Al Speyer retired earlier this year after 38 years as executive director of motorsports at Bridgestone, Lisa Boggs was named to take his place, a task she described as “an honor, exciting and quite daunting.”
Speyer’s retirement left large shoes to fill, but Boggs believes her extensive background in motorsports marketing and public relations has equipped her with the necessary skills to continue a strong tradition. “I’ve been very fortunate to work with some great people, companies and clients that have helped build the foundation,” she said. “It’s like I’ve been in training for something like this.”
Prior to Bridgestone, Boggs was vice president at Matter Inc., Edelman’s sports and entertainment practice, where her list of clients included NASCAR, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Izod IndyCar Series. In 2011, she headed Izod’s public relations campaign to generate non-endemic media interest for the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500.
With Bridgestone being the supplier of Firestone tires for the IndyCar Series, Boggs enjoys the diversity of her role, often leaving her Nashville office for one of the tracks where the IndyCar Series competes or for other, related sites. “One minute, I’m [in Nashville] wearing my integrated marketing and communications hat, and the next I’m speaking with our fantastic engineering group in Akron, Ohio, about tires for an upcoming event,” she said.
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: My father, for the perspective and work ethic he demonstrated and taught me.
- Best advice you’ve received: Relationships, honesty and integrity are paramount.
- What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: I never would have guessed how much I enjoy being at a racetrack with my “racing family.”
- The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: Staying on top of the ever-changing sports business landscape.
- My vision of success is …: A colleague or client telling me that I have led by example.
“Lisa is an incredibly passionate individual and she brings that focus and tireless pursuit of excellence to her work. I was instantly impressed with her level of expertise, knowledge and relationships within the motorsports industry, and how she applied that toward a really smart strategy for clients. My first time walking the track with her took forever because she knew everyone from driver to owner to sponsors to pit crew, and they all stopped to talk with her.”
Giordano is a member of the team that developed the Priceless Cities localized marketing program.Corporate PartnersAlison Giordano
MasterCard | Vice President, Senior Business Leader, U.S. Sponsorships
Over the past several years, MasterCard has transformed its sponsorship marketing platform from one with national and global sports properties to one with local sports, arts and entertainment properties all serving more localized marketing pushes — such as the Priceless Cities effort, now in 26 cities across the globe. Alison Giordano, a veteran of nearly 10 years at the brand, was a big part of the team making that transition, as MasterCard looked to move well beyond a simple branding message to one of consumer engagement and fan experience.
“Inside and outside of our industry, sponsorship activation has changed to put more emphasis on consumer benefits,” said Giordano, who wanted to be an ambassador when in college. Instead of being a statesman, she’s helping serve the needs of MasterCard’s cardholders, merchants and issuers, marshaling a portfolio that includes the PGA Tour, the New York Yankees, the Grammys, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and a Major League Baseball deal artfully integrated with the Stand Up To Cancer charity.
- Crowning professional achievement: Being part of the team that converted MasterCard from sponsorships with a national emphasis to more local and city-specific programs.
- Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Val Ackerman has shown a lot of leadership qualities I admire. I’d love to pick her brain.
- Best advice you’ve received: Be yourself and be deliberate.
- What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: I was going to be an ambassador, so I would be surprised that I’m not working in a Latin American embassy.
- The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: Family life/work balance.
- My vision of success is …: The ability to be excited about work every day while being able to grow professionally and still enjoy those important moments in life.
“Alison is a leader in the industry, and we are fortunate for her work on our relationship with MasterCard. Her vision has helped drive the partnership between MasterCard, MLB and Stand Up To Cancer, which has not only driven their business, but done so much good.”
Photo: DAVID DEAN CULBERTSON
Grech’s work with Melt covers Coke Zero’s Final Four activation, including concerts, TV shows and Bracket Town fan fest.Corporate PartnersMichelle Grech
Melt | Chief Operating Officer
Michelle Grech’s career in sports business mirrors the explosion in marketing college athletics’ biggest events. As chief operating officer for Melt, an Atlanta agency specializing in college sports and entertainment, Grech has a strong relationship with Coca-Cola dating to her six-year tenure there managing its Dasani and Powerade brands. In 2006, Grech left Coke to form Melt with veteran sports marketer Vince Thompson. Together, they have brokered some landmark deals — and along the way, they’ve helped extend the Final Four to a weeklong celebration of basketball and brands. Melt represents Coke Zero for all Final Four activation, including event marketing and promotions tied to the Bracket Town showcase. In addition, Melt’s production division produces NCAA Final Four television shows for CBS and Turner Sports.
The agency’s recent deals include signing Coke Zero for ESPN “College GameDay” activation this fall and signing Reese’s as title sponsor for the Senior Bowl. The company also represents ESPN for the network’s owned college bowl games and holiday basketball tournaments.
For Grech, the next frontier to conquer is high school and youth sports. Melt signed deals to sell sponsorships for the all-digital NFHS Network, covering prep sports nationwide, and for the LakePoint complex in north Georgia, a multisport destination for youth travel teams. In the high school space, “it’s a really exciting time to take a fragmented marketplace and look at how it can be aggregated,” Grech said.
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: My father, Richard Dobkin, who exposed me to sports and competition at an early age and always encouraged me to pursue my dreams.
- Best advice you’ve received: Do something you love, pursue your goals with passion, and work hard at everything that comes your way. Success follows dedication, and no matter where you are in life, as my business partner always says, “It is only as important as you make it.”
- The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: Facing off against much larger competition, and the speed in which technology is changing our business.
“Michelle is relentless in her work ethic. … She has a unique way of analyzing a business case for a sponsorship investment and the ability to articulate it. She is one of the best writers and presenters. … I would put her on par with anybody in sports marketing.”
Photo: SUSAN STANDISH LYSEK
Griffin, who oversees U.S. Open corporate hospitality, has a passion for women’s basketball.Corporate PartnersMimi GriffinMSG Promotions | Founder, President and CEO
Mimi Griffin, whose agency has overseen corporate hospitality at the U.S. Open for the last 18 years, has very specific memories of this year’s golf championship at Merion.
“It was the hardest U.S. Open I’ve ever worked, but it also was the most rewarding,” Griffin said. “I’d liken it to child birth: It hurt like hell, but something really special came from it.”
Because of its unique setup and awkward layout, Merion left that kind of impression on a lot of visitors, but Griffin’s MSG Promotions responded with several innovative ideas for hospitality.
Griffin grew up in Philadelphia reading Forbes and Sports Illustrated, so a career in sports business seemed destined. During her spring break as an MBA student at Lehigh University, she visited a friend who worked at Manufacturers Hanover. She later connected with Charlie McCabe, who ran marketing for the bank, and that led to a job and connections throughout the golf industry.
Now the agency she started in 1983 runs hospitality for the USGA and several other sporting events.
- Crowning professional achievement: Creating a business that after 30 years continues to maintain the highest standards of performance.
- Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Sheila Johnson. Sheila has been very successful in combining her personal passions with her professional pursuits, which to me should be everyone’s ultimate goal. Besides that, she has supported women’s basketball, which is one of my passions.
- The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: Finding the right time for a brief “timeout” to regroup and re-energize. This is critical given the unusually long hours required in event work.
“Mimi has built a top-shelf marketing and management company at MSG Promotions. Her professionalism, the skills of her team, and the introduction and mentorship of hundreds of young men and women to high-quality, full-service corporate hospitality and entertainment has raised both the level of expectation by clients and the level of service across the industry.”
Photo: NATIONWIDE INSURANCE
Driver Carl Edwards wrote to thank Hanley and former employer Scotts Miracle-Gro after his first wins at NASCAR’s highest levels.Corporate PartnersJennifer Hanley
Nationwide Insurance | Senior Vice President, P&C Brand Marketing
Jennifer Hanley has been at Nationwide since 2007, but she’s been a player in the game of marketing since she was a teenager. Her first job, working at Rubbermaid, not only paid for her college education but also got her into her current line of work.
“I kind of started out in an employee-relations role. I put on company events and wrote the company newsletter,” Hanley said. “And then I got into a marketing role and never looked back.”
Hanley returned to Rubbermaid for a job after graduation. She proceeded from there to be a pivotal force in the marketing efforts of Mac Tools, Scotts Miracle-Gro and now Nationwide. In the last year, Nationwide launched its “Join the Nation” campaign, which Hanley says has greatly increased brand awareness. Hanley and her team also have maintained a large role in the sponsorship of NASCAR, including helping to bring the Nationwide Series to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time last year. “That was a big deal for us because that’s not too far from Columbus,” where Nationwide is headquartered, Hanley said.
- Crowning professional achievement: Last year, we launched the “Join the Nation” campaign, and it was fully integrated. There was a team of over 100 people who deserve credit.
- Biggest professional disappointment: To me, it’s always disappointing when you’re ever in a situation where you lose talent, for whatever reason. Whenever something happens that impacts people, that’s a big deal.
- Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Pat Summitt. She’s unbelievable, in terms of what she’s been able to do, and she did this in a time when it was not necessarily easy.
- What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: I always thought, “Am I going to be a mom or have a career?” I never thought I would get to do both, and here I am doing both. (I’m not saying it’s been easy!)
- The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: Getting the most leverage out of the property for your brand and being relevant to your fans. You’ve got to be authentic and genuine to the fan.
“I’ve enjoyed working closely with Jennifer in her current role at Nationwide Insurance, and previously during her tenure with Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. It’s a testament to both her creativity and versatility that she has developed such successful marketing programs leveraging motorsports in such a short time for two companies with such different business models and marketing objectives.”
Photo: STEVE LEBEAU
Hollander and her team at Allstate are big players on college campuses.Corporate Partners
Allstate | Senior Director, Integrated Marketing Communications, Sponsorship Marketing
Pam Hollander didn’t anticipate that marketing would be her career when she graduated from Syracuse University in 1989. “I was an elementary education major,” Hollander said. “I was in what I thought would be my career path, but after graduating, [I] realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do.”
Hollander, instead, went on to get her first job as an assistant account executive at Chicago-based S&S Public Relations. She continued working along that public relations path until she came to Allstate in 2000, when her career would take a turn more toward marketing.
Since then, Hollander, who assumed her current role in 2003, has made quite a difference in Allstate’s marketing and brand awareness. The company’s highly visible Good Hands field goal net program in college football was spearheaded by Hollander. She was a driving force in pushing to make the idea a reality, and the number of participating schools has since grown from 20 in 2004 to 78 in 2013. Additionally, with Hollander, Allstate became title sponsor for the Sugar Bowl, formed a partnership with the American Football Coaches Association to honor top student athletes, and created the Allstate Tailgate Tour, which visits more than 40 college football games a season.
So while Hollander isn’t involved in education and schools the way she originally anticipated, she clearly has left her mark in the college space.
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: Joe Tripodi (former CMO at Allstate, now at Cola-Cola). He had the foresight and sincere interest to see Allstate up on that stage.
- Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Erin Andrews. She’s broken all the boundaries and achieved a true level of success. And she has a cool job.
- Best advice you’ve received: If you can see yourself achieving it, you will.
- The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: Staying cutting-edge.
- My vision of success is …: Loving what you get to do every day, and being surrounded by a really talented group of people.
“We’ve known each other for almost 10 years. She’s a terrific businesswoman; she’s smart, fair, open-minded. She pushes people to think outside the box, and she gives clear direction. She’s revolutionized sponsorship and branding with the Good Hands net campaign, and she’s made Allstate a name in college sports.”
Photo: MIKE MORGAN
McKelvey has made an impact in boxing by securing endorsements for Manny Pacquiao (whose autograph is on her gloves) and building a digital platform for Top Rank.Corporate Partners
Top Rank Boxing | Executive Vice President
When Lucia McKelvey was lining up endorsements for golfers as a vice president at IMG, a headhunter connected her with Top Rank Boxing President Todd DuBoef, who wanted a forward-thinking sales executive to corral opportunities for headliner Manny Pacquiao and build out a digital platform for the company. Each would require sweeping change.
“At an IMG, you didn’t really have an opportunity to make changes,” said McKelvey, who made the jump to boxing early in 2011. “Coming to Top Rank, I was able to do that. I could learn and then implement my own ideas. We all change at this company all the time. That was attractive to me.”
McKelvey made hay for Pacquiao in short order, placing him in national campaigns for Hewlett-Packard, Hennessy and Wonderful Pistachios. The digital remake has taken longer, but it has been extensive. Working with MLBAM, Top Rank now streams weigh-ins, press conferences and undercard fights from many of its events, and it plans to roll out a subscription-based product in the coming months.
“The digital opportunity in this sport is phenomenal,” McKelvey said. “Even though we’ve come a long way, we’ve really only begun to tap into that.”
- Crowning professional achievement: Seeing my first deal I did for Manny Pacquiao with the Hewlett-Packard Veer phone come to fruition by a TV commercial. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, I made that happen!”
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: Mark Steinberg, Tiger Woods’ agent, was the first person to bring me into the sports world, taking a chance on my ability to sell but having little experience in sports. Since then, Todd DuBoef and Bob Arum of Top Rank have influenced my career tremendously in a positive way.
- Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: I’m inspired by Serena Williams, as she’s created a cash cow from her brand. Trading in typical endorsement deals for equity-driven deals, and constantly seeking speaking/on-site engagements, she’s become the perfect mix in my eyes of someone who’s maximized sports as a business.
- Best advice you’ve received: I’ve been an athlete my whole life, and a very fast runner, but my college lacrosse coach once said to me, “McKelvey, you could be the fastest runner on the field, but you’ll never get to the goal as fast as you would if you leveraged your team and passed the ball.” I think of that all the time. I believe in teamwork.
- What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: I would find it surprising that I would be able to mix my passion for sports and for business, and create a successful career out of it, and absolutely love it too. At 18, I thought work had to be boring to be fruitful, but oh was I wrong.
“She’s brought a skill set that I don’t think boxing has seen before. She shows up in the boardroom and gives people compelling reasons why they should be around this product and why they’re missing out. It’s a blessing not only for Top Rank but for this entire sport that we got her.”
Photo: RALPH HERNANDEZ
Oliveau has worked on two of the world’s biggest sporting events — the 1979 FIFA World Cup and the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.Corporate Partners
Arent Fox | Counsel
When the FIFA World Cup pooled its rights globally for the first time in 1979, Maidie Oliveau helped Coca-Cola cut the first deal. When the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee became the first to offer exclusive rights to marketers, she was there too, working for that group. More recently, she represented the Los Angeles Lakers in the negotiations that resulted in that team’s massive RSN deal. And since 1997, Oliveau has served as an arbitrator for the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Oliveau has been a change agent with some of sports businesses’ biggest entities.
“Sports have become a marketing license,” Oliveau said. “What we are dealing with now is the sophistication and multiplication of that effect.”
As for advice after more than 30 years in the business: “Remember that your relationships are lifelong,” she said. “People in the sports industry hang around. They might change jobs, but they are generally in it for life.”
- Crowning professional achievement: Working on the 1984 [Los Angeles] Olympic Organizing Committee. Peter Ueberroth provided strong leadership, and those Games changed the business of sports in ways that are still being felt.
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: Peter Ueberroth. He made me believe in the power of leadership.
- Best advice you’ve received: Shut up and listen.
- What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: That I’m a part of a meaningful sports leadership community.
- The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: My biggest frustration is with people who think they understand the business of sports because they read the sports pages.
- My vision of success is …: When all parties in a negotiation are satisfied.
“Maidie is fiercely bright, and from all angles — legal, business and competitive — she has as comprehensive an understanding of how this business works as anyone I know.”
Photo: IGNACIO LINARES / LEADDOG MARKETING GROUP
LeadDog has experienced tremendous growth under Providenti’s leadership of day-to-day operations.Corporate PartnersDonna ProvidentiLeadDog Marketing Group | Chief Operating Officer
Donna Providenti has played a key role in developing LeadDog Marketing Group into one of the top agencies in sports. Over the past nine years, LeadDog, the agency of record for the 2014 NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee, has grown from 13 employees to its current staff of more than 150. As LeadDog’s chief operating officer, Providenti has run the group’s day-to-day business operations for the past four years after starting with the firm in account management and client services.
Providenti’s range of experience across sports has served LeadDog well over the past decade. She started her career as an accountant with the former Deloitte & Touche before turning back to sports after working in college athletics as an undergraduate student. She worked for the NHL’s events division, the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics, filling the role as venue manager for Deer Valley Resort, one of the slalom facilities.
At LeadDog, she now is steering the company in a new direction, one in which the agency is starting to buy properties to create better balance for its overall business.
“We’re an integrated agency … so we’re bringing all those services to this one entity, and the revenue has almost doubled this year,” Providenti said. “We think going into a World Cup year we’re going to have even more success next year.”
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: Dan Mannix. He believes you can do things before you do.
- Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Danica Patrick. She competes with the boys and succeeds.
- Best advice you’ve received: Work hard, be nice. (Thanks, mom and dad.)
- What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: My best friends are still the same.
- My vision of success is …: Doing something other people said was impossible.
“If you track our growth, LeadDog is one of the top job creators in the industry, and Donna’s footprints are all over that. Her impact on the longevity of people staying at our company is a point of differentiation. She inspires and mentors people.”
Photo: STANTON & CO.
The photo of Stanton and her grandfather sits on her desk as an inspiration from the smart and savvy businessman who was her biggest cheerleader.Corporate PartnersAmy StantonStanton & Co. | Founder and CEO
Amy Stanton founded Stanton & Co. in 2006 after having worked as the first chief marketing officer of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Before that, for about three years, she was the director of marketing and communications for NYC2012, the bid group that sought to bring the 2012 Summer Olympics to New York.
Her current firm, based in Los Angeles, represents a roster of brands and events that includes the espnW Women and Sports Summit, Evolve (a naturally flavored protein drink for women), and the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure Women’s Series (a women-only cycling event). She also represents 22 individual clients, all female, including snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler, skier Heather McPhie and hockey player Hilary Knight. She represents health and lifestyle experts, including yoga instructor and author Kathryn Budig, as well.
“It’s almost like a mini model of IMG,” Stanton says of her agency, “but focused on women.”
- Crowning professional achievement: Starting my own business from scratch, inspired by my family of entrepreneurs and a sense that anything is possible. And, on an ongoing basis, building and promoting positive female role models.
- Biggest professional disappointment: When New York City didn’t win the bid for the 2012 Olympics.
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: My grandfather has had the biggest impact on my career in general: His work ethic, wisdom and character always inspired me and continues to motivate me to be my best.
- Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Kathrine Switzer. She’s a pioneer and paved the way for women to run marathons. I love her story. Since I’ve run the Boston Marathon (and others), it’s a personal connection for me.
- Best advice you’ve received: “Keep smiling” is great advice for all areas of life, including business pursuits.
- What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: That in spite of the fact that I’m a total planner, the best moments and evolutions of my career have resulted from unexpected developments, trusting my gut, and following my instincts.
- The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: That people tend to be myopic about the sports business. Part of what excites me is that on the women’s side, sports is part of a much bigger and growing health and wellness industry with tremendous potential for innovation and growth.
- My vision of success is …: Pursuing something I’m passionate about, working with inspiring people, making a positive impact in the world, and, ultimately, striking the right balance between work and life.
“What differentiates Amy is her relentless passion. She has enormous belief in her vision — for her clients, for brand-building and for the possibilities of women in sports. Amy has been a fantastic partner as we’ve built the espnW business, and I’ve valued her insight and advice throughout our rise.”
Photo: COURTESY OF KIM CARVER
Carver keeps family, and the beach, close to her heart.Media Movers
Altitude Sports and Entertainment | President and CEO
Kim Carver got her first taste of what it takes to work in the television and sports industry when she was in high school, working as a production assistant for her father’s sports production company. “I worked hard; sometimes I worked until 3 or 4 in the morning,” she said. “There was no, ‘Oh, you’re a girl’ or ‘Oh, you’re my daughter,’ and I really appreciated that.”
Today, Carver is president and CEO of Denver-based RSN Altitude Sports and Entertainment. She has under her belt the launch of 10 networks throughout her career, including the first network dedicated to a single college athletic conference, The Mtn.
Her background has notable international work as well. Carver graduated from the University of Denver on a Saturday in 1991; the following Tuesday, she was on a plane bound for Star TV in Hong Kong, embarking on what would become a 15-year international career with stops in Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore.
This summer, in addition to her work with Altitude, Carver was named president and CEO of the World Fishing Network, allowing her to further put her stamp on the industry.
“I consider myself incredibly fortunate,” she said. “I know a lot of people haven’t been able to marry their passion with their paycheck like I have.”
- Crowning professional achievement: Launching a number of networks. It’s a unique experience to launch a network.
- Biggest professional disappointment: The Mtn. closed its doors the 31st of May, 2012, and watching that network die was horrific. We didn’t get full distribution, and we had teams leaving to go to other conferences. I left in December of 2011, but I loved the network and I loved the people, and it’s just crushing to see something like that happen.
- Best advice you’ve received: I used to say all the time, “Television is who I am,” and at some point, somebody said, “Television isn’t who you are, it’s what you do.”
- What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: That I can actually read, use, stick to and beat a budget. Nothing nicer than looking at the monthly financials and seeing you beat your number.
- The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: Politics. I hate them and I’m not good at them. I’m a pretty open person and I will work with anyone, anytime, on anything, but if I have to play politics, I hate it.
“I worked with Kim when she was GM of the Mountain West Network. Through all of the challenges presented by the disruption in college athletics, Kim kept everything in perspective, dug in, and plowed through it with a positive spirit and necessary toughness and focus to get the job done. Many others I have worked with would have run for the hills (and they’re beautiful in Denver), yet Kim hung in there and ran the Mountain West Network as if it was her own.”
Baseball and hockey are hot topics in the Chun household.
Media MoversJennifer Chun
Time Warner Cable | Senior Vice President, Content Acquisition
No sooner had Jennifer Chun’s Time Warner Cable team made the decision to let CBS owned-and-operated stations go dark on its systems in early August than Chun was back in the negotiating room. This time, she was facing off with another network group, Fox, that was seeking a hefty price increase as it prepared to launch Fox Sports 1.
A top lieutenant of Melinda Witmer, Chun is one of Time Warner Cable’s leading negotiators. She’s the gatekeeper that sports networks need to get past if they want carriage on the country’s second-biggest cable operator. Chun handles Time Warner Cable’s relationships with sports properties, and in addition to CBS and Fox, she oversees negotiations with Turner’s networks and all regional sports networks outside of Comcast and ESPN.
“I’m coming off a pretty long stretch here,” Chun said. “It is a pretty intense place to be right now.”
Ironically, Chun got her start in the business working with Fox’s affiliate group. She said the differences between working for a programmer and working for a distributor are considerable. “When you’re on the programmer side, especially now as the industry has consolidated so much, you have a handful of relationships that are the vast majority of your revenue,” Chun said. “When you’re on the distributor side, every relationship that you have matters, no matter how big or small.”
- Crowning professional achievement: I’m proud of having been asked to take on more responsibility pretty quickly in each of the professional positions I’ve had to date.
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: My husband. I grew up a casual sports fan, but my husband is a pretty hard-core, superstitious fan of almost every major pro and college sport out there. He turned me into a bigger and more appreciative fan of sports generally.
- What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: That I’m on the East Coast. I’m a West Coast girl, and always will be.
“Jennifer is an intellectual powerhouse and has one of the finest legal minds I’ve ever come across. Like other women I’ve come to know well in our industry, she’s a skillful negotiator but is guided by an incredibly strong moral compass. It was a privilege to work side by side with her at Fox for many years.”
Photo: JESSICA STERLING PHOTOGRAPHER
A native New Englander, Feeney grew up a Red Sox fan. She and her husband, who is from Boston, attended two games of the 2004 World Series, when the Red Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals.Media MoversReagan FeeneyDirecTV | Vice President, Sports, Public Interest and Content Compliance
As one of DirecTV’s top programming executives, Reagan Feeney seems to be in constant demand. She could barely take a step into a suite at Citi Field on a particular night in July without someone stopping her to schmooze. This time, it was during MLB’s all-star week, but the scene is the same at various sporting events across the country.
“I know people think that all I do is go to Fenway Park and Red Sox games,” Feeney joked. “Despite popular belief, I don’t go around the country just going to professional sporting events.”
Feeney’s popularity comes from the fact that sports networks that want carriage on DirecTV have to go through her. She has been a part of these types of negotiations since 1997, when she was first hired by the satellite service as a junior assistant. But Feeney says the negotiations have become tougher, especially as networks pay more for rights and are, in turn, looking to get more from distributors.
“We used to have this product for X. Now, it’s 10X,” Feeney said. “Or, we used to have all the product on one channel. Now, some of it is moving to a whole new service.”
In addition to doing carriage deals, Feeney also says the digital world is becoming a challenge. “How do you protect yourself against what you don’t know,” she said. “To me, that’s the scariest and most difficult part of my job beyond the costs.”
- Crowning professional achievement: Starting at DirecTV as a junior assistant and working my way to vice president. I remember the first time someone asked me to pick up their dry-cleaning and I thought I had made the biggest mistake of my life by taking the job. Turns out it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: Michael Thornton opened the door to sports when he put his trust in me to manage DirecTV’s RSN deal negotiations when I didn’t even know the difference between the in-market and out-of-market.
- Best advice you’ve received: Stop talking and listen. It’s surprising how much you can learn by simply listening.
- The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: Achieving a balance between cost and value.
“I always bring my ‘A’ game when I meet with Reagan, as she is on top of all things sports-related and how they interconnect with video deployment.”
Photo: GOLF CHANNEL
O’Brien’s lucky club represents golf as a social escape and a way to spend time with her family.
Media MoversRegina O’Brien
Golf Channel | Senior Vice President, Marketing
Agolfer since she was 8 years old, Regina O’Brien was able to bring a player’s perspective to the Golf Channel when she joined the network’s marketing team in 2007. More recently, she was a key voice in Golf Channel’s highly successful “We Know We’re Different” campaign that launched late last year and highlighted what O’Brien calls the “quirky” culture of golf. Now distributed to more than 84 million homes, Golf Channel is on pace to register its most watched year for the third consecutive year.
“The quality of our production has been enhanced greatly, and people are staying with us longer because of the quality of the game,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien and her team already have set their sights on bigger projects ahead, as well. Among them: the 2016 Rio Summer Games. “Golf is back in the Olympics,” O’Brien said. “This is going to be a worldwide changer for our sport, and obviously we want to be a big part of that.”
- Crowning professional achievement: The team that we’ve been able to build here. I look at the team that I have now and I think we’ve built a team that questions the status quo and always is pushing to innovate.
- Biggest professional disappointment: [It] is actually here at the Golf Channel: I thought my handicap would go down, and it’s actually gone up. It’s one of the secrets that they don’t tell you about, [that] when you work in golf or work at the Golf Channel you don’t get to play as much.
- Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: [Former Gatorade President] Sarah Robb O’Hagan. I’m really a student of branding and advertising, and the work that they do at Gatorade, I think, is some of the best in the industry.
- What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: I never would have thought words like Twitter and Instagram and hashtag would be part of my daily lexicon. The things that we say nowadays, it’s pretty amazing what technology has brought us.
- My vision of success is …: Seeing all teams working together with the same vision.
“Not only is Regina a strategic and innovative leader, she also is the ultimate team player. She is a trusted adviser on nearly every area of our business.”
Photo: JOHN P. FILO / CBS
Power enjoys how creating startup networks allows her to build her own foundation.
Media MoversPatty Power
CBS Sports | Senior Vice President, Operations, Engineering and Production Planning
She was the first hire in the operations department at Classic Sports Network as it prepped for launch in 1995, and again for CSTV when it went on the air in 2002. So when Patty Power was charged with figuring out how CBS Sports Network would produce 50 hours of original programming from New Orleans on the week of the Super Bowl, incorporating the sports, news and entertainment divisions to create content for distribution on the network, on the Web and through syndication, she could turn back to her startup experience as a guide.
“The great thing about startups is you’re creating your own foundation and you’re doing it your own way, and I do like that,” said Power, who helped transform CBS Sports Network from the niche player it was as CSTV and CBS College Sports Network into a broader channel with twice as much live programming as it had two years ago. “I’ve been here in this position for 11 years, but we’ve gone through so many changes, with opportunities to learn from new people along the way, it really hasn’t seemed like it. Change is good for some, and not for all. For me, it’s healthy.”
- Crowning professional achievement: Helping to launch two successful sports cable networks: Classic Sports and CSTV.
- Biggest professional disappointment: I never had an opportunity to work on a World Cup, which I consider one of the world’s premier sporting events.
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: I’ve had several wonderful mentors who have influenced me, including Ken Aagaard, who has generously shared his knowledge, wisdom and guidance.
- Best advice you’ve received: Treat people with respect.
- The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: The ever-changing technology landscape.
- My vision of success is …: A well-balanced personal and professional life — which I’m still working on.
“What makes Patty so good is her ability to cut through the clutter and come up with very good answers to problems quickly, succinctly and efficiently. Smart, quick and well-connected, Patty is known throughout the industry as one of the best operations/productions people you could ever work with; top-notch in every way.”
Photo: RICH ARDEN / ESPN
Sobieski has maintained a lifelong passion for horseback riding.Media MoversJulie Sobieski
ESPN | Vice President, League Sports Programming
After years of scuffling, unsuccessfully, to get Major League Baseball to relax its local blackout rules, ESPN went to its renewal discussions last year armed with reams of research and yet another impassioned plea. This time, MLB relented. In turn, ESPN agreed to showcase all 30 clubs on its national telecasts.
“We were able to show them that [eliminating blackouts] was important not only for our business but also for the growth of baseball,” said Julie Sobieski, vice president of league sports programming at ESPN. “The state of our relationship allowed us to have an open conversation about what we saw and where we see the opportunity, not only for us, but for baseball.”
It’s the sort of dialogue Sobieski also hopes to maintain with the NBA and NFL, which she added to her programming responsibilities at the network earlier this year. She started at ESPN as an intern in 1998, was hired a year later to work primarily on outdoors programming, and steadily added responsibilities, beginning with auto racing and then MLB.
“A big piece of my role now is relationship-building with the league partners,” Sobieski said. “We’re in long-term rights deals with all of them now. It’s a different mindset. We’re not in a constant acquisition mode, so we can actually take some time to grow our business together.”
- Crowning professional achievement: Last year’s extension of the MLB rights deal.
- Biggest professional disappointment: The shutdown of ESPN Outdoors/BASS.
- Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: Gary Morgenstern: one of my first bosses and my first mentor. Gary gave me tremendous latitude to stretch my skills early in my career, allowed me to fail, and was always there for advice and guidance.
- Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Heidi Ueberroth. She has an amazing purview over the business growth and popularity of the NBA globally.
“Whether in the context of programming, scheduling, production or marketing, Julie is just as open to exploring new opportunities to benefit MLB on ESPN as she is to constructively addressing issues as they arise. And, she has proven herself to be remarkably effective at both.”
The following women were recognized in our Game Changers publications of 2011 and 2012:
Stacey Allaster, WTA (2011)
Dana Allen, Competitor Group Inc. (2012)
Renie Anderson, NFL (2012)
Dawn Aponte, Miami Dolphins (2012)
Lisa Baird, U.S. Olympic Committee (2011)
Jennifer Bazante, Visa (2012)
Kathy Behrens, NBA (2011)
Michelle Berg, Team Epic (2011)
Jeanne Bonk, San Diego Chargers (2011)
Kim Brink, NASCAR (2012)
Karen Brodkin, Fox Cable Networks (2011)
Karen Bryant, Seattle Storm (2011)
Jeanie Buss, Los Angeles Lakers (2011)
Sharon Byers, Coca-Cola (2012)
April Carty-Sipp, NBC Sports Regional Networks (2012)
Kerry Chandler, NBA (2012)
Andrea Ching, CNN News Networks and Turner Digital Ad Sales (2012)
Casey Coffman, MSG (2011)
Amy Cohen, Comcast Sports Group (2011)
Ann Wells Crandall, N.Y. Road Runners (2011)
Cindy Davis, Nike Golf (2011)
Tina Davis, Citigroup (2011)
Rana Dershowitz, U.S. Olympic Committee (2012)
Marie Donoghue, ESPN (2012)
Christine Driessen, ESPN (2012)
Rosalyn Durant, ESPNU (2011)
Amy Erschen, The Marketing Arm (2011)
Katy Feeney, MLB (2012)
Pam Gardner, Houston Astros (2011)
Jane Geddes, WWE (2011)
Kit Geis, Genesco Sports Enterprises (2011)
Jessica Gelman, Kraft Sports Group (2012)
Laura Gentile, ESPNW (2011)
Julie Grand, NHL (2012)
Tamera Green, GMR Marketing (2011)
Tara Green, Center Operating Co. (2012)
Jill Gregory, NASCAR (2011)
Kelli Hilliard, IMG College (2012)
Beth Hirschhorn, MetLife (2012)
Lauren Hobart, Dick’s Sporting Goods (2011)
Tery Howard, Miami Dolphins (2011)
Jane Kleinberger, Paciolan (2011)
Ilana Kloss, World TeamTennis (2011)
Julie Roe Lach, NCAA (2011)
Amy Latimer, Boston Bruins/TD Garden (2011)
Micky Lawler, Octagon (2012)
Karen Leetzow, NASCAR (2012)
Danette Leighton, Pac-12 Conference (2011)
Cheryl Levick, Georgia State University (2011)
Wendy Lewis, MLB (2012)
Jennifer Love, NFL Network (2012)
Danielle Maged, StubHub (2012)
Hillary Mandel, IMG Media (2011)
Sheila McLenaghan, PGA Tour (2011)
Allison Melangton, Indiana Sports Corp. (2012)
Sarah Mensah, Portland Trail Blazers (2011)
Christina Miller, NBA Digital/Turner Sports (2011)
Marla Miller, MLB (2011)
Lydia Murphy-Stephans, Pac-12 Networks (2012)
Lisa Murray, Octagon Worldwide (2011)
JoAnn Neale, MLS (2012)
Kathryn Olson, Women’s Sports Foundation (2011)
Mary Owen, Buffalo Bills (2012)
Heidi Pellerano, Wasserman Media Group (2012)
Tracy Perlman, NFL (2012)
Chris Plonsky, University of Texas (2011)
Marian Rhodes, Arizona Diamondbacks (2012)
Laurel Richie, WNBA (2012)
Sue Rodin, WISE/Stars & Strategies (2011)
Carol Sawdye, NBA (2012)
Rebecca Schulte, Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic (2011)
Mary Scott, Matter Inc. (2012)
Staci Slaughter, San Francisco Giants (2012)
Janet Marie Smith, Baltimore Orioles (2011)
Jana Smoley, Reno-Tahoe Open (2012)
Jill Smoller, William Morris Endeavor (2011)
Susan Stone, MLB Network (2011)
Amy Trask, Oakland Raiders (2011)
Laurie Tucker, FedEx (2012)
Tyler Tumminia, The Goldklang Group (2012)
Rita Tuzon, Fox Networks Group (2012)
Circe Wallace, Wasserman Media Group (2011)
Michelle Wilson, WWE (2011)
Melinda Witmer, Time Warner Cable (2011)
Jackie Woodward, MillerCoors (2011)
Ann Wool, Ketchum Sports & Entertainment (2012)
Anne Worcester, New Haven Open (2011)
Paula Yancey, PC Sports (2011)
Gillian Zucker, Auto Club Speedway (2012)
Note: Companies listed are those that appeared in the original publications. Some Game Changers have taken new jobs since then.