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Volume 20 No. 42
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Game Changers: Danette Leighton

Leighton balances Pac-12 matters with the challenge of
being the best mom possible to her 7-year-old.
Danette Leighton
Pac-12 Conference
Chief Marketing Officer

Since becoming the Pac-12’s first chief marketing officer in April 2010, Danette Leighton has played a prominent role in the new-look conference taking its place on the national stage. The addition of Colorado and Utah to the former Pac-10 meant a wholesale rebranding of the conference. To fuel that effort — and to increase the visibility of the member schools — Leighton established the first bicoastal media tour with the conference’s football coaches, and she’s worked to create more exposure opportunities for the programs east of the Mississippi River.

Leighton credits conference Commissioner Larry Scott for allowing her “the autonomy necessary to help make his vision come to life.” And despite rumors of the conference adding more schools in the changing landscape of college sports, Leighton said she remains focused on “making sure the work we’ve done to rebrand our conference continues and the story we’re telling remains consistent for us across both the networks as well as our conference.”

— Katherine Zdrojeski
  • First job: Public relations intern, Pac-10 Conference.
  • Biggest professional disappointment: I put my heart, soul and passion into building a strong brand with the WNBA’s Sacramento Monarchs (as vice president, business operations). I developed incredible relationships with fans, staff and the players. Having to fold the team is by far my biggest disappointment.
  • What is the best advice you’ve ever received?: Don’t be afraid to fail. As a marketer, it is imperative that you always look to innovate and take smart risks. If you are afraid to fail, you will be challenged to create, and your end product will be diluted.
  • What keeps you awake at night?: How to best navigate the challenges of parenting in today’s world so that I can be the best mother possible to my 7-year-old daughter.
  • One attribute I look for when hiring is …: Passion, and a “team-first” mentality.


“Danette has had a major impact on the trajectory of the Pac-12 in a short period with her creativity, passion and inspiring leadership.”

  • Larry Scott, Pac-12 Conference commissioner