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Volume 21 No. 2
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Game Changers: Kathryn Olson

Olson has climbed in her career and recreationally. Here
she hikes at Capitol Peak near Aspen, Colo.
Kathryn Olson
Women's Sports Foundation

Kathryn Olson has been on the Women’s Sports Foundation’s board of trustees since 2005, but a year and a half ago she became CEO of the nonprofit organization.

“I always felt at some point in my life I would want to work for the nonprofit side and hopefully make a bigger difference in the lives of children and society,” Olson said. That perspective stems from Olson, prior to taking the reins of the foundation, having worked as senior vice president and chief marketing officer for LeapFrog and for Shutterfly, as well as in senior marketing positions for Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., Nordstrom and Gatorade.

Olson said her goal as CEO of the foundation is “to see that every girl that wants and needs access to physical activity has the opportunity to play.” Programs such as the GoGirlGo! initiative help make that access possible, along with the foundation making travel and training funds available for aspiring athletes.

— Molly Hogan
  • What is the best advice you’ve ever received?: Reach higher than you think is possible.
  • In 10 words or less, how would you describe your management style?: Empowering; creator of purpose-driving vision; sense of humor.
  • Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: Billie Jean King. She has long been a champion for social change and equality and is the absolute definition of a pioneer in business and life.
  • Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: I have the opportunity to meet so many phenomenal women in sports at the foundation’s awards gala and at events throughout the year. If given the chance, I’d like to meet several male athletes with daughters and discuss how to get more dads engaged with our mission.
  • One attribute I look for when hiring is …: Intellectual curiosity.
  • If I had to do it all over again, I would …: Have been a collegiate soccer player and pursued a career in the field of veterinary or internal medicine. I’d like nine lives.


“There are so many pieces to the work of the Women’s Sports Foundation mission … and [Kathryn] has the unique ability to engage this bigger team as she works every day to advance the lives of girls and women through sports.”

  • Nancy Hogshead-Makar, senior director of advocacy, Women’s Sports Foundation