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Volume 20 No. 45
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Game Changers: Kathy Behrens

Behrens met Nelson Mandela while with other league
representatives on a Basketball Without Borders initiative
in Africa.
Kathy Behrens
EVP, Social Responsibility and Player Programs

Kathy Behrens directs the NBA Cares program, the league’s philanthropic umbrella that launched in 2005 and since then has given out $165 million in charitable contributions, participated in 628 “legacy” projects and contributed 1.7 million hours of service time around the world. It’s a far-reaching list of social contributions, but most significant to Behrens of late was last season’s partnership with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network to create public service announcements featuring NBA players Grant Hill and Jared Dudley. The campaign brought heavy attention to issues rarely publicly addressed in professional sports and points to Behrens’ thoughtful leadership of the NBA Cares program as the league continues to fulfill NBA Commissioner David Stern’s mission of social responsibility.

— John Lombardo
  • First job: Assistant teacher at a school for kids with special needs.
  • What keeps you awake at night?: My 4-year-old twins.
  • Woman in sports business you'd most like to meet: I would love to play a round of golf with Annika Sorenstam. I have always admired her world-class talent, business savvy and commitment to philanthropy.
  • The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: Saying "No" to the people who request tickets.
  • One attribute I look for when hiring is …: A sense of humor.


“Kathy is low-key and all business. She has a vision of what NBA Cares stands for and she makes it happen. She is not afraid to try new ideas and she is the quiet voice behind the success.”

  • Caryl Stern, president and CEO, U.S. Fund for UNICEF