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Volume 21 No. 1
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Game Changers: Women in Sports Business

Women have been front and center for some of sports’ premier story lines in 2012.

June marked the 40th anniversary of the landmark federal legislation known as Title IX. The year also brought us the London Olympics, with no shortage of headlines from American athletes succeeding at the Games.

Women similarly have been newsmakers throughout the ranks of sports business this year. For these women, however, 2012 serves as simply another year of leadership, development and success. Such is the nature of sports business today, where women are regularly shaping the investments and programs that make teams, leagues and companies thrive.

It’s these accomplishments, and those making them, that are at the heart of “Game Changers: Women in Sports Business.”

This is the second year that SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily have produced Game Changers. Our goal, just as it was last year, is to tell the stories of women in the sports business — women with broad, deep, and varied responsibilities who contribute to the success of the industry in multiple ways. In so doing, we aim to highlight individuals whose stories perhaps have not been told. Some of the women you might know; others you might be reading about for the first time.

To be sure, Game Changers is not the only occasion annually 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.

The annual publication of Game Changers, however, we hope can serve as a point for discussion in the industry. In fact, that conversation has already started.

In speaking with members of last year’s class of Game Changers recently, several executives shared messages they received at this time last year, upon our 2011 issue being published:

“For all of us who were considered and ultimately selected, it was uplifting to become familiar with the vast number of women who are making a difference in the industry and in so many varied ways.” — Chris Plonsky, University of Texas

“It was great to see some of the communication that started between the honorees, and I hope to continue to build stronger relationships as a result.” — Jill Gregory, NASCAR

“In addition to other members of the 2011 class, I also received messages from many colleagues and business associates, some whom I hadn’t been in touch with for some time. Also, for the [survey] question relating to ‘What woman in sports business would you like to someday meet?’ I had answered Lesa France Kennedy. Her office reached out to me as well, which was a great surprise.” — Paula Yancey, PC Sports

There were also messages such as this, aimed at the Class of 2012:

“Remember, you were chosen for the way you think about our business. Continue to challenge existing ideas and find new ways to create revenue and opportunities for your business.” — Jeanie Buss, Los Angeles Lakers

“You always want to be alert and nimble — that will keep you a step ahead. When you are in a leadership position, it’s important to help others and create leadership opportunities. There is always a positive payoff in that. Use your platform to motivate, inspire and elevate others.” — Ilana Kloss, World TeamTennis

“I believe that receiving the recognition as a Game Changer in the industry carries a responsibility to be an active mentor to other women (and men) in the sports business, and [I] encourage this year’s class and those to follow in future classes to get involved. We all lead very busy lives, but it is vitally important that we help others in the industry.”— Michelle Berg, Team Epic

For this publication, in addition to telling their stories, each Game Changer completed a survey aimed at getting to know more about her. Select answers appear with each story on the pages that follow. 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.

Together, these women are bringing ideas, solutions and perspectives to the sports business that will have an effect for years to come. They are the 2012 Class of Game Changers: Women in Sports Business.

Renie Anderson, NFL
Kim Brink, NASCAR
Kerry Chandler, NBA
Rana Dershowitz, U.S. Olympic Committee
Katy Feeney, MLB
Julie Grand, NHL
Karen Leetzow, NASCAR
Wendy Lewis, MLB
Allison Melangton, Indiana Sports Corp.
JoAnn Neale, MLS
Tracy Perlman, NFL
Laurel Richie, WNBA
Carol Sawdye, NBA
Dawn Aponte, Miami Dolphins
Jessica Gelman, Kraft Sports Group
Tara Green, Center Operating Co.
Mary Owen, Buffalo Bills
Marian Rhodes, Arizona Diamondbacks
Staci Slaughter, San Francisco Giants
Jana Smoley, Reno-Tahoe Open
Tyler Tumminia, The Goldklang Group
Gillian Zucker, Auto Club Speedway

April Carty-Sipp, NBC Sports Regional Networks
Andrea Ching, CNN News Networks and Turner Digital Ad Sales 
Marie Donoghue, ESPN    
Christine Driessen, ESPN
Jennifer Love, NFL Network
Lydia Murphy-Stephans, Pac-12 Networks
Rita Tuzon, Fox Networks Group

Dana Allen, Competitor Group Inc.
Jennifer Bazante, Visa
Sharon Byers, Coca-Cola
Beth Hirschhorn, MetLife
Danielle Maged, StubHub
Laurie Tucker, FedEx

Kelli Hilliard, IMG College 
Micky Lawler, Octagon
Heidi Pellerano, Wasserman Media Group 
Mary Scott, Matter Inc. 
Ann Wool, Ketchum Sports & Entertainment
Game Changers, Class of 2011