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Volume 21 No. 2
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Game Changers: Jana Smoley

Smoley, with sons Nick, 6 (left), and Jake, 7, has
succeeded in getting word out about the
Reno-Tahoe area.
Jana Smoley
Reno-Tahoe Open
Executive Director
When Jana Smoley was asked three years ago to run a PGA Tour event in Reno, Nev., she wasn’t exactly sure why she was the lead candidate. “I had to stop and ask, ‘What exactly do I bring to the table?’” she said. “But the more I thought about it, the more I understood what a great way this is for us to tell the rest of the world about Reno-Tahoe.” Three years into the job as tournament director for the Reno-Tahoe Open — she’s the only female tournament director on tour — Smoley has convinced herself what everyone else apparently knew: that hiring her was a good idea. Under her leadership, the tournament has created new partnerships, such as the one with Loudmouth golf apparel, and it has kept its prize money strong despite the absence of a title sponsor. Instead, the tournament is supported by a slew of local sponsors who share Smoley’s view that the event is a great way to tell the rest of the world about Reno-Tahoe.

“What it’s really about is having someone who is passionate about this area, who understands what makes this area so cool, and telling the world about it,” Smoley said. “The tournament really is an amazing asset for a community that used to be known for ‘Reno 911.’”    

— Michael Smith
  • What is the best advice you’ve ever received?: From my dad: He always used to say, “Separate, then tackle them one at a time” — focus on separating the smaller concerns within the big picture and attack these more manageable-sized issues one by one.
  • The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: The economy.
  • One attribute I look for when hiring is …: Being solution-oriented. Finding someone who can identify the issue, accept a challenge for what it is, dissect it, and then find a good solution is invaluable to me. Hard work matters.
  • In 10 words or less, how would you describe your management style?: Communicative, cooperative and collaborative.
  • My vision of success is …: Growing, winning, being the best you can be, and having some good laughs along the way.


“When we were seeking a new executive director for the Reno-Tahoe Open three years ago, the PGA Tour knew we needed a person with strong leadership qualities who would bring a tremendous amount of energy to the event. We also sought a person with a creative mind, strong sales and marketing background, and the passion to turn the Reno-Tahoe Open into an event the community is very proud of. In Jana Smoley, we found just that person.”

  • Andy Pazder, PGA Tour executive vice president and chief of operations