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Volume 20 No. 45

Game Changers

They are changing the way you think about sports and the way you watch sports — on any platform. The impact they have on the industry can be measured in professional and college sports, on the biggest stages, and in markets of all sizes from coast to coast and around the world. And they are guiding the next generation of executives looking to find their way in the sports industry. Here are their stories that we are proud to tell.

Jean Afterman
New York Yankees
Hannah Gordon
San Francisco 49ers
Stephanie McMahon
Christina Alejandre
Turner Sports / ELeague
Shauna Griffiths
LeadDog Marketing Group
Marisabel Muñoz
MLS / Soccer United Marketing
Kenyatta Bynoe
Catie Griggs
Atlanta United FC
Erika Nardini
Barstool Sports
Katie Bynum
U.S. Golf Association
Amy Howe
Ticketmaster North America at Live Nation Entertainment
Elizabeth O’Brien
Danielle Cantor
Allison Keller
PGA Tour
Nzinga Shaw
Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena
Jennifer Cohen
University of Washington
Morane Kerek
U.S. Olympic Committee
Renata Simril
LA84 Foundation
Kirsten Corio
U.S. Tennis Association
Gina Lehe
College Football Playoff
Shauna Smith
Aquarius Sports and Entertainment
Sarah Cummins
New York Road Runners
Lauren Cooks Levitan
Keisha Taylor
Ayala Deutsch
Adrienne Lofton
Under Armour
Renée Tirado
Kimberly Fields
Jodi Logsdon
CBS Sports
Renee Washington
USA Track & Field
Laura Froelich
Samita Mannapperuma
NBC Sports Group
Lynn White
Libby Geist
Beth McClinton
Creative Artists Agency


Sporting events or venues they would like to see On the lighter side: Game Changers selfies People who have had an impact on their careers
Game Changers: Past recipients, 2011-2016 Survey says: What is the best sporting event you’ve attended?

See also:
■ 2017’s Game Changers

Before she was offered a senior-level role as chief diversity officer of the Atlanta Hawks, Nzinga Shaw had never haggled over salary when considering a job change in the sports industry.

Her path came through the human resources departments of the YES Network, the NFL and public relations firm Edelman, where her skill set was general enough that she figured there were more able and willing candidates than opportunities, particularly with the perceived perks of working in sports.

When the Hawks came looking for a chief diversity officer, a position no other NBA franchise had created, Shaw thought that her unique qualifications for the new position merited a compensation conversation.

It was an approach that she’d seen many times while on the other side of the table — although rarely when dealing with other women.

“Being in HR, you see who negotiates and who doesn’t,” said Shaw, who joined the Hawks from Edelman late in 2015. “Oh, my God, was there a difference. I always knew when we offered a guy a position, we would have to come back to him with a better number. Whereas the women — being honest — it was like, ‘If you offer this job at this number, she will take it.’ Nine times out of 10, they did.”

That experience seems to resonate across the sports industry.

A recent Turnkey Intelligence survey commissioned by SportsBusiness Journal found that while men and women who work in sports were equally likely to negotiate compensation before accepting a job — with about six out of 10 saying they tried — the women who opted not to negotiate reported different reasons than their male counterparts for not doing so.

While 52 percent of men said they opted not to because they felt the offer they received was fair, only 35 percent of women cited that as the primary reason. Twenty-eight percent of women said it “never occurred to” them to negotiate, as compared to only 11 percent of men. Strikingly, 21 percent of women said they lacked confidence in their negotiating skills, a reason given by only 5 percent of men.

But such sentiment is not exclusive to sports — it’s a dynamic that has been examined in the broader work force, where studies repeatedly show that women are less inclined to negotiate salary than men for varied reasons, with recent research finding that concerns that they might not be treated as well if they negotiated often were merited.

The issue has attracted enough attention that the city of Boston hosts salary negotiation workshops for women, attracting almost 5,000 attendees in the last two years.

“Generally, this is all indicative of the broader issue of women in the workforce,” said Liz Boardman, senior client partner in the sports practice of executive search firm Korn Ferry. “Whether by nature or nurture, women just don’t speak up for their worth in terms of salary and compensation. I’m bullish on this getting better in sports based on what I see working with candidates on what they’ll say yes or no to. But there’s still a lot of progress that has to be made.”

Women also were more likely than men to say that they feared they’d be treated differently if they negotiated (16 percent to 9 percent) and that they didn’t want to seem ungrateful for a job offer (24 percent to 20 percent).

“I was taught growing up that negotiating is not a good thing,” Shaw said. “I don’t agree with that now. But I was taught that you need to be mild-mannered and reserved and grateful for any opportunity you are given. If you work hard and do the things you’re supposed to be doing, you will get your fair share. But as far as being outspoken and asking out loud for specific currency, it’s not going to be well received. I don’t agree with that now. I think that’s bad counsel. But it’s cultural.”

Both Shaw and Boardman said they saw improvement, particularly among younger sports industry job candidates.

But their observation runs counter to the data. When Turnkey Intelligence last conducted a survey of female sports executives three years ago, those who chose not to negotiate were considerably more likely to say it was because the offer was fair and considerably less likely to point to a lack of awareness or confidence (see charts).

Among those who attempted to negotiate salary, 89 percent of men reported at least partial success. Seventy-nine percent of women who negotiated said they succeeded.

“This is the funny bone of all the diversity issues: Women advocating for compensation,” Boardman said. “That’s the most sensitive part of all this if you work in sports.”

Turnkey Sports President Len Perna, who also heads his company’s executive search practice, believes women looking to work their way up through a male-dominated sports industry are less likely to push the compensation discussion.

“They are disadvantaged by the fact that they are generally trying to push their way up in this industry now,” Perna said. “This was mostly a guy industry until 15 or 20 years ago. Now a lot more women are coming into the industry, but they’re a bit at a disadvantage because to the extent that you want and need the job more to move up in the organization you’re much less likely to negotiate hard.”

Shaw pointed to the dearth of women in senior management in sports as a likely factor in the survey results, since salaries for senior positions traditionally are more negotiable and men are more likely to hold those roles. Forty-five percent of men who responded held titles of senior vice president or higher. Only 19 percent of women who responded held those titles.

“The only time I’ve seen women negotiate was when the jobs were SVP and above,” Shaw said. “If a woman was trying to get a job at director or below, she wouldn’t negotiate.”

Perna said the responses on salary negotiation surprised him, based upon his experience with female candidates. He said he hasn’t found women to be less likely to negotiate salary. But he did see differences in the way they approach their job candidacy.

“Females tend to come in and they’re sort of looking out for the greatest marginal utility. ‘What is best for the organization? Am I the right person? I’m not sure,’” Perna said. “That’s not how guys come in. Guys come in with: ‘I’m the best. I’m your man. Here are my assets.’ Guys are not focused on what’s best for the organization. They are focused on getting an offer.

“I haven’t noticed a difference between men and women once they get the offer. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not there.”

What Participants Said …

“I get comments constantly about whether I’m ‘really into sports.’ If I were a man, no one would even ask that.”

“I have been given additional duties and roles to fill without compensation, time and time again, while male colleagues performing slightly additional duties are handsomely compensated, often in the range of $25,000 to $45,000 a year greater than I am. I have the formal training and education to perform those duties, but they played the game.”

“As a woman, my responsibility to the next generation is to illustrate that you can use your gender as an advantage because we provide a different perspective.”

“I’ve been told I am not able to apply for certain positions because ‘I’m not a former player.’”

“It has been my experience that women have to take on additional responsibilities to prove they can successfully perform before being promoted, while men are more often promoted based on their perceived potential.”

“Women have many, many more opportunities than when I started 40 years ago, and I am grateful for this — they can decide to produce, direct, be in the studio or on the sideline, and there is a place for them. It’s a lot of progress in four decades, but I’m hungry for more!”

“It seems to me that visible, tangible progress has been made in the last 10 years.”

“When you have an opportunity to stand out simply because you are a woman, you grab that opportunity with both hands and feet, and you back it up with a stellar performance.”

“I think leagues, teams and brands are starting to do a better job at creating equal opportunities for women, but there is still a long way to go.”

“When I worked for a sports team I wasn’t allowed in the locker room. But then the men that were allowed in had better relationships with the players, which made their jobs easier.”

“My experiences as a female allow me to have a unique and distinct point of view that not many organizations have.”

“There have been many times where I’m surrounded by men and the machismo comes out in full force and I feel that I’m forced into a position to nod along and laugh. On the flip side, given the limited amount of women in sports (especially as you progress up the chain), I find it motivating to be the minority since it challenges me to be successful and show what I can do.”

The Gender Gap in Sports Business

SportsBusiness Journal recently commissioned Turnkey Intelligence to conduct a study among sports professionals that measured attitudes, perceptions and facts about the gender gap in sports business. The two organizations fielded a similar study in 2014. Subscribers of SBJ, SportsBusiness Daily and SportsBusiness Global were invited via email and personal conversations to participate. In all, 503 sports business executives completed this year’s study — 269 women and 234 men. In 2014 there were 417 participants — 230 men and 187 women.

In our First Look podcast this week, SBJ’s Abe Madkour, Bill King, and special guest Len Perna of Turnkey discuss the results of a survey of how men and women differ in their approach to salary negotiation:


ew York Yankees executive Jean Afterman is one of the most powerful women in baseball, and someone often mentioned as a candidate to be MLB’s first female general manager. But her arrival to the sport was essentially an accidental one.

Jean Afterman
New York Yankees // Senior vice president and assistant general manager
A lawyer by trade and actress by avocation, Afterman in the early 1990s was representing player agent Don Nomura in a dispute over baseball card licensing rights. The pair, however, soon began to work on rules governing the migration of Japanese baseball players to America. Afterman found crucial loopholes that ultimately led to a reworking of the posting system between Nippon Professional Baseball and MLB, in turn allowing stars such as Hideo Nomo, Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui to come stateside and opening up a new era of internationalization in baseball.

“I really think Hideo Nomo saved baseball,” Afterman said of the Japanese hurler’s arrival to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995. “You think about where the sport was then, coming off the strike in 1994 and all that ugliness. This gave people a reason to be excited again.”

Yankees GM Brian Cashman brought Afterman on to his staff in late 2001, and nearly 16 years later, the duo have proved to be a highly potent partnership. On top of 11 playoff appearances, two pennants and a World Series title, Afterman has been a key sounding board to Cashman and a valuable contract negotiator.

As for that GM post, Afterman is much more interested in maintaining her ties to the Yankee pinstripes.

“What [managing general partner] Hal [Steinbrenner] and the rest of the organization here are doing, both on and off the field, is tremendously exciting,” she said. “A franchise is a living, breathing organism, and there has been such a tremendous jolt of young energy around here that’s been very invigorating.”

— Eric Fisher

  • Where born: San Francisco.
  • Education: University of California, Berkeley, B.A., “History of Art”; University of San Francisco School of Law, J.D.
  • Attribute I look for when hiring: An active, articulate and individual mind.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Everyone has an interesting back story.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Life is too short to be $%^&ing around doing something you don’t enjoy (advice from my mother).
  • Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: If I knew that, I would have a healthier work-life balance.
  • If I had it to do over again: I would change nothing.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: I would like to meet the first woman GM of an MLB team (maybe I have already met her?).
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? Never played out, women face challenges, still, in every profession and in every part of our society — now more than ever.
  • Cause supported: Planned Parenthood.

hristina Alejandre became perhaps the most prominent woman in esports because a writer doubted she existed.

Christina Alejandre
Turner Sports // Vice president, esports
ELeague // General manager
In late 2015, Alejandre was working as a management consultant for esports tournament organizer ESL when Turner Sports posted a job listing for general manager of its new venture with WME-IMG, ELeague. It included such a daunting list of requirements that gaming blog Kotaku wrote a column titled, “No one alive could fill Time Warner’s esports job.”

“It was a crazy job description,” Alejandre concedes. “But I quickly realized there were very few people who did have everything they wanted, including me. So I wrote a cheeky letter to the executive recruiter here at Time Warner, and said, ‘Hey, I saw this Kotaku article. I just want to let you know I am alive.’”

Now well into the second year of ELeague, the property has earned high praise for adapting esports to linear television without losing credibility with hard-core fans — a fine line no one had successfully walked before.

It’s a “dream job,” Alejandre says, full of startup potential with the security of a major sports media property behind it. While esports is known as a boys club today and poses challenges for women, she thinks it has great potential for gender equity because there’s no inherent gender divide as in physical sports.

“Much like sports, they bring people together from all backgrounds,” she says. “I continue to be bullish on e-sports for that reason.”

— Ben Fischer

  • Where born: Seoul, Korea; grew up in South Portland, Maine.
  • Education: Occidental College, B.A. in economics.
  • Attribute I look for when hiring: I try to hire people and surround myself with people I know are smarter than me. It elevates the team and ultimately the product.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Find good mentors and be open to any advice. Similarly, make yourself available to those who are searching for mentors. I believe you get as much out of the relationship as they do.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Chase the job, not the title.
  • Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: I still haven’t figured that out yet.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: I’ve met so many amazing women in sports during my time at Turner. Of the women I’ve not met, Stephanie McMahon (WWE) and Erika Nardini (Barstool Sports).
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? I think it’s always key to keep the dialogue going. We are shaping the business for the next generation and things are not perfect or fixed. To an extent, while I am truly honored to be on lists such as this one, it’s somewhat telling that these lists exist today instead of an overall list representative of all groups.
  • Cause supported: I actively mentor pre-managerial-level employees at Turner. I also support some animal rescue organizations.

Photo by: DRAE BROWN
hen Kenyatta Bynoe was promoted to vice president of global brand marketing at Spalding last year, she was met with an empowering, yet daunting, mandate: Remake an iconic brand that had fallen behind in the spaces that were most relevant to the young consumers who should represent its core, turning awareness into engagement.

Kenyatta Bynoe
Spalding // Vice president, global brand marketing and partnerships

“It starts with being present where they are,” said Bynoe, who came to Spalding three years ago after spending most of her career marketing automotive brands. “When I started the job, we weren’t present. We were relying on exposure we get through our partnership with the NBA, but we weren’t present where young athletes were consuming content.”

Bynoe attacked that shortcoming on two fronts. She augmented the long-standing relationship with the league, which was badly lacking flesh and blood, by signing a half dozen NBA players, including Chris Paul, Damian Lillard and DeMar DeRozan, to represent the brand at clinics and in digital content. And she radically redesigned the website, creating a basketball hub that hinges on the idea that Spalding can help you become a better player, pegged to the hashtag True Believers.

“It was overwhelming at first when you think about everything you wanted to do and knew needed to be done,” Bynoe said. “But it’s about developing a road map and then implementing it. I took almost a year to develop that road map. You really want to fit with the strategic imperatives of the business, but at the same time you’re learning the business, figuring out who the right partners are and what the right resources are.

“It was a big adjustment personally and professionally.” 

— Bill King

  • Where born: Flint, Mich.
  • Education: Central Michigan, B.S. in public relations; Eastern Michigan, M.S. in integrated marketing communications.
  • Attribute I look for when hiring: Courage. I think in marketing there is a degree of fearlessness that you need. You can overanalyze. You need to have a level of trust in yourself and the consumer.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: A smile goes a long way. Networking is hard for me. I feel like it requires making conversation when you don’t necessarily have something to say. But when you smile, it lightens up the mood and creates an opportunity for dialogue that may have felt awkward before that.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Never stop learning. Every time you graduate or achieve something, you want to feel like: I’m there; it’s over. But the truth is it’s just the beginning of the next step. I’ve followed that mantra through my career. I can always learn.
  • If I had it to do over again, I would: Start my career in the sport industry. It’s what I wanted to do in college and I sort of got sidetracked from that, being from Michigan and with automotive being the dominant industry. It took me a while to get around to being what I always wanted to be.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Doris Burke. I think she does an incredible job of connecting with athletes when she does an interview. She’s able to connect with them, understand them and bring the best out of them in the interview process.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? I think it’s necessary. But not limited to sports. The challenges we face as women in business is the conversation that needs to be ongoing.
  • Cause supported: The Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in Detroit, a charter school founded by Jalen. I’ve been working with them since it was founded … mentoring students there. I started with a mentee in ninth grade who is now at U of M.


s senior director of partnerships for the U.S. Golf Association, Katie Bynum is responsible for managing and developing the organization’s blue-chip sponsorship roster of Rolex, Deloitte, Lexus and American Express.

Katie Bynum
U.S. Golf Association // Senior director, partnerships
Under Bynum’s guidance, the USGA over the past year has injected new activation initiatives, on display at this year’s U.S. Open at Erin Hills, to deepen fan engagement with sponsors.

The new fan experience efforts come after Bynum negotiated the Deloitte sponsorship, which began in 2016, along with a renewal deal for American Express, also signed in 2016.

Now, Bynum has her sights set on growing the USGA’s sponsorship portfolio, with a targeted effort to add at least one or two more sponsors over the next year.

Expect the deals to reflect the changing sponsorship approach led by Bynum.

“We have deepened the integration as the media landscape has evolved,” Bynum said. “Technology will be incredibly important as well as other efforts to make our game more accessible. It is our intent to make sure our current or new partners are aligned and share our same goals.”

Bynum, who joined the USGA in 2012 after working for Wasserman, got into the golf business after volunteering in 2003 at the former Wachovia Championship PGA Tour event in Charlotte.

The North Carolina native quickly took to the business — and the sport.

“I loved the game and got into the business side by experiencing everything I could,” she said. “From there, I have been passionate about the business just as much as the game.”

— John Lombardo

  • Where born: Chapel Hill, N.C.
  • Education: University of North Carolina, B.A. in journalism.
  • Attribute I look for when hiring: Curiosity.
  •  Networking tip I’ve learned: Be friendly, not transactional.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Be comfortable being uncomfortable (because it means you’re learning).
  • Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Embracing flexibility.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: I would have loved to meet Eunice Kennedy Shriver. She was a visionary, humanitarian and pioneer who transcended sport.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? I’m hopeful we are entering the fourth quarter on that debate. There is always something to learn through the continued dialogue.
  • Causes supported: Medical research (e.g., March of Dimes), environmental conservation and programs that use sport (like golf) to empower and inspire young people.

anielle Cantor is the most accomplished female sports agent you’ve probably never heard of.

Danielle Cantor
FAME // Partner

Cantor started her career in the sports business working in athlete marketing for the former SFX in 2000 before joining veteran NBA agent David Falk when he relaunched FAME in 2007.

Since then, she’s worked closely with Falk on every aspect of the business, from marketing to recruiting to player contract negotiations. Cantor is the only female National Basketball Players Association-certified agent with a current client in the league.

“She intentionally tries to keep a low profile — that’s her choice,” Falk said. “She is the smartest, most capable … I wouldn’t get hung up on power and who is a superagent. I would say she is the most intelligent, capable, well-connected woman in the business who is not a household name.”

Cantor works with Falk on all his player clients and is the lead agent on Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon, who became the lowest-drafted player to be named NBA Rookie of the Year this past June. Falk said Cantor has earned the respect of not only players, but general managers around the NBA.

“She does an excellent job of understanding contextually a lot about not only the opportunities for her players, but what suits them as people,” said Sam Presti, Oklahoma City Thunder general manager. Presti said he’s known Cantor since 2007 and is impressed with her constantly growing knowledge of the industry, as well as the way she works with Falk.

Falk admits he’s not the easiest person to work for because of his extremely high expectations. “A lot of people who worked for me couldn’t handle the pressure of those demands,” he said. “They couldn’t handle the expectations. It’s never been an issue for Danielle from day one, ever.”

— Liz Mullen

  • Where born: Washington, D.C.
  • Education: University of Pennsylvania / Wharton School of Business.
  • Attributes I look for when hiring: Preparation, instinct, confidence, competitive and humble.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Use the network you already have to make connections. Be present. CONNECT and passionately engage. When you disengage, leave the person wanting more … you do not need anything from that person, other than a new connection. The best opportunities come unexpectedly, so focus on personal relationships rather than the potential associated opportunity.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Don’t be a prisoner of your own reputation: Successful people remain consistent in their value system but flexible in reaction to changing market conditions. It’s a long horse race: endurance and persistence, along with risks and failure, ultimately win the race.
  • If I had it to do over again, I would: Become a certified NBPA agent earlier in my career. It happened naturally and it was never my intention or career goal, but I do wish I had done it sooner.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Val Ackerman. She has had successful runs in leadership roles (first woman in such role in many of them) with some of the most important groups/teams/organizations in our business, all while being an involved mother.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? Continuing to progress the topic is necessary, but the discussion is played out.
  • Charities supported: PeacePlayers International, Most Valuable Kids (board member), Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

ennifer Cohen had worked at the University of Washington for nearly 20 years by the time she was named the school’s athletic director in 2016, making her just the third female AD in the power five at the time. That was good because she was surrounded by familiar faces in her new role, which would make for an easier transition.

Jennifer Cohen
University of Washington // Athletic director
The deeper Cohen got into the AD job, though, the more she recognized the need for a culture checkup. Football coach Chris Petersen gave Cohen a book, “The Advantage” by Patrick Lencioni, and it asks six fairly simple questions about your organization.

“I really struggled to answer them,” Cohen said. “It was a light-bulb moment for me because, if I’m having a hard time, how is everyone else behaving within the organization?”

So Cohen established what she called a one-page playbook intended to guide the athletic department in its decision-making. One of the questions is, “What’s important now?” Washington had projected a $6 million deficit for 2016-17, so Cohen determined that financial stability would be the most important objective. Sure enough, the Huskies finished the academic year with cash in their pocket.

That had nothing to do with being a female AD, she said. It was just being an effective leader, which is how Cohen hopes she’s perceived.

“You’re looked at a little differently; I understand that,” she said. “But I spend very little time thinking about my gender. I don’t want to perpetuate a stereotype. I’m an athletic director, I’m a leader; I don’t look at myself as a female athletic director or a female leader.”

By the same token, Cohen hopes to feed the passion she sees in up-and-coming female administrators who aspire to be ADs.

— Michael Smith

  • Where born: Arcadia, Calif.
  • Education: San Diego State University, B.A. in physical education; Pacific Lutheran University; M.A. in physical education/sports administration.
  • Attributes I look for when hiring: Someone with a growth mindset. To be truly great, we have to always be evolving, growing, learning and even failing.
  •  Networking tip I’ve learned: Be genuine. Make real and meaningful relationships that are mutual, with people that help to push you to get better in all aspects of your life.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Is not to put yourself on a strict timeline. Focus and trust the process. You will end up where you need to be if you are your very best you can be every day.
  • Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Practicing the principles we teach our student athletes every day. Sleep, nutrition, stress management, personal relationships, exercise, mindfulness all lead to great performance. As professionals, we need to prioritize this in our lives, too.
  • If I had it to do over again, I would: Be easier on myself. I learned later in my life to approach myself with curiosity versus judgment. I spent a lot of years being too critical.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Jen Welter. As a kid, I dreamed of being a football coach. To be the first female coach in the NFL is remarkable, and I have great admiration for her courage and will.
  • Causes supported: I support Childhaven, Catholic schools, the University of Washington educational and sports programs.


orking for 15 years at the NBA’s team marketing unit in New York City, Kirsten Corio always knew the U.S. Open Tennis Championships in the city were a big deal. But until a year and half ago when offered her current job, she had no idea just how big a deal.

Kirsten Corio
U.S. Tennis Association // Managing director,
ticket sales, premium
and digital strategy
“When I was evaluating the move, I was privy to all teams’ business information, and when I looked at the business the U.S. Open generates relative to the NBA team business across an entire regular season, I was just astonished,” she said. “I knew it was big, I didn’t know how big.

“I started looking at the comparisons and started having fun with how many teams at the bottom I would have to add up to equal the U.S. Open, and it was more than a few,” she said. “That to me is an incredible opportunity.”

Indeed, the Open generates about $300 million in revenue in two weeks, and Corio is responsible for ticketing, premium hospitality and digital. She oversees about 15 employees, and during the event itself that grows to 60.

Her leadership instincts came from watching NBA executives like Scott O’Neil and Chris Granger at the team marketing unit.

“Watching their experience and how they motivated and inspired and challenged people in a way that makes people feel like they are part of something bigger is something I aspire to,” she said. “I am not sure I am there, but that is what I am aspiring to.”

— Daniel Kaplan

  • Where born: Woodstock, N.Y.
  • Education: Boston College, B.S. in biology.
  • Attribute I look for when hiring: Emotional and cultural intelligence. The ability to genuinely and effectively interact with all walks of life and types of titles isn’t something that’s easily learned.
  •  Networking tip I’ve learned: Be open-minded. Relationships drive so much of our ability to be effective in our roles and to have a great time at work. And, the person you’ve just met may turn out to be a lifelong mentor or friend.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks.
  • Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Acknowledging that all of us — men and women — have full lives, and that by encouraging and empowering people to make choices with their time that enable them to be better fathers, husbands, daughters, mothers and friends ultimately makes a more committed employee.
  • If I had it to do over again, I would: Take more finance classes (seriously), spend a year abroad and more proactively manage my career choices early on.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: I’ve been fortunate to have met most of the top women in sports business (whether they remember me or not is a different story), so this is a tough one. But I’d love to meet some of the women who have transcended their sport — Serena Williams, Danica Patrick, Ronda Rousey.
  •  Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? It’ll be necessary in every industry, not just sports, until women earn equal pay for equal work and make up 50 percent of senior leadership roles.
  • Charities supported: March of Dimes, ASPCA.


arah Cummins has forged new partnerships with the New York Road Runners that continue to position the nonprofit group as the world’s premier community running organization.

Sarah Cummins
New York Road Runners // Head of business development and strategic partnerships
Last year, Cummins was part of the team involved in signing an 11-year deal with New Balance valued at between $90 million and $110 million over the course of the agreement, according to media reports.
In July, NYRR signed a deal with Anheuser-Busch’s Michelob Ultra brand tied to a marketing campaign that gives 95 runners the opportunity to compete in the New York City Marathon that would otherwise be shut out of the world’s biggest marathon, which draws 51,000 participants.
The number 95 corresponds to the number of calories in a 12-ounce bottle of Michelob Ultra beer.

Joining with a sponsor to help a runner compete weaves well with NYRR’s goal to give all levels of runners a chance to participate. “We don’t take it lightly that people cross the finish line and burst into tears,” Cummins said. “The storytelling that goes along with it … it’s 26 miles, a journey [and] we take that responsibility very seriously.”

The New Balance deal revolves around “One for You, One for Youth,” a program that donates one pair of sneakers for every pair of shoes purchased by an individual. This year, the charitable effort will result in 6,000 to 8,000 pairs of shoes distributed free to local children.

“The commitments New Balance was willing to step up to made them the right choice,” Cummins said. “Our mission is to help and inspire people through running.”

— Don Muret

  • Where born: Stamford, Conn.
  • Education: Boston College, B.A. in English.
  • Attribute I look for when hiring: Resourcefulness. Is this someone who has proven they can take the ball and run with it? I am looking for people that are not afraid to dive right in to the deep end of the pool even if they don’t know how to swim.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Be the same person at the office as you are at home. Building personal relationships is the most important part of any role in your life, at home or at work.
  • Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Embracing the idea that team members and associates that are happy and fulfilled in their personal lives will bring their best self to the workplace. When your boss supports your personal goals, your loyalty to them and the organization runs very deep.
  • If I had it to do over again, I would: Focus on building my network of mentors, peers and “sounding boards” earlier in my career. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, seeking advice and letting people know that you are struggling with a decision.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Kim Ng, Major League Baseball. She has blazed a new trail and opened people’s minds to the idea that a woman can lead and influence on-field decisions.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? I think the better discussion is the unique value and perspective that women in senior leadership positions bring to an organization, sports or otherwise. Mary Wittenberg is the best example I can think of. Mary is a CEO that leads with compassion, heart and emotion. She openly displays that to her team, her partners and clients. She is a great example of how women can bring compassion and emotion to bear to inspire a team to be the best versions of themselves.
  • Charities supported: NYRR’s Team for Kids, St. Jude Children’s Hospital and Kick for Nick.

t’s been a whirlwind year for Ayala Deutsch, who as executive vice president and deputy general counsel for the NBA is closely involved with the league’s business initiatives.

Ayala Deutsch
NBA // Executive vice president and deputy general counsel

Topping her list of duties managing the league’s commercial legal affairs and intellectual property matters is running point for legal issues related to the NBA’s apparel deal with Nike that begins this season.

“We have a lot of people working on that,” she said of the league’s Nike deal. “We have the commercial deal itself, and we are working closely with Nike in protecting those rights and preventing the sale of counterfeit jerseys. It is across a number of different fronts.”

Deutsch, who joined the NBA in 1998 and now leads a staff of about 35, is also involved in the legal matters related to the NBA giving group marketing rights back to the National Basketball Players Association as part of the league’s collective-bargaining agreement with the union.

Both Nike and the player rights deal are among the league’s biggest business efforts heading into the 2017-18 season. Deutsch also is managing legal issues related to other merchandising, media and intellectual property matters.

“It’s been real energizing,” Deutsch said of her role with the league. “It’s been great to still be in the same place but to have a whole new job. It’s an ever-changing working environment.”

— John Lombardo

  • Where born: Brooklyn.
  • Education: Queens College (CUNY), B.A.; NYU School of Law, J.D.
  • Attribute I look for when hiring: The ability to stay calm and positive in stressful situations and not to focus on how overwhelming the problem at hand might be, but on finding solutions.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Find a way to be authentic.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Always consider yourself a work in progress. My dad was an engineer, and at the time he passed away he oversaw a lot of people and projects. I told him how knowledgeable I thought he was and how I aspired to master everything about my profession the way he had with his. My dad said there was always something more to know, something new to experience and that the greatest success comes from being a “work in progress” — knowing that your “mastery” is never complete and still wanting to learn and grow, no matter how successful you are.
  •  Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Doing a better job recognizing that even though fans are engaging with sports 24/7, the expectation for those who work in sports shouldn’t be to match that.
  • If I had it to do over again, I would: Take some time between college and law school to work full time and experience “real life” outside of school (I graduated college at 19 and started law school a few months later at 20).
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? I think the discussion about challenges women face in the workplace continues to evolve, but I don’t believe that discussion is played out in any industry.
  • Charities supported: Susan G. Komen Greater NYC (breast cancer education, treatment and research) and Legal Outreach (programs for youth from underserved communities in NYC to facilitate success in higher education).


hen Kimberly Fields presented as part of football operations to NFL owners meetings, the room had what she described as a handful of women and about 150 men.

Kimberly Fields
NFL // Special assistant to the commissioner
As one of the few women to rise into the ranks of a major sport’s game operations, one might have thought it was a passion she had from an early age. But she got a degree in systems engineering, and was down the path of many of her colleagues when she had an epiphany after tutoring some college football players: She wanted to work in sports.

“As you can imagine, when I went to tell my parents and I was like, ‘I don’t think I am going to be an engineer, I think I am going to go and work in sports,’ you can imagine what that was like.”

She landed a low-paying internship with the Women’s Sports Foundation, so low she took a part-time job at Barnes & Noble.

“In the beginning, it can be hard,” she said of the advice she would give to women trying to break into sports. “You have to press forward.”

Fields would land a job at the NFL in player engagement, which ultimately became part of football operations. She rose in the ranks, until recently leaving that area to fill a new role as special assistant to the commissioner.

Asked what it was like as one of the few women in a room full of all the men in football operations, she replied, “I would just say we have a very focused effort to ensure we are building up the pipeline to have more women, whether it is in scouting, coaching, game operations, officiating. We have done a better job of that, we could always do better.”

— Daniel Kaplan

  • Where born: Richmond, Va.
  • Education: University of Virginia, B.S. and M.S., systems engineering; William Mitchell College of Law, J.D.
  • Attributes I look for when hiring: Character and critical thinking.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Be intentional about engagement; always be responsive with a follow-up note with those with whom you share information.
  •  Best advice I’ve received for career development: Be fearless.
  • Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Listening to employees and being flexible.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Serena Williams. Her purpose is clear and her passion is undeniable.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? Necessary. Inclusion is good business.

aura Froelich grew up as a rabid New York Jets fan. Her father and his best friend from third grade have been season-ticket holders for more than 50 years.

Laura Froelich
Twitter // Global head of sports partnerships

“To have brought ‘Thursday Night Football’ to Twitter and to have the first game that we streamed be the Jets versus the Bills — and with the Jets ending up winning, which was not something you could count on last season — it was just a really emotional and incredible event,” Froelich said.
The streaming rights for “Thursday Night Football” may have put Twitter’s sports ambitions on the map. But Twitter has relationships with every one of the top sports leagues.
And the company recently tapped Froelich to expand her responsibilities to international markets, taking her to far-flung markets like Sydney, Melbourne, Mumbai, Dubai and Tokyo.
“My frequent-flier and hotel-point status has definitely changed, as well as my professional responsibilities,” she said. “It’s phenomenal to take what I’ve gleaned from our partners in the U.S. and seeing how we can apply learning elsewhere. There are some really creative things being done all over the world and I want to make sure that we maximize that.”

— John Ourand

  • Where born: New York.
  • Education: Brown University, B.A., international relations.
  • Attributes I look for when hiring: Passion for the company’s mission and product, and a clear vision for how he or she can contribute to our success.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Be as helpful as you possibly can, because someday you may be on the other end of that request, and I believe in karma.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: “The best path to your next job is to do a great job in your current one.”
  •  Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: I don’t think most people get into sports business looking for work-life balance, because that’s inherently antithetical — most events happen when fans aren’t working. The upside is that one of the reasons you do get into sports business is because you love sports, so the work is work that you love.
  •  Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Billie Jean King, for everything she’s seen in her legendary life, and what she’s done for women both on and off the court.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? It’s definitely necessary. If the industry is going to continue to grow, it needs to reflect the diverse fan base it serves.
  • Cause supported: Girls on the Run builds self-esteem in young girls by giving them access to mentors and training them to run a 5K race. I began fundraising on their behalf by soliciting donations for running a race every month for a year. I haven’t been willing to break the streak so I’ve kept it alive for 11 years and counting — marathons, half marathons, 10Ks, 5Ks and triathlons. It allows me to support this terrific cause while giving myself a sense of accomplishment on a regular basis.


s the woman who oversees ESPN’s successful “30 for 30” franchise, Libby Geist has seen almost all of the series’ rough cuts before they ran on TV. More than once when Geist’s bosses have asked for her feedback, she’ll admit to being underwhelmed. “Meh,” she’ll say. “It was about sports.” Her bosses respond with a laugh, “Great! That means it will rate really, really well.”
Libby Geist
ESPN // Vice president and executive producer, ESPN Films and “30 for 30”
“I totally deny sports porn,” Geist said. “I am much more interested in the storytelling and cultural ripple effects of stories. I love a big flashy athlete or a big flashy story that people are going to engage in. But if the story doesn’t have a ripple effect or a cultural relevance, I’ll turn my head. I’m a good antidote to the rest of ESPN. I like to try and bring something completely unique to what else is on our air.”

Geist started at ESPN nine years ago and has had her fingerprints all over the “30 for 30” documentaries. The ones that make her proudest are the ones that go beyond sports: “Fernando Nation,” (“How in the world did he become as big as he did?”), “Fantastic Lies,” (“You didn’t have to show a frame of lacrosse footage in that story — it’s a story about media, coverage and the culture.”) and “Catching Hell.”

“We knew the sports angle and we knew the Chicago angle,” Geist said. “But I wanted to know everything that happened to Steve Bartman that night. Where did he get his tickets? Who was he sitting with? Where did he go afterwards? Pushing filmmakers to really think that way is my favorite kind of story.

— John Ourand

  • Where born: Evanston, Ill.
  • Education: University of Wisconsin, B.A. in political science.
  • Attributes I look for when hiring: Someone who likes to say yes and get “it” done.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Get out of the office and be visible in the community you’re working in. Sitting comfortably in your office and not getting to know people who are doing big things around you will limit your (and your team’s) growth and creativity.
  •  Best advice I’ve received for career development: To “own something.” Being the face of and getting to touch all aspects of a project gives you visibility, relationships outside your everyday world and makes it easy for others to understand what you’re good at.
  • Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Only scheduling games from 9-5 on weekdays? That’s a tough one, I’m not sure I’ll be the one to crack that code.
  •  If I had it to do over again: I’d be less critical of myself and recognize success when I have it.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Jeanie Buss. I’m fascinated by her story, her success and her balancing of family and business.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? Not played out! For on-camera talent, I think it’s actually underreported how hard and often cruel it is to be yourself and succeed in sports media. In the office, I’ve been lucky to work in a place that supports and encourages women wholeheartedly.
  •  Causes supported: Michael J. Fox Foundation and The New York Harbor School.

annah Gordon thought she would make a bad boss because of all the stereotypes she had heard about women managers. As she progressed through the legal ranks at the 49ers, she quickly got direct reports, eight in total today.
Hannah Gordon
San Francisco 49ers // General counsel

“To be honest, and especially as a woman, I was very nervous to manage other people because I knew the stereotype of female bosses and I heard so many stories of people who disliked bosses who they worked for that were female, and so honestly, I was very afraid I would be a bad boss,” she said. “I was very concerned.”

In the end, she said, she realized being a good boss meant acting as a mentor and teacher, roles she felt very qualified for. “I know how to do that,” she said laughing.

It’s not just legal that reports into her, but the 49ers Museum, the team foundation, and even the director of community relations and youth football.

Gordon always knew she wanted to work in football, and would have picked any of the 32 teams if the job came her way. But it was the hometown 49ers that came knocking after a short stint with the league office before and during the 2011 lockout.

That, she said, has made her quite happy.

“I feel like the luckiest girl in the world,” she said.

— Daniel Kaplan

  • Where born: San Francisco (raised in Oakland).
  • Education: Stanford, J.D.; UCLA, B.A.
  • Attribute I look for when hiring: Character.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Walk up to each person in the room, look them in the eye, and shake his or her hand.
  •  Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Eliminating the martyrdom mentality of face time.
  •  If I had it to do over again, I would: You don’t get to do it over again, so learn and move on.
  •  Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: It is a small network with excellent camaraderie so I am fortunate that I know so many of the women around the NFL and sports overall.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? I certainly understand that some people may feel exhausted by the same conversation and so the real question becomes, as Dr. [Harry] Edwards says, how do we move from protest to progress? From words to action? What are the solutions and how do we implement them instead of focusing on PR?
  • Causes supported: I have been looking for a nonprofit that provides trauma-informed yoga for children in neighborhoods affected by poverty and violence as a means of teaching how to self-regulate and heal when you may not have other resources … so if you are reading — I’m looking for you!

Shauna Griffiths and husband John were married in Montana.

s an executive at an agency with an increasingly wide-ranging set of clients, it’s not rare for Shauna Griffiths to bounce from a phone call about “Sesame Street” to one about the Drone Racing League.
Shauna Griffiths
LeadDog Marketing Group // Senior vice president, strategic marketing, partnerships and communications
Colorado-based Griffiths, whose previous stops include Nike and the Brooklyn Nets, is senior vice president of strategic marketing, partnerships and communications for New York-based LeadDog Marketing Group. The agency, whose clients include Audi, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Cirque du Soleil, was acquired late last year by CSM Sport & Entertainment.

On top of helping oversee the integration of LeadDog into CSM and opening LeadDog’s Colorado office, Griffiths has been charged with driving revenue and closing new business, tripling the headcount of one of the departments she oversees and mentoring numerous colleagues.

“It is as many things as it seems like,” Griffiths said with a laugh. “It is an incredibly busy time. In the last year and a half, our communications business has grown 1,000 percent … so it’s interesting because in that growth period, so much is going on with the business and projects themselves, but then when you have all those new people, it’s about developing them, which is so important.”

Accounts brought in by LeadDog in recent years that Griffiths helps oversee, in addition to the drone league, include Virgin Sport San Francisco and Silver Chalice/Stadium.

“We are excited to work with new brands that are launching, and we can lean on one of our strengths in being nimble, scrappy and being able to work at a fast pace, which a lot of those new brands are doing,” Griffiths said. “These emerging brands have been really important for us. That overlap of tech and sport has been a great space for us.”

— Adam Stern

  • Where born: Ann Arbor, Mich.
  • Education: University of Michigan, B.A. in psychology; Eastern Michigan University, MBA.
  • Attributes I look for when hiring: Realness and a true understanding of “team.”
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Be real and genuine, look to provide value.
  •  Best advice I’ve received for career development: Dare to dream and go catch your dreams.
  • Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Create options for flexible schedules; limit the number of hours staff are allowed to work each week.
  •  If I had it to do over again, I would: Find my voice earlier in my career.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Danielle Maged, executive vice president of global partnerships, Fox Networks Group, formerly of StubHub, RedBird Capital, NBA, MSG and ESPN International. I’ve followed her career and admired her from afar for years. From what I know, she has done remarkable things throughout her career and is an incredible dealmaker. I have heard such wonderful things about her personally and professionally. I would love to learn about her journey, talk deal-making and hear her perspective on career and life balance.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? Absolutely necessary. While we have made progress over the years, challenges still exist. Open, honest dialogue and support is needed to continue to evolve.
  •  Causes supported: International Mountain Biking Association, Colorado Mountain Biking Association, Planned Parenthood.

fter five years at Turner Sports focusing on business development, Catie Griggs was looking for a new challenge in her sports industry career. She found it in Atlanta with research consultancy Futures Sport & Entertainment, where she provided resources for brands, rights holders and media properties for the past three years.
Catie Griggs
Atlanta United FC //
Vice president, business operations
(formerly of Futures Sport & Entertainment)
As the company launched in the U.S. 2 1/2 years ago, Griggs helped build a business from the ground up, in large part due to cultivating strategic relationships within the industry.

With that success, Griggs embarks on a new challenge, joining one of Major League Soccer’s newest franchises — Atlanta United FC — as vice president of business operations. She will lead integrated marketing, strategy and operations for the team on the heels of moving into its new home — Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

During her time at Futures, Griggs increased the company’s roster to 35 clients operating within every major sport in the U.S. That includes working with the NBA, NFL, MLS and NASCAR, along with major tennis properties that have helped the company carve out a space in the competitive sports landscape.

Griggs this past year was behind the successful effort to win new business from Coca-Cola and grew Futures (U.S.) from a one-person operation to a team of eight analysts across three offices.

Griggs credited Futures’ unselfish team and drive to stand out in the industry. “Our clients are seeing our value and keep coming back, and to me that’s a key part of our success. It’s a young and hungry team ready to roll their sleeves up.”

— Thomas Leary

  • Where born: White Plains, N.Y.
  • Education: Dartmouth College B.A.; Tuck School of Business, MBA.
  • Attribute I look for when hiring: Attitude. Most skills can be taught, but intrinsic motivation and kindness are more difficult to coach.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Be authentic and be prepared.
  •  Best advice I’ve received for career development: Always put your best foot forward — it’s a small world and you never know who might be in a position to help (or hurt) your chances at getting your dream job.
  • Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Allowing flexibility in where and when work gets done, when possible.
  •  Proudest professional achievement: Growing Futures from an unknown brand to the analytics provider for more than 35 of the largest and most sophisticated rights holders and brands in the U.S. sport landscape.
  •  If I had it to do over again, I: Wouldn’t change anything. All of the disparate experiences have gotten me to where I am today.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Billie Jean King.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? Until there is a greater representation of women in leadership roles, it’s necessary. However, I believe that the conversation should be broadened to support anyone, male or female, who is seeking out ways to be a top contributor both at work and at home.
  •  Charity supported: Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

here is perhaps no segment of the sports industry changing more rapidly or more fundamentally than ticketing, and Ticketmaster North America’s chief operating officer, Amy Howe, is playing a key role.

Amy Howe
Ticketmaster North America at Live Nation Entertainment // Chief operating officer

Often described as the right-hand woman for Ticketmaster President Jared Smith, Howe has served as an influential voice in the company’s deep investments in mobile-based ticketing, analytics and most recently the introduction of its Presence digital ticketing system.

Originally a business consultant with McKinsey & Co., Howe became acquainted with Michael Rapino, president and chief executive with Ticketmaster parent Live Nation Entertainment. Rapino successfully recruited her to join Live Nation’s executive ranks, and at Ticketmaster Howe is a critical strategic voice, focusing on what she calls “solving difficult problems and optimizing our projects.”

And despite a huge rise in recent years in at-home entertainment services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, Ticketmaster and Live Nation have continued to see surging ticket sales and earnings as the live event experience continues to resonate with fans.

“This year, more than any other I’ve seen, has been a big inflection point for the ticketing industry and what we’re trying to do as a company,” Howe said. “What’s been really encouraging is that a lot of what we’ve been talking about is not only conceptual, but is real and being proven out in the market at scale.”

— Eric Fisher

  • Where born: Buffalo.
  • Education: Cornell University, B.S.; Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, MBA.
  • Attributes I look for when hiring: 1) EQ; and 2) comfort with ambiguity (of course after they meet/exceed the bar on intrinsics).
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Make it a priority.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: 1) find your true passion, and success will follow; and 2) find your true advocates that will open doors for you.
  •  Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Providing a forum for companies to come together to share best practices and learnings on this topic.
  •  If I had it to do over again, I would: Keep things in perspective more often.
  •  Women in sports business I’d most like to meet: Venus and Serena Williams.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? Necessary.
  • Causes supported: T.J. Martell Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles (former board member), Brentwood School.


ver the past year, PGA Tour Chief Administrative Officer Allison Keller has played an integral part in the seamless transition within the tour’s top leadership since Commissioner Jay Monahan took over from Tim Finchem in January.
Allison Keller
PGA Tour // Chief administrative officer
“You retain what is great but still focus on a new vision,” Keller said. “It is helping Jay secure the right people in the right seats.”

Keller joined the PGA Tour in 1999 and has worked in a number of key roles, including vice president of human resources, assistant general counsel, and executive director of the tour’s player anti-doping program.

She is now the highest-ranked female executive at the tour, overseeing corporate affairs, human resources, facilities and travel, government affairs, and communications.

It’s a wide-ranging, critical role within the tour’s Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., headquarters as its 900 employees adapt to new leadership and new management.

Keller is also keenly involved in the tour’s diversity and inclusion efforts.

The tour’s workforce is 50 percent female, and 20 percent of the organization’s new hires are multicultural, nearly double the rate prior to the tour’s renewed diversity focus that began in 2014.

“We continue to have very low turnover even though we have had a lot of change,” she said. “Starting in 2014, we have been getting really active in diversity and inclusion.”

— John Lombardo

  • Where born: Miami.
  • Education: University of Central Florida, B.S., political science; J.D., University of Florida.
  • Attribute I look for when hiring: Grit or ability to overcome challenges. “Showing up to the fire with your own canteen full.”
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Take those extra 10 or 20 minutes to make the call, send the email or note, make the introduction.
  •  Best advice I’ve received for career development: Take that risk — the job assignment or role outside of your comfort zone. The best professional growth will come from doing something that risks failure in a humiliating, even public, way!
  • Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Leaders modeling unplugging when off work unless an emergency.
  •  If I had it to do over again, I would: Have learned to play golf before I had children.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Dawn Hudson, CMO of the NFL. I like her direct nature and also her passion for emotional connection with the product. She also seems to love a challenge!
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? Necessary.
  •  Causes supported: St. Francis House for the homeless, Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra Board, Sanctuary on 8th Street after-school program for kids.

n January 2016, the U.S. Olympic Committee was focused on preparations for the Rio Summer Games. But it was also handling transition at the chief financial officer position for the first time in 15 years.
Morane Kerek
U.S. Olympic Committee // Chief financial officer

Morane Kerek stepped in for the retiring Walt Glover, and the organization didn’t miss a beat. The finance department even posted the highest internal customer service scores that year.

Kerek, one of four women on the executive team at Team USA, credits her success as CFO — and before that, managing director for internal audit and controller — to “not being a traditional accountant.”

“I can relate to agents, and event people, and comms people, and I can bring the accounting to a creative mind,” she said. “I can explain contracts and accounting to nonfinancial people. That’s always been one of my strengths. Fitting into the sports world was a natural because you deal with a lot of people without that background.”

After starting her career at Ernst & Young, she got a job at IMG, specifically because she wanted to work in finance and not be an agent, she suspects. There, she learned the sports business as a controller for IMG’s Trans World International, then later as finance director for tennis. She credits her career success to a frame of mind, one she looks for in her staff, too: “We are trying to get to a yes answer, not a no answer. There are rules and laws we need to follow, but how do you help the group do what the organization’s trying to achieve?”

— Ben Fischer

  • Where born: Wheeling, W.Va.
  • Education: Miami (Ohio) University, B.S. in accountancy.
  • Attributes I look for when hiring: Curiosity and attitude. Just about everything else is teachable.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Try to find one common trait to make an authentic connection with someone you meet for the first time.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Volunteer for lots of different roles, jobs and experiences. Fill in for a co-worker on leave. Take that crazy temporary assignment that seems out of your career path. Volunteer to help with a project in a different department. You never know when those experiences will come in handy in the future.
  •  Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: The industry is full of highly ambitious, very hardworking people. At the organizational level, making balance a priority is important but as individuals we are responsible for embracing opportunities.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? We, as a society, still have both conscious and unconscious biases that negatively impact women’s careers, and the sport industry is no different. But it’s getting better, slowly but surely.
  • Cause supported: I work with a local nonprofit that provides environmental education for kids. Even in Colorado, too many kids don’t have the opportunity to get outside and play in nature.

Photo by: CFP IMAGES

ina Lehe and sports were locked arm-in-arm during her days growing up on California’s central coast. She was introduced to it at an early age through her father, Rip, who was a teacher at the local middle school and officiated football, basketball and baseball games. When new rule books came out, she’d read them with her dad.
Gina Lehe
College Football Playoff // Senior director, communications and brand management
But Gina wasn’t one to watch from the sidelines. Since there weren’t girl-specific leagues in her hometown, she was often the only girl playing on the boys’ teams.

“The only way my dad could get me to go to practice was to pay me,” Lehe said with a laugh. “I got a little extra to go to games.”

Lehe now runs communications and brand management for the College Football Playoff, where her daily responsibilities are likely to include social media across at least four platforms and communicating with the media and officials from the host city. Entering its fourth season, the CFP has managed to create a championship that in many ways is the Super Bowl for college football.

“What I like most is being able to experience a different environment every year,” she said. “Each host city has different strengths; they’re all very different.”

Lehe had hoped to find a profession that would feed her love of sports. When a serious knee injury ended her hopes of playing volleyball at Loyola Marymount, she went to the University of Arizona, primarily because of the Wildcats’ powerful basketball team.

That led to jobs at the Insight Bowl in Tucson, and later the Fiesta and Rose bowls before landing at the CFP. “I knew I wanted to work in sports,” Lehe said. “I changed my major three times and kind of stumbled into communications, but that’s when the lightbulb went off for me.”

— Michael Smith

  • Where born: Sacramento (grew up in Pacific Grove, Calif.).
  • Education: University of Arizona, B.A. in communications.
  • Attribute I look for when hiring: Someone who truly understands the definition of teamwork.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Get to know people on a personal level. Often in business settings, people become uncomfortable and feel the need to constantly “talk shop.” It is amazing how great your network level rises when you have an authentic conversation with someone about their non-business life.
  •  Best advice I’ve received for career development: Don’t be afraid to admit and acknowledge what you don’t know. Being a strong leader means believing and trusting in those around you.
  • Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Slowing down the demands of a 24-hour news cycle (is that even possible?!). The need for immediacy has had a detrimental impact on overall productivity, often resulting in burnout and at the expense of credibility. Coming in first place is meaningless if it is done without respect, consideration and patience.
  •  If I had it to do over again, I would: At the risk of sounding cliché, I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. There is a plan in place from up above that I trust equally in the triumphs and tribulations.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Charlotte Jones Anderson. Among leading the way as the “first woman” on myriad accomplishments, I admire her diverse scope of oversight.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? As long as gender inequity exists, the discussion will always be necessary.
  •  Cause supported: Cancer research. In 2011, I lost my mother at age 62 to colon cancer. I will be a lifelong advocate to raise awareness and funding for all cancers.

Photo by: FANATICS

t has been a whirlwind year for Fanatics, and Chief Financial Officer Lauren Cooks Levitan has played an important role in the e-commerce company’s quick and substantial growth. 

Lauren Cooks Levitan
Fanatics // Chief financial officer
Levitan came aboard Fanatics as CFO in June 2015 and has been a key player not only in securing equity stakes from the NFL, MLB and NFLPA but also in the company’s largest acquisition to date: the purchase of VF’s Licensed Sports Group in April. In less than a month, Levitan was able to oversee the integration of 2,000 employees across multiple offices into Fanatics, all while she was orchestrating the opening of the company’s first West Coast distribution center in North Las Vegas.

Within Fanatics’ quick rise in the sports licensing business, Levitan has been a key behind-the-scenes facilitator, helping to identify and execute aggressive and strategic initiatives. While Fanatics’ revenue last year topped $1.4 billion, financial analysts estimate the company could generate closer to $2.2 billion this year.

A personal highlight for Levitan came in early November, when the die-hard Cubs fan got to witness her team capture its first World Series title in more than 100 years. But the icing on the cake? The Cubs’ win fueled the largest hot market in sports licensing history.

“I grew up in a sports household, and now I run a sports household. These are special life events for people, and Fanatics can play an important role in that. That one obviously hit home for me. That night one of the biggest sports moments in history really aligned with the very things we’re doing as a company. There’s simply no playbook for what we’re doing.”

— Thomas Leary

  • Where born: Chicago.
  • Education: Duke University, B.A.; Stanford University, MBA.
  • Attribute I look for when hiring: Passion.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Do what you say and say what you mean.
  •  Best advice I’ve received for career development: There is no such thing as being overprepared.
  • Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Seeking input from a wide range of people.
  •  If I had it to do over again, I would: Play two! (in the words of “Mr. Cub,” Ernie Banks)
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Venus Williams. I admire her longevity as a player and tenacity to drive for groundbreaking pay equity in sports.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? This is the same discussion that should continue to take place in all industries, not just sports. The more that people (men and women alike) understand the barriers impacting opportunities for others, the greater the potential for positive change.
  •  Cause supported: TextLess Live More, a student-led national awareness campaign to end distracted driving and prevent tragic accidents caused by texting and other distractions.

hen Adrienne Lofton left her job as a marketing manager with global retailer Target to lead the launch of upstart Under Armour’s first women’s line, she was energized by the approach of UA founder Kevin Plank.

Adrienne Lofton
Under Armour // Senior vice president,
global brand management

“Kevin was humble enough to say, ‘I know we need this space, but I don’t know how to build it, help me,’” said Lofton, who played college volleyball and always had hoped to navigate her way back to sports. “He showed me how he thinks. … And then I added my personal touch.”
That personal touch has been evident in the way UA approaches women, as gender rather than category, a subset of the aspiration-driven activewear market. The most recent campaign for UA’s women’s line, dubbed “Unlike Any,” features an eclectic mix of endorsers — including Olympic sprinter Natasha Hastings and skier Lindsey Vonn, but also ballet dancer Misty Copeland and “American Ninja Warrior” star Jessie Graff — set against the backdrop of their stories of overcoming adversity.
“Who she is, actually, is similar to who he is,” said Lofton, who now heads up marketing for not just the women’s line, but the entire UA brand. “This is a determined, hardworking athlete that wants to be their best self. … As long as we can tap into the idea of greatness and inspire athletes to push beyond their perceived limits, it doesn’t matter what gender or age they are.”

— Bill King

  • Where born: Cleveland; raised in Houston.
  • Education: Howard University, B.B.A., business.
  • Attributes I look for when hiring: The ability to be successful in a team-driven environment. And self-awareness.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: The minute I feel like I’m “networking” is the moment I stop. I try to build true relationships. I hate the word networking, it feels inauthentic.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Focus on your weakness and really lean into it. Find areas where you need to build your strength and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
  • If I had it to do over again, I would: Find a better work-life balance earlier on. My ongoing challenge in this life is finding time for family and friends, because sport is 24/7. I continue to push myself to improve, but it’s hard.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Dawn Hudson, NFL chief marketing officer. I’ve met her but would love to spend more time with her.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? It’s absolutely necessary. The idea that there are not enough women represented in this industry is a truth. It is also surprising that we sit here in 2017 and this is still a necessary conversation. I look around in a boardroom and I don’t always see myself. And it’s beyond the sport industry. I worked in the auto industry. It absolutely exists there as well. You cannot break through these long-term — I’ll call them opportunities — without discussion. I believe a healthy discussion around diversity in sport and leadership is a must.
  • Causes supported: Boys and Girls Clubs. And I also manage the philanthropy team for our company.


odi Logsdon always wanted to be a sports reporter, which is the main reason she studied newspaper journalism at Syracuse. But as she started in the business, she grew fonder of the management side of the business, deciding what stories to cover and how to present them. “I fell in love with being the last line of defense for a story,” Logsdon said. She spent 12 years in various editorial roles at ESPN before moving over to CBS Sports in the summer of 2015 as news director and coordinating producer.

Jodi Logsdon
CBS Sports // News director and coordinating producer
“When I came here two years ago, there wasn’t a dedicated system for news gathering, evaluating news and vetting stories,” she said.

She set up a group to make sure the facts and stories reported by CBS Sports’ on-air talent are accurate, setting up standards for evaluating the news and providing reporters and producers with relevant background information to have a successful interview.

“We are the ones doing the vetting to make sure that stories meet our standards and expectations,” she said. “We want to make sure that we’re comfortable with the information, we checked it and we trust the sources.”

— John Ourand

  • Where born: Philadelphia.
  • Education: Syracuse University, B.A., newspaper journalism and Spanish language, literature and culture.
  • Attributes I look for when hiring: Strong interpersonal communication skills, a genuine interest in engaging with others.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Spend the time to connect to people at a personal level, find out what matters to and interests them, and those are the people that will become the best resources in your network.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Be open to and take advantage of any opportunity that comes. At times in your career, a project, assignment or job will come along that might not seem to fit exactly the path you’ve envisioned for yourself. But many times it is in taking those unexpected turns that you can learn the most, develop new skills, uncover true passions, demonstrate versatility, and open more doors for your future.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: The woman I would most like to meet is the up-and-coming young woman who is going to be next to revolutionize the sports and media industry. I learn so much from hearing the fresh perspectives of the young women who are just starting their careers in our business. These young women who experience technology differently, who take unique approaches to content, who are brimming with ideas for how we can serve evolving audiences in new and interesting ways — these are the women I would most like to meet.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? The dynamics facing women in sports have certainly changed over the years, and the environment is much improved. But it remains a conversation worth having. We need to continue to have solutions-based conversations to acknowledge and correct the imbalance of women in senior leadership positions, inequality in compensation, and comparative lack of risk-taking promotions to advance women.
  • Charities supported: Best Friends Animal Society, Planned Parenthood, Human Rights Campaign, ACLU.


amita Mannapperuma has always loved sports, so much so that her college admissions essay focused on how she wanted to work in sports. “From the time I was 16 years old, this was all that I wanted to do,” Mannapperuma said. “I feel very fortunate to be in a job that I love.”

Samita Mannapperuma
NBC Sports Group // Vice president, business development
Soon after graduating from Harvard, Mannapperuma was hired as an investment banking analyst in Goldman Sachs’ technology, media and telecommunications sector. “I loved sports so much, they pretty much just let me do sports and media deals,” she said.

NBC Sports Group hired Mannapperuma five years ago to head up its business development team. The group computes the financial modeling around NBC’s rights deals and figures out how much the network should spend. “What’s interesting is that we have a challenging and dynamic role that touches every part of the sports group,” she said. “I’m able to work with all our business unit leaders on the biggest deals for their division — not only within our own unit, but a lot of our deals touch NBC-Universal more broadly and even Comcast.”

Over the past year, Mannapperuma helped figure out everything from NBC’s plan to extend its Premier League deal to its local deal with the Washington Wizards and Capitals. She also was instrumental in setting up the streaming service Playmaker and buying youth sports software developer SportsEngine.

— John Ourand

  • Where born: Colombo, Sri Lanka.
  • Education: Harvard University, AB in economics.
  • Attributes I look for when hiring: Passion for the industry, intellectual curiosity, and someone who is a team player.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Make it more authentic and casual rather than forced … sometimes attending a sporting event or catching up socially with your colleagues and some of their contacts can result in the best connections.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Lead with your work product. Treat every assignment as if it’s going to the CEO of your company. Even if it’s a seemingly minor deliverable, a commitment to excellence in everything you do will help you stand out.
  •  Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Continuing to encourage a culture of teamwork where employees support each other on the work front to enable each to pursue and prioritize personal obligations.
  •  If I had it to do over again, I would: Probably not change too much. I feel very fortunate to have a job that I truly enjoy.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Condoleezza Rice. I would love to hear about her varied experiences ranging from Washington, D.C., to the College Football Playoff Selection Committee.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? I believe these discussions are important, as are broader discussions about continuing to evolve the workplace to reflect society today.
  • Causes supported: I support a local elementary school in the town in Sri Lanka where my parents live as well as the Asia Foundation here in New York. I also support many friends and co-workers in their fundraising efforts for cancer-related charities including Cycle for Survival and the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge.

Photo by: CAA

s Creative Artists Agency has grown its sports division from nothing to one of the most powerful agencies in the space, Beth McClinton has been the woman behind the message.

Beth McClinton
Creative Artists Agency // Corporate communications executive
McClinton joined CAA in 2006, after working in public relations for Hollywood studios MGM and 20th Century Fox. At the time, CAA had just begun its sports practice by hiring a few top NFL, MLB and NHL agents.

“Actually, when I was negotiating my areas that I would oversee on my way in, not working on sports would have been a deal-breaker,” McClinton said. “I came into this large corporation that had such a legacy in Hollywood. They were going to make history in sports and I wanted to be part of that from the very beginning.”

McClinton wrote the press release for the official launch of CAA Sports, as well as the announcements for the hiring of co-heads Michael Levine and Howie Nuchow. She’s been involved in crafting the message and planning the timing of every important announcement since then, as CAA Sports has expanded into property sales, licensing, corporate consulting, hospitality and experiential marketing, among other areas.

“When we first got here she was basically walking us through what was going to happen,” Nuchow said. “She was helping us define how to speak about CAA Sports to the outside world.”

Nuchow noted that in the last year McClinton was added to a group of seven senior executives to discuss strategies to grow CAA Sports.

“She is so bright at seeing the picture and making you understand what is happening,” Nuchow said. “She sees the 20,000-foot view and then can bring it down to ground level. And, she has an immense desire to get things right.”

— Liz Mullen

  • Where born: New York City.
  • Education: University of Southern California, Annenberg School of Communications, B.A.
  • Attribute I look for when hiring: An unwavering attention to detail.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: If someone asks you to take a meeting, take the meeting. You are never too busy to take a few minutes to get to know someone (or even better, lend them a hand).
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Don’t shy away from hard tasks. Rather, actively seek them out and dive in head first.
  •  Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Banning handheld devices.
  •  If I had it to do over again, I would: Do it all over again!
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? Any productive discussion that helps close the gender parity gap is necessary.
  • Charity supported: The CAA Foundation, CAA’s philanthropic arm.

Photo by: WWE

eavy travel is a way of life for many sports business executives, but Stephanie McMahon’s schedule might put even some of the busiest to shame.

McMahon, WWE’s chief brand officer and daughter of Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, says she travels 52 weeks a year to oversee an increasing number of initiatives.

Stephanie McMahon
WWE // Chief brand officer
As WWE works to modernize and advance itself, the global property has become the envy of many in the sports world. Attendance at WrestleMania 32 (in April 2016 at AT&T Stadium) topped 100,000, and WWE Network, its over-the-top service, has close to 2 million paid subscribers.

The 40-year-old McMahon plays a key role in these ventures, working with WWE’s business units and serving as its global brand ambassador.

“We have no offseason; we have five hours of live content every week at a minimum, so that keeps us busy enough — but I also travel quite extensively,” McMahon said, noting as an example that she was in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, earlier this year for a tryout that included both male and female talent from all over the Middle East and India.

Recent initiatives that she has worked on include forming WWE’s women’s championship, forging global expansion, helping WrestleMania continue its ascent and growing the property’s social media following to more than 800 million people. McMahon is also active on the philanthropic side of the business, having helped found the Connor’s Cure pediatric cancer fund and forging a partnership with The V Foundation for Cancer Research as part of it. Moreover, McMahon helped WWE strike a partnership with NBCUniversal called “For the Heroes in All of Us,” which showcases everyday people who inspire others.

“WWE at our core is storytelling. It’s protagonist versus antagonist with conflict resolution — no different than a great book, movie or play,” McMahon said. “We tell stories, and that’s timeless. As long as we’re engaging the audience and relating to them with our content, then hopefully we’ll have an audience there.”

— Adam Stern

  • Where born: Hartford, Conn.
  • Education: Boston University, B.S. in communications.
  • Attribute I look for when hiring: Always try to hire someone I would want to work for.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Have consistent communication.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Think big and then set your strategy to get there.
  •  Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Prioritizing.
  •  If I had it to do over again, I would: Do the same exact things.
  •  Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Serena Williams. As an athlete and a businesswoman, she is uncompromisingly herself.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? Necessary.
  • Charities supported: Connor’s Cure (a fund my husband, Paul “Triple H” Levesque, and I founded to support pediatric cancer research), as well as Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Susan G. Komen, Make-A-Wish and Special Olympics.


or much of her childhood, Marisabel Muñoz found herself on the sidelines of a soccer match. Growing up in Florida in a family with a deep love for the sport and a brother who was able to play in MLS, she began to write about the sport too, leading her to a career in sports journalism, with The Miami Herald and ESPN The Magazine.

In 2002, she had the opportunity to join MLS when she was offered a job in its communications department, helping to bolster its Spanish-language outreach.

Marisabel Muñoz
MLS and Soccer United Marketing // Vice president, communications
At the time, MLS found itself at a critical point — while questions swirled around the league’s financial health and its future, it folded two clubs. It also launched Soccer United Marketing, an ambitious bet on the sport’s long-term commercial prospects.

For some job seekers, that may have been enough cause to look elsewhere. But Muñoz reflected on her upbringing. “I come from a family whose one and only sport is soccer, where it feels like the sport is an organic piece of who you are,” she said. “There are millions around the globe who are the same, and I believed in the plan for what this could become.”

As the vice president of communications overseeing all U.S. Hispanic and international media relations, Muñoz has played a part in the massive growth of the league and SUM over the past 15 years. And she remains bullish for the future.

“It’s exciting to see where we are now,” she said. “But for me personally, I get the most excited to imagine where we may be in another 15 years.”

— Ian Thomas

  • Where born: Miami.
  • Education: Florida International University Honors College double major, journalism and international relations.
  • Attributes I look for when hiring: Positive attitude, a love of soccer, and respect for the craft of communications.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Being honest and straightforward when meeting new people, followed by a personal thank you note afterward — that follow-up goes a long way!
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. That quote always hit a nerve, and then I learned that advance planning will allow you to enjoy what you do.
  •  Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Encouraging activities at the office to integrate family and children into our day-to-day, as well as us fostering the love of what we do with those around us.
  •  If I had it to do over again, I would: Not be overly concerned with failure.
  •  Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: A woman in business I like to read up on is Mary Barra at GM. Her decades-long growth within General Motors — and especially the ability to continue to be innovative within an organization — is appealing.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? I believe in the art and the effectiveness of communication in many aspects of life, and if there are challenges, there should be discussion.
  • Causes supported: Hispanic Scholarship Fund and FIU Honors College Alumni Association.


arstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini was speaking at the Jeffrey Moorad Sports Law Journal Symposium on Villanova’s campus in April. It was a sober, business-focused conference, and Nardini was speaking on a panel with top executives from ESPN, MLS and Sports Illustrated. A group of Barstool fans sat in the audience, waving Barstool flags and wearing Barstool apparel. At the end of the session, they rushed the stage to meet Nardini, some asked for her autograph. It was the type of scene that never happens at sports business conferences.

“The thing that is so special about Barstool is that they wear it, they talk it, they share it, they live it,” Nardini said. “It’s really deep. It’s not just a media brand to them. It’s a lifestyle. It’s an anthem.”

Erika Nardini
Barstool Sports // CEO
Nardini joined Barstool a little more than a year ago to grow the company from being a regional brand with a cult following into a national brand with multiple revenue streams.

“When I got to Barstool there were 16 people and very few business people,” Nardini said. “We didn’t have a product team. We didn’t have a commerce team. We didn’t have the depth and breadth of creative talent that we have now. We didn’t have a production team. I’m most proud of building something around the nucleus of Barstool, which is really great and funny talent. We are now building bridges to distribution.”

— John Ourand

  • Where born: Denver.
  • Education: Colby College, B.A.
  • Attributes I look for when hiring: I’ve been taking some heat for this of late. In general, I tend to look for people with initiative and who have worked hard to establish a distinct set of skills.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Network with purpose and follow up quickly.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: If you’re going to ask someone to do work, be able to do that work yourself.
  •  Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Do men get asked this question?
  •  If I had it to do over again, I would: Have been more entrepreneurial earlier in my career.
  •  Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Jeanie Buss and Stephanie McMahon.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? I’m new to the sports business so I’m not sure I’m the best judge. I can tell you that the number of choices I had in looking up women who I would want to meet versus men was fractional, so no, I wouldn’t say it’s anywhere near played out.
  • Charities supported: Seas It (Cancer Recovery Through Recreation), dZi Foundation.

lizabeth O’Brien applies IBM’s broad range of technology services to solve the business needs of her sports clients.

Elizabeth O’Brien
IBM // Program director, sports and entertainment partnerships

Given Big Blue’s massive platform, her role is key for developing solutions her clients can understand and the reasons that it makes sense to use the technology.

The U.S. Tennis Association, a longtime partner, is one example. Using Watson, IBM’s artificial intelligence system, the tech giant has made it easier for USTA personnel to do their jobs more effectively during the U.S. Open tennis tournament.

At this year’s event, Watson, a cloud-based technology, helped officials accumulate the best highlights to showcase on digital and broadcast media by analyzing “pressure points” tied to crowd noise and player gestures from hundreds of matches taking place across 17 tennis courts.

The system’s ability to instantly identify images tied to the tournament’s most exciting moments saves a lot of time for officials posting those highlights on websites, social media and broadcast channels, O’Brien said.

Last year, the USTA applied the same technology for publishing photos on its website of players and the multitude of celebrities attending the U.S. Open, which draws 700,000 spectators over two weeks and is the most highly attended annual sporting event in the world.

Separately, IBM uses the technology to help tennis fans navigate the U.S. Open’s mobile application by installing a “cognitive concierge” to answer their questions about the event and how they’re planning to spend their day at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

“The challenge right now is how to bring Watson to bear in meaningful ways for the USTA,” O’Brien said.

— Don Muret

  • Where born: New York.
  • Education: Middlebury College, B.A.; NYU, M.S.
  • Attributes I look for when hiring: Creativity and flexibility.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Be open and curious.
  •  Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Sport as a category is inherently healthy and the lessons we learn in sports are often life lessons, so working in sports actually helps me maintain healthy priorities.
  • If I had it to do over again, I would: Savor every moment and hope to be as fortunate as I have been in this go-round.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Michelle Obama. Her Let’s Move initiative fosters healthy participation in sports — and youth participation in sports feeds professional sports.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? Community is essential in all things — the community of women in sports and industry in general is a great means of support and insight — so no, the discussion is not played out, although I’d focus on insights and lessons in addition to challenges.
  • Cause supported: Special Olympics.


hree years into her job as the Atlanta Hawks’ chief diversity and inclusion officer, Nzinga Shaw continues to wield influence both inside the Hawks front office and in the Atlanta community.

Nzinga Shaw
Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena // Senior vice president, chief diversity and inclusion officer
The Hawks are the only one of the NBA’s 30 teams to have a chief diversity officer position, and since she was hired in December 2014, Shaw has quickly and effectively deepened the team’s relationship within the Atlanta community.

Consider that the Hawks last year held their inaugural Unity Weekend that included a day of service by team employees and a Unity Game between the Hawks and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Prior to the game, players, coaches and fans linked arms for the national anthem inside Philips Arena to stand united with the players for the preseason game.

The team also is an active participant in the Atlanta Pride parade and is aligning itself to the local LGBT and Hispanic communities as it continues to deepen engagement in those areas.

“It is using sports as a platform to unite change and have respectful conversations,” Shaw said.

The Hawks under Shaw’s guidance also have developed their Mosaic: Race and Gender in Sports event, an annual half-day symposium that addresses diversity and inclusion issues.

“It is an ongoing vehicle to talk about things that sports can advance in greater society,” Shaw said. “These conversations are so important and we have seen them grow year to year. We are proud of the program and what people are taking away from it.”

— John Lombardo

  • Where born: Brooklyn.
  • Education: Spelman College, B.A.; University of Pennsylvania, M.A.; Oxford University.
  • Attribute I look for when hiring: Someone that can be honest about their flaws and areas for improvement. Being a “perfectionist” is not a real flaw.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: To be as authentic as possible. People are less likely to engage with you for the long term if you start off the relationship as a sales pitch.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Take feedback for what it is: a gift that was offered to help you get better tomorrow than you are today.
  •  Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Offering on-site child care services for employees. Oftentimes, we must work long hours during game evenings and having access to our Family Room at the Hawks has made my job so much easier. We employ trusted child care providers, which takes the guesswork out of securing ongoing babysitting.
  •  If I had it to do over again: I wouldn’t change a thing. The ups and downs, triumphs and mistakes have shaped me into the woman that I am.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: I would like to meet Indra Nooyi, president and chief executive of PepsiCo. She has defined a compelling case why women are integral to the overall health of the sports business. We are athletes, coaches, consumers, and fans. She fights for equity and has gone far beyond marketing “pink” campaigns.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? The discussion is still necessary because there are major equity issues when evaluating gender in sports. We are not in a post-gender society, and until women have equal access to pay, stretch assignments and executive/C-suite roles, we need to keep the conversation going.
  • Charity supported: I am on the board of directors of youthSpark, an independent 501(c)3 that transforms the lives of youth at risk for exploitation and abuse, and a thought leader in reducing child exploitation and sex trafficking rates across the country.

Photo by: LA2024

or a third-generation Angeleno, you could hardly imagine a better job than facilitating the city’s love affair with the Olympics. But it’s no caretaker job — maintaining the legacy of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games after all these years takes an ambitious, thoughtful business mind.

Renata Simril
LA84 Foundation // President and CEO
Renata Simril has brought that and more in her 20 months as president and CEO of the LA84 Foundation. Not content to merely manage an endowment and pass out grants, Simril has supercharged the organization, helping leverage the 1984 legacy as a selling point in the city’s quest to bring the Games back in 2028.

“I tell people I have the greatest job in America,” Simril says. “I get to talk about sports all day long. I love all sports. And to steward this incredible organization, that has impacted and will continue to impact the lives of young people, it’s just an incredible, incredible blessing.”

In her first year, she took a small youth sports summit that used to draw 100 people to foundation headquarters, moved it to the JW Marriott at L.A. Live, got corporate sponsors and quadrupled attendance. Using data analytics to steer grant funding, she and the foundation discovered that skateboarding over-indexed among African-American children in L.A. And she led the charge to add just the second and third female sports figures to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum’s Court of Honor, among other wins.

Without the lessons sports taught her, Simril says, she never would have made it to her senior positions in real estate and politics, or with the Los Angeles Dodgers or Los Angeles Times.

“I take true to heart the Olympic values: citius, altius, fortius — faster, higher, stronger. And it’s part of my DNA,” she said. “If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it at an excellent level. Certainly the work we do here and the kids and community we serve deserve nothing less than the best we have to offer.”

— Ben Fischer

  • Where born: Hollywood, Calif.
  • Education: Loyola Marymount University, B.A. in urban studies; University of Southern California, master’s in real estate development.
  • Attributes I look for when hiring: Smart, passionate, innovative doers looking to change the world.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Network outside of your industry.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.
  •  Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Having more women in leadership and decision-making positions.
  •  If I had it to do over again: Have been a professional tennis player.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Amy Trask, former CEO of the Raiders. I am a HUGE football fan. As CEO of the Raiders, she was one of the most powerful women in the NFL; dying to find out what that was like.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? One of my life mottos: Deeds not words.
  • Causes supported: Sports and structure play for all youth, LMU’s leadership/mentoring program for incoming African-American freshmen.

Smith with fiancé Leu Gillem and their dog, Kymba.

hen discussing his colleague Shauna Smith, Marc Bluestein likes to tell the story of how he wound up promoting her to her current role.

Shauna Smith
Aquarius Sports and Entertainment // Vice president, client services
Bluestein is president and CEO of Maryland-based agency Aquarius Sports and Entertainment, where Smith serves as vice president of client services. The firm’s core client base includes AAA Mid-Atlantic, Florida Hospital and Baltimore Ravens stadium naming-rights sponsor M&T Bank.

When the previous executive to fill that role left the agency a few years ago, Smith walked into Bluestein’s office the next day and asked, “What do I need to do to be the next vice president of client services?” Bluestein laid out what he referred to as “A, B and C” assignments that he gave to her to accomplish over the next three months.

“In more like 60 days, not only had she done A, B and C — but on her own she had done D, E, F and G,” Bluestein said. “That was well beyond my expectations and really kind of demonstrated to me that she had the ability to lead.”

At Aquarius, Smith works closely with not just the agency’s clients but also the properties the clients sponsor, as well as vendors and the employees she oversees.

“I think for us one of the things that benefits us as a small agency is just being able to be very nimble, responsive and in tune with our clients’ needs,” Smith said. “We’re able to quickly adapt and respond or proactively make recommendations of things that should be done based on what we’re seeing in the agency world and kind of trends in the industry overall.”

— Adam Stern

  • Where born: Newport, R.I.
  • Education: George Washington University, dual B.B.A. in finance and sports management.
  • Attributes I look for when hiring: Proactive, self-starter.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Be a generous listener.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Take risks.
  •  Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Encouraging employees to truly disconnect on vacation days.
  •  If I had it to do over again: Make a greater effort to keep in touch with former colleagues.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Val Ackerman, to say thank you. I served on the WNBA Teen Advisory Board … and she once joined a call to talk to us about careers in sports outside of the lines. The call opened my eyes to all of the possibilities and led me to seek out a college education in sports management.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? We’ve made great strides, but there’s still work left to do.
  • Cause supported: My alma mater, George Washington University, as a volunteer interviewer for admissions.

Photo by: SAM ANISE

eisha Taylor never envisioned herself working in sports marketing. In fact, when search firm Eastman & Beaudine contacted her about a job at Learfield, she seriously thought they had the wrong person.

Keisha Taylor
Learfield // Senior vice president, integrated marketing
“I thought my sports were over after my last high school soccer match,” Taylor said.

Taylor came out of Hampton University with an internship at DDB Worldwide, a prominent New York ad agency, and she thought that was the career path she’d follow, even though her mother still wants her to anchor the evening news.

After working in the ad agency world and Turner Broadcasting, Taylor made the unexpected leap to Learfield, the college sports marketing giant.

“I had zero sports marketing experience, but it turns out that that’s exactly what they were looking for,” she said.

Andy Rawlings, Learfield’s chief revenue officer, charged Taylor with restructuring sales support, research and analytics, events and graphic design, which all operated as separate divisions, into an integrated marketing team that could assist advertising clients with their objectives.

Learfield, it seemed, had hired all of this talent, but it just wasn’t being used like it should.

Taylor took charge right away, reshaping the team into four regional teams. Each team has someone from sales, research, events and graphics, which enables them to work together more effectively for Learfield sponsors. Rawlings likens it to having an in-house ad agency capable of working on a variety of brand projects.

Not only that, but Taylor has created a new marketing program aimed at attracting more products whose consumers are women. About 40 percent of all college fans are female, but relatively few sponsors target women, she said.

College sports “should have more products that speak to women,” Taylor said. “We’re trying to break new ground.”

— Michael Smith

  • Where born: Dinwiddie, Va.
  • Education: Hampton University, B.A. in communications.
  • Attributes I look for when hiring: Resourcefulness, an informed point of view and a positive attitude.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Ask a colleague you know well to facilitate an introduction to the one person you most want to meet. You’re working to build relationships, not contacts.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Was from my mother: “Plan your work and work your plan.”
  •  Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Engaging employees in the development of new benefits that promote a thriving corporate culture.
  •  If I had it to do over again: I wouldn’t change a thing. My experiences and choices, good and bad, have taught me valuable lessons and led me to amazing opportunities.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Sheila Johnson. Not many women can tout that they’ve co-founded a cable television network AND have an ownership stake in multiple professional sports teams. I deeply admire her business acumen and philanthropic endeavors.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? It’s still necessary. Our workforce needs to be as diverse as our fan base.
  • Charity supported: Habitat for Humanity.


aseball’s leadership ranks both on and off the field, like those of many other sports, are often criticized for being too white and too male. But Renée Tirado, MLB vice president of talent and head of diversity and inclusion, is on the front lines seeking to make the sport look more like the rest of society.

Renée Tirado
MLB // Vice president, talent, and head of inclusion and diversity
Overseeing the league’s diversity and inclusion strategy, Tirado has played an integral role in helping MLB begin to expand its base of talent. Among her more recent efforts is the creation of a fellowship program aimed at recruiting diverse talent for entry-level positions at each of the 30 clubs.

“This isn’t about just changing numbers on a [Richard] Lapchick report, but truly developing the next generation of leaders for the sport,” Tirado said. “Soon enough, I do think we’re going to start to see the needle move in baseball.”

Tirado is still something of a newcomer to baseball, having been with MLB less than two years following stops at AIG, the U.S. Tennis Association and the National Basketball Retired Players Association. But she credited the commitment of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to go far beyond any sort of lip service or mere appearance to the cause of diversity and give her the authority and resources to create large-scale initiatives.

“I’ve been given a lot of room to do things that are really out of the box,” Tirado said. “Every company is having these kinds of conversations, but we are looking to truly walk the walk.”

— Eric Fisher

  • Where born: Brooklyn.
  • Education: University of Rochester, B.A. and M.S.; Rutgers University, J.D.
  • Attribute I look for when hiring: Creativity.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Listen and ask questions.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Always look for opportunities that force you to step out of your comfort zone.
  •  Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Hiring more women in senior management.
  •  If I had it to do over again, I would: Say yes more.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Serena — one name only and because she’s the G.O.A.T., bar none male or female. I would welcome the opportunity to hear her insights on mental toughness, recovering from failure and her extraordinary ability to focus and win consistently with equal parts grace and swagger.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? Both. Necessary because women remain grossly underrepresented in our industry even though the market is changing rapidly and making business decisions in a homogenous, group-think setting is a zero sum equation. Played out only because the narrative needs to evolve. It’s no longer about having or not having it all. It’s about the universal truth that we — women — are extraordinarily talented, add incredible value to the business and have natural leadership ability that remains untapped. Any questions?
  • Causes supported: Education, cancer research, City Arts.

Photo by: USATF
t’s a nice coincidence that both USA Track & Field and its chief operating officer are making up for lost time.

USA Track & Field // Chief operating officer
Renee Washington manages a staff of 71 for the national governing body, which in her tenure has set a new benchmark in the Olympics world for sponsorship revenue, built a modern media distribution strategy and rebuilt relationships with track groups domestically and abroad.

Managing all those fronts is an intense affair, especially at an organization that was slow to join the modern sports business world. But for Washington, a heavy workload is welcome after she took a decade off, midcareer, to care for her daughter.

“Everybody has their own journey they go through, but I have 10 years in which I didn’t get to do this,” Washington said. “While I got to do something else that was meaningful in a way, there was this reluctance about it. It was something that weighed on me. I appreciate the opportunity.”

It’s been an uphill battle in some respects. Neither she nor CEO Max Siegel are “track people,” making for tough sledding when they proposed big changes. Five years after they arrived, the sometimes insular NGB world is coming to embrace the notion of outside business expertise, but it wasn’t like that in 2012.

That’s why Washington’s a game changer. She is hitting her targets and gets points for degree of difficulty. Speaking of the organization she and Siegel inherited, she said: “You couldn’t necessarily call it successful. Some might say it was dysfunctional, and I helped change that culture. And I don’t mean just with respect to the field of play, the things you notice. I’m talking about the other aspects of the sport that we as an NGB are responsible for.”

— Ben Fischer

  • Where born: Franklin, La.
  • Education: Spelman College, B.A. in political science; Georgetown Law Center, J.D.
  • Attribute I look for when hiring: I look for someone who has invested in themselves so that they have developed substantive skills that can translate into all work environments, and I always ask them what they are reading.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: I must answer with three related tips — Effort: make an ACTIVE effort to be where people are that may impact your professional growth; Knowledge: be up to speed on environment and people in it; Sustain: develop and maintain meaningful relationships.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Never stop seeking and accepting opportunities to learn and grow.
  • Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: For me, it comes by accepting the fact that this is a lifestyle, not a job.
  •  If I had it to do over again, I would: Not change a thing (except use Excel more). The opportunities I’ve had have made me into the person I am today.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Virginia Halas McCaskey, owner of the Chicago Bears. Her life story must be fascinating. I anticipate that she has much wisdom to convey. That would be an opportunity.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? If I understand the question, discussion is always necessary and men must be a part of the conversation. We can’t have discussion in a vacuum. Moreover, from discussion we need goals and action.
  • Causes supported: Junior League of Indianapolis. Encourage all young women to join in their local communities; skills learned and other women you meet will transform their lives.

Photo by: NHL
ynn White’s job at the NHL could perhaps be best described as an international jack-of-all-trades for the league.

Lynn White
NHL // Group vice president, international strategy
“Our international group is essentially a microcosm of all of the league’s business groups — we have a media business, we have a consumer products business, we have an event business and a sponsorship business,” said White, who has been at the league for more than 22 years. “We are also looking geographically at different areas, so it could be China in the morning, Sweden in the afternoon and Germany later that evening. Having such a wide view makes it very interesting to come into the office every day.”

White’s expertise has become even more important for the league the last 12 months as it has embarked on a renewed international strategy that began with the relaunch of the World Cup of Hockey a year ago. The league will play games in China and Sweden this fall and expects to continue to expand its footprint globally, all efforts in which White will play a key role.

“While we’ve successfully focused on our domestic business this last decade or so, the World Cup of Hockey this past September was our coming-out party internationally,” she said. “The next great frontier for us is the international landscape, and I don’t think anyone was more enthusiastic about the renewal of our international strategy than me.”

— Ian Thomas

  • Where born: Staten Island, N.Y.
  • Education: Boston College, B.A. in history.
  • Attribute I look for when hiring: The understanding that no task is too small coupled with the willingness to contribute whenever and wherever needed.
  •  A networking tip I’ve learned: Invest some time. We all try to squeeze 25 hours of activity into a 24-hour day. It can be tempting to cancel a lunch date or reschedule a cup of coffee. However, good relationships are the most valuable tool for a successful venture or career.
  • Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Recognizing flexibility is a necessity. Games and events on nights and weekends, significant travel, international business partners across multiple time zones — ours is not a Monday-through-Friday, 9-to-5 industry. The NHL’s alternative work policy was invaluable when my daughters were younger as it allowed me to spend more time at home.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Jeanie Buss, owner and president of the Los Angeles Lakers. As one of the first female executives in professional sports, I am sure it was not easy walking into the NBA Board of Governors meeting that first time. I am interested to know how she approaches her role as the steward of a legendary brand under the glare of one of the world’s largest media markets.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? It continues to be necessary. While I never feel as though I am treated differently, very often I glance around in a meeting and realize I am the only woman in the room. While more women are employed in sports than ever before, there are still far too few at the senior level. The good news is that I am seeing more women being recognized at the NHL and other organizations.
  • Causes supported: This harkens back to the work-life balance issue. I try to stay active in my daughters’ schools, volunteering for events whenever possible.

We asked the Game Changers to send us a sefie that shows some of the people, places and events that are important to them. Here are some glimpses into their lives.

Jean Afterman — With brothers Peter and Eric at S.F. Giants game in 1966
Danielle Cantor — With Dikembe Mutombo and Roy Hibbert

Christina Alejandre — With her cat Hobo
Katie Bynum — With her sisters at Machu Picchu

Kenyatta Bynoe — With Spalding’s Chris Martin and Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox
Lauren Cooks Levitan — With her kids at AT&T Park in San Francisco

Jennifer Cohen — With Kendall Andonian, a mentee and aspiring AD
Catie Griggs — In Patagonia, Argentina

Kirsten Corio — With husband Chen and kids Chloe and Dean in Tel Aviv
Sarah Cummins — At Verrazano bridge, predawn on NYC Marathon race day 2016

Ayala Deutsch — First-ever selfie, with the Larry O’Brien Trophy
Laura Froelich — With husband Doug and kids Cal, Luke and Riley at Kiawah Island, S.C.

Libby Geist — With son Billy at Thanksgiving Day Parade
Hannah Gordon — With nephew Isaac and sister Ariel

Shauna Griffiths — In Steamboat, Colo., with husband John
Morane Kerek — With colleague Janine DiSalvatore in Rio

Allison Keller — At The Players Championship in 2016 with daughter Anna Grace 
Jodi Logsdon — At Super Bowl LI

Gina Lehe — With daughter Adriana at Cubs spring training
Keisha Taylor — With colleague Jenny Hollabaugh and the CFP trophy

Adrienne Lofton — With Under Armour’s Diane Pelkey at the Unlike Any launch
Elizabeth O’Brien — At the top of Mad River Glen with her kids

Samita Mannaperuma — In the car with Fudge
Erika Nardini — With her son on his first ski trip

Beth McClinton — With husband Bill, daughter Morgan and son Will at a USC game last season
Stephanie McMahon — Visiting Rio during 2015 Eisenhower Fellowship trip

Renata Simril — Celebrating 33rd anniversary of ’84 Olympic Games
Nzinga Shaw — At Atlanta juice bar Roots Juices

Shauna Smith — With dad Tom Smith, mom Linda Smith, and fiancé Leu Gillem at FedEx Field for Coldplay concert
Lynn White — Husband Chris and daughters Caroline and Abby at Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto

Renée Tirado — With MLB’s Moira Weinberg at the All-Star Game in Miami
Renee Washington — With USATF athletes

Amy Howe — With husband Stephen and children Luke, Dylan and Grant in Paris

We asked this year’s Game Changers:

Who has had the biggest impact or influence on your career in sports?

  • Jean Afterman // Don Nomura because as we worked together, he taught me about courage and perseverance in baseball; and, of course, Brian Cashman, because I have had the honor and privilege of working for the best GM in sports for a lot of years.

  • Christina Alejandre // My boss at WB Games, Jim Drewry, was the one who asked me to “investigate and run esports” for the game we were working on, “Infinite Crisis.” This literally changed the trajectory of my career and it’s why I am in the position that I’m in today. As far as being in sports, Craig Barry (my current boss) is the one who believes in me, esports, and its place in traditional sports.

  • Kenyatta Bynoe // My grandmother. She raised me to take calculated risks and to not just dream but to pursue fulfillment of those dreams, and it is those ideals that have propelled my career.

  • Katie Bynum // I am fortunate and very grateful to have a few people who have supported me throughout my career. However, if I had to pick one, it would be my mom, who has given me great perspective, independence, and confidence over the years.

  • Danielle Cantor // David Falk, of course. He is the ultimate teacher and mentor, and he happens to be the most successful negotiator (for players) in the history of the NBA.

  • Jennifer Cohen // Judi Henry, senior associate AD at Texas Tech. My dream was to work in Division I athletics but it was hard to break through coming from a D-III background. Judi hired me as an intern in my late 20s after I spent several years working in Division III. She was the first person to give me a real shot at my dreams, and she also taught me about work ethic, humility, the student-athlete experience and service. She changed my life forever.

  • Kirsten Corio // Scott O’Neil, Chris Granger, Amy Brooks, and Lew Sherr have been the most incredible bosses that imparted wisdom, demonstrated what great culture looked like, challenged the heck out of me and continue to support me in countless ways. But the list of hugely influential others is long: Donna Daniels, Liliahn Majeed, Stacey Allaster, Adam Kanner, John Abbamondi, Larry Martin, Valerie Camillo, Melissa Brenner, Steve Hellmuth, Bill Sutton, Bernie Mullin … too many to list.

  • Sarah Cummins // Pierce O’Neil, former chief business officer, USTA. He gave me a line of business and let me run with it. During the height of my career at the USTA, I had three children in four years. He provided me with many advancement opportunities and more flexibility at home simultaneously. My career growth was never hindered by my growing and young family. That was a progressive approach 15 years ago.

  • Ayala Deutsch // David Stern and Adam Silver. David was commissioner when I joined the NBA and he had an interest in intellectual property, which is what I was focused on at the time. Engaging with him on intellectual property issues made me realize how effective and rewarding it was for each of us at the league to bring our particular experience and passion to the business of sports — even if it was something as “geeky” as IP law. Adam also began his career practicing law, and he has given me the opportunity as a lawyer to expand my role at the NBA, to become involved in new things, and to continue to grow even after 20 years with the league.

  • Kimberly Fields // God. He has opened doors and provided opportunities that I did not even dream would be possible.

  • Laura Froelich // To single out one person would unfairly omit myriad others. So many have influenced me by giving me opportunities, or by showing me the kind of leader I want to be.

  • Libby Geist // Either Patrick Ewing for teaching me about true love and heartbreak, or Connor Schell, who I’ve been lucky enough to work for for nine years. He has pushed me to be creative and to lead our team into uncharted, sometimes uncomfortable territory.

  • Hannah Gordon // I cannot pick just one person: There have been so many people who have influenced and impacted my career.

  • Shauna Griffiths // Felicia Hall Allen (Nike) was a tremendous example of a strong, inspirational female leader. Alfred White (Asheville Altitude) taught me the value of creating truly mutually beneficial partnerships. Matt Pazaras and Fred Mangione (Nets Basketball) supported my growth and taught me so much about the business. Pam Harris (Blue Man Productions, Madison Square Garden, SCP Worldwide) has been an amazing example of conscious leadership. Dan Mannix (LeadDog Marketing Group) has continued to believe in me and support my desire to chart new territories.

  • Catie Griggs // John Shea, president of marketing and events at Octagon. When I was trying to break into the industry, John took a chance on me and offered me my first role in sports. Over the subsequent nine years, whether we were working together directly or not, he has been an adviser and supporter who has helped me get to where I am today.

  • Amy Howe // The sports person I am most inspired by is John Wooden. The profound and compelling way he lived his life, coached his team and raised his family will live on for decades to come, and has been a true source of inspiration for our entire family.

  • Allison Keller // Former PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem. He has always been an important mentor who became a dear friend. When I was a 37-year-old lawyer in the legal team with no anti-doping experience, he tapped me to design and launch our player anti-doping program, working directly with our athletes on a big change. After that, Tim asked me to lead other departments and join the executive committee as the youngest member and its only female member in 2009. Today, current Commissioner Jay Monahan is already having a huge impact on my professional development on a daily basis. He challenges me to up my game, continue to grow and lead.

  • Morane Kerek // Stephanie Tolleson. She was my boss for several years at IMG and she had a wonderful method of mentoring and teaching by talking about big and small strategic decisions out loud so I could learn how she thought about things.

  • Gina Lehe // It is very difficult to acknowledge just one person. Arguably, my career started with my love of sports, which was cultivated by my father. Throughout my journey, people have stepped up to the plate and served invaluable roles to help shape and guide my ultimate successes. It all started with the Fiesta Bowl giving me my first “break” with a full-time job right out of college. The foundation of knowledge built there from day one has carried throughout my career.

  • Lauren Cooks Levitan // My parents — from them I learned the importance of hard work and the joy of building connections through sports.

  • Adrienne Lofton // Kevin Plank. Kevin gave me an opportunity when I walked into this industry eight years ago to create a women’s marketing department. Kevin was humble enough to say I know we need this space, but I don’t know how to build it, help me. I came from Target and built it from nothing to a division. He showed me how he thinks. He is an absolute visionary.

  • Jodi Logsdon // Bill Lyon is a legendary sports writer who was the lead columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer while I was growing up. The earliest I can remember having a desire to enter into sports media came while reading his writing as a young sports fan in Philly. I lived every up and down of those sports teams through Bill Lyon’s words in the Inquirer, and that is what led me to pursue an education and then career in sports journalism. There have been others who have had more direct impact on my career development over the years, but I would not have embarked on this path if it had not been for the inspiration of Bill Lyon.

  • Samita Mannapperuma // My current boss, Dave Pietrycha (CFO of NBC Sports) has been tremendous in supporting my career development and presenting me with opportunities that constantly challenge and excite me.

  • Beth McClinton // CAA Sports co-heads Howie Nuchow and Mike Levine have had the most remarkable influence on my career to date. From day one, they have invested in me, providing mentorship and guidance every step of the way, and creating new opportunities that further my professional growth. They are my biggest champions, and for that, I am incredibly grateful.

  • Stephanie McMahon // Vince McMahon, chairman and CEO of WWE (who is also my father), because he has taught me to listen, challenge the status quo, be pragmatic, and respect everyone.

  • Marisabel Muñoz // Dan Courtemanche, who leads the MLS communications team and truly leads by example.

  • Erika Nardini // Dave Portnoy. If it weren’t for Dave, I wouldn’t be in sports.

  • Elizabeth O’Brien // My father worked at ABC most of his career — he loved the people, the events and was a huge sports fan. Growing up, we used to play football in the yard during halftime every Sunday and I still have that football today.

  • Nzinga Shaw // Neil Glat, president of the New York Jets. He is a mentor and friend. Over 10 years ago, I supported Neil as his HR adviser at the National Football League when he ran the corporate development division. He always took my counsel seriously, and he also gave me candid feedback from time to time so that I could continue to excel in my sports career. It isn’t often that a white male executive takes a genuine interest in mentoring a black woman in the sports industry, but Neil always went over and beyond to help me.

  • Renata Simril // Peter Ueberroth. He embodies the bridge between sport and civic responsibility with a focus on the impact sport can and does have on communities in need.

  • Shauna Smith // Nancy Altenburg, now retired but formerly led FedEx’s sponsorship marketing efforts. I was a 19-year-old intern and Nancy was my first client and she had very high expectations, which helped to show me what was achievable with effort.

  • Keisha Taylor // Andy Rawlings and Roger Gardner at Learfield. Andy is a visionary who ultimately decided to hire an industry outsider, versus an industry veteran, to build and grow a marketing division for the company. He has been my biggest champion and refuses to let me do anything other than win. Roger is the heartbeat of Learfield and he reminds our company that while we certainly love when we win, we ultimately win when we love others.

  • Renée Tirado // My mother because she always supported my numerous professional moves without judgment and pushed me to take more risk.

  • Renee Washington // Max Siegel, USATF CEO. He gave me the opportunity. I learn from him the history of the organization, how other sport industries work and nuances related to the athlete experience.

  • Lynn White // Ken Yaffe hired me as an assistant at the NHL in 1995. Over the next 15 years he served as my supervisor, mentor and friend, allowing me to take on new challenges including a significant role in the NHL’s international business.

  • Jean Afterman // Another World Series win with the Yankees.

  • Christina Alejandre // El Clásico, Camp Nou, Barcelona.

  • Kenyatta Bynoe // Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

  • Katie Bynum // Super Bowl.

  • Danielle Cantor // Old Trafford and Nou Camp.

  • Jennifer Cohen // Omaha — College Baseball World Series.

  • Kirsten Corio // The World Cup.

  • Sarah Cummins // World Cup soccer.

  • Ayala Deutsch // Olympic opening ceremony.
Serena Williams at 2016 Wimbledon.
Lionel Messi at 2014 FIFA World Cup.
  • Kimberly Fields // Wimbledon.

  • Laura Froelich // I’ve been extremely fortunate to have checked so many off my bucket list, but there are a few that are still on there like the Ryder Cup.

  • Libby Geist // Wimbledon! The U.S. Open is my favorite event every year and I’m dying to get to Wimbledon to compare. Have the feeling they’re a bit different.

  • Hannah Gordon // I love to visit football stadiums and learn from what others do well. My first year covering UCLA football in college, we played at Alabama, but I was the junior writer on the beat so I did not get to go. Going to a game at Alabama has been on my bucket list ever since.

  • Shauna Griffiths // Old Trafford for a Manchester United match.

  • Catie Griggs // World Cup.

  • Amy Howe // Madison Square Garden.

  • Allison Keller // The Winter Olympic Games — I am a huge Lindsey Vonn fan. I’ve watched her documentary “The Climb” on Red Bull TV several times with my daughters. I would love to watch her compete in the 2018 Games.

  • Morane Kerek // FIFA Men’s World Cup is pretty high on the list.

  • Gina Lehe // Although I worked there and have witnessed many incredible games, if/when the University of Arizona finally makes it to the Rose Bowl game, it will be almost as spectacular as the Cubs making the World Series!

  • Lauren Cooks Levitan // An NCAA Final Four national championship game that Duke wins!

  • Adrienne Lofton // I’ve been there, but every time I’m able to get to an Olympic opening ceremony, it’s what I always look forward to.

  • Jodi Logsdon // FIFA World Cup — men’s and women’s. It is a bucket-list item to be able to be surrounded by the intensity and emotion true soccer fans have for their national teams, while also getting the chance to watch some of the best athletes in the world perform on their sports’ greatest stage. It would be a dream to devote a month to following the tournament, attending in person matches from group play all the way through the final.

  • Samita Mannapperuma // FIFA World Cup.

  • Beth McClinton // Beijing National Stadium, Bird’s Nest.

  • Stephanie McMahon // Since WWE is a live event business at our core, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to stadiums all over the world … but haven’t yet had the chance to visit Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia.

  • Marisabel Muñoz // Wimbledon. Tennis was a sport we grew up watching, and my daughter is now in the USTA junior program. It’s on our bucket list.

  • Erika Nardini // New England Patriots 2017 home opener.

  • Elizabeth O’Brien // The Olympics.

  • Nzinga Shaw // 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

  • Renata Simril // Olympic Games opening ceremony (plan on attending Summer Games in Tokyo 2020 and so looking forward to Los Angeles 2028 opening ceremony in new Rams/Chargers stadium).

  • Shauna Smith // Lambeau Field.

  • Keisha Taylor // Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

  • Renée Tirado // FIFA World Cup.

  • Renee Washington // Wimbledon.

  • Lynn White // The Kentucky Derby. The excitement of the race, coupled with the gentility and glamour of hats and mint juleps on a sunny spring day, puts it at the top of my list.

We asked this year’s Game Changers:

What is the best or most memorable sporting event you’ve attended?  

  • Jean Afterman // An obvious answer, final game of the 2009 World Series.

  • Christina Alejandre // My first esports event, IPL 5 in Las Vegas, made esports a real thing for me. After attending that event, I got it. I got why esports was on its way to becoming something BIG.

  • Kenyatta Bynoe // The 2004 NBA Finals, when Detroit won. I’m a longtime Pistons fan.

  • Katie Bynum // A combination of my first UNC-Duke game in Cameron Indoor Stadium followed by UNC’s ACC championship win in 1998 with a “house divided” (my family has a fun perspective on the rivalry).

  • Danielle Cantor // My first Duke-UNC game at Cameron Indoor; Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals (Sacramento Kings-L.A. Lakers) because it was the most exciting and controversial game where I/SFX had clients on both teams); and the 1999 Women’s World Cup.

  • Jennifer Cohen // I have seen so many great games at the collegiate level that it’s tough to pick one. That being said, the most memorable was watching Kelsey Plum score 57 points in front of a sold-out crowd to claim the NCAA women’s all-time scoring record for women’s basketball. It was the most dominating performance, emotional and magical moment I have ever witnessed because she worked BEYOND her talent to accomplish history.

  • Kirsten Corio // Wimbledon for its sheer beauty and majesty; the U.S. Open for the lifelong memories created with my family; the 2008 Boston Celtics NBA championship game for the sheer electricity and Bostonian joy of it.

  • Sarah Cummins // Two: Game 6 of the 1986 World Series watching the New York Mets beat the Red Sox — at age 14, witnessing sports history in the stands at Shea Stadium is something I will never forget. Second, the 2001 U.S. Open men’s quarterfinal between Sampras and Agassi. During the 3-plus-minute standing ovation, during fourth-set tiebreak, you knew you were watching the end of an era.

  • Kobe Bryant moves in to score against the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the 2010 NBA Finals.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
  • Ayala Deutsch // Game 5 of the 2010 NBA Finals featured a Celtics-Lakers matchup with so much history and the game itself was great — Kobe performing at his peak, but Paul Pierce driving the Celtics to a win.

  • Kimberly Fields // Super Bowl LI.

  • Laura Froelich // The 100th Rose Bowl Game, watching my husband’s Michigan State Spartans defeat defending champion Stanford 24-20. I’d never been to the Rose Bowl before — it’s such an iconic venue — and the game was so exciting!

  • Libby Geist // The 2008 Superclasico match in Argentina — River versus Boca. I thought sports in the U.S. were big time — I’m a Big Ten girl — and I will never forget that day. Fireworks in the stands, police in riot gear, the entire stadium singing/screaming nonstop … That game and the passion of those fans changed my entire view on sports culture — I loved every minute of it.

  • Hannah Gordon // Super Bowl 47 was the most memorable but not the best. I will never forget the lights going out or the agony of coming that close to the pinnacle and falling short. That pain is motivation.

  • Shauna Griffiths // Being a part of the first game of the inaugural season of the Seattle Storm, and a part of the first game of the NBDL’s Asheville Altitude during the inaugural year of the NBDL are standouts for me. Both moments gave me a taste for progress in my career, and they represented new doors opening for players, front office staff, brands and fans.

  • Catie Griggs // Atlanta United’s inaugural home game.

  • Amy Howe // My oldest son’s first soccer tournament, when he scored the game-winning goal of the tournament.

  • Allison Keller // 2015 Players Championship win by Rickie Fowler when he rallied from a 5-shot deficit to win.

  • Morane Kerek // Other than the Olympic and Paralympic Games I’ve attended, the Women’s World Cup final in Vancouver in 2015. Some colleagues and I were attending a conference there and our flight landed just over an hour from the start. The travel gods smiled favorably on us that day and we made it through customs, dropped bags at the hotel and into the stadium by the national anthems. I could practically touch the roof, our seats were so high up in the stands, but there was so much energy and excitement from the largely U.S. fans that it was an amazing show. Oh, and Carli Lloyd was pretty awesome too!

  • Gina Lehe // The World Series in Chicago, last fall. As a Cubs fan since childhood, being a part of the magical run was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I will never forget the aura of Wrigley — the sights, sounds, smells — pure elation and electricity was in the air. In the streets on our way to the ballpark and then stepping inside, history came to life right before our eyes.

  • Lauren Cooks Levitan // NCAA Final Four — National Championship Game (Duke lost to Louisville, 1986).

  • Adrienne Lofton // My college volleyball career was full of firsts. I went to a historically black college, Howard University, that was the first (HBCU) team to make it to the NCAA tournament. Our first big game in the spotlight was during the NCAA championship tournament. It was awe-inspiring. And it’s why I work in sports. The unexpected and uninvited can show up and change history.

  • Jodi Logsdon // Super Bowl 50. I was in my first year at CBS Sports when we had the honor of presenting Super Bowl 50, and it was an experience I’ll never forget. I am proud to have contributed to our productions leading up to and throughout the game, from our weeklong CBS Sports Network presence in San Francisco, to our “NFL Today” special pregame shows, and through the postgame coverage on CBS and CBS Sports Network. The atmosphere of the game was fantastic, as Peyton Manning capped his Hall of Fame career, and that was an unforgettable halftime show with Beyoncé, Bruno Mars and Coldplay!

  • Samita Mannapperuma // The Rio Olympics. I loved every part of the experience from watching Katie Ledecky dominate in the pool to sitting next to family members of competitors in the stands at many events.

  • Beth McClinton // The 2017 Rose Bowl, where USC scored 10 points in the final minutes of the game to overcome Penn State.

  • Stephanie McMahon // Besides WWE’s WrestleMania, Super Bowl 49 where the New England Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks.

  • Marisabel Muñoz // My first MLS Cup, in 2002, when Carlos “Pescadito” Ruiz scores a dramatic golden goal in extra time and breaks into tears to win the LA Galaxy’s first-ever league title.

  • Erika Nardini // My first Chelsea football game.

  • Elizabeth O’Brien // SuperBowl XLVI — I am a Giants fan.

  • Nzinga Shaw // Super Bowl XLII New York Giants versus New England Patriots in Phoenix. As a native New Yorker, it was fantastic to watch the underdog Giants ruin the undefeated Patriots’ perfect season!

  • USC quarterback Matt Leinert scores with the help of “Bush push” the 2005 USC-Notre Dame game.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
  • Renata Simril // The 2005 USC v. Notre Dame “Bush Push” game.

  • Shauna Smith // 1998 NCAA Women’s Final Four; went as a kid with my dad as a Christmas gift, and had an awesome time in Kansas City!

  • Keisha Taylor // Game 5 of the 2012 NBA championship when Miami defeated Oklahoma City. Witnessing this in person, from courtside seats with my mentor, was the most amazing experience.

  • Renée Tirado // Super Bowl XLII by myself!

  • Renee Washington // London Olympics — pure magic.

  • Lynn White // World Cup of Hockey 2004 in Toronto. I probably shouldn’t have traveled so far from home while 37 weeks pregnant. My Canadian-born daughter, Abby, turns 13 this September.

Game Changers, 2011-2016

A look back at the 232 women who have made up the Game Changers classes from 2011 through 2016. Click on the year to review coverage of each class.

Karen Ashnault, LeadDog Marketing Group
Wendy Bass, NBC Sports Group 
Pam Batalis, Learfield 
Jody Bennett, Charge 
Kristin Bernert, Madison Square Garden Co. / New York Liberty 
Tera Black, Charlotte Checkers
Valerie Camillo, Washington Nationals 
Jen Compton, TD Garden
Keli Cunningham, West Virginia University
Janet Fletcher, Procter & Gamble 
Jessica Giordano, GMR Marketing 
Robin Harris, Ivy League 
Kelly Hyne, LPGA
Denise Karkos, TD Ameritrade
Tracy Marek, Cleveland Cavaliers 
Molly Mazzolini, Infinite Scale
Priya Narasimhan, YinzCam 
Deanna O’Toole, CBS Sports 
Michelle Palmer, The Marketing Arm 
Katie Pandolfo, StubHub Center 
Diane Pelkey, Under Armour 
Sallie Sargent, Houston Super Bowl Host Committee 
Susan Schandel, NASCAR
Kathryn Schloessman, Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission 
JoAn Scott, NCAA
Tina Shah, Turner Sports 
Debbie Spander, Wasserman 
Carol Stiff, ESPN 
Kerry Tatlock, NBA 
Sarah Tourville, Fox Networks 
Amanda Vandervort, MLS 
Jaime Weston, NFL 
Denise White, EAG Sports Management 
Carla Williams, University of Georgia 
Xan Young, Meis Architects 

Katrina Adams, U.S. Tennis Association 
Tara August, Turner Sports
Judy Boyd, Fox Sports 
Liz DiLullo Brown, Little League Baseball and Softball 
Jennifer Carper, Engine Shop 
Michele Carr, NFL 
Rebecca Chatman, NBCUniversal 
Chrysa Chin, National Basketball Players Association 
Laura Chittick, JPMorgan Chase & Co. 
Laura Day, Minnesota Twins 
Lesley Eccles, FanDuel 
Jaime Faulkner, E15 
Nora Lynn Finch, Atlantic Coast Conference 
Morgan Flatley, Gatorade 
Susan Fulton, AECOM
Dru Hancock, Big 12 Conference 
Amy Huchthausen, America East Conference 
Anna Isaacson, NFL 
Jodi Markley, ESPN 
Janey Marks, Getty Images 
Mary McCarthy, NHL 
Jaymee Messler, The Players’ Tribune 
Kelley Earnhardt Miller, JR Motorsports 
Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, U.S. Olympic Committee
Courtney Nally, Ketchum Sports & Entertainment
Alison Overholt, espnW
Beth Paretta, Grace Autosport 
Amy Perko, Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics 
Vicky Picca, Fanatics 
Sherri Privitera, Populous 
Suzanne Smith, CBS Sports 
Karen Spencer, Seattle Seahawks / First & Goal Inc. 
Kim Stone, Miami Heat / AmericanAirlines Arena
Lori Warren, Spurs Sports & Entertainment 
Erin Weinberg, United Entertainment Group 
Suzy Whaley, PGA of America

Alex Baldwin
, CAA Sports 
Renee Baumgartner, Syracuse University 
Kim Bohuny, NBA 
Christine Brown, NRG Energy 
Mary Byrne, USA Today Sports Page 
Stephanie Cheng, Premier Partnerships 
Sandy Cross, PGA of America
Stephanie Druley, ESPN 
Donna Fiedorowicz, PGA Tour 
Kelly Flanagan, Jacksonville Jaguars
Karen Forgus, Cincinnati Reds
Erleen Hatfield, BuroHappold Engineering
Sue Hunt, U.S. Tennis Association 
Gail Hunter, Golden State Warriors 
Beth Hutter, Golf Channel 
Julie Kikla, The Whistle 
Heidi Massey-Bong, Shell Oil Co.
Bernadette McGlade, Atlantic 10 Conference 
Michelle McKenna-Doyle, NFL 
Kimberly Meesters, Sprint 
Marla Newman, Fox Sports Digital 
Anne Occi, MLB 
Jay Parry, Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee 
Kirsten Rose, Georgia Tech IMG Sports Marketing 
Jennifer Sabatelle, CBS Sports 
Heidi Sandreuter, Under Armour 
Meredith Starkey, T-Mobile 
Maribeth Towers, MLS / Soccer United Marketing 
Ali Towle, San Francisco 49ers 
Ronnie Tucker, New York Road Runners 
Alyson Walker, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment
Alison Weber, Levy Restaurants 
Pamela Wheeler, WNBPA 
Andrea Williams, Big Ten Conference 

Charlotte Jones Anderson
, Dallas Cowboys 
Mary Pat Augenthaler, NFL 
Cheryl Bailey, National Women’s Soccer League 
Lisa Boggs, Bridgestone Americas 
Melissa Rosenthal Brenner, NBA 
Amy Brooks, NBA 
Jacqie Carpenter, CIAA
Kim Carver, Altitude Sports and Entertainment 
Jennifer Chun, Time Warner Cable 
Vicky Chun, Colgate University 
Susan Cohig, NHL 
Reagan Feeney, DirecTV 
Leslie Gamez, U.S. Olympic Committee
Christine Garrity, PGA of America 
Alison Giordano, MasterCard 
Michelle Grech, Melt
Mimi Griffin
, MSG Promotions 
Jennifer Hanley, Nationwide Insurance 
Lynn Hickey, University of Texas at San Antonio 
Pam Hollander, Allstate 
Kelly Krauskopf, Indiana Fever
Rachel Lewis
, Vancouver Whitecaps 
Lucia McKelvey, Top Rank Boxing 
Paula Miller, NASCAR 
Kathy Milthorpe, LPGA 
Diana Myers, WTA 
Kim Ng, MLB 
Regina O’Brien, Golf Channel 
Maidie Oliveau, Arent Fox
Ailey Penningroth, Atlanta Hawks / Philips Arena
Patty Power, CBS Sports 
Donna Providenti, LeadDog Marketing Group 
Judy Rose, University of North Carolina at Charlotte 
Julie Sobieski, ESPN 
Amy Stanton, Stanton & Co. 
Deborah Tymon, New York Yankees 
Lori Webb, Southern League 

Dana Allen
, Competitor Group 
Renie Anderson, NFL 
Dawn Aponte, Miami Dolphins
Jennifer Bazante, Visa 
Kim Brink, NASCAR 
Sharon Byers, Coca-Cola 
April Carty-Sipp, NBC Sports Regional Networks
Kerry Chandler, NBA 
Andrea Ching, CNN News Networks and Turner Digital Ad Sales 
Rana Dershowitz, U.S. Olympic Committee 
Marie Donoghue, ESPN
Christine Driessen, ESPN 
Katy Feeney, MLB 
Jessica Gelman, Kraft Sports Group 
Julie Grand, NHL 
Tara Green, Center Operating Co. 
Kelli Hilliard, IMG College 
Beth Hirschhorn, MetLife 
Wendy Lewis, MLB 
Jennifer Love, NFL Network 
Danielle Maged, StubHub 
Micky Lawler, Octagon 
Karen Leetzow, NASCAR
Allison Melangton, Indiana Sports Corp.
Lydia Murphy-Stephans, Pac-12 Networks 
JoAnn Neale, MLS 
Mary Owen, Buffalo Bills 
Heidi Pellerano, Wasserman Media Group
Tracy Perlman, NFL
Marian Rhodes, Arizona Diamondbacks
Laurel Richie, WNBA 
Carol Sawdye, NBA 
Mary Scott, Matter Inc. 
Staci Slaughter, San Francisco Giants 
Jana Smoley, Reno-Tahoe Open 
Laurie Tucker, FedEx 
Tyler Tumminia, The Goldklang Group 
Rita Tuzon, Fox Networks Group
Ann Wool, Ketchum Sports & Entertainment 
Gillian Zucker, Auto Club Speedway 

Stacey Allaster, WTA 
Lisa Baird, U.S. Olympic Committee 
Kathy Behrens, NBA 
Michelle Berg, Team Epic 
Jeanne Bonk, San Diego Chargers 
Karen Brodkin, Fox Cable Networks
Karen Bryant, Seattle Storm 
Jeanie Buss, Los Angeles Lakers
Casey Coffman, MSG 
Amy Cohen, Comcast Sports Group 
Ann Wells Crandall, New York Road Runners 
Cindy Davis, Nike Golf 
Tina Davis, Citigroup 
Rosalyn Durant, ESPNU
Amy Erschen, The Marketing Arm 
Pam Gardner, Houston Astros 
Jane Geddes, WWE 
Kit Geis, Genesco Sports Enterprises
Laura Gentile, espnW 
Tamera Green, GMR Marketing 
Jill Gregory, NASCAR 
Lauren Hobart, Dick’s Sporting Goods 
Tery Howard, Miami Dolphins 
Jane Kleinberger, Paciolan 
Ilana Kloss, World TeamTennis 
Julie Roe Lach, NCAA 
Amy Latimer, Boston Bruins / TD Garden 
Danette Leighton, Pac-12 Conference
Cheryl Levick, Georgia State University
Hillary Mandel, IMG Media 
Sheila McLenaghan, PGA Tour 
Sarah Mensah, Portland Trail Blazers 
Christina Miller, NBA Digital / Turner Sports 
Marla Miller, MLB 
Lisa Murray, Octagon Worldwide 
Kathryn Olson, Women’s Sports Foundation 
Chris Plonsky, University of Texas 
Sue Rodin, WISE / Stars & Strategies 
Janet Marie Smith, Baltimore Orioles 
Rebecca Schulte, Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic 
Jill Smoller, William Morris Endeavor 
Susan Stone, MLB Network 
Amy Trask, Oakland Raiders 
Circe Wallace, Wasserman Media Group 
Michelle Wilson, WWE 
Melinda Witmer, Time Warner Cable 
Jackie Woodward, MillerCoors 
Anne Worcester, New Haven Open 
Paula Yancey, PC Sports 

NOTE: Companies listed are those that appeared in the original publications.