Djenaba Parker, New York Red Bulls
Djenaba Parker’s first name has West African roots and translates to “the loving, affectionate one.” Don’t expect either of those qualities to emerge when she is at the negotiating table.
Parker has her hands in almost every legal facet of the New York Red Bulls’ operations, whether hammering out broadcast or mobile app agreements or deals with ticketing partners and European soccer powerhouses.
“What’s exciting to me is that I don’t know what my day is going to look like,” Parker said.
She oversees 160 employees as the club’s head of HR and instituted a performance management system called Amplify. The program reduces the formality of boss-employee relations and increases the frequency of interactions, which fosters learning and professional development.
Parker’s father was a first-generation college student and both of her parents have advanced degrees. They impressed upon her the power of education. She is doing the same through her work with the Fulfillment Fund, which helps underprivileged kids access educational opportunities, and the mentoring relationships she has established with young men and women she has met over the years.
“It was never lost upon me that I was privileged to be able to learn and that education was potentially the gateway out of a lot of the hardships that African Americans still face in certain communities,” Parker said. “For me, it’s really important to keep relaying that message.” — Bret McCormick