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Volume 22 No. 34
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Djenaba Parker, New York Red Bulls

Photo: Mark Krajnak

Djenaba Parker

General Counsel and Chief Talent Officer, New York Red Bulls

Born: Kinston, N.C.

Education: Georgetown University, BSBA, accounting; University of Southern California, Gould School of Law, J.D.

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

Getting to know...

Guilty pleasure: Flowers. I get fresh flowers weekly for my apartment.

Attributes I look for when hiring: I have two, which apply no matter what department I’m interviewing for — passionate and someone who is an active listener.

Proudest professional achievement: Getting to lead what I would consider the most selfless team in sports. Both the legal and HR departments are small, but we touch and concern almost all aspects of our business. The team genuinely cares about every win, every contract, every employee, every deadline. 

Woman in sports business you’d like to meet: Kim Fields (NFL senior vice president and chief operating officer). She is a problem solver and strategic thinker — and one of very few African American women who are top executives at a major sports league.