Game Changers: Who would you like to meet? – Sports Business Journal
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Meg Aronowitz — Molly Solomon (executive producer, NBC). While I have met Molly before, I would love to pick her brain on leadership and motivation. She is absolutely the best around, and I would love to soak that knowledge in.
Meredith Battin — Condoleezza Rice. While she’s only recently officially part of the sports business, she’s obviously been very close to the NFL for a while. She thrives in high-pressure situations and can share lessons around working with powerful men.
Gretchen Beaumarchais — Serena Williams. I admire her passion and dedication to her sport and that she is now taking a step to spend more time with her family.
Lindsay Brinkmann — Kim Ng, rising through the ranks to become the first woman general manager in MLB is a remarkable accomplishment.
Heather Brooks Karatz — Billie Jean King, and fortunately, I was able to meet her recently at an Angel City FC game.
Debbie Brown — Abby Wambach. She backs up her words with action toward a more inclusive and equitable playing field for women in sports.
Kristin Byrd — Billie Jean King, who is a pioneer in fighting for women’s equality in sports. She championed the movement for both equal award recognition and financial compensation.
Elizabeth Casey — Condoleezza Rice. I am fascinated by her in many ways. She is so smart and talented, and I would love to talk to her about why she decided to buy into the Broncos.
Elizabeth Cohen — Karen Brady, the CEO of West Ham United FC, has always been a huge inspiration of mine. At 23 years old, she was the youngest-ever female managing director of a top-tier English soccer club (Birmingham City) and has subsequently won many accolades for services to women and entrepreneurship.
Julie Cromer — Serena Williams, for her ability to leverage her brand across multiple successful business endeavors.
Aileen Dagrosa — Billie Jean King. She has made such a large impact on women’s sports as a professional tennis player and in the business of sports thereafter. She took risks and challenged people. Women in sports may not be where they are today without Billie Jean King.
Natalie Epperly — Naming one woman is extremely tough, but I’d narrow it to three — Kara Nortman, Natalie Portman, and Julie Uhrman — the co-founders of Angel City FC. Soccer has always played a major role in my life; I played in college at Belmont Abbey, and my daughter Hadley plays today. What those three women did in co-founding an NWSL team, inspiring not only the next generation of soccer players by helping grow the NWSL into a new market, but also inspiring women everywhere by being a female-led business initiative, is nothing short of breathtaking. The female investors they’ve managed to assemble, both in and out of sports, is an amazing cross-section of women, who all want to be a part of growing the sport.
Kelly Flatow — I’d love to meet Serena Williams and talk about her evolution from tennis to a new chapter. The courage and conviction to move on when the time is right for her is remarkable.
Talaya Gaines — Dawn Staley.
Carrie Gerlach Cecil — Jeez, there are so many terrific women in sports. I would love to pick Lesley Visser’s brain about her journey, challenges and ability to successfully and gracefully survive in a challenging era for women in sports without throat punching people.
Kate Howard — I would love to meet Kim Ng. I find her story and journey fascinating and inspirational.
Raven Jemison — Michele Roberts, former executive director of the National Basketball Association Players Association. Her grace and poise under pressure was remarkable as she led the players through the pandemic in the bubble. With her being the first woman to lead a major sports union and me as a Black woman in the industry, I looked to her as a real power player and a reason to always ask myself, “Why not me?”
Laurie Kepron — Jeanie Buss, to learn more about the story of her life and career in the sports world.
Julie Keryc — Abby Wambach. I’m a huge fan, even more of her off-field contributions than her playing career. I love the energy of retired athletes joining ownership groups the way she and her wife have with Angel City FC. She has written and spoken about leadership from a feminist perspective and everyone should be listening to the podcast “We Can Do Hard Things.” It’s amazing.
Anna Barton Kolda — The Williams sisters. I find that what they have been able to accomplish in tennis is remarkable but to also apply their skills beyond the court is extraordinary. … I’d also love to hear stories about their competitive nature and their relationship with each other. My twin sister and I played sports together all through high school and today, we are both successful in business development roles (civil engineering industry).
Christine Lazatin — Kim Ng. Her passion, commitment and fortitude are galvanizing.
Jeehae Lee — Kim Ng. She is a role model for anyone growing up in the industry but especially for Asian American women trying to build a career in sports business. She opened up a whole world of possibilities of what women can do in sports. It would be fascinating to listen to her talk about her journey thus far, which I’m sure has been full of ups and downs and stories of doubters and naysayers.
Jennifer Linn — Charlotte Jones. I had the pleasure of hearing her speak about her career and would love to sit with her and learn more about her family’s journey.
Keri Lockett — Serena Williams. Serena is a pioneer in two fields, sports and in business. While a true champion on the court, Serena is just as much of a champion off the court as a self-made businesswoman. Her foray into business is extensive and diversified. She is a member on several boards of directors and she founded her own personal clothing and jewelry lines. Her savvy investments include minority ownership stakes with the Miami Dolphins and within UFC. Finally, Serena launched Serena Ventures to “help empower minds that can bring change to the world.” Serena is passionate about leveraging her platform to make a true difference in the world as the majority of the ventures she is invested in are women- and minority-led startups.
Cheryl Mark — Clara Tsai. As a successful Asian businesswoman fighting for social justice with a focus on our community, she inspires me daily. Representation matters.
Aileen McManamon — Can’t go with just one: Billie Jean King, just to be able to say “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you,” in person. Claire Rothman. There’s a megaton of wisdom to be gleaned and passed on. And the stories! I think I could sit with her for a year. Maybe I should call. SBJ should rename the sports executive of the year award to the Claire Rothman Award.
Meredith McPherron — Serena Williams. World-renowned athlete, entrepreneur and investor. She is a GOAT in tennis and as a professional athlete but also in her modeling of hard work, discipline, empowerment and identity … shining so brightly along her way, which involved breaking stereotypes and changing attitudes, on her own terms, with confidence, conviction, toughness, and incredible talent. It has been incredibly inspirational. She has also modeled her love of family, sisterhood, motherhood, and now a dimensionality into other professional pursuits alongside her lifelong dream of professional tennis. We are all complex beings with many dimensions. I love that she has shared her rich dimensionality with the world and will continue to inspire as she crosses new frontiers.
Jessi Miley-Dyer — Serena Williams as she has transcended sports both as an athlete and owner.
Renee Montgomery — I’d love to meet Dany Garcia because she’s not only building her own empire with the Garcia Companies and the partnerships they already have with the NFL, she’s also blazing a path in the TV/movie industry with shows like “Young Rock” and movies like “Jumanji,” along with many others.
Sharon — Becky Hammon. She pursued what she was good at — didn’t matter if it was a male world or a female world.
Pinky Raina — Serena Williams. She has excelled as a player and as a businesswoman. She invests in women-owned companies. She is an advocate for women and is leading by example.
Jill Redmond — Sheila Johnson because of her tremendous success and achievements that span across different industries, which are significant for any human being. But as a woman of color, it makes it that much more remarkable. Beyond that, we have one thing in common — we both grew up or spent part of our early lives in the Chicagoland area.
Alyssa Romano — Kim Ng and Dany Garcia.
Megan Rose — I’ve been fortunate enough to meet them, but I’d love to spend more time with Serena Williams and her agent, Jill Smoller, and publicist, Kelly Bush Novak. The thoughtfulness behind the development and evolution of Serena’s brand, and the sheer powerful force that is Team Serena, could be nothing but inspiring to be around.
Diana Sabau — Serena Williams. Nothing is impossible for her.
Kate Sheets — Kim Ng. I’m so inspired by her story and I just think she’s so smart. She knew she loved baseball and tenaciously pursued a career in it despite the institutional obstacles. She seems to have this cool confidence while handling what I’m sure is enormous pressure. It also doesn’t seem like she takes any sh*t, which frankly I really admire.
Leticia Silva — Serena Williams because she is an absolute QUEEN. It is extremely inspirational to see her put in an incredible amount of work and excel in her craft, while balancing motherhood.
Laura Sipes — Billie Jean King is an inspiration to me even since my early childhood. She has always emphasized the importance of girls seeing other women and girls not only participate in sports but also be in more leadership/ownership positions as well. I truly admire her lifelong dedication to equality, empowerment and access for women!
Jessica Slenker — I feel very fortunate to have met Indra Nooyi while she was running PepsiCo, a longtime partner of the Giants. Her brilliance, work ethic and graciousness is inspiring and she leads by example. I would love to meet her again and say thank you for “My Life in Full” — it moved me.
Tarena Smith — Billie Jean King. She has dedicated her life fighting for change and equality for women which directly impacted the opportunities for women in sports today. I was a collegiate athlete a few years after the passing of Title IX and it is amazing to see the impact on the experiences and opportunities female athletes have today that would not have been possible without Billie Jean’s commitment and sacrifices.
Cindy Stutman — Serena Williams because she’s such an inspiring and well-rounded individual and sees no limits for herself … a real game changer!
Angelique Tetrault — Timely with her recent announcement, Serena Williams is high on that list. Not only is she an incredible athlete and proven herself time and time again, she has broken barriers for women, is an inspiring entrepreneur and businesswoman, and a force to be reckoned with.
Karin Timpone — Any woman who is involved in ownership, investment, and financial side of the business. I’m interested in women connected to the money.
Trish Tulloch — Jessica Gelman, CEO, Kraft Analytics Group. She was my nemesis high school rival on the basketball court. I’ve followed her career in sports over the years and cheered her on from afar. Would like to congratulate her in person on her successful career.
Sarah Villani Davis — Sally Bergesen, founder and CEO of Oiselle. I admire her ability to successfully build a company by women for women in a remarkably competitive space and love her commitment to create a meaningful community.
Alyssa Zeleznik — This is an incredibly hard question, as there are so many amazing women in sports business that I respect and would love to spend time with. However, the first woman that came to mind was Renie Anderson, the NFL’s chief revenue officer and executive vice president. I feel very grateful to have met her before, but I would love to spend time with her one-on-one, as I’d love to learn more about her journey and the challenges she had to overcome to get to the leadership position she is in today.
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