Pushing for Progress

April 24, 2024
5 min read

March is widely recognized as Women’s History Month and April is celebrated as Diversity Month. Given my roles as mom (to two young daughters), Chief Operating Officer at Next League and Founder of Next League’s Women’s Group, I find myself regularly reflecting on the progress of gender equality and, more specifically, opportunities for women in the sports industry. 

I’ve realized - and embraced - the role I play and the importance of being a vocal advocate for women in the industry. Whereas in the past I may have thought of my individual actions as small (how can I, just one person, really and truly make an impact in something so wide ranging?), I now recognize that my actions, no matter what they are, really can – and do - contribute to something greater. There is lots to be proud of both within Next League and initiatives we are part of and I look forward to continuing to raise awareness, identify opportunities and help rising female leaders blaze their own trails. 

Commitment to Ourselves and Our Team

“Committed” is one of our Core Values at Next League and, as part of that value, we state, ‘we know working together has a positive impact on ourselves, our team, our client partners and our industry.’  Earlier this month we promoted from within and added another female to the Executive Team and over the last year, female representation on the Leadership Team has more than doubled.

Last Spring, I launched the Next League Women’s Group as a forum for female team members to connect with each other and others in the industry, hear and learn from senior leaders and participate in personal development opportunities. We’ve had outside speakers (including female executives from some of our Client Partners), executive coaches and team members lead various sessions.

I organized this group (which has nearly doubled in size) because I believe it is essential for the amazing women on our team to feel and see that we are invested in their growth at Next League. Our team members who participate and contribute to this group make up a great cross-section of our organization, across various geographies, roles and titles. I am incredibly proud of how open and honest our team members have been in sharing their experiences and perspectives and know this will only continue as the group grows.

Commitment to Our Client Partners and Our Industry

Since its founding, Next League’s mission has been to work with its client partners and other sports organizations to make investments that have a lasting social impact. I am incredibly proud to be a part of an organization that invests in meaningful causes that are bigger than the work we do every day. 

Next League has made impact commitments with several of its client partners over the last year. As part of our new multi-year engagement with the LPGA, we committed $100,000 to the LPGA Foundation. Together with the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee, we formed the Next League USOPF Endowment Fund, a multi-year philanthropic commitment to the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Foundation, the fundraising arm of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee. Additionally, Next League joined TMRW Sports by making a gift to the TMRW Sports Fund at Palm Beach State College, site of its new tech-infused, purpose-built venue, to provide scholarships for students and support academic program development.

I had the pleasure of announcing the formation of the Next in Sports Tech: Rising Future Tech Leader award at the 2024 Sports Business Awards: Tech ceremony. This award, to be given beginning in 2025, will recognize rising female stars who have a technology role within an organization that focuses on sports. As part of the broader Sports Business Journal Tech Week event, we also donated $10,000 to the Women’s Sports Foundation in celebration of all the female speakers at this year’s event. We look forward to increasing this investment in 2025 and in the years ahead.   

Last June, we held our inaugural Next League University program, a two-day immersive into the sports business industry, specifically geared towards college-aged and early career professionals and 100% funded by Next League. Of note, the program was intentionally not built and the curriculum was not taught by members of our Executive Team; it was driven by rising stars within the organization as we wanted to provide others with valuable and visible leadership opportunities. Additionally, of the participants 48% were female and 39% were ethnically diverse. We’re excited to expand on this special program this year (and beyond).  

For me, commitment to our team goes beyond supporting the women in our organization and social causes that are meaningful to us. Commitment is about creating and sustaining a culture where all feel welcome. I am incredibly passionate about this and am thrilled we’ve engaged an outside consultant, Deanna Lanoway, to help us on our journey to ensure it. 

Commitment to our society more broadly is just as important. My two young daughters will certainly not face the same challenges I did when I was a young athlete. We are well past the days of co-ed teams, which was the only option for me during my younger years. This is just one tangible example of the progress that has been made over the years. 

My daughters might not be athletes like I was (or like my esteemed colleagues Brittany Marchand, Olivia Proctor and Nicole Dabe were!) and they might not have an interest in working in the sports industry. Whatever they decide to do, I am hopeful – and confident - their journey to get there will be far more equitable than mine. 

Jackie Robinson famously said, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” With Women’s History Month behind us and Diversity Month coming to a close, I recognize now more than ever how committed I am to doing my part, no matter how small things may seem, to create a more equitable environment for everyone.