WISE 2011 Women of the Year

It’s always fun when you get to promote the success of talented professionals, so I’m happy to take a moment to share information about this year’s Women in Sports & Events (WISE) Women of the Year Award winners:
  • Stacey Allaster, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Women’s Tennis Association (WTA)
  • Lisa Baird, Chief Marketing Officer, United States Olympic Committee (USOC)
  • Wendy Lewis, Senior Vice President of Diversity & Strategic Alliances, Major League Baseball (MLB)

WISE, which was founded back in 1993, is a top resource for female sports business professionals, organizing meeting, events and mentoring programs designed to support the career development of their members.

“As WISE celebrates its 17th year of honoring influential women in sports and events, the group of women in power positions is increasingly making the selection process much more exciting,” said Sue Rodin, founder and national president of WISE.  “This year’s honorees have made lasting contributions to their respective organizations, and the overall sports landscape, and we applaud them for their efforts, dedication and commitment to serving as an inspiration to other aspiring women.”

Here is some more detailed information about this year’s honorees, courtesy of the Women in Sports and Events website:

Stacey Allaster – Named by Forbes magazine as one of the “Most Powerful Women in Sports”, Allaster began her tenure as Chairman & CEO of the WTA in mid-2009 but her impact on the organization began while a member of the WTA’s Tournament Council in 2001.  As president of the WTA, Allastar brought innovation to women’s tennis by allowing for on-court coaching, electronic line calling, revised doubles scoring format.  She also was a champion of the Roadmap, the WTA’s long term strategic plan aimed at streamlining the calendar to enhance the overall health and well-being of the athletes and delivering top players on a more consistent basis to tournaments and fans.

Allaster was instrumental in the WTA’s longstanding quest to achieve equal prize money for women tennis players at all four Grand Slams, a feat finally completed in 2007 when Wimbledon and Roland Garros committed to offering equal prize money to male and female tennis players.  Moreover, Allaster helped secure equal and record prize money at the year-end Championships, adding to a total of ten equal prize money events.  Allastar’s tenure as Chairman & CEO has been marked by maximizing the WTA experience for fans, increasing sponsorship revenues, and enhancing the health and well-being of the athletes. Prior to joining the WTA, Allaster was President of Tennis Canada, where under her leadership, the Canadian Open (currently the Rogers Cup) witnessed the highest tournament revenues and attendance figures on the Tour.  Allaster holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Physical Education from the University of Western Ontario, and an MBA from the Ivey School of Business.

Lisa Baird – Since becoming CMO of the USOC in January 2009, Baird has signed nine new corporate partners and renewed seven others in one of the most challenging marketplaces in recent years. She launched a number of innovative new marketing platforms, including a national fundraising campaign – America Supports Team USA – and a program which enabled fans to follow the making of the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team – The Making of Team USA – Vancouver Bound.  Baird also refreshed the USOC brand and recently re-launched the licensing business under the Team USA brand mark. In addition, Baird has been a public proponent of strengthening anti-ambush measures for the sports industry and sponsored a proposition to prevent unfair advertising targeting Olympic sponsors, which was unanimously approved by the National Governing Body Council.

Prior to the USOC, Baird served as senior vice president of marketing and consumer products for the NFL where she directed the league’s consumer products, direct marketing, e-commerce, entertainment marketing and advertising programs.  Baird also worked at IBM, first as vice president of advertising and then as senior vice president of worldwide marketing communications where she led IBM’s global marketing communications initiatives, including advertising, sports marketing, direct marketing, events and digital marketing in more than 70 countries. Additionally, Baird was responsible for the IBM e-business campaign, which won the 2006 Grand Effie award.  She also held a series of marketing positions at General Motors, including a stint as chief creative officer of e-gm.  Baird is a graduate of Penn State University where she received a bachelor’s degree and MBA.

Wendy Lewis – A highly recognized executive for her pioneering career in creating opportunities for minorities and women, Lewis began her tenure at Major League Baseball in 1987 with the Chicago Cubs and joined MLB’s Central Office in 1995. As Senior Vice President of Diversity and Strategic Alliances for Major League Baseball, she implements MLB’s Diversity Economic Impact Engagement initiative (DEIE).  The DEIE is one of MLB’s newest initiatives to advance the level of MLB’s current workforce and supplier diversity efforts as well as create methodologies for cultural assessments, diversity economic platforms and industry-wide diversity training. She has developed an internal consultant model that is currently underway and will be utilized throughout MLB.  Lewis also established the team that developed MLB’s uniquely strategic talent pipeline, The Executive Development Program (EDP), a two-year rotational career development program whose goal is to add to MLB’s high-potential talent pool for MLB Clubs and the Central Office.  One of her most notable roles is managing the leadership of MLB’s Diverse Business Partners’ Program, the leading supplier diversity program in sports. This major league procurement initiative has produced significant economic opportunity for MLB, its franchises and local communities. Under Lewis’ leadership, a greater number of diverse businesses have had an opportunity to participate in the procurement process for MLB’s desired goods and services.  Her strategic implementation of the “DBP” Program has resulted in over $800 million dollars being spent with thousands of minority and women-owned businesses.

Prior to her current role at MLB, Lewis served as Vice President of Strategic Planning for Recruitment and Diversity following her position of Vice President of Human Resources and Office Operations. In these capacities, Lewis directed the recruitment, compensation, benefits, performance planning, training and development for MLB’s Central Office in New York and its satellite offices. Lewis has a BS in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh and an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

Additional information about WISE’s Women of the Year Luncheon, including purchasing of tickets and/or sponsorship can be found at www.WISEworks.org. Thanks to Rachel Gary for providing the information used in this post.