Geraldine Bernardo is a vibrant 46-year-old ‘emerging leader.’ In her own words, “I became an athlete at the ripe age of 37 and won my first gold medal at age 39. My sport is dragon boat racing, but I never tried it until I was an adult. When I was a child, I read about the sport and fell in love with it. It wasn’t until my life and career were falling apart because of company lay-offs and corporate lawsuits that I actually pursued my childhood passion.”
“Through sport, I was able to relieve stress in a healthy way. Playing on a team and focusing on a common goal helped me rise above my problems in the business world. Honestly, it saved my sanity.” Geraldine admitted that there was a time in her life that she thought she knew everything because she came from the corporate world, but she found that sports taught her many valuable lessons about life.
Through this experience, Geraldine wants to create a foundation or social enterprise that encourages greater participation in sports for girls and women, especially in rural and conflict regions. Because many families in the Philippines consider sport trivial, Geraldine’s new enterprise needs to be something inherent and appropriate in
Filipino culture – we believe cycling could be that perfect fit.
At Colavita, Geraldine will have the opportunity to design a community-based sports event using cycling. As part of this experience, Geraldine will be exposed to various marketing strategies, including the use of cycling to promote a social message. Geraldine has the vision to soar with these ideas and we are very excited about this match and the sustainability of this partnership.
Chyloe grew up in a mixed heritage home in Australia. Her father was a Muslim Turkish immigrant and her mother, a Hungarian Catholic refugee. Her home provided a very open environment that allowed for a lot of independence. Both parents were particularly committed to education for their children, which meant Chyloe was allowed to
participate in sports as long as she did well in school.
My parents were very much working class and as a result, I grew up in a really multi-cultural neighborhood. There were other families in the neighborhood from Turkey and Lebanon, but none who allowed their daughters to play sports. This realization made me even more thankful for my family, especially my father’s support.
Chyloe found that she was naturally talented at sports, especially Australian Rules Football. After a successful playing career, she has become the Female Football Development Manager at AFL Victoria. As Manager, Chyloe has implemented several successful community initiatives, including “Fair Play: Respect Matters” and “AFL Respect & Responsibility.” Through these programs, the AFL is spending $1.4 million over five years to raise awareness about gender violence and alcohol abuse prevention.
As Chyloe continues to grow the game of rugby in Australia and beyond, we think her experiences with the LPGA will be invaluable. There is great synergy between the LPGA and AFL as organizations and we believe Chyloe will certainly benefit from the LPGA’s extensive experience in promoting the women’s game of golf globally.
Cassia is the director of the department of management and strategic planning in Brazil’s Ministry of Sport. She is responsible for many of the policies and strategies related to the upcoming Olympics, World Cup, and the 2013 “National Year of the Woman in Sports.”
As part of her role at the Ministry of Sport, Cassia is responsible for creating policies that lessen gender inequalities. In addition, she is charged with increasing the number of women in sports administration positions and decreasing gender violence and workplace discrimination.
We need more women to direct policies in sport. The message of gender equality can’t stop with the University elite. We have to find a way to reach those individuals who do not have access to formal education… I hope that participation in this program will help me to develop my skills and increase my knowledge regarding all of these important matters facing women and girls in Brazil.
As P&G is one of the primary sponsors of the Olympic Games, we believe this relationship will be mutually beneficial and gratifying. Cassia can certainly learn from P&G’s strategies to market international events and conversely, P&G can forge new inroads for the upcoming Rio Games in 2016. P&G also offers cutting edge ways to think about digital, mobile, and social media to “reach the masses;” Cassia could use these strategies to promote her message of gender equality at the grassroots level. And lastly, P&G has a strong group of women in senior level management positions – something Cassia hopes to promote in her own country of Brazil.
Grace grew up in a rural village in Kenya with 8 brothers and sisters. Growing up, she never considered herself an “athlete,” but she always enjoyed playing sports and going to school. She credits her father for building her self-confidence because he supported her in both pursuits. “My father did the opposite of what African society thought was right. He educated us all. All seven girls. And because of him, I don’t see myself as a lesser human being.”
Grace completed her MBA at the University of Nairobi, with an emphasis in Marketing. After graduation, Grace was hired as a consultant to market a large sporting event in Kenya, something she never thought possible.
Through that experience, Grace realized the potential of sports marketing as a career and launched her very own Icon Sports Marketing Corporation – quite an incredible feat for anyone, but most certainly impressive for someone who has no other female mentors in the industry.
I had no clue how to work in sports marketing, but I did a lot of searching on the Internet. I googled as many U.S. sports marketing companies as I could find and became convinced that someone can earn a living by marketing sports. Every day, I just wake up and create my own sports packages but to talk to people who have actually done it would be so helpful.
Due to her business success, Grace’s influence extends beyond the sports world; she has very much become the face of women entrepreneurs in Kenya and is a perfect fit for Saatchi and Saatchi. At Saatchi, Grace will learn about sponsorships, contracts, and marketing from “people who have actually done it” and done it very well. We also believe Grace would be a powerful contributor to Saatchi’s “Viva Women” project to empower women and girls worldwide.
Ilina Arsova is an adrenaline sports enthusiast. She is a professional mountain climber, ski instructor, paraglider, and artist. In her words, she loves “feeling connected to the altitude, to the fresh air, and to the purity of nature.” Ilina uses her experiences on the mountain to inspire her artistic creations. Through mixed media, paintings, drawings, video, and installations, Ilina promotes ecological respect, discouraging pollution and overconsumption. She often re-uses materials considered waste and turns them into creative works of art. Her work has been shown all over the world, including China, Malaysia, New York, and Europe.
In addition to her artistic accomplishments, she is also the most respected female mountaineer in Macedonia. She holds the record in her country for the highest climb and most difficult assent. “Mountaineering is very fulfilling; I have learned a lot of lessons about how to survive. But also how to be grateful for the life we have and appreciate what is around us. Nature teaches us not only how to survive, but how to live.”
Donna and Ilina share a sincere appreciation for the great outdoors and a strong desire to increase women’s participation in outdoor sports. At Burton Snowboards, Donna started a Women’s Leadership Initiative to recruit, retain, and promote more females in the industry through mentorship. This professional experience is exactly what Ilina needs to jump start her own desires for more women to take part in the business of outdoor sports. Ilina’s vision is to organize the first Macedonian women’s expedition to climb the Himalayas and to encourage a younger generation of girls to take up adrenaline sports. After spending time with Donna at Burton, we know Ilina will be well on her way.
Aparna Popat began her sports journey as a six-year-old sitting in front of an old TV watching the 1984 L.A. Olympic Games. Even though no one in her family participated in sport, Aparna dreamed of competing in the Olympics. However, she knew the road would be difficult. “In India, it’s a bit of a challenge when girls want to take up sport. Sport is frowned upon in many cases. But in my case, my family was very supportive. I was fortunate.”
Aparna’s love for sport continues today. Currently, she is the managing director of the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOCL), the largest corporate sponsor of sporting activities in the country. The IOCL currently sponsors over 150 professional athletes across 19 different sports. Aparna is responsible for identifying talent, providing logistical support for exposure, recommending sports policies, and preparing the annual sports budget. Through this program, Aparna hopes to “bring sport out on a larger scale” and give girls the confidence they need “to find their feet in society.”
In addition to professional similarities between the IOCL and Saatchi & Saatchi in regards to corporate sponsorship, Aparna will be a fantastic contributor to the “Viva Women” campaign. Aparna has experienced sport at many different levels, including the Olympics, and is in a powerful position to make a difference in the lives of women and girls throughout India. We can’t wait to see the end result of this partnership with Saatchi & Saatchi. Viva Women!
From an early age, Grace Chirumanzu dreamed of becoming a star sports reporter. Quite a dream for a young girl living in a country where no female sports reporters existed. According to Grace, sports journalism is a field that many women avoid. In the newsrooms, women are either harassed or dismissed, which “discourages many women from trying.”
Currently, Grace is one of only four female sports reporters/journalists in the country. Through her blog and newspaper outlets, she continues to push for an increase in the quantity and quality of sports coverage for women and girls. “Women deserve to have their voices heard. I want to be the voice for the voiceless. I want to become the first female sports editor in Zimbabwe.”
As a reporter, Grace prides herself in uplifting female athletes, even when they have poor performances. “It is not my job to destroy someone’s personality, but to be constructively critical and to build them up.” The media has to highlight and inspire other women to take up sport and that won’t happen through condescending commentaries.
Grace encourages other female reporters to “look past the laptop on which they are typing to the lives and the people that are going to receive it.”
Grace wants to become the first female sports editor in Zimbabwe and we know just the person to help her achieve this dream. With a media production and editorial background, Senior Coordinating Producer of ESPN Tina Thornton is a perfect fit for coaching Grace to the top. Tina has extensive experience in production, but also in sales and revenue generation. If Grace is to become the editor of her own newspaper, we believe exposure to all levels of business will be critical to her success.
Melissa said playing sports and getting an education were her “ticket out of the inner city and into a better life.” She describes herself as “blessed and inspired.” Much of her success can be attributed to a supportive mother and father and a relentless determination to achieve her dreams and “find a way out.” The dire situation facing girls living in the inner cities of Kingston troubles Melissa at a very deep level. She has committed her life to using sports and education as a way to inspire local communities.
Girls in my community often grow up with abusive mothers and absent fathers. As a result, they suffer from low self-esteem and a lack of self-respect. Many of them are also suffering from extreme poverty and an overall sense of feeling ‘beaten down everywhere they turn in life. I believe sports and education are the best ways to prevent another hopeless generation of women.
The NCAA’s commitment to impacting the lives of young people through education and sport participation make Karen and Delise a perfect match for Melissa. We believe the NCAA experience will equip Melissa with new ideas for the National Basketball Programs and will provide her with the statistics she needs to encourage more girls to participate in sports. The NCAA is the best place to find the correlations between sport participation, graduation rates, and life skill development and we are excited to see how Melissa uses this experience to promote sport, life skills and education in Jamaica.
Adriana grew up outside of the capital city of Colombia. Her mother and father were both heavily involved in the health sector – her mother, a dietitian and her father, a doctor. Watching her family devote themselves to public service inspired Adriana to pursue a similar path serving others through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In her current position as the Sports, Education, and Cultural Advisor, Adriana is responsible for implementing a governmental program called the “Borders for Prosperity Plan.” Adriana travels all over the country to work in local townships creating formal sports programs for border issues, which includes extreme poverty, lack of educational opportunities, gang violence, and teenage pregnancy. “As you can guess, women and girls are most susceptible to these issues and as a result, many find themselves dropping out of school at an early age.” In the entire country, only 12% of the population receives a university degree; most Colombians are lucky to graduate high school and most girls are lucky to finish middle school.
Adriana is very committed to making a difference in the lives of women and girls in the border regions. She sees sport as a valuable way to teach self-confidence as well as an incentive to continue pursuing education. We believe the Women’s Sports Foundation is an ideal match. At WSF, Adriana will be exposed to (1) Advocacy and Research, (2) Development and Marketing, and (3) Grassroots Community Programming. She will be equipped with statistics, marketing strategies to increase buy-in, and community programming ideas. Having access to the GoGirlGo! curriculum and the Keep Her in the Game campaign will be invaluable to Adriana. We know the resources and insight Adriana will gain at the WSF will only propel her in her mission to improve the lives of young girls throughout Colombia.
As a child, Nneka Ikem loved sports. She played field hockey, basketball, and track and field. Nneka also had an independent mind. In her teenage years, she became “quite a handful” for her widowed father, who worked tirelessly at the local radio station.
To keep Nneka out of trouble, her father employed her at Radio Nigeria. At the studio, Nneka was initially responsible for transcribing BBC interviews and writing children’s programs. After several months at the station, the sports producer approached Nneka and asked her to write five minutes of sports news every day. After that experience, Nneka was hooked; it was “all sports, all the time!” Now Nneka is the manager of sports and outside broadcasts for the largest radio network in the country.
Nneka wants to use her platform to educate young girls in her community and inspire them to become sports journalists. As a woman, “You have to empower yourself. You have to find the courage to rise above your challenges. And you have to bring up young ones to believe this, to have confidence to achieve their dreams. Mothers are responsible for this belief, for the education of the next generation. If you train a girl, you will have trained a nation.”
Rosalyn Durant, vice president of ESPNU, is undoubtedly a great match for Nneka. Rosalyn has extensive mentoring experiences and will be able to share ideas with Nneka about revenue generation for her sports broadcasting company. Rosalyn asked for a sponge and we can safely say that Nneka is ready to soak it up and share everything she learns with the girls and women of Nigeria.
At age 8, Aziza Kayumova’s mother enrolled her in martial arts. At the time, it was relatively unheard of for a mother in Tajikistan to encourage her daughter to play sports.
According to Aziza, “Tajik culture frowns upon girls having hobbies like sports – girls should be at home studying, cooking, or looking after the other kids, not pursuing sport or education.” But Aziza’s mother was insistent. She wanted her daughter to be an athlete because she herself was denied the opportunity to participate.
Aziza fell in love with sport and began training with the junior national and national teams in taekwondo. Shortly before Aziza entered the university, her family experienced a period of financial difficulty. So Aziza went to the local gym where she trained and asked for a job. They gave her a job in the product shop; between work, school, and training, Aziza was busy from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. every day.
After several months, Aziza’s coach found out about her employment at the gym. He offered her a job as an assistant coach for the children’s program. Aziza fell in the love with coaching and it was the catalyst that allowed her to launch her very own Dance and Sport Federation. Despite her youth, Aziza has become one of the most highly respected coaches in Tajik circles.
Because of Aziza’s passion for dance and martial arts, we thought she would be a fantastic match for USA Gymnastics. As part of her experience, Aziza will help plan the “National Gymnastics Day,” an event proposed by First Lady Michelle Obama as part of the Let’s Move! Initiative. Although Aziza has some experience with event planning, this opportunity takes it to the next level. We are excited to see Aziza carry the torch for USA Gymnastics to the girls and women of Tajikistan.
Hongxia grew up in a rural province close to Beijing. When she was young, her parents took her to the capital city for the holidays. She fell in love with the sights and sounds of Beijing and promised herself one day she would live and work in the capital of her country.
As a child, Hongxia thoroughly enjoyed time with her father, learning to swim and play badminton. Although not a natural athlete, Hongxia loved sports. She knew from an early age that she wanted to work in the sports industry. Because she was not an athlete or enrolled in a sports school, she didn’t know if this dream would ever come true.
At the university, Hongxia studied law. Upon graduation, she searched for jobs that connected her legal background to sport. That’s when she found a position with the Ministry of Sport as the Director of Law and Regulation and her dreams to pursue sport in Beijing became reality.
Through the “O” Heroes program, Hongxia will be exposed to a comprehensive community development program led by elite level athletes. Hongxia will easily be able use this model to strengthen her promotion of the “sport for all” initiative in China. Through the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center in the Lundquist College of Business, Hongxia will have an insider’s look at the sports industry, including management, media, and marketing. The Warsaw Center is committed to international relations with China and sharing ideas and experiences through sports marketing exchange programs. We believe this partnership will be sustainable long after the official mentorship has ended.
Hermine E’Gairma is a FIBA-certified international basketball referee, a physical education teacher at a private, international school, and the president of the Women and Sports Commission for the Rwandan Olympic Committee.
Hermine is a role model for youth throughout Rwanda. She considers herself an “all-sport athlete” and continues to play tennis, basketball, handball, swimming, and volleyball on a regular basis. Because of her role as a physical educator and avid athlete, she is highly regarded as an expert on health, fitness, exercise, and sport.
As president of the Women and Sports Commission, Hermine dreams of using her position to increase sports opportunities for girls at the junior national level. According to Hermine, the Rwandan government is very supportive of gender balance throughout society including sports. By using government resources to build capacity for junior
national programs, more Rwandan women can represent their country in future Olympic Games.
We believe the USOC will be able to help Hermine understand the junior level training systems that produce Olympians in the United States. We also believe the USOC is a great match because of Hermine’s position as President of the Women and Sports Commission for the NOC of Rwanda. Hermine’s vision for Rwanda for peace and healing after such conflict and tragedy echoes the most fundamental ideals of the Olympic movement – how sport can be used to unite people of difference, promote friendship, and encourage peace between individuals. We believe the USOC can provide Hermine with the knowledge and resources she needs to implement sport initiatives that encourage and uplift women and girls of Rwanda.
Masany Gultom grew up as the youngest child in a family of six; her father served in the army and her mother stayed at home to care for the children. As a child, Masany did not have access to sport. Society frowned upon sport for women and girls; as a result, there were no sports leagues. In Masany’s words, “In my country, society says that women should not be athletes; there is no good that can come from that. Women should be housewives. They are responsible for the family.”
Despite her zeal for the Olympics and the sport industry, Masany pursued a degree in English. She was “supposed to be an English teacher,” but she says, “God led me to sport and I am just following.” Masany is currently the COO for all three basketball leagues in Indonesia, which are the “first sports companies in the country.” She is very excited to take part in this experience and to learn how to be more effective in her sports strategy. Although the leagues are very successful and she is considered one of the most powerful women in Indonesia sport, she is a self-proclaimed “rookie” when it comes to the sports industry.
We believe Under Armour offers Masany the best opportunity to learn the “101s” of sport management. At UA, Masany will be exposed to all facets of the company including marketing, distribution, public relations, event planning, creativity/design, and community outreach. UA already has an exceptional training program in place for interns to expose them to the entire company and we believe a modified version of this would be very beneficial for Masany.
Without a doubt, Masany will use these ideas to catapult the newly established Indonesian Women’s Basketball League to the next level.
Dina Ibrahim grew up in a Christian home in Cairo and attended the English school, where she was exposed to swimming and several other sports. She fell in love with the water and dedicated herself to becoming a national team swimmer.
Through sport, Dina developed self-confidence and learned invaluable life lessons. In the her words, “Swimming taught me the meaning of commitment and discipline. I learned the meaning of success but I also learned how to get back up, how to succeed after being knocked down.”
Despite serious cultural constraints, Dina achieved national acclaim for swimming and also completed a degree in Economics, a field typically reserved for males. Dina credits swimming with teaching her how to compete, lead, and finish.
Through this experience, Dina hopes to learn how to: (a) increase female sport participation in Egypt, specifically swimming, (b) raise awareness about the benefits of sport participation for girls using the school system and media outlets, (c) encourage federation support of female sports programs, and (d) develop and market her own swimming academies that promote life skill development through sport.
At Stanton, Dina will learn successful strategies to market a new swim academy and encourage buy-in among girls, parents, teachers, and community leaders. With Stanton & Company’s expertise in marketing, branding, and girl power, we think Stanton is the perfect match for Dina.
Tilabilenji Mvunga grew up in Zambia in a very athletic household. Her father played soccer and her mother played netball. “From an early age, I had no choice but to love sports!”
Unfortunately, most girls in her community are discouraged from playing sports. “Girls are supposed to have chores, like helping their mother cook, clean, wash dishes, and look after other children. They are supposed to ‘do what a woman is made to do.’” In addition to a lack of sports opportunities, girls are often required to drop out of school to help around the house. In Zambia, school costs money. Not everyone in the family gets to go and more often than not, it is the girl child who is asked to stay home. Tilabilenji is trying desperately to reach the girls of her community through sports programming.
Currently, she is the site coordinator for Sport in Action, an NGO that uses sport to teach life skills and educate individuals living with HIV. In addition to her position with Sport in Action, she also coaches the under-16 co-ed Volleyball National Team.
Tilabilenji wants to use her positions as coach and as site coordinator to increase the number of women and girls playing sports in her local community and to empower them to make smarter decisions with their bodies. Gatorade’s expertise in promoting relevant social messages through sports camps will help Tilabilenji accomplish her dreams for girls in her local community.
Marina Levchenko grew up dreaming about the Olympics with her eye on becoming part of the Olympic movement. Of course, she marveled at the amazing strength, speed, and skill of the athletes. But it wasn’t athletic prowess alone that captivated Marina; it was the “special mission of peace and friendship” that she found so inspiring.
Eventually, Marina Levchenko dreams came true. Although not an Olympic athlete, Marina currently is employed as a senior official in the Russian Olympic Committee. She is one of only a handful of women who work in the ROC, particularly at such a high level. Unfortunately, her road to the Olympics has been less than perfect and riddled with
During her university years, Marina studied law and was one of very few women who had ever graduated with honors. As a female student, she was mocked, harassed, or dismissed by most men in positions of authority. She was rarely taken seriously and she felt that she had to work much harder than her male counterparts to achieve success or recognition.
In Russia, women are responsible for the home and a career and they have to do both exceptionally well. They have to outperform their male colleagues at work and carry the load of the household. It’s a very difficult task that discourages many women from high-performing careers.
For Marina, we believe WICT is the solution. WICT offers a comprehensive program devoted to pay and equity research and is very proactive in advancing women in leadership positions. At WICT, Marina will gain access to a toolkit focused on women’s leadership, including management styles, buy-in, communication strategies, and negotiation skills. Marina will also be exposed to many women in senior level decision-making positions, which will expand her network of support and hopefully inspire her to continue pushing for equity in the workplace.
Chief Teaching Officer and President of LPGA Foundation, LPGA
Group Director - Sponsorship & Experiential Marketing, Saatchi & Saatchi LA
Director of Training Sites & Community Partnerships, US Olympic Committee
Director of Business Affairs and Olympic Relations, USA Gymnastics
Vice President - Programming and Acquisitions, ESPN
Senior Coordinating Producer, ESPN
Chief Diversity Officer, University of Central Florida
CEO, Women's Sports Foundation
Communications Director, Saatchi & Saatchi LA
Senior Manager - Marketing Operations, Under Armour
Director of Governance & International Affairs, NCAA
Assistant Director of Marketing, Colavita
President/CEO, Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT)
Director - Global and Women's Sports Marketing, Under Armour
Director of Student-Athlete Community Outreach, University of Oregon
Vice President - Brand Marketing, Gatorade
Global Client Partner, Google
Founder/CEO, Stanton & Co.