Luz Amuchastegui does it all – she is a field hockey superstar, a social rights activist, a consultant, and an accomplished entrepreneur. Luz currently serves as the program director for El Desafío (“The Challenge”) and as co-founder of not one but two small companies – Evolution Factory and Keep Going Hockey. She has accomplished all of this by the ripe, young age of 30, which speaks volumes about her ambition and desire to make a difference.
During the week, Luz serves as the sports director for El Desafío, an after-school program for impoverished youth. At El Desafío, she works closely with the children to provide education, sports, music, art, and job skills training. The children Luz works with are from “shanty towns,” some of the poorest and roughest neighborhoods in the city. “Of course, there are many challenges working with children living in these neighborhoods – they lack means and resources, but most importantly, they lack hope. They lack self-esteem, opportunities, and positive role models.”
Through her work, Luz inspires girls to believe in their talent, intelligence, and dreams and to envision having a successful future. “Last week, our group of teenage girls went to visit a public university. It was their first time on a university campus. The girls asked a lot of questions. I could see the excitement on their faces; they were visualizing themselves there as students, as females with a purpose and future. Even when things are exhausting, I am reminded of this day and why I love my job.”
On the weekends, Luz runs her hockey foundation, Keep Going Hockey. Luz organizes clinics for field hockey goalkeepers to train the next generation of aspiring young athletes. “Through goalkeeper academies, my partner and I train approximately 40 field hockey goal keepers a year from all over the country.” And when she is not performing her duties at these two organizations, Luz serves as a social innovation business consultant for her secondary corporation, Evolution Factory.
“In my line of work, being a woman is hard, especially in the neighborhoods we serve. Males in these neighborhoods don’t respect women at all. They don’t even respect their own mothers. They see them as only the person who cooks for them. So even though I am older, a teacher, and more experienced, I still have to find ways for them to respect me. So it’s not only about empowering girls in these neighborhoods, its about changing the way boys think about girls and men think about women. It’s about training a new generation.”
Luz wants to use this Global Sports Mentoring experience to create a job-skills training program for the girls of Rosario. Using field hockey as the draw, she wants to challenge girls to dream beyond “motherhood and cooking” and see that women can be empowered business leaders and innovators in society. We believe the team at Saatchi & Saatchi is an excellent fit. Luz’s creativity, drive, and poise are a great match for Joan and the Saatchi team. We can’t wait to see what these brilliant minds create together.
Daniela Castro grew up playing sports in a French boarding school in São Paulo, Brazil. She loved team sports especially and had a great passion for basketball and volleyball. Unfortunately, Daniela wasn’t very tall and her teachers discouraged her from continuing because of her height. This was very frustrating for her. “I loved sport. It was important to me. But I wasn’t tall enough. My professor hid me away. This is the problem in Brazil. Our society doesn’t value sport as a tool for development. Sport is only for the elite. Our children are missing opportunities to learn life lessons because it’s all about the medals.”
Daniela understood at an early age the societal inequities that existed, not just in sport, but within her community. Her passion for sport was superseded only by her nationalism and desire to positively influence change in Brazil. “Since I was little, I wanted to do something for my country. From a very early age, I knew I wanted to work for human rights. This is what defines me.”
Daniela pursued a bachelor’s degree in law and a master’s in economics and public policy. For more than ten years, Daniela worked with an NGO teaching individuals living in poverty how to improve their situation through community development and human rights campaigns. Now Daniela is the manager of a sports organization, Athletes for Citizenship, which combines her love of sports with her passion for social issues. Athletes for Citizenship is comprised of 60 former athletes who promote legislative changes around sport for development issues as directed by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
“In Brazil, we don’t have a culture of advocacy organizations. It’s very different from the U.S. We don’t have grassroots sports. We don’t have people advocating for better public policies. But there is great political power and respect for elite athletes in our society. With the upcoming World Cup, it’s important for our organization of elite athletes to take advantage and create awareness about sport as a tool for development. We not only want to mobilize the cities, but the people, the park systems, and the teachers to explain to them how sports can improve education, recreation, and development.”
With Brazil playing host to the World Cup and Olympics, Daniela has an incredible platform to raise awareness about social issues affecting girls and women in Brazil. Using the celebrity status of former Olympians and elite athletes, Daniela’s organization is in the process of launching a national campaign. With guidance and support from Olympic sponsor P&G and marketing extraordinaire Julie Eddleman, we believe Daniela and her team will have the knowledge and resources they need to make her human rights campaign very successful.
Karo Lelai grew up in the culturally rich and exceptionally diverse country of Papua New Guinea (PNG). With more than 800 languages and as many different cultures, Karo developed an appreciation for diversity at a very early age. Her father and mother both served as high school teachers. As teachers, her parents were relocated every 2-3 years, serving a number of different students throughout the country. Sometimes her family lived in a city, but other times, they lived in the bush, on the coast, or in a remote village. Although the transitions were difficult at times, it allowed Karo to see and appreciate all of PNG and to develop a passion for improving her country.
As a child, Karo loved playing outside. There were no televisions at that time, not even in the capital city. Radios were available, but very few owned them, and there were no telephones. To stay in the house meant chores or homework, so most all of the neighborhood kids begged to play outside. As a result, Karo developed her athleticism by playing silly neighborhood games, like ‘Chasey-Chasey’ and ‘Dodge-ball.’
Although Karo’s family was very athletic and supportive of Karo’s passion for sports, education was the priority of the household. As the eldest child, it was important for Karo to set the bar high for her younger siblings. After graduating high school, Karo earned her undergraduate degree in law from the local university. During that time, she also represented the PNG National Basketball Team and led them in several important international victories. After law school, she began her private practice before moving into her current corporate position at Petromin Oil, specializing in commercial and resource law. Last year, Karo completed her MBA, while juggling her full-time work at Petromin, her family (4 children), and the creation of a semi-professional women’s basketball team.
Through this program, Karo hopes to gain advice on how to manage her newly developed semi-pro league for women. She also hopes to increase the number of girls participating in youth leagues, not only to improve the overall sport infrastructure but for the values and lessons sports can teach.
“I strongly believe that sports have the power to unite the different people and cultures of PNG in a way that not many other things can. It can teach important life skills such as teamwork, self-discipline, and leadership, all important attributes for females. If implemented correctly, sport can also serve as a source of income for females in our country. PNG is a very communal society – whatever decision I make affects my entire family. Without pay, it is difficult to keep girls and women in sports. Girls are turning to prostitution at really young ages in order to bring home some form of income to their family. Through basketball, I believe we can help address these societal issues in some small way.”
We believe Laurel and Donna at the WNBA will be outstanding mentors to help Karo achieve her professional goals. The WNBA has been in operation for 15 years and has found its niche in the sports world. Together, we can’t wait to see how Karo and the WNBA creatively problem-solve ways to grow the sport of women’s basketball in PNG and find ways to professionalize the game.
Zola Ndlovu was born into a segregated South Africa. As a young black girl growing up under the apartheid, life was not easy. Poverty and lack of opportunities were just a few of the challenges. “Fortunately for me, I was able to attend a better school – a white school – where I was given the encouragement and opportunities to play sports. Parents are not really supportive in Black African communities. But because I went to a mixed school, the teachers were really supportive and they encouraged me to follow my dreams in the sports field. Sports became a part of me, more than just a routine. They are my passion.”
Zola’s love for sport taught her many life lessons, including discipline, leadership, and assertiveness. “In life, you have to learn how to have social relationships with people. Sport taught me how to do this. It helped me be more confident, more outspoken, and less shy. It also kept me from the temptations that so many other girls my age were facing like drugs, alcohol abuse, and teenage pregnancy. I am so thankful I had sports as a girl. And it is my duty to provide this outlet for others.”
Zola continued her education at the university where she studied sport management. Several years after graduation, Zola earned a position as Sports Officer at the Thekwini Municipality Department of Sport and Recreation Development. As the Sports Officer, Zola works with disadvantaged children from post-apartheid communities to create sport and life skills programs. She recently was selected to serve on the Women and Sport Commission and has an even greater platform now to implement change.
According to Zola, “Women in South Africa are supposed to stay at home, cook, clean, and look after the babies. Sport is not really encouraged for females. This is one of our greatest challenges – overcoming ideas about women and their place in society. We have to encourage parents to understand the benefits of sport for children. Children can learn to be responsible, to be healthy, to be active, to be disciplined, and to improve their concentration and academic performance. Participating in this program will not only benefit me. It will benefit all of South Africa.”
Through this program, Zola wants to learn how to increase female participation in sports and physical activity, how to market and promote her sports programs to girls and parents, how to partner with other NGOs, and how to secure funding from corporations. We believe Norma and the team at New Balance are an amazing fit. With their commitment to women, their global reach, and their dedication to get children moving, we think Zola’s experience will be an unforgettable one. We look forward to the ways that Zola and team New Balance will work together to promote physical activity for girls in South Africa and for the follow-on opportunities to continue their support of Zola in her mission when she returns home.
Hayam was raised in Cairo, Egypt with a basketball in her hands. Her family introduced her to the sport at a very early age and it was love at first sight. For more than twenty years, Hayam played basketball at the highest levels in Egypt, representing both her university and the national team.
As a basketball player, Hayam was selected team captain of the premier women’s team. Hayam served in that role as a spokesperson and assistant to the coach for five years. “During that time, I learned a lot. I learned that women are very absent in decision-making positions. Women play sports, but they do not make decisions about the sports they play. There are no female referees, coaches, or administrators. As the assistant to the coach, girls on the team came to me with problems they would never tell a man. I learned how much females are needed in that space.”
Now Hayam is a supervisor for two women’s basketball teams in Egypt and the only female serving on the governing basketball committee. As the supervisor, Hayam is responsible for managing all logistics, administration, and evaluation of player/coach performance. On the basketball committee, Hayam advocates for women’s opportunities and inclusion and works tirelessly to promote fair policies through governance. Although she faces many challenges, she sees the mentoring program as an opportunity to do something positive for her country and make real change in Egypt.
“I love challenges. I enjoy the hard work that comes with it and nothing is more fulfilling to me than seeing this hard work pay off. I strive to be a source of motivation to others; I always try to maintain a positive and upbeat attitude to bring hope and enthusiasm to the people around me. I am willing to make every effort to pass on the knowledge I will gain through this program to others. We have a rising generation of players who want to make change in our country, to knock off the dust from Egypt and rise up to the challenges that people are facing everywhere. This opportunity is so much bigger than just me. It’s a chance for me to do something for my country and to learn how to rebuild Egypt through sport.”
Through this program, Hayam wants to create space for women to become sports leaders in a predominately male sports environment. She also wants to enhance her leadership skills, improve her communication, learn new negotiation strategies, and refine her ability to mentor others. We believe Christine, Sandy, and the team at The PGA of America are the perfect mentors to help Hayam achieve these goals.
As two women in a predominately male space, Sandy and Christine have valuable lessons on leadership, teamwork, and negotiation to share with Hayam. In addition, Christine’s work in policy and governance will be tremendous value added to Hayam’s experience and her personal goals to promote fairness and inclusion. With the help of Sandy and Christine at PGA of America, we believe Hayam can learn the skills she needs to carve a new space for women at the governing table and achieve her dream of becoming board president.
Maria grew up in the golden age of communist gymnastics. During that time in the 80s, the Soviets reigned supreme and battled other Eastern European countries for a number of gymnastic titles. Maria’s father, a sports journalist, was excited for his daughter to be a part of this Olympic movement. He went to multiple gyms trying to enroll Maria into their gymnastic programs, but was turned away. Based on her parent’s height, coaches determined that the four-year-old Maria would grow too tall to be a gold medalist. And they were interested in champions, not ‘charity.’
Finally, after great persistence, Maria’s father found a gym willing to accept his daughter into the program. As a rising star, Maria sacrificed a great deal to make the National Rhythmic Gymnastics team. At 14, she was training more than 12 hours a day. She no longer went to school; instead, the teachers came to her. She practiced in dimly lit, crumbling buildings leftover from the communist system; there was no heating or air conditioning, just the mat, the team, and the coaches.
“The coaches during that time had very strong personalities. It was a communistic era and the coaches behaved that way. We couldn’t say anything to them about how we feel. They used us like a material to achieve their goals. It was more about their career than it was about us. There were days when I was physically and emotionally exhausted. But you have to continue to push yourself to the limit because you have no choice. Sometimes you even cross the line. I learned from this experience that the human being is the most important thing and that the human being has limits.”
After much success in the national ranks, Maria finished her career determined to change the way rhythmic gymnastics were practiced in Bulgaria. As a Senior Lecturer in the National Sports Academy, Maria is responsible for educating the next generation of coaches and sports managers in new methods of training and psychology. She also runs her own rhythmic gymnastics club, in which more than 100 young girls participate. Maria was also recently invited by the Bulgarian President to serve on the Scientific Advisory Committee to the National Gymnastics Federation. Because of her positions in the educational, governance, and private sector, Maria has the platform to influence tremendous change in Bulgaria.
Through this program, Maria wants to make gymnastics accessible for all girls in Bulgaria, regardless of physical stature, ability, or socioeconomic status. She believes the lessons learned in sport are important for female development and should not be limited to the elite performers. She sees this program as a chance to improve her managerial, training and entrepreneurial skills. We believe Sarah and her team at USGA are a great fit for Maria’s goals.
At the USGA, Sarah and her team specialize in several key areas: research, infrastructure, and training young professionals. Research is a key component to the USGA experience and one that has great crossover with Maria’s goals. Through research, the team at USGA explores barriers to the game (e.g. pace of play) and works to remove or reduce those barriers to create the infrastructure needed to grow the game. Maria will learn new strategies that she can apply to rhythmic gymnastics, reducing the barriers that prevent young girls from entering the sport. In addition, the USGA has an extensive Boatwright Internship Program that trains young professionals to become golf administrators. We believe this model could be implemented in Bulgaria to promote the number of females in sports administration, multiplying Maria’s efforts to introduce a new philosophy of sport. We are excited to see the way these scholars brainstorm solutions to improve the situation for women and girls in Bulgaria.
As a professional in public relations, Barbara never dreamed of working in the sports industry. Although she loved playing sports as a child, sports administration careers for women were almost non-existent. “I fell into a sport career by total accident while working for a major PR firm. One day, the company assigned me to do PR for the Kenya Cricket Association. My director gave me the cricket account to handle, but told me it was small fish. Well, that small fish has been the greatest experience of my life. It changed my focus. I didn’t plan to go into sport, but it has been the best thing that has happened to me.”
Now Barbara has become the first female sports administrator for two heavily male-dominated sports – rugby and cricket. After rebuilding the Kenya Rugby Union and creating a semi-professional national men’s team, Barbara was hotly pursued by Cricket Kenya to be the General Manager and restore their status in the International Cricket Council. “Ten years ago, Cricket Kenya was on the verge of being admitted to the ICC, but failed. My role was to take us back there through a series of targeted activities, which included putting the right people in the right job. This is a crucial year for us as we must gain acceptance to the ICC and qualify for the World Cup 2015.”
In her immediate past role as GM, Barbara managed 16 staff, 40 volunteers, and a $1 million dollar (USD) budget. She oversaw events, player relations, stakeholder relations, international governance, media, fundraising, sponsorship, and team operations. Barbara was responsible for providing operational leadership and strategic direction, while also spearheading the development of the women’s cricket program and professionalizing the sport.
In her current role as a Consultant for the International Rugby Board, Barbara is conducting reviews on Associated Member Unions and working with them on their governance and administration and strategic planning development. The countries covered include the East Africa countries as well as Ethiopia, Ghana and Lesotho. A special emphasis being given to develop the women’s game.
“Through this program, I want to gain insights into how to run a successful, profitable, and sustainable sporting organization. I want to learn how to successfully integrate females into the overall league structure, both on the field and in administrative positions. And I want to increase the number of girls who are participating in the sport and to raise up a new generation of role models for the girls of Kenya.”
As an Emerging Leader in the GSMP, Barbara hopes to improve her management skills, develop player and training pathways for female athletes and administrators, create a year-round competition schedule, promote branding and merchandising, and negotiate sponsorships and television contracts. We believe Lori LeBas and her team at ESPN are the right fit to help Barbara achieve her goals.
At ESPN, Lori oversees the sales and marketing department and handles business operations for television contracts, advertisements, distribution, and licensing. Lori’s team interacts with almost every department at ESPN and generates nearly 100% of the revenue that drives the business. We believe Barbara will benefit greatly from a managerial and operations perspective as well as learning about generating revenue, licensing products, and establishing television contracts. We look forward to the ways these top-level executives team up to create more opportunities for women and girls of Kenya to pursue their sports dreams.
AdaMark was the third of 1o children and the first daughter born into a large, but close-knit family. Growing up, she had three older brothers who played sports, especially squash, lawn tennis, and basketball. As a child, AdaMark always joined in the games. Only later did she realize the societal differences that existed between boys and girls in sport.
“Being the first girl, I didn’t think there was a gender difference. I didn’t grow up to know that. I thought we were all the same. But in school, I realized no other girls were playing many sports….it wasn’t encouraged. I had to find a different way to feel empowered.”
At the age of 26, AdaMark ran for the Nigerian House of Representatives and won. She is the only woman from her district to ever accomplish such a feat. This victory was a launch pad for AdaMark’s career and served as an inspiration to many women and girls in her community. “I believe that the human race is a two-winged bird (male and female) and unless the two are equally developed, it won’t be able to fly. This is why as a young woman I went into politics, believing I could make a difference and trusting that if I couldn’t change everything, I could at least show that change was possible.”
Using her political platform, AdaMark sought to empower young women and girls by developing policies that encouraged greater access to education. In her district, girls were dropping out of school very early, which resulted in low self-esteem, depression, and a high rate of teenage pregnancy and HIV transmission. Her involvement in politics proved less effective than she had hoped; as a politician, she could push for new policies, but she always felt two steps removed from the population that she was hoping to reach. After a few years, she left politics and served as one of the few Nigerians to have volunteered and worked for the United Nations in post-conflict zone of West Africa. She then continued her leadership in voluntarism by establishing her own foundation, the AdaMark Foundation for Girls.
Through her foundation, AdaMark seeks to empower young women and girls through sports and education. Using the United Nations Millennium Development Goals as her guide, AdaMark provides activities that promote gender equity, human rights, public health, and equal access to resources. “Through my foundation, I want to spread awareness about the importance of giving girls equal opportunities. Through proactive trainings and preventive intervention strategies, we want to empower young girls to become strong advocates on their own behalf and to speak out when their rights are being violated.”
Through this program, AdaMark hopes to develop her skills in event management, marketing, and social messaging. She also hopes to gain insight into voluntarism and better ways to mobilize local stakeholders. Currently, AdaMark is coordinating one of the largest basketball tournaments in Nigeria. She looks forward to learning new ways that she can market this event, increase overall participation, and manage it more efficiently. She also anticipates that she will learn how to improve her own mentoring skills so she can train the next generation of female leaders. We believe there is no greater fit for AdaMark than Mary and her team at New York Road Runners.
At New York Road Runners, AdaMark will be exposed to one of the most successful non-profit organizations in the country. She will have an opportunity to learn cutting-edge management skills, including finance, strategy planning, infrastructure, and operations. In addition, she will receive practical training in event management, voluntarism, youth programming, sponsorships, and partnerships. We are excited by the synergy that exists between AdaMark and Mary and can’t wait to see the ways they will improve the lives of young Nigerian women and girls through sport.
Fatima Saleem was born to deliver the news. From an early age, she understood the power of information and the ways information shaped public perception. “History is explained through the eyes of journalists,” so within journalism there is great power. Fatima’s position as one of the only female sports journalists in Karachi provides a unique perspective on sports news.
“My vocation as a sports journalist combines two distinct passions of my life, the power of information and my love of sports. I joined the world of electronic media in Pakistan in its infancy. In a country where people were finally able to receive a narrative other than that espoused by the government, everyone wanted to know the news and I wanted to be there to help them receive it.”
Growing up, Fatima was a fan of many sports, including cricket, football, basketball, and tennis. She also was an avid swimmer and dreamed of becoming an Olympic champion. Unfortunately, pursuing that dream was difficult. Fatima needed a female coach who could take her to the next level; she also needed a culturally appropriate place to swim or a swimsuit with long tights. Although the challenges were not insurmountable, they made it difficult to continue. In the end, no one pushed Fatima to swim and she lost interest in this dream. “I became lazy. I should have pushed myself, even if I had to wear tights under my swimsuit. I gave up on my dream and it was a mistake. I don’t want other girls to make the same mistake. I want to push them to follow their dreams.”
As a female sports reporter in Pakistan, Fatima has faced many challenges in pursuing her career. When it comes to Fatima’s new set of challenges, she is not giving up. Through this mentoring program, she hopes to meet other women who can give her the guidance and advice she needs to become a mentor to other aspiring sports journalists. She wants to train the next generation of female sports reporters by introducing sport courses in schools and by starting clubs or academies for underprivileged girls. We believe ESPN can offer Fatima the tools and resources she needs to forge new paths for the next generation. We look forward to the mentorship that will take place between Fatima and Jodi Markley, senior vice president of operations at ESPN.
Majidah Nantanda was raised in a family of all boys, she had four brothers total, two older and two younger. As a child, Majidah grew up believing she too was a boy, with all the same rights and privileges. She played outside with her brothers, competing against the other neighborhood boys in friendly soccer matches. She was quite good and her brothers were happy to have her on their team. In fact, they would even help Majidah do her chores so they could all play together.
As Majidah grew older, she began to recognize the differences in cultural expectations for girls and boys. As a young female, Majidah could not play soccer in school since it was not offered or allowed for females. Unlike her brothers, Majidah had chores to complete before she could go outside, which included cooking and cleaning for the family.
As the only girl on the pitch, Majidah was often ridiculed for pushing the cultural boundaries. Adults in the neighborhood would scorn her mother for allowing her to play such a masculine sport. People would say, “It’s not appropriate for a girl to play football. Girls should be in the kitchen cooking or doing some washing. Girls playing football is not natural.”
Despite the setbacks, Majidah persisted and became the best soccer player in the neighborhood and the only female. Because of her talent, other girls in the neighborhood would come to watch. “I was the best one on the field. Boys wanted me on their team. And I would say, ‘If you want me on your team, you have to let two or three other girls play as well.’ That’s how I got other girls involved in football.”
At 16, Majidah tried out for the national women’s soccer team. “My brother came home one day and told me there was a national football team for women! Imagine my surprise! There were other girls and women in Uganda playing football! My brother was so happy for me. ‘Majidah, you can do it!’ he said. He believed in me so much. He drove me to the tryouts. And at 16, I made the team. I trained for three years with the national team and in 1999, I played my first international game.” From that point on, Majidah never looked back.
Currently, Majidah serves as the head coach for the Ugandan Women’s National Soccer Team. Through this experience, she wants to improve her sport management skills, including public relations, grant-writing, sponsorship, and community partnerships. She also wants to develop a “Train the Trainer” program so that other women in Uganda can teach soccer to girls throughout the country. We believe Alicia and her team at the USOC are a great fit for Majidah. As the Director of Training Sites and Community Partnerships, Alicia can mentor Majidah in community collaboration and resource acquisition. In addition, Alicia’s hands-on approach to mentoring will also serve as a great model of professional development that Majidah can replicate as she creates her own mentoring and training programs.
Nancy Chavez comes from a family of service – her father was a policeman, and her mother a schoolteacher. Unfortunately, Nancy lost her father when she was young and that loss sent Nancy into a state of depression. After her father’s death, she searched for meaning and a way to bring joy and happiness to her life again. She found that joy in sport.
Nancy began skateboarding when she was 11. She loved the way the board made her feel – strong, empowered, confident, and healthy. While skateboarding is very popular in Peru, Nancy was the only female skater in her neighborhood. She gathered her girlfriends and encouraged them to try it also. Together they formed their first tournament, which allowed them to meet girls from other cities who liked to skate. That was the beginning of PeruSkateGirl.
What started as a handful of girls on boards is now a fully operational non-profit with over 800 female skaters participating in clinics, tournaments, and weekly activities. “PeruSkateGirl has been quite a journey and I am very happy about our progress. I didn’t create it for the numbers. I created it so other girls could experience happiness like I did. Girls today have so much free time and in that free time, bad decisions are made, like drugs, pregnancy, and gangs. PeruSkateGirl is a place where girls can feel good about themselves and learn to achieve things in life, to be healthy and productive individuals.”
Nancy funds PeruSkateGirl through her own work as a freelance journalist and photographer. Nancy also maintains the extensive social media sites and works in local communities to attract and retain young girls in the program. She also arranges speaking seminars to promote anti-drug use and to counsel young girls battling depression.
Through this program, Nancy hopes to expand her efforts with PeruSkateGirl. She would like to learn new media strategies to improve her branding and marketing efforts. She would also like to increase donations from sponsors so that more girls can have a board and learn to skate. Nancy wants to develop a “Train the Trainer” program so that PeruSkateGirl can expand to other cities throughout the country and help more girls in need. We believe the LPGA is the organization to help Nancy achieve her dreams.
Under the tutelage of Heather and Mindy, we know Nancy will receive the knowledge and foundation she needs to be successful in both areas of her work: communications and event management. As the Director of Media Relations, Heather will be instrumental in helping Nancy promote her brand through various social media sites and public relations pieces. With her hands in event management, tour operations, and logistics, Mindy will be able to help Nancy with the logistics of organizing her skateboarding tournaments and increasing overall participation. Together, we believe this is a dynamite mentoring team for Nancy and will help her spread the positive messages of PeruSkateGirl throughout the country.
Growing up, Yu-Hsien Tseng faced many challenges as a female athlete. Because of her muscular appearance and stature, she was often ridiculed by peers, teachers, fans, and reporters. For Yu-Hsien, these derogatory comments were demoralizing. Yu-Hsien believes athletes should be judged by their performance, not their appearance. In Yu-Hsien’s words, “Commentators would always judge me by my appearance. They think I am too big because I am bigger than the other girls. They always put me down. This is very harmful to young female athletes. Girls need to know that it’s not important what you look like; it’s important if you can perform well in your sport. Girls deserve to be strong and confident in who they are.”
Yu-Hsien’s experiences in sport led her to a master’s and Ph.D. in sport and gender, specifically studying gender stereotypes in sport. Now Yu-Hsien is a coach, researcher, professor, and coveted public speaker. She also serves as a board member for the Taiwan Gender Equity Education Association, where she leads discussions and training seminars on the relation between sports and gender equity. In her various roles, Yu-Hsien passionately instructs teachers, coaches, and students on the benefits of athletics for girls and the need to eliminate stereotypes. Yu-Hsien is uniquely positioned to empower females in the classroom, in the boardroom, and on the court through various coaching programs, speaking seminars, and university courses.
“My experiences in sport have made me a better teacher. And they made me more powerful as a person. They taught me not to fear being different, but to embrace my talents and uniqueness. I want to encourage girls to participate in sports to improve their confidence. And I want to create more opportunities for girls to pursue sports careers. Through this program, I would like to learn more about U.S. policies like Title IX. And I’m very interested in learning how to organize groups of people to promote women’s sports, like how to connect government with universities and NGOs to create a Women’s Sports Association.”
We believe a mentorship experience with the NCAA is an ideal fit. Under Delise at the NCAA, Yu-Hsien will have the opportunity to see the way sport is governed in the U.S., how it is structured within the educational system, and how legislation like Title IX has helped change gender imbalances in sport. With Karen’s expertise as the director of gender inclusion with oversight in media, Title IX, LGBTQ, and women’s professional development, all of Yu-Hsien’s passions and interests for women’s issues in sport will be met. We believe there is no better place than the NCAA for Yu-Hsien and are excited about this partnership.
As a child, Aisha Nassanga lived a self-described “privileged life.” Her father was on the national soccer team, which allowed her to attend one of the best schools in the country. At school, she was exposed to a number of different sports, including cricket, basketball, netball, running, and swimming. Although she loved sports, her studies were also very important to her; she stopped playing sports in secondary school to focus all of her attention on her academic work. “After primary school, girls don’t have the luxury of continuing in sports. You must pass the exams to get to the next level. For me, I stepped away from sports and gave all my attention to books, books, books.”
Aisha later went to the university, where she received a bachelor’s degree in International Business. Her first internship after graduation was in the marketing department at a local broadcast station. After several months, one of the producers asked her to try out for the sports radio show. To her surprise, she liked it and was very successful. After radio, they asked her to be on television and gave her the opportunity to cover the Olympic Games and the World Cup. She was hooked!
Aisha is now a committed sports reporter and strong advocate for female athletes in Uganda. She feels a tremendous responsibility to use her platform to promote women’s sports and to challenge the discriminatory practices that exist for aspiring women in sports media. “We have many sports for women. Unfortunately, the males are not going to cover it. So if you are a female and you don’t cover women’s sports, then it won’t get covered. As women, we owe this to one another.”
Through this program, Aisha hopes to create pathways for other women to enter the field of sports media and to combat the discrimination and harassment that currently exists in the newsroom and in the locker rooms. She wants to change the culture and perception that women are not capable of handling certain jobs and to present herself as a positive role model for others. We believe the female leadership under Allyson and her team at Coca- Cola provides Aisha with the role models she needs to make an even greater impact in Uganda.
At The Coca-Cola Company, Aisha will find strong women in positions of leadership who will be able to share their own challenges as females and offer advice on generating respect and credibility in the field. Under Allyson, Aisha will receive specific training in the field of communications and how to market herself as a female leader worthy of promotion. During her mentorship, Aisha will also have access to two of The Coca-Cola Company’s very important initiatives: Active Healthy Living and 5by20 (women’s economic empowerment). Aisha has a tremendous platform with her own shows on national radio and national television. We believe the experience at The Coca-Cola Company will equip Aisha with the resources she needs to change public opinion about the role of women and girls in Ugandan society and will drive national attention to issues of health, physical activity, and women’s empowerment. We are excited to see the results.
By the age of 11, Jenneta Hallyevva was the national tennis champion of Turkmenistan. Since 1994, she has been a national champion 13 more times (1994-2007). Her father introduced her to the sport at age six and she never looked back.
“I must say thanks a lot to my dad. He loves the sport of tennis and he wanted us, me and my younger sister, to have an opportunity to play. He involved us in this world when I was six years old. We walked to the courts five minutes from our apartment. He asked me to observe the other kids playing and from that moment, something clicked in my mind – I want tennis to be a part of me.”
As someone who has lived the international circuit, Jenneta understands what it takes financially, emotionally, and physically to make it on that level. She currently coaches the national juniors team and is a tennis coach at the Ashgabat School of Tennis. As a female coach in a country with an underdeveloped sports sector, Jenneta understands the difficulties girls face when entering the sports field and how hard they have to work to achieve any kind of international significance.
Through this program, Jenneta hopes to raise the level of tennis in Turkmenistan by creating a better infrastructure and more opportunities for girls to play. She is interested in the development of tennis in the United States and how it is managed, both on the professional level and on the junior levels. She wants to learn new strategies for encouraging girls to play, including how to market the benefits of tennis to parents. She would like to meet and learn from other women’s sports leaders and entrepreneurs with the hopes of starting her own tennis academy and mentoring program for girls.
“For me, tennis was never about being rich and famous. I just want to help people, people that are in need of my help. I love the sport. Actually to say I love it is incorrect. I am the sport, the sport is me. Tennis is like oxygen. I want to share that same feeling with other women. I want to pass on the lessons I learned to a young generation. Whatever I do, I do for our people and the country itself.”
We believe there is no greater fit for Jenneta than Diana and her team at the WTA. At the WTA, Jenneta can learn from the very best in women’s tennis administration. She will be exposed to all of the operational aspects, including the history of women’s tennis, management, marketing, memberships, and sponsorships. As a coach, she will receive technical advice from the pros and resources she needs to train other women to coach. We can’t wait to see how these tennis specialists collaborate and raise the level of tennis for women in Turkmenistan.
Eliza Eliasz grew up in Szczecin, a beautiful port city in Poland. Her parents were both very active in sport and exposed Eliza to a variety of recreational activities, including biking, swimming, water skiing, snow skiing, and wind surfing. By the early age of four, Eliza was skiing and by ten, she was wind surfing. By the time Eliza was a teenager, board sports were a permanent part of her DNA.
For Eliza, sport became an outlet and a hobby that she thoroughly enjoyed. Even though she was very talented, she never thought of pursuing sports professionally, but at the university, Eliza’s talents were discovered. She was asked to compete at a few national snowboarding championships where she did quite well. This was the beginning of her amateur athletic career.
After completing her studies in Warsaw, Eliza moved back to Szczecin so she could teach kite surfing and wakeboarding to the next generation of youth. She also landed a job at the Polish Foundation for Sport and Culture, where she serves as a Project Coordinator, Instructor, and Tutor. At the Polish Foundation, Eliza works with youth from under-served communities and orphanages to promote education, physical activity, sports, and art
As Project Coordinator, Eliza arranges trips for disadvantaged teens to teach them how to kite surf and wake board, both of which require a significant amount of financial means to participate. Through her work, Eliza seeks to reduce the socioeconomic barriers in place that make kite surfing and wake boarding exclusionary and to promote these sports to a broader audience.
Eliza also uses wake boarding and kite surfing to teach environmentally safe, eco-friendly behavior. “It’s important to teach children about social responsibility, how to respect nature and protect the environment. When I teach the children to kite surf, I also teach them about respect. How we treat our environment is a reflection of how much we respect ourselves. We always end our session by collecting rubbish from the seaside and recycling it.”
Eliza hopes that through her efforts, she can also encourage and inspire the next generation of females to engage in board sports. “There are false stereotypes in Poland that still linger among women which indicate girls and women should not get involved in kite surfing, wake boarding, snowboarding, and snow kiting, as it’s thought that these disciplines require a strength and fitness capacity which only men can provide.”
We see Eliza’s passion for these social issues to be a particularly solid match for Susan and the NHL. Like wake boarding and kite surfing, hockey also requires significant financial means to participate. We believe Eliza may greatly benefit from the NHL’s “Hockey is for Everyone” program, which seeks to make hockey more accessible for disadvantaged or marginalized populations. The NHL also has a very robust “green” program, which aligns well with Eliza’s interest in environmental issues. We look forward to the synergy between Eliza and team NHL.
As a child, sports were an important part of Anna Cecilia’s life. Her parents believed strongly in the lessons and values experienced through sport, especially for children, and enrolled Anna Cecilia in almost every sport available, including tennis, gymnastics, swimming, and horseback riding. Playing sports was an important part of belonging and unity within the family and the community.
“Sports are a way of living in my hometown. They are the basic element of social development in our community. My parents were very aware of the great contributions sports can have in a child’s early years, which is why they enrolled me in swim lessons before I could walk! And for as long as I can remember, my dad would gather all of us on Sundays to watch sports on television as a family; sports were not only about physical and emotional benefits, but the unity we felt together, supporting the national soccer team.”
At an early age, Anna Cecilia realized the importance of sport in Mexican society and the power of elite athletes to influence public opinion. She saw sport as a unique and untapped resource for promoting messages of social responsibility. Unfortunately, sports administration careers for women were very rare, especially in an emerging field like social responsibility.
“When I began looking for jobs, I wanted a career in social responsibility. At the time, no such thing really existed in sports, so I looked for government jobs. Eventually I landed a job with a corporation doing event management. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but it allowed me to achieve some experience. Shortly after I started, we began consulting with the soccer federation in Mexico, hosting various events and fund raisers for them. They offered me a job to do event management for the federation, and of course, I said yes. I told them of my interest in social responsibility and they let me pursue it! So I currently split my time between event management and social responsibility, working with sponsors and promoting national campaigns like Breast Cancer Awareness. I couldn’t be happier.”
Through this experience, Anna Cecilia hopes to gain knowledge as it relates to cause marketing and the development of social responsibility initiatives. One issue that Anna Cecilia hopes to address through a national campaign is adult and childhood obesity, especially for women and girls. “As of now, Mexico is number two in adult obesity and holds first place in childhood obesity. It is very important that we take action on this to help lower the statistics through sports and fitness.” We believe Sarah, Greg, and the team at Equinox can equip Anna Cecilia with the resources she needs to promote her efforts.
At Equinox, Anna Cecilia will be exposed to several key areas of business operations, including the different divisions (e.g. retail, personal training, group training) and how those divisions function through the life cycle of a client. Most importantly, Anna Cecilia will also work with brand marketing to better understand consumer insights and how to attract individuals and sponsors to support a business or cause. We believe this will be especially valuable to Anna Cecilia as she promotes lifestyle changes in health for women and girls in Mexico. We are excited to see the ways Equinox’s research and insight can inform Anna Cecilia’s new campaign launch and the long-term changes in obesity rates for Mexican women and girls.
Vice President and Group Media Director, Rubin Postaer and Associates (RPA)
Senior Director of Diversity and Inclusion, PGA of America
Senior Vice President - Business Affairs & Integrated Marketing, NHL
Chief Diversity Officer, University of Central Florida
Senior Managing Director - Business Affairs, USGA
Senior Vice President - Tour Regulations, LPGA
President/CEO, New York Roadrunners
Senior Vice President - Operations, ESPN
Global Client Partner, Google
General Counsel, WTA
Group Director - Sponsorship & Experiential Marketing, Saatchi & Saatchi LA
Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel, PGA of America
Senior Vice President - Strategy and Business Operations, ESPN
Director of Training Sites & Community Partnerships, US Olympic Committee
Global Marketing Lead, New Balance
Director of Governance & International Affairs, NCAA
Vice President - Corporate External Affairs, The Coca-Cola Company
Senior Vice President - Tour Regulations and International Player Services, LPGA