Inaugural Symposium April 10 Explored Obstacles, Issues Facing Women in Sports & Events Industry

The Syracuse University Chapter of Women in Sports and Events (WISE) presented “A Word to the WISE: Leveling the Playing Field,” at the first annual symposium which examined the obstacles and issues that students entering the professional world face, along with the skills and lessons necessary to overcome them and maximize their college experiences.

The event will took place on Tuesday, April 10, 2 – 4 p.m. in Syracuse University’s Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium, located in Newhouse 3, with a reception which followed. The event was free and open to both students and the greater Syracuse community.

Laurie Orlando, senior vice president of talent and development at ESPN, returned to her alma mater to moderate the inaugural WISE symposium. Panelists included:

  • Michelle Berg, executive vice president, Team Epic
  • Jessica Gelman, vice president, customer marketing & strategy, Kraft Sports Group
  • Donna Lopiano, president, founder, Sport Management Resources
  • Julie Nemeroff, SU alumna, NBA hospitality coordinator and global marketing partnerships
  • Sage Steele, Sports Center co-host, ESPN
  • John Walsh, executive vice president, executive editor, ESPN

Gina Pauline, assistant professor, Department of Sport Management, opened the symposium with the results of a qualitative research study that examined the working conditions of senior-level executives within the sport industry. Pauline discussed the gender differences stemming from socio-cultural, organizational and individual factors, and how these pieces impact many areas including job satisfaction, turnover, family friendly culture, policies, and gender composition. The research was supported by WISE, along with the Falk College Research Center.

About The Speakers:

Michelle Berg

Executive Vice President, Team Epic

Berg is the first Executive Vice President in the 13-year history of the agency. She is responsible for overseeing the consulting business as Group Director. In addition, her duties entail agency personnel management related to employee development and agency integration across the entire enterprise. Berg has also been in charge of new business efforts during Team Epic’s rapid growth and for the strategic overview of clients such as FedEx, AT& T and Chase. She has more than 25 years experience in sports marketing, brand management and media planning. In 2011, Berg was named to the inaugural class of the SportsBusiness Journal’s “Game Changers: Women in Sports” and is a 2012 nominee for WISE Woman of the Year. She is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in marketing.

Jessica Gelman

VP Customer Marketing & Strategy, Kraft Sports Group

Jessica Gelman is The Kraft Sports Group’s Vice President of Customer Marketing & Strategy. In this capacity she serves as a key strategic and operational advisor to the Executive Management Team of the New England Patriots, New England Revolution, Gillette Stadium, and Patriot Place.
In her tenth year with the organization, her responsibilities encompass three areas: leading the customer marketing function including ticketing, retail, direct marketing and market research; identifying, evaluating and building new businesses to extend the Patriots’ assets, locally and internationally; and working closely with other functional areas to further develop business strategy/operations.

To further identify areas of growth, potential new businesses and operational improvements, Gelman initiated an analytic approach combining direct marketing analysis, market research and operational metrics. This has been critical in prioritizing strategy and business development efforts across the organization.

Prior to the Kraft Sports Group, Gelman worked as a strategy consultant at the Mitchell Madison Group. Her primary areas of focus were the entertainment and financial services industries.

Gelman earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA, cum laude in psychology, from Harvard College. She was honored as Harvard Female Athlete of the Year after leading Harvard to consecutive Ivy League Basketball Championships and NCAA Tournament appearances. Subsequently, she played professionally in Europe. Gelman has been inducted into both the New England Basketball Hall of Fame and The Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. She is the co-chair of the Harvard Basketball Friends Group.

Gelman co-founded and continues to chair the annual MIT Sloan Sports Business conference, the first and largest analytically focused sports business conference.

Donna A. Lopiano, B.S., M.A., Ph.D

President and Founder, Sports Management Resources (SMR)

Dr. Donna Lopiano is the President and founder of Sports Management Resources (SMR). SMR is a consulting firm that focuses on bringing the knowledge of experienced, expert former athletics directors to assist scholastic and collegiate athletics departments in solving growth and development challenges.

Dr. Lopiano is the former Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Sports Foundation (1992-2007) and was named one of “The 10 Most Powerful Women in Sports” by Fox Sports. The Sporting News has also listed her as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Sports.” The Institute for International Sport named Lopiano among the “100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America.” She has been nationally and internationally recognized for her leadership as an athletics administrator and work advocating for gender equity in sports by the International Olympic Committee, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the National Association for Girls and Women in Sports, the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.

Dr. Lopiano also served for 18 years as the University of Texas at Austin Director of Women’s Athletics and is a past-president of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. During her tenure at Texas, she constructed what many believed to be the premiere women’s athletics program in the country; twice earning the top program in the nation award. All eight UT sports were consistently ranked in the nation’s top ten in Division I where they earned eighteen national championships in six different sports, produced 51 individual sport national champion athletes, 57 Southwest Conference championships and 395 All-American athletes, dozens among them Olympians and world champions. Ninety percent of women athletes who exhausted their athletic eligibility at the University of Texas received a baccalaureate degree. Prior to Texas, Lopiano served as an Assistant Professor and Assistant Athletic Director at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.

Recognized as one of the foremost national experts on gender equity in sport, Dr. Lopiano has testified about Title IX and gender equity before three Congressional committees, served as a consultant to the U.S. Office for Civil Rights Department of Health, Education and Welfare Title IX Task Force and as an expert witness in over thirty court cases. Dr. Lopiano has also served as a consultant to school districts, institutions of higher education and state education agencies on Title IX compliance and to domestic and international sport organizations on program development, governance and strategic planning.

She received her bachelor’s degree from Southern Connecticut State University, her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Southern California and is the recipient of five honorary doctoral degrees. She has been a college coach of men’s and women’s volleyball, women’s basketball and softball and coached the Italian national women’s softball team.

As an athlete, she participated in 26 national championships in four sports and was a nine-time All-American at four different positions in softball, a sport in which she played on six national championship teams. She is a member of the National Sports Hall of Fame, the National Softball Hall of Fame and the Connecticut and Texas Women’s Halls of Fame, among others.

Julie Nemeroff

Hospitality Coordinator, Global Marketing Partnerships, National Basketball Association

Julie Nemeroff, graduate of Syracuse University ’08, began her career at the NBA as a marketing assistant and has recently been promoted to hospitality coordinator. She currently is responsible for managing, entertaining, and fulfilling corporate sponsor needs at all NBA events across all properties. Julie has had a key role in hospitality at NBA events ie. NBA All-Star, NBA Playoffs & Finals, USAB Hospitality events and WNBA Inspiring Women. She is also responsible for managing budgets, regular season tickets, suites and merchandise.

Prior to the NBA, Julie worked at a small event planning company in Manhattan where she planned and managed various corporate and charity events. After about a year, Julie began working at Major League Soccer in the Special Events Department where she was able to experience working on a national sport level at MLS Cup and MLS All-Star. From there, Julie moved on to Amplify Sports & Entertainment. At Amplify, Julie was able to learn the sales side of the sports business.

Julie currently lives in Manhattan and looks forward to being a part of WISE Syracuse University as well as other SPM alumni groups as she was in the first graduating class Sport Management program.

Sage Steele

SportsCenter Co-Host, ESPN, Inc.

Sage Steele joined ESPN in 2007 and is a co-host of ESPN’s SportsCenter. Most recently, Steele served as update host during live daytime SportsCenter editions, which debuted in August 2008. She also previously contributed to First Take and Mike & Mike in the Morning and has served as a guest co-host of ESPN2’s SportsNation.

Steele began her television career at WSBT-TV in South Bend, Ind., as a producer and reporter (1995-1997). She then moved to WISH-TV in Indianapolis where she was the beat reporter for the Indianapolis Colts, in addition to covering the 1997 NCAA Men’s Final Four, NASCAR and the Izod IndyCar Series.

In August 1998, Steele moved to Tampa and worked as a reporter, anchor, and host for WFTS-TV. She was the beat reporter for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1998-2001 and covered the 1999 NCAA Men’s Final Four. In 2000, she joined Fox Sports Net in Tampa as a reporter and covered Super Bowl XXXV for the 2000-01 NFL season.

In April 2001, Steele became the anchor for the debut of Comcast SportsNet, serving the Washington DC/Baltimore region. She anchored the flagship show SportsNite for six years and was also a beat reporter for the Baltimore Ravens from 2001-2005, hosting a magazine show for all five seasons.

Steele graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science degree in sports communications. In her spare time, Steele volunteers for the Alzheimer’s Association events, enjoys horseback riding, and spending time with her family.

John A. Walsh

Executive Vice President and Executive Editor, ESPN, Inc.

John A. Walsh serves as executive vice president and executive editor of ESPN, Inc. Walsh has been the executive editor of ESPN since December 1990. At times during his 25 year career at ESPN, he has overseen the launch of ESPN The Magazine and ESPN Radio; was instrumental in developing the many news and information elements within ESPN; including networks and new shows; and has led the editorial direction of and its properties. Currently he also serves as chairman of ESPN’s editorial board.

Walsh served as the managing editor for ESPN from January 1988 to December 1990, and was responsible for the editorial content of all news and informational programming, including SportsCenter, ESPN’s flagship sports news program.

The founding editor of the original Inside Sports magazine (1979-82), Walsh also served as managing editor of U.S. News and World Report (1985-86) and Rolling Stone (1973-74). He held a number of editorial positions at Newsday (1970-73), including sports editor and op-ed page editor; worked as sports editor of the Columbia Missourian (1967-70), and was an editor at the Washington Post style section (1977-78). He has been the editor of three sports books, including “The Heisman: A Symbol of Excellence,” published in 1984. In addition, he has served as a consultant for several publications, including Esquire magazine (1982-83), Vanity Fair magazine (1983-84), the New York Times Sunday Sports “Part Two” magazine (1985) and Special Report magazines published by Whittle Communications.

Walsh had been a consultant to ESPN from July 1987 to January 1988. His television experience includes consultancies to CBS Sports’ NFL Today program (1986-87 season) and with TVTV on a PBS documentary on the 1976 Super Bowl.

A native of Scranton, Pa., Walsh earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from the University of Scranton in 1966 and received a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in 1968. In 1991, he received the Frank J. O’Hara Award from the University of Scranton’s National Alumni Association, recognizing his “sustained achievement in the communications field.” In 2001, he received the University of Missouri Journalism School Medal of Honor.

About WISE:

WISE is a resource to professional women in the sports and events industries. Through meetings, special events and mentoring programs, WISE offers members the opportunity to gain insight and make connections that can help women receive a competitive advantage in their current and future positions. The organization works to be the definitive source for businesswomen seeking information about issues, challenges, and opportunities impacting all points of their career as well as career transitions. WISE now has chapters all over the country and has branched out with its first collegiate chapter at Syracuse University. WISE at Syracuse was founded by the Department of Sport Management in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics.