The Most Influential Women Leading Big-Name Sports Brands
Sarah Robb O'Hagan, President, Equinox Holdings
Since making the jump from Gatorade to President of Equinox Holdings (yep, the gym), O'Hagan has been an influential force in the expansion of brands like Equinox Fitness, PURE Yoga, and Soul Cycle. On top of that, this mom served on Hillary Clinton's State Department Council to Empower Girls Through Sports, is a trustee of the Women's Sports Foundation, and does frequent mud runs to prove she's tough as nails. (O'Hagan must be gunning for a sport among the Women in History Who Changed the Health and Fitness Game.)
Kim Ng, SVP for Baseball Operations, Major League Baseball
When the New York Yankees, arguably the most famous organization in sports, decided to hire Ng in 1998, she was just 29—making her the youngest assistant general manager in the Major League. Later, Ng jumped to the executive office at the Los Angeles Dodgers for a decade before the MLB poached her to serve under Joe Torre as Senior Vice President for Baseball Operations. No woman has ever served as team general manager in a major revenue-earning sport (MLB, NHL, NBA, and NFL), which is Ng's ultimate goal—and she's been a finalist many times over, with many calling her the most powerful woman in baseball—and a pioneer for gender equality in sports. At just 46, we'd put our money on this woman ascending straight to the top.
Jeanne P. Jackson, President of Product & Merchandising, Nike
Jackson's resume boasts the names some of the major brands in your closet, from Gap to Victoria's Secret, Nordstrom to Banana Republic—but she landed at Nike in 2009 after a break from big biz to be a mom. As the President of Product & Merchandising, she's the sportswear giant's top female exec, leading company strategy for dreaming up all footwear, clothing, and equipment in the Nike portfolio. (Speaking of Nike, steal their work perks along with these Health Tips from 10 Top Corporate Wellness Programs.)
Tara Poseley, Chief Product Officer, Lululemon Athletica
After 15 years at Gap, Inc. and a stint reviving the clothing leg at K-Mart, Poseley stepped in to take over merchandising and product design for Lululemon in 2013. Following a yoga-pant design hiccup that led to lost ground for the brand a few years back, she's since helped reinvigorate product innovation, including a focus on clothing for a wider array of shapes and sizes. With an eye for style and a brain for business, former Lululemon CEO Christine Day even said this yogi and skier could be "the successor to my successor" at the brand. (Speaking of Lululemon, they're one of the 8 Fitness Companies Making Kids More Active.)
Lesa France Kennedy, CEO, International Speedway
This female CEO is one of the very few in major athletics. Frequently topping lists (like Forbes'!) of the most powerful and influential women in sports, since 2009, Kennedy has served as the Chief Executive Officer of International Speedway—the corporation that hosts upwards of 100 NASCAR races per year, including biggies like the Daytona 500. With 25 years climbing the ladder at International Speedway, she's helped boost and expand key racetracks, all while raising children to follow in her sporting footsteps (her son is NASCAR driver Ben Kennedy).
Carol Stiff, Vice President of Multimedia Strategy and Innovation, ESPN
As one of the major executives on the board at ESPN, the Worldwide Leader in Sports, she's been a driving force for elevating the profile of women's sports, helping to finally land women's college basketball on ESPN networks. In addition, Stiff worked on the Nine for IX campaign to level the playing field for female athletics and establish espnW as an integral part of the brand's many channels. (She's definitely one of the Strong Women Who Are Changing the Face of Girl Power As We Know It.)
Jeanie Buss, President and Co-Owner, Los Angeles Lakers
The daughter of legendary Lakers' owner Jerry Buss, Jeanie assumed a leadership role in the organization upon the death of her father in 2013, ascending to the role of President and co-owner of the team along with her six siblings. While her brother, Jim, manages the sporting side as VP of basketball operations, Jeanie is the business whiz behind the scenes, serving as the team governor and rep for the Lakers brand. She's also one half of a bonafide NBA power couple; Jeanie is engaged to longtime former Lakers coach and current President of the New York Knicks, Phil Jackson.
Katrina M. Adams, Chairman of the Board, CEO and President, USTA
After 10 years on the United States Tennis Association's Board of Directors, Adams has stepped up into a new two-year postion at the USTA as of January 2015: Chairman of the Board, President, and CEO. She's the first African-American to hold the job—and that's certainly not the only feather in her cap. Adams is a former pro tennis player on the WTA tour, holding a rank as high as #67 in the world, and she's also a member of the Black Tennis Hall of Fame and the Chicago District Tennis Hall of Fame. She's also a TV personality; you'll find her as a commentator on the Tennis Channel, you know, in her spare time. (Did you know that tennis players are pulling in some serious cash? Learn How The Highest-Paid Female Athletes Make Money.)