NCAA and Women Leaders in Sports co-host inaugural Women’s Sports Leadership VIP Summit

NCAA women’s basketball and Women Leaders in Sports are co-hosting the inaugural NCAA Women’s Final Four Women’s Sports Leadership VIP Summit on Thursday and Friday in Cleveland.

The event is convening powerful and influential women leaders in sports and business to:

  • Discuss how to collectively leverage the momentum of women’s sports to create even greater growth, attention, exposure and value for all women’s sports.
  • Identify ways to increase the number of women working and leading in sports (men’s and women’s).
  • Create connection across all sectors of sports.

The two-day event will include think tank sessions and a public question-and-answer forum for those in Cleveland for the Women’s Final Four, as well as several invitation-only receptions and connection events centered around the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship.

Think tanks specifically for the summit attendees will be facilitated by Patti Phillips, CEO of Women Leaders in Sports. On Friday from 11-11:45 a.m. Eastern time, two panel sessions at Beyond the Baseline inside Tourney Town will be open to the public, including opportunities for attendees and local and national media outlets to interview participants. 

Women’s sport executives representing all levels of sports in the country — collegiate, amateur and professional — were invited to participate and share their ideas on issues and topics. The VIP Summit will provide an opportunity for networking and a platform to champion the women’s sports ecosystem nationally.

VIP Summit attendees include: 

  • Dawn Aponte, chief football administrative officer, NFL.
  • Cheri Blauwet, associate professor, Harvard Medical School; board of directors, U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee. 
  • Sandy Hatfield Clubb, president, The Pictor Group; managing director for strategic initiatives, Knight Commission.
  • Jill Ellis, president, San Diego Wave Fútbol Club.
  • Cathy Engelbert, commissioner, WNBA.
  • Sara Gaiero, vice president of production, ESPN.
  • Jessica Gelman, CEO, Kraft Analytics Group; co-founder and co-chair, MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference; minority owner of the Utah Royals and National Women’s Soccer League board alternate governor. 
  • Lynn Holzman, vice president of women’s basketball, NCAA.
  • Michele Kang, owner of multiple soccer clubs: the Washington Spirit (NWSL), Olympique Lyonnais Féminin and London City Lionesses; founder and CEO of Cognosante medical technology company.
  • Danette Leighton, CEO, Women’s Sports Foundation.
  • Rebecca Lobo, women’s basketball analyst, ESPN.
  • Muffet McGraw, ESPN studio analyst; board of trustees, Women’s Sports Foundation.
  • Kara Nortman, co-founder, Angel City Football Club; co-founder and managing partner, Monarch Collective LLC.
  • Patti Phillips, CEO, Women Leaders in Sports.
  • Holly Rowe, sports commentator, ESPN.
  • Summer Sanders, TV host and reporter; 1992 Olympian.
  • Carol Stiff, president, Women Sports Network.

The NCAA women’s basketball staff and Women Leaders plan to continue this summit at future Women’s Final Four locations, including in Tampa, Florida, next year on April 4 and 6.

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