Women in Sports and Events
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WISE Recognizes Women of the Year, Champion Recipient at Annual Luncheon

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From left to right: Ted Leonsis, Buffy Filippell, Doris Burke, Amy Trask and Kathleen Francis, WISE National board chair and president

On June 22, during its 23rd annual Women of the Year Awards Luncheon, WISE celebrated four industry leaders not only for their professional accomplishments, but also for the examples they have set and the contributions they have made to help support and elevate women in sports: WISE Champion Ted Leonsis and WISE Women of the Year honorees Doris Burke, Buffy Filippell and Amy Trask. Honorees shared stories of personal challenges and accomplishments, thanked those who helped pave the way to pursue their sports dreams and stressed vigilance: There’s more progress to be made.

‘The Wage Gap is Real’

Ted Leonsis, owner and CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, further demonstrated his role as an ally of women in the industry, stressing the importance of female leaders in sports’ front offices: “I believe organizations take on the traits of their leadership. … When you have higher-level talented leaders who are women, they bring other women into the organization. And I tell [everyone]: If you want to be successful, and you want to build value, hire more women. …

“We continue to strive for a more diverse workplace in all our sports. Despite great strides, there’s a lot more work to do. The wage gap is real and unacceptable. An outdated office culture that minimizes women’s contributions and devalues women’s talent needs to stop. Your exemplary leadership will make sports and entertainment a much better workplace for everyone. Your leadership and contributions make us all better. I’m proud to be here with you today and humbled by this award.”

Work to be Done

Doris Burke, ESPN basketball analyst and reporter, thanked ESPN for its commitment to women’s sports and programming; her dedicated family; and all the hardworking women who battled gender inequality to make her own fight easier. She also quoted two well-known figures from the world of politics: Jimmy Carter and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

In describing her reaction to Carter’s essay “Losing my Religion for Equality,” in which the former president decries the sexism of his former church, Burke said, “For a man of that age, as accomplished as he is, to do that kind of self-examination and be so intrepid of spirit, to step away from part of the core of who he is — I was inspired, and it was a good reminder there is work to be done.”

Burke concluded by citing Clinton’s concession speech, which included the inspiring line, “And to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world.”

Career and Family

Buffy Filippell, founder of TeamWork Online, was introduced by her son, Davis, who spoke of her deep commitment to both the pursuit of her professional dreams and her family. Filippell herself spoke of this important duality.

“We want to get to a point where we don’t have to make the choice between whether we want to be a mom and whether we want to be a great business executive,” she said.

Filippell concluded her remarks by embracing everyone present: “I give you all a great big hug, and thank you so much for everything you’ve done for me.”

A Room Full of Teammates

Amy Trask, NFL analyst for CBS Sports Network and CEO of the BIG3, emphasized the value of relentless hard work and encouraged the young women present not to consider themselves limited by their gender — because, she cautioned, no one else can stop thinking about the fact that you’re a woman if you can’t stop thinking about it yourself.

In thanks, Trask said, “I am overwhelmed, speechless … and that doesn’t happen often. This isn’t about me; it’s about all of you and all the women and men who have been such a tremendous part of my career. This is about everybody. This is about every single person who’s part of every one of our villages. This room is full of my teammates. I thank you all.”