Masai Ujiri, Toronto Raptors president and general manager of basketball operations, is the 2018 WISE Champion Award recipient. The annual WISE Champion Award recognizes a male executive who has championed the advancement of women in the workplace.
Ujiri has long been an advocate for elevating women by bringing females into key roles across the Raptors’ team and business. The organization launched “She The North” programming for women in the sports industry under his leadership, an extension of the team’s “We The North” slogan.
“We are proud to honor Masai Ujiri, a vocal advocate for women in sports, as this year’s Champion,” said Kathleen Francis, national chair of WISE. “Masai speaks boldly about causes close to his heart, and the value women provide in this business — on and off the court — is no exception.”
“Women have had a profound impact on each step of my personal and professional journey,” said Ujiri. “I prioritize women in leadership roles around me because I’m committed to striving to be and working alongside the best. This recognition is a great honor, but more importantly, it is an opportunity to encourage others to realize the value and power of women in the workplace and welcome inclusion and diversity within the highest ranks of influence.”
Ujiri will be recognized during the 24th Annual WISE Women of the Year Awards Luncheon on June 13 at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City.
A native of Nigeria, Ujiri was named president and general manager of basketball operations for the Raptors in 2013, returning to the team where he held his first front-office roles from 2007 to 2010. In the interim, he spent three seasons as executive vice president of basketball operations for the Denver Nuggets, where he became the first African-born GM in the NBA and was named 2012-13 NBA Executive of the Year.
Ujiri began his career in the NBA in a variety of international scouting roles that took him all over the world. He played professionally in Europe for six years with stops in Belgium, Germany, England, Greece and Finland. He has also managed and coached the Nigerian junior and senior national teams.
On a humanitarian level, Ujiri has been tireless in his efforts to promote and develop the game of basketball throughout Africa. He is the founder of the Giants of Africa Foundation, which launched the Top 50 and Big Man camps in his homeland, and has served as the director of the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program since 2002.
"She knows the whole basketball business. She's great as a leader. She deals with the league in a unique way." @Raptors Masai Ujiri on Teresa Resch, VP, Basketball Ops & Player Dev.— NBA Cares (@nbacares) March 27, 2018
Learn 3 ways you can support the women in your life at https://t.co/C1Y03IcaS5. #LeanInTogether pic.twitter.com/2QlHrrCECS