By Kent Kimes | Sr. Staff Writer, Georgia World Congress Center Authority

Panel at event

Photo credit: Kent Kimes

WISE Atlanta chapter hosted the 2018 Executive Summit: Atlanta’s Women of Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS) on Dec. 5, 2018. The symposium proved that the tide is changing when it comes to including women in the business side of pro football’s biggest game. In addition to remarks by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the NFL’s director of events, Heather Nanberg, the event’s centerpiece was a panel discussion featuring a quartet of female executives leading an unprecedented charge toward Super Bowl LIII.

They are: Joiel Alexander, vice president of business development for Levy Convention Centers; Lee Hendrickson, vice president of community engagement and volunteer programs for Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee; Amy Patterson, vice president of operations and logistics for the Host Committee; and Tarena Smith, senior director of major event management for MBS.

Each has a major behind-the-scenes role in the planning, staging and development of Super Bowl LIII, set for Feb. 3, 2019 at MBS, and the 10 days of NFL-sanctioned events surrounding the big game, most of which take place on the Georgia World Congress Center Authority’s (GWCCA) 220-acre footprint and next door neighbor, State Farm Arena.

“It’s been an incredible opportunity for me to apply my skills in human resources to thinking about how that translates to engaging our community, our people who are here locally, into the Super Bowl experience,” said Hendricks, who previously worked in human resources for Georgia Tech and the Atlanta Falcons, and leads Super Bowl LIII’s Legacy 53 initiative and oversees 10,000 Super Bowl volunteers.

Mentorship is Key

Mentorship is a key aspect of climbing the sports and events career ladder, and panel moderator Traci Messier, a former sports reporter who now works for Atlanta marketing agency Jackson|Spalding, kicked off the discussion by asking the panelists their thoughts on the subject.

Echoing each other’s sentiments, the panelists confirmed that mentors had played — and continue to play — a role in their respective successes.

“Mentorship has been huge in my life,” said Alexander. “I take it very seriously.” She said it’s also important to be a mentor to members of her food services team, and provide the type of leadership, knowledge and trust that her advisors have offered her.

Diversity of Jobs and Disciplines

Jennifer LeMaster, the GWCCA’s chief administrative officer and treasurer of WISE Atlanta, helped put the summit’s program together and hopes it opened attendees’ eyes to the diversity of jobs and disciplines that are linked to the world of sports, events and entertainment.

“If you’re a young woman who has just started her career with an organization, or you’re a student who is still trying to figure out exactly how to focus your energy, we want to spark some curiosity around what are all the ways you could be connected — from public relations to operations to public safety to food and beverage to human resources to event coordination,” said LeMaster, the GWCCA’s former communications director, who prior to that role served as the Georgia Dome’s premium seat manager. “All of these things are departments and functions that the audience heard about from the panelists, who have leveraged their giftedness in those areas that put them in the seat they’re in for the Super Bowl, which is arguably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Titles and company affiliations were accurate at the time of the event and are subject to change.

Welcome to the WISE 2018 executive summit Atlanta's women of super bowl L I I I Women playing key roles in super bowl L I I I in attendance with a list of 43 namesSpeaker panel at event with Amy Patterson, Joiel Alexander, Lee Hendrickson, and Tarena Smith

Headshot of Kent Kimes

About Kent Kimes

Kent Kimes, an Atlanta-area native, is the senior staff writer for the Georgia World Congress Center Authority. He joined the Authority’s marketing and communications team in July 2015 after a 20-year career in print journalism. He manages the Authority’s "unConventional" blog and co-chairs the Public Relations Society of America-Georgia’s e-newsletter committee.

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Content and the contributor’s title, company and other biographical information were accurate at the time of publication and may have since changed.