Connection, Commitment and Compassion


Left to right: Carla Williams, Andrea Brimmer, Monica McNutt, Hillary Mandel and Jill Gregory.


WISE celebrated its 27th Annual Women of the Year Awards Luncheon by recognizing its newest class of honorees: Andrea Brimmer, Jill Gregory, Hillary Mandel and Carla Williams. On March 15, an audience of nearly 400 gathered once again in the Ziegfield Ballroom to celebrate, including the WISE national board, chapter presidents and representatives, as well as WISE members, sponsors, supporters, allies and previous WISE Women of the Year honorees.

WISE board chair and president Kathleen Francis warmly welcomed the gathered crowd, applauding our WISE Women of the Year, and lauding the important steps forward in the industry. "It's thrilling to be here to celebrate WISE's advances," she said, highlighting the organization's historic Deepening the Bench campaign, which has raised more than $4M for the next three to five years to build infrastructure and enhance programming and content offerings. Francis also powerfully articulated the ongoing challenge for our industry in the days and years ahead: "Women in the business of sports experience lower levels of fairness and inclusion. For women of color, the numbers are worse. Even though many women are rising through the ranks, there's work to be done."

Like a Girl

From the podium, Ally CMO Andrea Brimmer rolled up her sleeve to show the attendees her "Like a Girl" tattoo. Presenting Andrea with the award, Ashlyn Harris, FIFA World Cup champion and global creative advisor for NWSL's Gotham FC, said: "Andrea adopted the mindset that when someone says you do something "Like a Girl," it's not a dismissive comment, but rather a battle cry representing strength, resilience — and most importantly, change."

Integrity is Everything

Sonoma Raceway EVP and GM Jill Gregory was lauded by NASCAR Executive Vice Chair Lesa France Kennedy, who presented the award, and others for her efforts to get NASCAR back on track — quite literally — during COVID, and then helping to guide the organization through a time of immense change, one in which NASCAR embraced greater diversity in the sport. Her secret to success: "Work hard. Treat people right. Do what you say you're going to do. It's as simple as that."

No One Stands Alone

When introducing honoree Hillary Mandel, EVP at IMG, Big 12 Conference commissioner Brett Yormark said the group was forever indebted to her for its successful positioning in the marketplace — no easy feat! Hillary credited her incredible colleagues, her business partner, and her family and friends with her success: "I know it looks like I'm standing up here by myself. But I'm not. I'm one part of a bigger team."

Turning Endurance into Glory

Closing out the event, the three children of Carla Williams, Athletic Director at the University of Virginia, introduced their mother by celebrating her exceptionalism, her peaceful presence, and her patience as the coach of her youngest daughter's basketball team. Carla dedicated her award to the three football players whose lives were tragically taken in a shooting last year. "I recently shared a William Barclay quote with my student athletes: "Endurance isn't just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory." That is our intent, and we will do just that."

Event emcee, ESPN analyst and host Monica McNutt closed the show by voicing what many in the room felt throughout the heartfelt speeches. "I've been back here scribbling notes," she said, "and while there was a lot of great professional advice — what stood out to me was the compassion."

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