On June 13, under the lights of a new venue, the Ziegfeld Ballroom, and celebrating 25 years of advocating for women - WISE recognized four individuals who help make its mission a reality: 2018 WISE Women of the Year Lindsay Amstutz, Sarah Robb O'Hagan and Kim Stone and 2018 WISE Champion Masai Ujiri.
Event emcee Tracy Wolfson captured the spirit of the annual luncheon in her opening remarks when she asked the previous WISE Women of the Year honorees in attendance to stand.
"It's important to thank the people that have paved the way for us," she said. "Without them, we wouldn't be here today."
WISE national board chair and president Kathleen Francis followed Wolfson's lead by brining to the stage two women who helped make the gathering possible: WISE founder and chair emeria Sue Rodin and founding member and national board member Ernestine Miller, whose help organizing an informal meeting of women in sports business in 1993 led to the creation of WISE. Their work was underscored by the presence of most of the organization's 19 chapter presidents, recognized for their work carrying out the WISE mission at the local level.
In accepting his WISE Champion Award, Ujiri, Toronto Raptors president and general manager of basketball operations, credited the special women who inspired him and taught him the leadership, respect and clarity he needed to succeed. He also thanked the WISE Women of the Year honorees for the example they set for the many young women in the world, including his daughter, who was his guest at the event.
“Keep standing tall,” he told his fellow honorees.
The Support of Her Peers
Amstutz, senior vice president and general manager of FOX Sports West, FOX Sports San Diego and Prime Ticket, expressed gratitude for the chance to work in an industry that has a “unique power to unite people.” She also acknowledged the many women throughout her career who made time to talk with her and share their insights.
“We always hear the narrative of women cutting each other down, but I haven’t seen it,” she said.
The Support of Her Family
Robb O’Hagan gave a shout-out to her native country for its role in the success she’s been able to achieve.
“Being born in New Zealand is an unfair advantage,” the Flywheel Sports CEO said. “New Zealand is perpetually the underdog nation that instilled in me belief, grit and determination.”
But she dedicated her WISE Women of the Year Award to her family, stressing how important it is “to recognize the partners and support systems we have in our life and everything they do to help us reach our potential.”
Rest, But Don’t Quit
After accepting her award from her 14-year-old niece, Stone, executive vice president of the Miami HEAT and general manager of AmericanAirlines Arena, told attendees that they may get discouraged, they may face setbacks, but encouraged them not to quit.
“In my office, hangs a sign — if you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit,” she said.