WWOY 25 Years

1999 WISE Women of the Year

Jackie Joyner­-Kersee, Nancy Brinker and Pat Summitt holding awards and standing with WISE founder Sue Rodin

1999 WISE Women of the Year honorees Jackie Joyner­-Kersee, Nancy Brinker and Pat Summitt with WISE founder Sue Rodin (second from left).

World-Class Leaders Nancy Brinker, Jackie Joyner­-Kersee and Pat Summitt Honored

On June 17, 1999, hundreds of WISE members, sponsors and guests assembled at the New York Marriott Marquis for the fifth annual WISE Women of the Year Award Luncheon. Hosted by sports television pioneer Lesley Visser, the event was an unqualified success.

This year's honorees constitute a world-class, powerful trio: Nancy G. Brinker, Founder of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (and Race for the Cure); Jackie Joyner­-Kersee, Olympic superstar and Founder of the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Youth Foundation; and Pat Head Summitt, legendary basketball coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols. For the first time, all three award winners were from outside the New York area, a testament to WISE's expanding national scope.

IBM's sports leader and previous winner Eli Primrose-Smith presented each honoree with a magnificent Hoya crystal award.

These winners exemplify the WISE mission: women helping women in the workplace. Further, WISE is about connecting and growth. Our honorees have lived these ideals as they have each attained their success. They each have firsthand knowledge that talent, support and reaching out are all critical for professional success. Their lives demonstrate the foundation that makes WISE work!

In Their Own Words

Nancy G. Brinker

Founder, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation

It is very meaningful to win an award like this, particularly with so many outstanding women and in a field for which I, personally, and the Komen Foundation have so much regard.

I think WISE is such a natural offshoot of the whole women's movement. It demonstrates the understanding that women are moving into areas, certainly when I was young, people did not even believe would be possible to enter. It is so exciting that so many women will have the opportunity going forward because of organizations like WISE, who encourage that kind of growth and that kind of business building. It is very exciting. It allows so many more people opportunities of having wonderful dreams of success and empowerment.

I have been familiar with the WISE organization and I am impressed with [its] growth and the importance of what it is doing because so much of success in anything, particularly in the sports business, comes from leadership from organizations like WISE. WISE is where people can get information, make friends, network, understand, and find shoulders to lean on.

I'm just thrilled to be here. I'm so delighted to be recognized by a group of people who I feel are real leaders in the field. I'm particularly excited to receive this award from the sports industry since our Race for the Cure is something that we are proud of and it is a natural fit.

When I think of all of the sporting groups who have helped us, I can tell you it has taken us that much closer to eradicating this terrible disease. And further, the synergies, the things that you have taught us in the quest for your career. Including the goal setting, the team playing, the strategy, the hard work, the persistence and the courage. The courage to reach the finish line. The courage to win. The courage to go out there one more time inspires all of us at the Komen Foundation to take one more brave step.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Olympian, Heptathlon and Long Jump
Founder, Jackie Joyner-Kersee Youth Foundation

I am very blessed to be an honoree and to be among women who see beyond the locker room. This is women helping women. Networking to understand that there is more to what we are doing and the strength that we have to pull women from all walks of life together. It makes a difference not only in our lives but also in the future, in the lives of the young generation and the next generation.

Reflecting back on years ago and knowing that, at times, women were not appreciated for their effort on the athletic field or their efforts in the boardroom or their efforts in general. Now, they are being more appreciated and people are starting to see there is a market out there. Young girls want to see young women and corporate America is coming on board. I think it is great. Not just for us, as women, but for them as companies to have the foresight and to understand.

For me, being involved and fostering ideas of getting young girls to participate in sports and to be successful in life is something that will continue to be a part of my life. It was because people volunteered to help me when I did not know what volunteering was all about. I always knew I had a place to go. There were always people who cared about me, who chaperoned me, who mothered me, acted as aunt and grandmother. They were always there. Those people made a difference in my life. Hopefully, I will continue to make a difference in the lives of the next generation as WISE has made a difference in the lives of women across America.

Women have always been my role models and have always taught me that we could fight many battles and we could win many wars. Having Wilma Rudolph and Rosa Parks as role models and knowing that their strength and stability allowed them to go on and be successful is something that I am very proud of.

Pat Head Summitt

Basketball Coach, Lady Vols
University of Tennessee

I am very familiar with WISE. I think it has done a terrific job as far as networking, helping women and making a difference. The thing I try to teach our student-athletes is the benefit, the value of networking with other women, something that we did not have the opportunity to do when I came out of college. There was no organization. You felt like you were on your own a lot of the time. The case with WISE is you can pick up the phone, if nothing else; you can share, bounce ideas off [each other] and hopefully benefit from just having that professional relationship. The fact that I know a number of people in WISE, I know the impact they have had on women.

Receiving this award is an honor. It is a result of having the opportunity to work with young women myself. I just have to thank all the talented and dedicated student-athletes who have made a difference in my life. You hope you are making a difference in theirs. Clearly, they have made a difference for me personally and professionally. So, this honor is one I'll accept on behalf of all the student-athletes I have coached.

To all of you at WISE, what a great organization! You have grown tremendously. Sue wrote in her note to me that you are more about women in the boardroom than in the locker room. I thought, you know, that is true. But it is in the locker room in which I have the opportunity to teach young women valuable life skills, which I think will allow them to get into the boardroom, to be in corporate America and to be women who can be successful in whatever career opportunity that they so desire.

This article about the 1999 WISE Woman of the Year Award Luncheon first appeared in WISE words, the Women in Sports and Events newsletter, Issue 19, Fall 1999. This excerpt was republished to celebrate the 25th WISE Women of the Year Awards Luncheon in 2019.