The leading voice and resource for professional women in the business of sports.

WISE Executive Leadership Institute: The Gift of Time

Engage Engage Engage Engage

As a vice president in the NFL’s league office and a mother of two, Johanna Faries understands the value of time, so when she was approached about participating in WISE’s executive leadership program, she was hesitant. The program asks were seemingly insurmountable — five days away from home, studying and homework, self-assessment tests, networking, a willingness to be vulnerable, and her undivided attention without the distraction of phone calls or emails from the large team she manages.

She found herself thinking on several occasions, “I just don’t have the time.”

Reframing Your To-Do List

Even after she had committed and the start of the program neared, she looked at the curriculum as another list of to-dos in an already busy schedule. But when she showed up, she realized how wrong she had been. 

“[The program] really forces you, if you’re lucky enough to be a part of it, to completely reframe how you define all of those line items that I was coming in and thinking of as a to-do list,” Faries recently shared at the WISE/R Symposium in June. “As I came out of it, out of the week, all of those items quickly transformed into gifts.”

Over the course of the days she thought she could not spare, Faries and the other participants in the WISE Executive Leadership Institute forged a community that she believes will help sustain their development and advancement beyond the educational training she has experienced in the past.   

“I walked out of WELI a better leader immediately,” she said.

Learning Should Never Stop

Launched in 2014 and a first for the sports industry, the WISE Executive Leadership Institute in partnership with Tuck Executive Education at Dartmouth is designed to help female sports executives become more effective leaders. Through formal classroom sessions and small-group activities, participants — who over the years have represented such industry-leading organizations as CBS Sports, Coca-Cola, ESPN, Under Armour and the major sports leagues — explore a variety of topics, including connecting vision and execution, sharpening negotiating skills, and getting results with others.

With WELI (as it’s affectionately referred to by its alumna), Faries says, WISE has identified the next chapter of executive training and education needed for women as they advance and so they can continue to advance in the sports industry. But for the program to be as impactful as possible, women like herself have to take what may seem like an unnatural step: investing time in themselves.

“Learning can and should never stop, especially if we really want to break barriers much further than we are today as women in a very dynamic organization and industry,” she said.

Learn more at