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

2019 WISE Women of Distinction Announced

Engage Engage
Top row (left to right): Anita DeFrantz, Janet Fletcher
Bottom row (left to right): Lisa Murray, Michele A. Roberts, Suzanne Smith

2019 marks a special year as WISE celebrates its 25th annual awards luncheon. For this milestone occasion, WISE is replacing its iconic “WISE Women of the Year” moniker and recognizing five Women of Distinction. The award will be presented to industry veterans Anita DeFrantz, Janet Fletcher, Lisa Murray, Michele A. Roberts and Suzanne Smith for demonstrating strength in their overall body of work, their continued support of women in the industry and making their mark as pioneers in their field.

“The 2019 Women of Distinction honorees are true trailblazers in our industry and epitomize everything WISE seeks to represent — inspire, develop and support women in the business of sports,” said Kathleen Francis, national board chair and president of WISE. “They are proven leaders and mentors to many.”

Selected by the WISE national board, the honorees will be recognized for their accomplishments, contributions and support of their female peers at the 25th Annual Awards Luncheon on June 19 at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City.

Anita DeFrantz

Vice President, International Olympic Committee

An Olympic bronze medalist, humanitarian, speaker, author and attorney, Anita DeFrantz is one of four vice presidents of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and serves on its Legal Affairs and Finance Commissions. She was elected to IOC membership in 1986, making her the first African-American and the first American woman to serve on the committee. Other roles have included LA84 Foundation president, 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee vice president, IOC Olympic Program Commission member (summer), IOC Women in Sport Commission chair and LA 2028 senior adviser.

A vocal advocate for equal rights of women in sport and the inclusion of all people in athletic endeavors, DeFrantz is credited with the addition of women’s softball and soccer to the Olympics. She has received numerous awards, honors and recognitions, including being named among Newsweek’s 150 Women Who Shake the World, NCAA’s 100 Most Influential Student-Athletes and Sports Illustrated’s 101 Most Influential Minorities in Sports.

Janet Fletcher

Director, Olympics and Sports Marketing, The Procter & Gamble Company

Janet Domingo Fletcher is the marketing leader for P&G’s sports sponsorships, including its NFL and Olympics partnerships. She joined the company in 1987 and became its first female sports marketing leader in 2000, working in roles spanning from global product design initiatives to marketing for its brands. As one of the original architects behind the award-winning “Thank You, Mom” campaign, Fletcher has continued to guide and nurture its creative development, informed by insights and experiences from her personal relationships with Olympic and Paralympic athletes and their families. She also helped secure a 10-year partnership with the International Olympic Committee, enabling P&G to expand the Olympics across all of its categories and in 204 markets, and last year successfully renewed the NFL contract for another five years.

Committed to mentoring and supporting women who work in the sports industry, Fletcher passionately supports the U.S. Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program. She was named a SportsBusiness Journal Game Changer in 2016.

Lisa Murray

Executive Vice President and Global Chief Marketing Officer, Octagon Worldwide

A 28-year Octagon veteran, Lisa Murray oversees marketing and communications for the brand worldwide. She is a sought-after resource for such long-standing Octagon clients as Mastercard, Allstate and Cisco, leveraging her vast expertise across the largest global sports properties, including the Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup. Murray’s leadership extends across the entire Octagon Sports and Entertainment Network, where she is the key driver of multi-agency integration and shared best practices. Her work drives business growth and efficiencies across the sports, music and entertainment enterprise, which encompasses Octagon, FRUKT, Rogers & Cowan, Milkmoney and ITB Worldwide.

Murray was named national chair of the Women’s Leadership Network, a Business Resource Group of Octagon’s parent company, Interpublic Group, in 2019; a WISE NYC Metro Women of Inspiration honoree in 2016; and a SportsBusiness Journal Game Changer in 2011. She has been included on Adweek’s Most Powerful Women in Sports, Sporting News' Power 100 and SportsBusiness Journal’s 20 Most Influential Women in Sports Business lists and has served as a WISE Within mentor multiple times.

Michele A. Roberts

Executive Director, National Basketball Players Association

The first woman to head a major professional sports union in North America, Michele Roberts serves as the primary advocate for all players, ensuring the protection of the National Basketball Players Association and its membership, including serving as the lead negotiator in all collective bargaining activities. In 2018, she was re-elected to serve a second four-year term by a unanimous vote.

Previously, Roberts was a renowned trial lawyer and member of the litigation group at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Her practice focused on complex civil and white-collar criminal litigation before state and federal courts and in administrative proceedings. She also was an adjunct faculty member at Harvard Law School and served for eight years in the office of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, where she was named chief of the trial division. She is a frequent lecturer and presenter on a variety of topics related to litigation and trial practice. Roberts has been named among SportsBusiness Journal's 50 Most Influential People in Sports Business numerous times.

Suzanne Smith

Director and Producer, CBS Sports

A six-time Emmy Award winner, Suzanne Smith has been nationally recognized for her accomplishments in sports media and event production. She is a director for NFL on CBS and currently the only woman, for any network, either producing or directing NFL games. Smith’s experience includes director for the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship; member of the Masters Tournament production team; and coordinating producer and director of We Need To Talk, the first-ever nationally televised all-female sports show.

Throughout her career, Smith has been a pioneer in sports television, building her résumé while mentoring young women aspiring to be in television production. In 2008, Smith was inducted into the hall of fame of her alma mater, Temple University Klein College of Media and Communication. Her other honors include the Directors Guild of America Award, the Mary Garber Pioneer Award from the Association for Women in Sports Media, and recognition as a 2015 SportsBusiness Journal Game Changer and WISE NYC Metro Women of Inspiration honoree.