2012 WISE Women of the Year honorees Kim Williams, Marla Miller and Gail Hunter.
This article about the 18th WISE Women of the Year Awards Luncheon first appeared in the Fall 2012 issue of WISE@Work, the Women in Sports and Events newsletter, and is being republished in honor of the 25th Annual WISE Women of the Year Awards Luncheon on June 19 in New York City.
WISE 2012 Annual Awards Ceremony
Top Executives from NBA, MLB, NFL and CBS Recognized
WISE celebrated its 18th year of honoring influential women in sports and events on Tuesday, June 19, at a gala luncheon at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. In front of a sold-out crowd of 600, three women who have helped set the standards on how we enjoy watching the nation’s most popular sports were recognized for their achievements in football, baseball and basketball with 2012 WISE Women of the Year Awards. WISE also celebrated the contributions of one of the industry’s top executives for his support of the advancement of women with the WISE Champion Award.
Accompanied by her mother and 103-year-old grandmother, Gail Hunter, the National Basketball Association’s senior vice president of events and attractions, was given the first WISE Women of the Year Award of the afternoon. In her speech, Hunter recommended always following one’s passion as a means to happiness. Hunter is responsible for managing the NBA and WNBA’s domestic and international grassroots marketing programs and events across the United States, including NBA All-Star, NBA All-Star Jam Session, NBA Jam Van, NBA Summer League and NBA Nation. She also oversees the production, operations, sponsorship management, execution, public relations, marketing and advertising for these events.
The second WISE Women of the Year honor went to Marla Miller, Major League Baseball’s senior vice president of special events. Miller credits her success to being able to balance her career and personal life with the help of a great support system. She began her career at MLB in the licensing department, where she rose to senior director of licensed apparel. Miller was named vice president of special events in 1998, overseeing many of the league’s largest initiatives, including the All-Star Game and World Series. As the first female named senior vice president at MLB, Miller has helped expand the scope and audience of MLB’s biggest events, which included overseeing the first-ever All-Star Summer during the 2008 All-Star Game in New York City.
The final WISE Women of the Year Award was given to former chief operating officer of the NFL Network, Kim Williams, who recently joined Core Media Group as its chief financial officer. Williams spoke of her ascension in the male-dominated sport of football as a result of taking advantage of opportunities rather than following a charted course. While with the NFL Network, Williams was responsible for managing the National Football League’s cable television assets. She played an integral role in the launch of the NFL RedZone channel in 2009, which won a Sports Emmy nomination in the Outstanding New Approaches category. Her responsibilities included overseeing the NFL’s facilities and studios in Culver City, California, operational home of the NFL Network, NFL RedZone and NFL.com.
WISE also recognized Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, with the second annual WISE Champion Award for his support of women in the workplace. McManus was named chairman of CBS Sports in February 2011 and oversees all CBS Sports properties. Prior to being named chairman, he served concurrently as president of CBS News and CBS Sports for more than five years. McManus was named president of CBS Sports in November 1996 and then added the title of president of CBS News in October 2005, becoming only the second person to hold both division titles.
“It was especially fitting to honor three outstanding women and one remarkable man in sports at this year’s event, as it took place during the week we celebrated the 40th anniversary of Title IX,” said Kathleen Francis, national president of WISE. “Gail, Marla and Kim have made lasting contributions to their respective organizations and the overall sports landscape. Sean is a true leader who understands the value of creating an environment where women thrive and serve as mentors for future generations. We applaud their efforts and all [who] follow in their footsteps.”