The 2020 WISE Women of the Year honorees are Susan Cohig of the NHL, Rosalyn Durant of ESPN, Elizabeth Lindsey of Wasserman and JoAnn Neale of MLS.
“Susan, Rosalyn, Elizabeth and JoAnn are outstanding examples of how leaders in our industry can succeed while paving the way for other women,” said Kathleen Francis, WISE national board chair and president. “Each of these women have excelled in their positions and have actively created opportunities for women in the business of sports. We look forward to celebrating them in June.”
Awarded the distinction in a vote by WISE members nationwide, the honorees will be recognized for their accomplishments, contributions and support of their female peers at the 26th Annual Awards Luncheon on June 10 at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City.
Executive Vice President, Club Business Affairs | National Hockey League
Susan Cohig works across all business areas of the NHL to support club and league business and policy priorities. She plays a central role in engaging with team leadership and managing associated business support, including the sharing and implementation of best practices. Cohig is responsible for producing and managing the annual NHL Club Business Meetings, where league and team executives analyze business issues and opportunities. She is also instrumental in the onboarding of NHL expansion franchises and spearheads efforts associated with the NHL’s women’s hockey initiative, using the league’s assets to elevate and support the women’s game.
Prior to joining the NHL in 1996, Cohig was with Ascent Entertainment, overseeing the sales and servicing of corporate partner relationships of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and the NBA’s Denver Nuggets. Cohig was named a 2019 Notable Women in the Business of Sports honoree by Crain’s New York Business, a 2017 WISE NYC Metro Women of Inspiration honoree, and a 2013 Sports Business Journal Game Changer, among other honors.
Senior Vice President, College Networks, Programming | ESPN
Rosalyn Durant oversees and sets the strategic direction for ESPNU, the SEC Network, Longhorn Network and ACC Network. Before being promoted to her current role in 2015, she served as vice president of college sports programming and acquisitions, overseeing ESPN’s college sports relationships, rights acquisitions and programming, its coverage of high school sports and the management of ESPNU. In 2007, Durant was named vice president of programming and acquisitions, managing ESPN’s relationships with the NBA, Major League Lacrosse, and MLS, among other organizations. She began her career at ESPN as an affiliate sales and marketing intern in 1998.
Durant has been on Cablefax’s Most Influential Minorities/Multi-Ethnic Executives list every year since 2013 and its Most Powerful Women list since 2017. She was named a Sports Business Journal Forty Under 40 honoree in 2015 and a Sports Business Journal Game Changer in 2011. She is on the executive committee for the board of directors of the T. Howard Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing diversity in the multimedia and entertainment industry.
(NOTE: In February, it was announced that Durant will be leaving ESPN to take on the role of senior vice president of operations for Disney Springs, ESPN Wide World of Sports and Waterparks for Walt Disney World Resort.)
President, Brands and Properties | Wasserman
Elizabeth Lindsey oversees Wasserman’s brands and properties business, leading a team of more than 600 professionals globally. Instrumental in the direction of Wasserman’s corporate strategy, Lindsey, who joined Wasserman in 2007, helps guide the agency’s decision-making around acquisition and international expansion, among other initiatives, and serves as a senior adviser to the chairman and chief executive officer. She is also the senior leader overseeing The Collective, Wasserman’s platform for raising the profile of and opportunities for women in sports, a passion area of Lindsey’s since launching a ladies-only networking group a decade ago.
Previous roles include managing partner of Wasserman’s brands and properties division and senior vice president of OnSport, which was acquired by Wasserman in 2007. She also managed sports and entertainment relationships for the telecommunications firm Nortel for 10-plus years. Lindsey was named one of Adweek’s Most Powerful Women in Sports in 2018 and a Sports Business Journal Forty Under 40 honoree in 2010. She serves on the board of directors for Make-A-Wish of Eastern North Carolina.
President and Chief Administrative Officer | Major League Soccer
JoAnn Neale oversees human resources, social responsibility, player engagement, technology and administration for MLS and leads the league’s long-term business planning and annual planning processes. She spearheads the overall strategy of MLS WORKS, the league’s social responsibility platform, and created the player engagement department, which delivers programs to support player education and engagement and assist with off-field career development and transition.
Prior to joining MLS, Neale spent four years as an attorney at the law firms of Latham & Watkins and Duval & Stachenfeld, focusing on corporate finance and real estate transactions. Neale, a member of the U.S. Soccer Foundation board of directors, was named a Sports Business Journal Game Changer in 2012 and was recognized as one of Adweek’s 2019 Most Powerful Women in Sports, Crain’s New York Business’ 2019 Notable Women in the Business of Sports, and City & State’s 2018 Responsible 100 corporate citizens and leaders. She was also honored by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women for her leadership in providing opportunities through sport to underserved girls.