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

WISE Women of the Year: 2020 Nominees

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The WISE National Board of Directors has thoroughly reviewed all member-submitted nominations and is pleased to announce this ballot of exceptional candidates. While many women are making a significant impact in our industry every year, our nominees have been selected not only for the positions they hold, but for their ongoing commitment to the professional development and advancement of women at their respective organizations. Read more about the criteria.

This is your opportunity as a WISE member to recognize their accomplishments and contributions. The three candidates who receive the most votes will be presented with the prestigious WISE Women of the Year Award on June 10 at the 26th Annual Awards Luncheon in New York City.

You must be a professional level member to vote. Renew or join today.

Voting closes on Fri., Jan. 24, 2020 at 8pm ET.

MEET THE NOMINEES

Susan Cohig |  EVP Club Business Affairs, National Hockey League

Susan Cohig works across all business areas of the NHL — including digital media, events, finance, integrated sales, marketing, partnership marketing and broadcasting, and in collaboration with the legal team — 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 best practices information sharing and implementation.

Cohig is responsible for producing and managing the annual NHL Club Business Meetings where league and team executives gather to analyze and discuss best practices, issues and opportunities affecting all business areas, including sponsorship, marketing, ticketing and digital media. She also spearheads efforts associated with the NHL’s women’s hockey initiative, working to elevate and support women's hockey by using NHL’s assets to spotlight 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 Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets. Among her many honors, Cohig was named a 2019 Notable Women in the Business of Sports by Crain’s New York Business, 2017 WISE NYC Metro Women of Inspiration honoree, 2014 Marketing Hall of Femme honoree by Direct Marketing News and 2013 Game Changer by SportsBusiness Journal. She earned her Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of Denver and her law degree from New York Law School, where she graduated cum laude.

 

Ayala Deutsch  |  EVP & Deputy General Counsel, NBA Properties

Ayala Deutsch is responsible for managing commercial legal affairs and intellectual property matters for the National Basketball Association (NBA) and its affiliated leagues, including the global acquisition, protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights belonging to the NBA, the Women’s National Basketball Association, the NBA G League, the NBA 2K League and their respective teams. Her specialties include trademark law, copyright law and technology law.

Deutsch was named to her current position in January 2016, after serving as senior vice president and deputy general counsel since February 2014. She joined NBA Properties in January 1998 and previously served as senior vice president and chief intellectual property counsel.

Prior to joining the NBA, Deutsch was an associate at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton in New York, where she specialized in intellectual property litigation and arbitration. She had been appointed to the Trademark Public Advisory Committee of the United States Patent and Trademark Office and served as an adjunct professor of sports law at Cardozo School of Law. Currently, she is president and a member of the board of directors of the International Trademark Association, and a member of the advisory board of the Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy at New York University School of Law. Deutsch earned her law degree from New York University School of Law in 1989.

 

Rosalyn Durant  |  SVP College Networks Programming, ESPN

Rosalyn Durant oversees programming of ESPN’s college networks — ESPNU, SEC Network, Longhorn Network and ACC Network — and sets the strategic direction for each. She was promoted to her current role in May 2015 and previously served as vice president, college sports programming and acquisitions, overseeing all of ESPN’s college sports relationships, rights acquisitions and programming, including the inaugural College Football Playoff, NCAA Championships, football, men’s and women’s basketball and Olympic sports, in addition to ESPN’s coverage of high school sports and the management of ESPNU.

In 2007, Durant was named vice president, programming and acquisitions, managing ESPN’s relationships with the National Basketball Association, Major League Lacrosse, Major League Soccer, FIFA, UEFA, US Soccer and Olympic sport leagues. She began her career at ESPN as an affiliate sales and marketing intern in 1998 and quickly advanced through the company.

Durant has been on Cablefax’s Most Influential Minorities in Cable list every year since 2014 and its Most Powerful Women in Cable list since 2017, and was named to SportsBusiness Journal’s 40 under 40 list in 2015 and Game Changers list in 2012. She is on the executive committee for the board of directors of the T. Howard Foundation, dedicated to increasing diversity in the multimedia and entertainment industry. Durant earned her bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from the University of South Carolina.

 

Raquel Ferreira  |  EVP and Assistant GM, Boston Red Sox

Raquel Ferreira was named executive vice president and assistant general manager of the Boston Red Sox in December 2019. Promoted from her role as senior vice president, major and minor league operations and completing her 21st year with the franchise, she is just the fourth female assistant general manager in Major League Baseball.

Over her career with the Red Sox, Ferreira's work has been focused on overseeing the baseball operations budgets and the club's major and minor league operations. She oversees the daily operations for the team's major league clubhouse, as well as the daily operations for the organization's six minor league affiliates, handling issues for all minor league players and staff such as contract tenders, player transactions, payroll and insurance. In addition, she heads the club's player immigration program and was instrumental in establishing the Boston Red Sox Rookie Development program, which began in 2004. Previous roles include vice president, major and minor league operations; vice president, baseball administration; senior director, minor league operations; director, minor league operations; and director, minor league administration.

In 2002, Ferreira received the club's Edward F. Kenney Award, given annually to a member of the Red Sox Player Development Department who demonstrates dedication, success and work ethic befitting the man for which the award is named. She earned her Bachelors of Arts in communications from the University of Rhode Island.

 

Jill Gregory  |  EVP and CMO, NASCAR

Jill Gregory leads the marketing, media and communications for NASCAR. In 2018, she was appointed head of the company’s offices in Charlotte, N.C. Under her leadership, the organization has bolstered its overall marketing strategy to strengthen fan engagement and cultivate new fans among younger and more diverse audiences. Gregory also leads the broadcasting department and collaboration with NASCAR’s broadcast partners on marketing, digital and fan engagement strategies. She is responsible for the sanctioning body’s digital platform, NASCAR Digital Media, including NASCAR.com, the NASCAR Mobile app and fantasy games.

In 2017, Gregory established the company’s first content strategy group to elevate strategic planning and enhance collaboration within NASCAR and the industry. In recent years, NASCAR’s content platforms have grown significantly as millions of fans consume the sport via digital and social media.

Prior to joining NASCAR, Gregory was senior vice president of motorsports marketing for Bank of America. Earlier in her career she was director of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series marketing program for Sprint NEXTEL. Gregory was named to the inaugural class of Game Changers by SportsBusiness Journal in 2011, served as corporate walk chair for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Charlotte Light The Night Walk and is on the NASCAR Foundation's board of directors. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from California Polytechnic State University.

 

Elizabeth Lindsey  |  President of Brands and Properties, Wasserman

Elizabeth Lindsey joined Wasserman in 2007 and leads the marketing division, overseeing all of Wasserman’s brands and properties business, including the agency’s wholly owned subsidiaries: creative and digital agency Laundry Service and production and influencer marketing company Cycle. She is responsible for leading a team of more than 600 professionals globally.

Instrumental in the direction of Wasserman’s corporate strategy, Lindsey guides the agency’s strategic decision-making including acquisition and international expansion initiatives and serves as a senior advisor to chairman and chief executive officer Casey Wasserman on matters regarding the company’s strategic marketing platforms. She also serves as the senior leader overseeing The Collective, Wasserman’s platform focused on raising the profile of and opportunities for women in sports, a passion area of Lindsey’s since she launched a ladies-only networking group a decade ago. Previous roles include managing partner of Wasserman’s brands and properties division, senior vice president of OnSport (acquired in 2007 by Wasserman) and managing sports and entertainment relationships for Nortel for more than 10 years.

Lindsey has been named by Adweek as one of the Most Powerful Women in Sports and by SportsBusiness Journal in its annual Forty Under 40 list, and serves on the board of directors for Make-A-Wish of North Carolina. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in broadcast journalism and a master’s degree in mass communication from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

 

JoAnn Neale |  President and Chief Administrative Officer, Major League Soccer

JoAnn Neale oversees strategic planning, human resources, social responsibility, player engagement, technology and administration for Major League Soccer. She leads the league’s long-term business planning and annual planning processes, and is responsible for all aspects of human resources, including employee relations, talent acquisition, diversity and inclusion, talent development, benefits, compensation, human resources information systems, culture and core values.

Neale 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. Also reporting to Neale are technology and administration, including business technology and owned-platforms, office design, space planning, vendor management, compliance and day-to-day office services and operations.

A board member of the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Neale was named a SportsBusiness Journal Game Changer, Adweek’s 30 Most Powerful Women in Sports, Crain’s Notable Women in the Business of Sports and City & State’s 100 Most Responsible Corporate Citizens. She was honored by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women for her leadership in providing opportunities through sport to underserved girls. Previously, Neale spent four years at the law firms of Latham & Watkins and Duval & Stachenfeld, focusing on corporate finance and real estate transactions. She earned her law degree from New York University’s School of Law, graduating cum laude, and received a Bachelor of Science degree, with distinction, from Cornell University.