The celebration of women in sports also includes a charity element, and this year’s contribution is the largest in the event’s history.
Super Bowl week can be intimidating. With so many high-profile events across the host city and beyond, it could be tough to determine which deserve your time. Speak to anyone who has attended the Sports Power Brunch, however, and they’ll tell you it’s a mistake to miss it.
Now in its fourth year, the event honors influential women who have greatly impacted the sports industry. The Brunch was first created in 2019 by LaTonya Story, CEO and founder of LPS Consulting PR. Story is both a veteran sports professional and public relations guru. Over the last few years, she has leveraged her platform to host memorable experiences, all in the name of uplifting women and encouraging them to succeed in sports and otherwise.
Media personality Taylor Rooks hosts this year’s brunch, featuring HighlightHER founder Arielle Chambers as red carpet correspondent. When taking your seat at The Clayton House in Phoenix, a curated box of goodies awaits. Inside are various gifts from one of the many sponsors Story collaborated with to provide attendees an unforgettable experience. Bright purples shine through the space, and women dressed in their Sunday best are networking, catching up, or hoping to snap photos with their favorite media moguls or athletes.
An enthusiastic Rooks opens the ceremony, thanking everyone for attending. Before the program actually begins, servers arrive en masse with plates of quiche and salad. After enough time has passed, we get to the first award of the afternoon. Boardroom/35V’s own Sarah Flynn is honored with the Head & Shoulders Innovation Award.
Following some remarks from her, Nona Lee, founder & CEO of Truth DEI and former Executive Vice President & Chief Legal Officer of the Arizona Diamondbacks is honored with the Trailblazer Award. Lee pushes for the audience to not only celebrate a single path forged, but also normalize women having multiple paths in the sports industry.
Finally, it is time for the Gamechanger Award, presented to reigning WNBA champion with the Las Vegas Aces and league MVP, A’ja Wilson. Wilson closes the awards portion by showing gratitude for the distinction, joking that it’ll go “near my Olympic gold medals.”
Attending the Sports Power Brunch floods one with a wealth of knowledge from some of the most recognizable women in sports. Guests are treated to three panels, the first revolving around women in communications and media. Moderated by Melissa Potter, Vice President, Strategy & Impact at Paramount, it features:
- Crystal Barnes: Senior Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility & Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) at Paramount
- Kimberley A. Martin: NFL Reporter at ESPN
- Denise White: CEO, EAG Sports Management
All three guests openly discuss how their past experiences have helped them excel in their current roles, advice they would give to women still figuring out career paths, and perhaps the most important subject matter, shared wisdom to those facing setbacks hindering them from reaching their full potential.
The second panel of talent covers power and money, with Constance Williams, Senior Vice President, Human Resources at the NFL, serving as moderator. Joining her onstage:
- Sandra Douglass Morgan: President, Las Vegas Raiders
- Jennifer Lynne Williams: Chief Development Officer, USA Basketball
- Kristyn Cook: Senior Vice President and Chief Agency, Sales & Marketing Officer, State Farm Insurance
- Janet Domingo Fletcher: Senior Director – Olympics & Sports Marketing, Procter & Gamble
None of the five guests shies away from navigating the power dynamic of a male-dominated industry, also covering why they stepped into their specific roles and how they’re capitalizing on their growing platform to help usher in a new generation of execs to-be in sports, on Wall Street, and beyond.
The afternoon wraps with a social media and brand marketing conversation, featuring Meta Strategic Partner Manager for Athletes, Elizabeth Stranges, speaking with:
- Haley Rosen: CEO & Founder, Just Women Sports
- Savannah Wall Foster: VP Client Relations & NFLPA Certified Contract Advisor, Athletes First
- Alex Jean Glover: Graduate Student, SMU Volleyball Athlete and Meta NIL Empower Athlete
All four media mavens share their approaches to using the internet to their advantage, how social media contributed to their success and, of course, provide advice to the attendees on a variety of similar topics.
The Sports Power Brunch is not just an annual excuse to dine alongside legendary women, it also raises money for a worthy cause. Past beneficiaries have included The Power of Girls, Winning Edge Leadership Academy, A10 Foundation, and American Cancer Society. The 2023 charity recipient is once again the American Cancer Society and Sterling Legacy Fund, created to honor the memory of Story’s late son, Sterling, who passed away in December 2019 from a misdiagnosed form of lymphoma. This year’s contribution of $15,000 is the largest in Brunch history.
“Each honoree brings a unique set of skills, perspectives and experiences to the sports industry that advances the mission of The Sports Power Brunch and deepens our impact as we work to provide girls and women with the tools they need to reach their full potential in sport and life,” Story said.
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