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The Sports Fanatics

Elon University / Today at Elon / WINS Forum addresses the importance of continued progress and authenticity

The third annual event returned Nov. 11 with an in-person panel discussion featuring three prominent female executives in leadership roles with the Atlanta Hawks, Fanatics and the North Carolina Courage.

This fall’s WINS Forum, which adopted the theme of “On the Horizon: Celebrating Past, Present & Future of Women in Sport,” featured an hourlong panel with prominent females working in the sport industry. Photo courtesy of John Donohue G’23.

Two noticeable themes arose during the fall 2022 Women Influencers in Sport (WINS) Forum, the third installation of the annual event that celebrates women in the sport industry while also educating others interested in following the same career path.

The panelists at the Nov. 11 WINS Forum pose for a photograph together. Pictured (from left) are Andrea Carter, Francie Gottsegen, Vicky Picca and moderator Eben Novy-Williams. Photo courtesy of Shaina Dabbs.

The topics of “progress” and “authenticity” were referenced often during the Nov. 11 event, according to Associate Professor of Sport Management Shaina Dabbs. And these subjects steered much of the conversation during the hourlong, in-person panel discussion with prominent female executives with the Atlanta Hawks, Fanatics and the North Carolina Courage.

“Progress was a topic mentioned by all of our panelists as they acknowledged sport organizations – including the NBA, Fanatics, NWSL – are investing in women,” said Dabbs, who directs the Sport Management Department’s WINS initiative. “While we know we have a ways to go, we are seeing more women in leadership roles within sport, which is transforming conversations, boardrooms, classrooms and the industry as a whole.”

The invited panelists leading the conversation included Andrea Carter, vice president of corporate social responsibility for the Atlanta Hawks; Francie Gottsegen, president of the North Carolina Courage; and Vicky Picca, senior vice president of business affairs for Fanatics. Eben Novy-Williams, a sports business reporter for Sportico, moderated the event.

The Turner Theatre crowd applauds at the conclusion of the WINS Forum. Photo courtesy of John Donohue G’23.

The three panelists also touched on the importance of authenticity, which they said was at “the heart of building relationships,” Dabbs said.

“I was thrilled to hear the panelists discuss how each of their respective organizations looks internally at who they are and work to meet their communities in an authentic way,” the associate professor added. “This level of authentic relationship-building has helped the Hawks, Fanatics, and the Courage/NWSL as a whole develop more meaningful experiences with their customers and community.”

Approximately 200 attendees attended the panel in Turner Theatre, and it served as the headlining event for a day of student engagement with alumni and working professionals. As part of classroom visits and informal conversations, the speakers discussed a variety of sport-related topics, including upcoming innovation in the industry, their respective organization’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and the ethical dilemmas that arise in the workplace. Students also gained insights from alumni during a resume-building workshop, aptly titled “WINning the Job.” The day concluded with a lively social reception at The Oak House.

A promotional flyer for the 2022 WINS Forum.

For Dabbs, the third WINS forum is yet another building block in the Sport Management Department’s recent success of empowering students, citing the notable uptick of female students in the major since the 2018-19 academic year. Likewise, WINS has seen its membership expand beyond sport management students, with business and communications majors becoming active members.

“Events like the forum that get the entire School of Communications and campus involved really highlight the great work the program does to encourage and connect our students,” Dabbs said. “I look forward to the future of WINS, with some exciting experiential opportunities that may be on the horizon. But the focus always remains on the student, and that they feel empowered and equipped to accomplish their goals in sport and grow their constellation of mentors.”

To view a Flickr album of the forum, click here.