The Most Powerful Women in Business: WNBA’s Lisa Borders

Lisa Borders

With more than 25 years of experience in marketing, operations, and public service, Lisa Borders has built a reputation of being the go-to executive you hire when you want your company “fixed.” She gained this reputation as an executive who assesses problems, aligns solutions, and then activates.

Now, as the fourth president of the WNBA, Borders looks to pull the 20-year-old league ahead financially and commercially—which has proved to be a stubborn battle in the past. Borders is eager to broaden the scope of the league and increase the visibility of its players so it isn’t just about basketball, but it’s about recognition and female empowerment.
“I want this league to be even more successful than it is today,” says Borders. “I don’t just want it to survive. I want it to thrive. I want to go on the path of sustainability where every team is making money, and every team is operationally stable.”

Borders first knew she had the potential to be a powerful leader in 2004 when she was elected vice mayor of Atlanta and president of the city council. She understood then the magnitude of her potential: “I do know when I was elected that there was recognition that I had a certain set of skills that might be valuable to the city,” reveals Borders. “This was the first tangible evidence that I recognized that I could lead really big things someday. I’m not sure I really believed it until after that election.”

Following that, Borders served for three years as chair of The Coca-Cola Foundation and vice president, Global Community Affairs at The Coca-Cola Co. Formerly, she was President of Henry W. Grady Health System Foundation where she completed a five-year, $325 million fundraising effort.

Her career calling is to help organizations reach their full potential and go from good to great. “There’s no better place for me to be as a fixer because that’s what I am,” states Borders.

Though Borders embraces the power and responsibility that comes with having the reins as WNBA president, she emphasizes that real power in leadership is in investing in those that follow you. “Being powerful means helping someone else find their voice,” says Borders. “Often folks take power to mean personal privilege. I think it means just the opposite. It’s a collective obligation to give back to make sure that the next person has a better opportunity than you have.”

See the full list of the Most Powerful Women in Business.

The Most Powerful Women in Business: WNBA’s Lisa Borders

Lisa Borders

With more than 25 years of experience in marketing, operations, and public service, Lisa Borders has built a reputation of being the go-to executive you hire when you want your company “fixed.” She gained this reputation as an executive who assesses problems, aligns solutions, and then activates.

Now, as the fourth president of the WNBA, Borders looks to pull the 20-year-old league ahead financially and commercially—which has proved to be a stubborn battle in the past. Borders is eager to broaden the scope of the league and increase the visibility of its players so it isn’t just about basketball, but it’s about recognition and female empowerment.
“I want this league to be even more successful than it is today,” says Borders. “I don’t just want it to survive. I want it to thrive. I want to go on the path of sustainability where every team is making money, and every team is operationally stable.”

Borders first knew she had the potential to be a powerful leader in 2004 when she was elected vice mayor of Atlanta and president of the city council. She understood then the magnitude of her potential: “I do know when I was elected that there was recognition that I had a certain set of skills that might be valuable to the city,” reveals Borders. “This was the first tangible evidence that I recognized that I could lead really big things someday. I’m not sure I really believed it until after that election.”

Following that, Borders served for three years as chair of The Coca-Cola Foundation and vice president, Global Community Affairs at The Coca-Cola Co. Formerly, she was President of Henry W. Grady Health System Foundation where she completed a five-year, $325 million fundraising effort.

Her career calling is to help organizations reach their full potential and go from good to great. “There’s no better place for me to be as a fixer because that’s what I am,” states Borders.

Though Borders embraces the power and responsibility that comes with having the reins as WNBA president, she emphasizes that real power in leadership is in investing in those that follow you. “Being powerful means helping someone else find their voice,” says Borders. “Often folks take power to mean personal privilege. I think it means just the opposite. It’s a collective obligation to give back to make sure that the next person has a better opportunity than you have.”

See the full list of the Most Powerful Women in Business.

‘Little Ballers Indiana’ Docuseries From WNBA Star Skylar Diggins to Premiere on Nickelodeon’s Nicktoons Channel

WNBA All-star Skylar Diggins of The Dallas Wings is behind a three-part docuseries, Little Ballers Indiana, which premieres Friday, March 3, 2017, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT), on Nickelodeon’s Nicktoons cable TV network channel, during the NickSports primetime block. The program aims to prove that girls are among the best basketball players in the country.

 

What to Expect From Little Ballers Indiana

 

Little Ballers Indiana tells the story of a diverse group of six, young, female basketball players in Diggins’ hometown of South Bend, Indiana. The series also features interviews with current and former WNBA players, including Lisa Leslie, Tamika Catchings, Elena Delle Donne, Candice Wiggins, Niele Ivey, and Chamique Holdsclaw.

 

About WNBA All-Star Skylar Diggins

 

According to the press release, “Diggins is a five-time USA Basketball gold medalist; two-time WNBA All-star starter;  a 2015 ESPY winner; 2014’s WNBA Most Improved Player;  and a four-time college All-American.” While playing for Notre Dame, Diggins was ranked first in points and steals and led her team to a record of 35-2. Now a point guard for the Dallas Wings, Diggins considers herself to be a fitness guru and growing fashion icon. She aspires to be a role model for young women and girls, proving that “it’s possible to be a strong woman in the spotlight.”

As executive producer of Little Ballers Indiana, an NAACP Image Award nominee, Diggins teamed up with Lupe Fiasco, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Crystal McCrary, the creator and director of the critically-acclaimed BET docuseries Leading Women and Leading Men, to bring the series to fruition.

 

Championing for Black Girls

 

“As a content creator, it is extremely challenging to get programming on television that shows young black girls and their positive relationships with their fathers—depictions that are not caricatures or rooted in comedy,” says Crystal McCrary, director of Little Ballers Indiana, in a released statement.

“One of my goals in making the Little Ballers series was to show the strength and complexity of black families. It was also important to be a champion for our girls, to celebrate their strength, their differences, their brilliance: Strong girls, unapologetic girls, conscientious girls, deaf girls, girls with vitiligo, mixed girls, girls who don’t back down, black young girls who love their hair, their skin, their bodies, their fathers, their mothers, their families, their communities,” she adds.

 

Catch the Little Ballers Indiana Premiere 

 

According to a press release, Little Ballers Indiana joins the NickSports primetime TV block, which airs on Nickelodeon’s Nicktoons cable network channel every Friday night from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. (ET/PT) and features a lineup of sports themed content, including series, specials, and documentaries from professional leagues and key athletes.

The Little Ballers Indiana premiere will kick-off the NickSports lineup on Friday, March 3, 2017, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT)—you won’t want to miss it!

The Shadow League: Christine Simmons, LA Sparks

Christine Simmons

When Christine Simmons arrived at UCLA as a student, her plan was to be a pre-med major. But she soon realized, through her work as a leader in a number of student organizations, that her passion laid elsewhere.

The current President and Chief Operations Officer of the Los Angeles Sparks WNBA franchise brings an energy and commitment to diversity, while directing and coordinating all aspects of the team’s business operations. Simmons is not only one of the brightest young voices in the sports business world, she’s determined to utilize the platform that she’s earned through her intelligence, hard work, and networking, to advocate for communities of color. Her mission is to assist in the elevation of the disempowered and disenfranchised.

As a working mother and woman of color, Simmons’ example and leadership is an inspiration to many. The Shadow League sat down with Simmons in Los Angeles to hear about the Sparks’ 2016 WNBA Championship (their third title) and learn about her own journey, what’s important to her, and where she plans to go from here.

This article was previously published on theshadowleague.com

The TSL Leadership Series focuses on men and women of color who are blazing a trail through the world of sports. Athletes, coaches, executives and media personalities are some of those who are leading the charge and driving success both on and off the field of play.

Get Motivated With These Quotes by 8 Great Women Olympians

women Olympianswomen Olympians Simone Biles at the 2014 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.

As the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio continues, women athletes are proving once again that they more than hold their own when it comes to performing on the world’s stage. Whether making history by breaking records, achieving gold, or even making some mistakes, these trailblazing achievers are living proof of what continuous hard work reaps.

As they go for the gold in 2016, defining themselves and defying obstacles, their words and actions remind us of how, no matter the challenges, we should never give up and keep serving, swinging, swimming, contorting and going toward that end goal to claim our own version of gold.

Simone Manuel, SwimmerFirst African American female swimmer to win gold in an individual swimming event at the 2016 Rio games. Manuel claimed the gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle.

“This medal is not just for me, it’s for a whole bunch of people who have come before me, and been an inspiration to me and it’s for all the people after me who believe they can’t do it. I want to be an inspiration to them that they can do it.”

“I want to be an inspiration, but I would like there to be a day when it is not ‘Simone the black swimmer.’”

Simone Biles, GymnastFirst African American to be world all-around champion at the Olympics achieving gold in individual all-around and the women’s team all-around; 10 World Championship medals since 2013; regarded as the greatest gymnast ever

“Practice creates confidence. Confidence empowers you.”

“I’d rather regret the risks that didn’t work out than the chances I didn’t take at all.”

“I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles.”

Ibtihaj Muhammad, Saber FencerRanked No. 7 in the world, first U.S. Olympian to compete while in a hijab

“Set lofty goals for yourself and believe that with really hard work, you can achieve them.”

Serena Williams, Tennis PlayerFour Olympic gold medals, ranked No. 1 in women’s single tennis with 22 Grand Slam singles titles

“I really think a champion is defined not by their wins but by how they can recover when they fall.”

“You have to believe in yourself when no one else does—that makes you a winner right there.”

“You have to work hard at it. Nothing is coming for free.”

Nzingha Prescod, Foil FencerBronze medalist at the 2015 World Fencing Championships

“Do what you love. With fencing, I love this so much I never really see it as work. It’s something I enjoy doing; I like being there over anything else. And it’s kind of the same, ‘If you love something, you’ll never work a day in your life.’ Technically, fencing is my job, but I never feel like I’m working.”

Gabrielle Douglas, GymnastFirst African American gymnast to take home the gold for the individual all-around event at the 2012 London Olympic Games

“Hard days are the best because that’s when champions are made. If you push through the hard days then you can get through anything.”

“Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid to not try.”

Claressa Shields, BoxerFirst U.S. woman to win a boxing gold medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games

“Confidence is believing in yourself. Being humble is, even though you believe in yourself and you know what you’re capable of, you still work 10 times harder than your opponent to make sure you get the output you want.”

Tina Charles, WNBA Basketball Player, activistPlaying with Team USA in Rio

“I believe in leading by example. On and off the court, I want my actions to speak for my character.”

Women’s History Month: Olympian and WNBA Star Tamika Catchings Shares Stories of Triumph in New Book

As the WNBA prepares to celebrate its historic 20th season starting May 14, one of its greatest players will also commence her last season. Before her final lap, three-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings has released Catch A Star: Shining Through Adversity to Become a Champion, an autobiography chronicling her journey.

Below, Catchings shares insights on her new book, overcoming being born with a profound hearing loss, and how the WNBA continues to inspire the next generation of female athletes.

Blackenterprise.com: After playing in the WNBA for 16 years, what made you want to release a book now?

Tamika Catchings: Over the years, I’ve done a lot more speaking, and everywhere I go people always say, ‘I wish you had a book or CD, DVD or something that I could take to my family or friends.’ So for the last couple of years I’ve been like, ‘Hold on it’s coming!’

How did you overcome a hearing loss to excel at sports? 

When I was younger, it affected me more because I got bullied and made fun of and didn’t understand why I was different. Over the years, I ended up throwing my hearing aids out. I began when I was in second grade and literally didn’t start wearing a hearing aid again and going back to speech class until my freshman year in college. I wanted to fit in, and I felt like my hearing aid, because it was big and bulky, made me a target and visibly different from everybody else. Having to go through that is really where sports became important to me because I knew that if I could play sports and get really good, people couldn’t make fun of me.

We also know that you had a few painful physical injuries. How did you surmount those challenges?

I tore my ACL my senior year in college. My goal was to play in the WNBA so I thought “Oh my gosh, no one is going to draft me.” I’m a very faith-oriented person so I’m like, ‘OK God, what’s the plan? What’s going on?’ Even though I was able to come back from that and get drafted, I still struggled because I got up to Indiana and didn’t know Indianapolis because I had never been here.

Then, I tore my Achilles in 2007, which was the year before the Olympics. I remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I really want to play.’ So I did the same thing during that rehab process as I did during the first. I was grinding and thinking every single day, I had to be better than the day before. That was my mindset.

What does the WNBA’s 20th anniversary mean for you and women overall?

For me, thinking back to the beginning of the W, looking at the success of the ’96 Olympic team and how that translated into the WNBA, it’s been cool to be a part of the journey. I remember even when I came in—this will be my 16th year—there were so many people that said, ‘The WNBA is never going to make it.’ So from that standpoint, it’s like wow, you can see we’re still here. Not just we barely made it and we’re struggling; no, we’re here and we are strong and have great players that are coming up.

I think about the young girls that are training to one day have the opportunity to play in the WNBA, that’s why I’m here. I’m so proud to be a trailblazer and we are allowing them the opportunity to dream the way I did.

Black History Month: Sheila C. Johnson, CEO of Salamander Hospitality

Sheila C. Johnson, best known as co-founder of Black Entertainment Television, made history in more ways than one. Not only is she one of the few African American women billionaires, she’s also the first African American woman to be owner or partner in three major professional sports franchises—the NHL, NBA, and WNBA. She is the current CEO of Salamander Hospitality.

Former Coca-Cola Executive Named WNBA President

WNBA Lisa Borders

Lisa Borders (Image: WNBA.com)

On Wednesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced the appointment of former Coca-Cola executive Lisa Borders to president of the WNBA.

Coming to the sports arena with  more than 25 years of experience in operations, marketing, government relations, and public service, Borders most recently served as chair of the Coca-Cola Foundation and vice president, Global Community Affairs at The Coca-Cola Co. Prior to her work with Coca-Cola, she was president of the City Council and vice mayor of Atlanta where she managed the legislative branch of government while maintaining a relationship with the mayor’s office during Mayor Shirley Franklin’s administration. During this time, Borders was also instrumental in helping to bring the WNBA franchise, the Dream, to Atlanta in 2008. In 2009, she also ran for mayor of the city.

[RELATED: Be Inspired and Register Today! 7 Black Women of Power in Sports You May Not Know But Should]

“As a proven executive with a passion for the WNBA and the game of basketball, Lisa is the right leader at a pivotal time in the league’s history,” said Silver in a statement on WNBA.com. “She will be responsible for spearheading our efforts to strengthen the WNBA and accelerate its growth.”

In addition to working at Coca-Cola and with the city government in Atlanta, Borders also served as senior vice president of marketing and external affairs with Cousins Properties Inc., a real estate investment trust (REIT) based in Atlanta. While there, she also served as president of the company’s foundation. Prior to that, she spent more than 15 years working as a senior healthcare administrator and operations executive.

“The WNBA has reached a significant milestone, and I feel privileged to be joining the league at such an exciting time,” said Borders in a statement.  “I have always been a staunch supporter of this league and its tremendous athletes. I am impressed by their talent and inspired by their passion. The athleticism of the game and the sportsmanship exhibited between teams offers clear evidence of our ability to grow women’s basketball.”

She will step into her position March 21, following the resignation of Laurel Richie.

WNBA’s Oklahoma Shock Approved To Move To Dallas

Basketball fans in Dallas have been having quite a turbulent summer, as the entire country watched Mark Cuban and his Dallas Mavericks squad strike out quite publicly with prized summer free-agent center Deandre Jordan. Not hanging his head for long, Cuban regrouped and managed to bring native son Deron Williams to the team that he previously overlooked during his headlining free agent summer back in 2012 – but due to the decline in Williams’ game, that’s a consolation prize at best.

[Related: [VIDEO] The Weekend Update: May 18th]

Enter the Tulsa Shock, or should I say,  the Dallas Shock?

Yesterday, the WNBA’s owners voted unanimously to approve the team’s relocation to the Dallas-Ft.Worth area, bringing the area it’s first WNBA team. Speaking about the decision, WNBA President Laurel J. Richie offered appreciation to the citizens of Tulsa, and anticipation to those in Texas, saying, “The WNBA is extremely grateful to the city of Tulsa and the team’s loyal fans. The support they have shown for the Shock and women’s professional basketball over the past six seasons has been tremendous. We look forward to having our first team based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.”

The Shock have struggled mightily in their six seasons in Tulsa, after being a perennial playoff team in Detroit, as well as claiming three WNBA championships between 2003 and 2008. Long time ESPN Shock reporter Mechelle Voepel described the nature of the team’s struggles recently, writing -

‘Many of the key players who helped the team win three WNBA titles didn’t make the move to Tulsa. The Shock were 6-28 in their first season in Tulsa, then went 3-31 in their second year. They’ve been trying to regain their footing ever since.’

Although the WNBA’s owners unanimously approved the move, there has been some opposition. The Shock’s majority owner Bill Cameron caught many by surprise when he announced his plan to move the team to Texas on Monday, citing that the ‘Dallas area is the largest underserved market for women’s sports and has the nation’s fifth-biggest media market.’ In a statement released yesterday, Cameron said, “Today is a truly exciting day, and we thank the WNBA for its support in approving the relocation to the Dallas-Fort Worth marketplace… We are thrilled to join one of the most prolific sports regions in the country, with a fan base that has a genuine love for their professional sports teams.”

Several of the teams minority owners, most notably Stuart Price, have taken exception to the move, and Price has gone so far as to file a suit against Cameron – claiming that he’s wronged the city of Tulsa, and saying that he used Tulsa as an incubator as he readied the team for relocation. In response to Cameron’s announcement, and in light of the team’s recent success on the court, Dewey Bartlett, the mayor of Tulsa, said “I don’t know anyone that goes into these things to make money day-to-day. You buy it to grow. … I know nobody likes to keep forking over hard-earned money into a program that is losing money. … The bottom line was we needed a winning team. Well, now we have one.”

Nike Inks Massive Apparel Deal With The NBA

Late yesterday, news broke that the sportswear and retail giant Nike finalized a deal that would make it the exclusive apparel brand for the NBA, WNBA, NBA D-League.

[Related: Marshawn Lynch Goes ‘Beast Mode’ In New Call Of Duty]

BREAKING: Nike and NBA to announce new 8-year deal to become official uniform of NBA. Will start in 2017-18. Adidas is out.

— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) June 10, 2015

Today, the details of the deal have begun to surface and they are staggering, but certainly representative of the two titans sitting at the table. The deal is an eight-year partnership, beginning in the 2017-18 season. Per an ESPN report, while the financial terms were not immediately disclosed, the deal is believed to be worth roughly $1 billion, according to sources, which they note is approximately a 245 percent annual increase from the previous deal.

Nike has generally maintained a strong presence around the league over the years, and within basketball communities at various levels; the company has been an official  marketing partner of the NBA since 1992, and the footwear and apparel provider for USA Basketball, the country’s Olympic representation for the sport, since 2006. Additionally, the sportswear giant has been ever-present in locker rooms and on courts, as Nike and its affiliated brands – which include Jordan and Converse – control more than 90 percent of the U.S. basketball shoe retail market. The company has endorsement deals with many of the league’s biggest stars, including LeBron James and Kyrie Irving – whose Cleveland Cavaliers are currently locked in a battle for the NBA championship, as well as Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, and Russell Westbrook.

“We’re excited to bring the full power of our global reach, innovation and creativity to partner with the NBA and grow the game in a way only Nike can,” said Nike president and CEO Mark Parker. “In Nike, Jordan and Converse, we have three of the most connected brands in the world, and look forward to making the global growth of the game a successful strategy for both the NBA and Nike.”

Adidas, the brand that has been  outfitting the league since taking over for subsidiary brand Reebok in 2006, said earlier this year that it would not attempt to renegotiate an extension. Reportedly, there was tension behind the scenes as NBA executives and Adidas officials had differing visions for the partnership. As Adidas, the Germany-based company continued to put most of its efforts into the more globally visible sport of soccer, they dropped in the U.S. sales rankings, as Under Armour became No. 2 in sales behind Nike. An additional report stated that the 11-year contract was estimated to be valued at $400 million, and executives said it hadn’t paid off as expected

“This partnership with Nike represents a new paradigm in the structure of our global merchandising business,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “As our exclusive on court apparel provider, Nike will be instrumental in our collective efforts to grow the game globally while applying the latest in technology to the design of our uniforms and oncourt products.”

One notable change in design that’s already planned is the addition of the Nike logo on team jerseys, which is a first for the league. It joins most other sports in the addition, most notably soccer, but also the NFL – for which Nike has designed uniforms for since 2012, and recently extend the rights through 2019.

Speaking with Bloomberg Business of the addition of the logo on apparel, Brian Yarbrough, an analyst for Edward Jones & Co said, “Having the Nike logo on the jerseys can help grow the business, the bigger aspect is it keeps the competitors’ logos off the jerseys.”