Athletics News
Ackerman Among 2014 WISE "Women of Distinction"

Val Ackerman, BIG EAST Commissioner

Val Ackerman, BIG EAST Commissioner

April 16, 2014

April 16, 2014 (New York, NY) – Women In Sports and Events (WISE), the leading voice and resource for women in the business of sports, today announced the four recipients of its 2014 “Women of Distinction” Awards, which will be presented when WISE celebrates the 20th anniversary of the organization’s annual awards luncheon on June 17 at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. 

For the first time and as part of the 20th anniversary celebration, WISE will replace its iconic “WISE Women of the Year” award and recognize four “Women of Distinction.” The four honorees – Val Ackerman, Christine Driessen, Barbara Paddock and Judy Sweet – were selected based on criteria including 20-plus years of experience in the sports industry, showing strength in their overall body of work, and continued support in and around the industry while setting a milestone as the first to accomplish something in their field. The honorees were nominated by previous “WISE Women of the Year” recipients and ultimately selected by the WISE National Board of Directors.

“The 2014 ‘Women of Distinction’ honorees represent everything WISE works to inspire and promote for women in the business of sports and events,” said Kathleen Francis, national chair of WISE. “They are not only leaders, but also supportive mentors to many and their commitment to excellence is a shining example for the next generation.”

The 2014 “Women of Distinction” honorees are:

  • Val Ackerman was named the fifth Commissioner of the BIG EAST Conference in June 2013. She was the founding President of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) and a past President of USA Basketball. She currently serves as the U.S. representative for men's and women's basketball on the Central Board of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), the sport's world governing body. Ackerman is also an adjunct professor in the Columbia University graduate sports management program and a member of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. She is a graduate of the UCLA School of Law and the University of Virginia, where she was one of the school’s first female student-athlete scholarship recipients and a four-year starter, three-time captain and two-time Academic All-American for the Cavaliers’ women’s basketball team.
  • Christine Driessen is executive vice president and chief financial officer for ESPN. She is responsible for overseeing all of the company’s financial operations worldwide. Throughout her career at ESPN, Driessen has been instrumental in setting the financial direction of the company. Her financial and strategic influence is key in all of the company’s acquisitions, new business ventures and in the multimedia programming rights deals, including agreements with Major League Baseball, Monday Night Football, the new college football playoff, the SEC, WNBA, US Open Tennis and The Masters. Driessen has received many honors and awards throughout her career, including being ranked #3 by Sports Illustrated in its 2013 “10 Most Influential Women in Sports” list. Driessen’s impact is felt by many at the company as she founded ESPN’s Executive Women’s Forum, a group dedicated to helping women executives succeed in business and at ESPN. She has served on the Board of Trustees of Fordham University, where she graduated and serves on the Board of Trustees of the Women’s Sports Foundation.
  • Barbara Paddock is a Senior Vice President with JPMorgan Chase and has worked on the development and implementation of corporate sponsorships since joining Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company (a predecessor to JPMorgan Chase) in 1977, as well as numerous initiatives conducted by the firm's philanthropic arm: the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. As one highlight of her many accomplishments, she transformed the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge from a one-city running event into a worldwide phenomenon, with year-round races for more than 250,000 runners in seven countries on five continents. A native New Yorker, she also has taught as an adjunct professor at New York University’s School of Continuing Education on Sponsorships and Event Marketing.
  • Judy Sweet was elected to a two-year term as membership President of the NCAA in January 1991 and was Secretary-Treasurer of the NCAA from 1989 to 1991, becoming the first woman to serve in each of those positions and the only woman to serve as President. Sweet was a member of the NCAA Television Negotiating Committee, which resulted in the first $1 Billion seven-year television contract with CBS beginning in 1991. She retired from the NCAA as Senior Vice President for Championships and Education Services in September 2006 and returned to San Diego, where in 1975 she became one of the first women in the nation selected to direct a combined men’s and women’s intercollegiate athletics program at the University of California, San Diego. She now serves on several boards, including the ESPNW Advisory Board and Women’s Sports Foundation Advocacy Committee, is doing Title IX consulting work nationally for universities and organizations, and is Co-Founder and Board President of the Alliance of Women Coaches. Sweet is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, the University of Arizona and National University, San Diego.

WISE Annual Awards Luncheon And First-Ever Symposium
The WISE Annual Awards Luncheon draws individuals from across the country and the sports industry, with more than 60 organizations represented across leagues, facilities, teams, apparel, brands, manufacturers, agencies, media, athletes and universities. For ticket and sponsorship information, visit www.WISEworks.org.

One day prior to the luncheon, WISE will also hold its first-ever WISE Symposium on June 16 at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. The Symposium is designed to be an accessible event where women, at every level, can grow their network, improve their skills and find the resources for personal and professional development. The event will include a combination of engaging panels, collaborative round-table discussion and speed mentoring. For more information, please visit www.WISEworks.org.

WISE Promotes Fall 2014 Launch Of Executive Leadership Institute At Dartmouth
In conjunction with the 2014 WISE Annual Awards Luncheon and the first-ever WISE Symposium, WISE is encouraging women to apply for the Fall 2014 launch of its Executive Leadership Institute in partnership with Tuck Executive Education at Dartmouth.

The customized program was created specifically for the advancement and retention of female executives in the sports industry, and will convene November 9-14, 2014, on the Tuck campus in Hanover, N.H. Forty women will be selected for the inaugural class. Applications will be accepted through June 10 and are available at www.wise-institute.org.

Additional information about the 2014 “Women of Distinction” honorees, the WISE Annual Awards Luncheon, the first-ever WISE Symposium and the WISE Leadership Institute can be found at www.WISEworks.org

About WISE
WISE (Women in Sports & Events) is the leading voice and resource for professional women in sports.  Through ongoing meetings, special events and mentoring programs, WISE aims to offer its members the opportunity to gain valuable industry insights and connections that can give them a competitive advantage in their current position and as they advance in their careers.  Founded in 1993, WISE is a membership organization headquartered in New York City with chapters in Atlanta, the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, NYC-Metro, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Washington, DC, as well as Syracuse University’s WISE on Campus. To become a member of WISE, please visit www.WISEworks.org.

CONTACT:
Lisa Schmitz
Matter, Inc.
(312) 240-2604
lisa.schmitz@matter-inc.com