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April 13, 2022

[PRO] Sports Assembly and RISE, the national nonprofit that uses sports to combat racism and unite diverse communities, are launching the second season of the [PRO] RISE Certificate of Inclusive Leadership, today, to empower 40 sports industry professionals from across the country to be leaders in discussing and addressing matters of racism, diversity, equity and inclusion.

The certificate workshops, which are designed and led by RISE, offer participants the training, development and support to promote and practice inclusive leadership, provide an understanding of core concepts around diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and afford the opportunity for hands-on discussion around critical topics and issues. They feature RISE's multifaceted curriculum, which covers a wide array of topics and skills, increases an understanding of racial equity and builds cultural competence.

The second season of the [PRO] RISE Certificate of Inclusive Leadership runs through June 2022. It includes six live virtual workshops and two self-paced digital activities. Participants will also engage in a capstone experience, and receive a certificate of completion after finishing all workshops and requirements.

“Sports provide an opportunity to unite people of diverse backgrounds for the sake of advancing values of inclusion, racial equity, and social justice,” said RISE Chief Program Officer Dr. Andrew Mac Intosh. “This opportunity creates a safe environment to learn about important diversity and inclusion related concepts, and empowers sports professionals to think strategically about the way DEI programming could live within their organizations to improve its long-term health and performance and positively impact their communities. After the success of the first year of this certificate, we are excited to continue our partnership with [PRO] to help educate and empower sports leaders to make a true difference on the industry and beyond.”

A cohort of 31 sports industry professionals participated in the first iteration of the certificate program in Spring 2021.

“It was an absolute honor to be amongst the first cohort to participate in the [PRO] RISE Certificate of Inclusive Leadership this past year,” said Dionna Widder, Houston Dynamo FC Chief Revenue Officer. “The sessions led by RISE were very thought-provoking and provided a safe place to be vulnerable and learn. I completed the certificate with confidence in my ability to navigate conversations, to speak up regarding matters that created diverse and inclusive actions and that I hold the power to be a champion of change.”

Participating in the workshops are those who have been charged with or are interested in creating a more diverse and inclusive culture within their organization. The cohort of sports professionals for the second season of the program include:

  • Casey Africano - Los Angeles Rams, Player Affairs Fellow
  • Juan Astudillo - Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash, Business Development Representative
  • Kae Beavers - Ilitch Sports & Entertainment, Operations Manager
  • Kenny Bunch - Dallas Mavericks, Director of Service & Retention
  • Ray Casas - Texas Rangers Baseball Club, Director, Community Impact
  • Yvette Casares Willis - PRO Sports Assembly, VP Strategic Partnerships
  • Julie Cook - New York Gridlock Ultimate, Co-founder and Co-owner
  • Esti Crumbley - Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena, Manager, Marketing and Community Programs
  • Amanda Czajka - Pegula Sports + Entertainment, HR Generalist
  • Kathryn D'Angelo - Buffalo Bills, Assistant General Counsel
  • Brittany Green - Oak View Group, Manager, Partnership Solutions
  • Margaret Grotte - Spurs Sports & Entertainment, Senior Manager, Partnership Solutions
  • Latisha Hanna - NVE Experience Agency, Manager of People and Community
  • Tiffany Harrington - Ilitch Sports & Entertainment, Director, Corporate Partnership Activation
  • Jasmine Howard - Ilitch Sports & Entertainment, Human Resources Business Partner
  • Jeremy Kelley - Pegula Sports + Entertainment, Alumni Manager
  • Breanna Kellogg - Dallas Mavericks, Group Sales Account Executive
  • Max Klepper - Ilitch Sports + Entertainment, Manager, Partnership Strategy
  • Felicia Lamar - St. Louis Cardinals, Human Resources Manager
  • Christina Low - Oakland Roots SC, Chief Operating Officer
  • Jenni Luke - San Francisco 49ers, Vice President, Community Impact
  • Mary Kate Meals - Cavaliers Operating Group, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator
  • Corinne Millen - PRO Sports Assembly, Managing Director
  • Joda Parent - Texas Rangers, Director, Baseball Administration
  • Ena Patel - LA28, Director, Games Planning & Deliver
  • Raven Payne - Cavaliers Operating Company, Community Relations Specialist
  • Felipe Quevedo - Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash, Supporter Development Specialist
  • Victor Ribakare - Dallas Mavericks, Sponsorship Activation Coordinator
  • Patricia Rios - Oak View Group Arena Alliance, Human Resources Business Partner
  • Pamela Rivers - Major League Baseball, Office Operations
  • Alexis Roe - Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena, Sr. Manager, DEI Programs
  • Vanessa Scott - Houston Dynamo FC and Houston Dash, Vice President, Finance
  • Katy Semtner - Oklahoma City Thunder, Vice President, Human Resources
  • Rachael Skinner - Dallas Mavericks, Service and Retention Account Executive
  • Courtney Smith- Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash, Director of Human Resources
  • Nick Somoano - Houston Dynamo FC, CFO
  • Max Stiss - Hard Rock Stadium, Director Delivery
  • Nicolette Trobaugh - Chicago Cubs, Assistant Director, Guest Services
  • Vanessa Ward - Chicago Cubs, Manager, HR Projects
  • Susana Wolfe - Austin FC, VP, Human Resources

“Providing benefits and resources to our members so they can be wildly successful in their professional journey is core to the mission of Pro Sports Assembly,” said Ann Seeney, Chair of Pro Sports Assembly and Chief People and Diversity Officer for US Soccer. “Our partnership with RISE is an excellent example. Many leaders have been put in a position to lead diversity and inclusion efforts, but have not had extensive training, especially as it specifically relates to pro sports. Now they do, and we could not be more thrilled with this offering.”

About RISE

RISE is a national nonprofit that educates and empowers the sports community to eliminate racial discrimination, champion social justice and improve race relations. Through partnerships and programs, RISE inspires leaders in sports to create positive change on matters of race and equality. RISE programs build skills and create safe spaces to have difficult conversations. RISE equips students, athletes, coaches and administrators with the tools to be culturally competent, effective advocates for racial equity and leaders in addressing racism, prejudice, diversity and inclusion. RISE's vision is to create a nation unified through sports committed to racial equity and social justice. For more, visit https://risetowin.org

About [PRO] Sports Assembly

[PRO] Sports Assembly is a 501c3 non-profit organization of men and women working in professional sports. We are a community of leaders advancing diverse and inclusive leadership in our organizations. Together, we create and foster a healthy and equitable workforce in teams, leagues and unions. Developing cultural and gender intelligence will enable our industry to drive innovation, bolster financial performance, capture new markets, and increase customer loyalty.

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