Pro Sports Assembly Celebrates Inaugural Class of Medal of Leadership Award Honorees

Pro Sports Assembly Celebrates Inaugural Class of Medal of Leadership Award Honorees

Four Recipients Were Honored at Ceremony for their Exceptional Leadership Contributions and Impact on the Industry

Austin, TX - June 22, 2023 – Pro Sports Assembly (PRO), the association for professional sports business leaders, celebrated its inaugural class of honorees for the PRO Medal of Leadership Awards during a ceremony last night at The Assembly: Pro Sports Leadership Retreat and Workshop. The four Medal of Leadership Award honorees were selected by members of PRO for elevating the standards of leadership in professional sports. The Medal of Leadership Awards celebration was presented by Oak View Group Arena Alliance and supported by the NFL and Shinola.

The inaugural PRO Medal of Leadership Award honorees included:

Jason Jenkins "Victory for Humanity" Award - Xavier A. Gutierrez, President & CEO of the Arizona Coyotes

Marshall Award for Values in Sport - Michele Roberts, National Cycling League Investor and former Executive Director at the National Basketball Players Association

Visionary Leadership Award - Lester Jones, Senior Vice President of Financial Planning and Analysis at the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena

Rising Leader Award - Mary Kate Meals, Senior Coordinator of Diversity, Inclusion & Engagement at the Rock Entertainment Group

The Jason Jenkins “Victory for Humanity” Award was created in honor of Jason Jenkins, the late Senior Vice President of Communications and Community Affairs for the Miami Dolphins and a founding member of PRO, serving on the Governing Board as the Chair of Communications. Jason epitomized inclusive leadership, unifying people in sport and in the community.

The Marshall Award for Values in Sport was inspired by Cynthia “Cynt” Marshall, CEO of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. As the first Black female CEO in the NBA, she represents strength and impact for the organization, its greater community and the professional sports ecosystem. The award is presented to a trailblazing Pro Sports Assembly member who exemplifies Character, Respect, Authenticity, Fairness, Teamwork and Safety.

The Rising Leader Award recognizes a full-time pro sports executive (0-10 years of experience) who has made an exemplary impact early in their career. This award calls attention to an individual with an outstanding commitment to excellence.

The Visionary Leadership Award is presented to a senior-level (director and above) professional sports leader. Throughout their career, this individual has shown excellence inside their organization, in their community and is dedicated to building the next generation of leaders.

Recipients received their medals at The Assembly: Pro Sports Leadership Retreat and Workshop in Austin on June 21. The Assembly is an intimate gathering of professional sports business leaders who are influential in setting an agenda and strategy for their organization, and who are committed to creating a strong, healthy, and fair future across the industry. Building on the successes of the inaugural workshop and retreat in 2022, members will continue working together to identify the most critical issues facing the industry, workshop solutions and chart a path forward for leadership.

The co-chairs for the 2023 Medal of Leadership Awards are Bridget Gannon of The Players Alliance and Jacques McClendon of the Los Angeles Rams. The Assembly: Pro Sports Leadership Retreat and Workshop co-chairs are Antony Bonavita of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Alexis Roe of the Atlanta Hawks and Lexi Williams of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment.

“I feel extremely honored to be one of the first recipients,” added Jones. “To be first in anything is to mean that you are a leader and the fact that others recognize that, is humbling.”

“To be the inaugural winner of the Rising Leader Award really put into play for me that I’m exactly where I need to be during this season of my life,” Meals said. “It completely encourages me and empowers me to want to do what I’m doing even more and validates that all of the hard work I’ve put into the last couple of years of breaking into the industry have been worth it.”

Marshall Award for Values in Sports
Roberts, throughout her NBPA tenure, empowered players to use their platform and voice to impact business and social issues beyond the league. She is also a founding investor in the National Cycling League, the first majority-minority and female owned professional sports league. While with the NBPA, she also played an important role in creating the NBA bubble during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Jason Jenkins "Victory for Humanity" Award
Gutierrez, who is the first Latino CEO and President in NHL history, established the first black and first female coaching internship for the Arizona Coyotes. He also created a Latino Advisory Council made up of local community leaders to better serve and welcome Arizona's Latino population. In addition, he coordinated the "All AZ Alliance" to help raise and solve community issues, like creating vaccine sites and voting sites locally.

Visionary Leadership Award
Jones has been credited with revamping the Hawks' budgetary process, leading to more immediate gains in the areas of forecasting, financial accountability and reporting efficiency. He also uses his industry knowledge to promote educational literacy to Asia and Africa.

Rising Leader Award
Meals, who successfully planned and executed several successful events during NBA All-Star Weekend in Cleveland in 2022, is also an important part of coordinating and implementing the Cavaliers' community nights throughout the season.

Sponsors of The Assembly 2023 include Coca-Cola, NFL, Oak View Group Arena Alliance, Dallas Sports Commission, H-E-B, Tito’s, Novus Global, Breakthru Brands, Evolved Experience Solutions, Navigate, Redemption, Arizona State University, Brand Pride, Shinola and Eight Beer.

About Pro Sports Assembly
Pro Sports Assembly is the association for professional sports business leaders. Members of PRO believe in the power of uniting as a force for good around leadership development, community building, and collective impact to create a stronger, healthier, and more fair future for professional sports. The power of Pro Sports Assembly comes to life because PRO members champion the Industry, Profession and Workforce. Collectively, PRO members set the standard for leadership in professional sports. For more information on Pro Sports Assembly, please visit and LinkedIn.


Antoine Ibrahim
Unrivaled Group
[email protected]

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