The Assembly 2024

Who's AttendingProgram Summary

In its third iteration, The Assembly Leadership Retreat remains inspired by being member-led and member-driven. It is where PRO leaders who are influential in setting strategies for their organization and who are committed to creating a strong, healthy, and fair future across the industry gather to refine their own learning and leadership perspectives, celebrate and occasionally commiserate. Our focus this year is “Pro Sports Leadership Evolution & Innovation.” From rapidly evolving financial models to navigating unpredictable political and global influences, the best pro sports leaders strive to stay connected and ahead of the curve. By coming together and sharing a private space for such important conversations you will help speed up the rate at which we can mitigate threats and solve organizational and industry-wide issues.

As in the past, leaders from professional teams, leagues, unions, and venues work together to:
  • identify the most critical issues facing the industry
  • workshop solutions and
  • agree on a path forward as inclusive pro sports leaders
If you have received an invitation, confirm today to reserve your room at the retreat center. Please note, days two and three are closed to media and attendees are asked to strictly follow Chatham House Rule.

Join The Huddle group for real-time updates!

Chairs and Host Committee:

Programming Chair - Crispus Gordon 

Partnerships Co-Chairs - Jonathan White & Gene Tinner

Medal of Leadership Co-Chairs - Chioma Atanmo & Kim Miller & McKenzie Watts

Marketing and Communications Co-Chairs - Stacy Ruiz & Kiri Bryant

Operations Co-Chairs - Frantzer Le Blanc & Vanessa Ward

Wednesday - June 5 - Annual Membership Meeting and Medal of Leadership Awards
PRO leaders, welcome to your retreat. Your leadership is essential to our collective success. We are so glad you are here.

- Afternoon - 

Annual Membership Meeting - Officers Report, Member Recognition and New Business

    • Chair, Oracio Galindo, Los Angeles Rams
    • Chair-Elect, Marina Carpenter, Arizona Coyotes
    • Treasurer, Nicolas Somoano, NRG Stadium

- Evening -

Welcome Reception presented by OVG Arena Alliance

Medal of Leadership Celebration
To tip off The Assembly, the 2024 Medal of Leadership honorees will be celebrated for advancing the professional sports industry, both inside their organization and beyond by elevating the standards of leadership excellence. The opening celebration elevates PRO members who are building strong, healthy and fair organizations and communities. Inspired by two leaders who epitomize what it means to be a PRO and have lifted inclusive leadership to new heights: Jason Jenkins and Cynt Marshall. You are invited to attend and consider your position of influence to benefit the greater good.

Meet the 2024 Honorees

Jessica Yavitz
Chicago Fire

Kevin Demoff
Black Sports Business Symposium & Los Angeles Rams/Kroenke Sports

Morgan Cato
Phoenix Suns

Alexandria Hill
Los Angeles Rams







 Read more about the four Medal of Leadership Awards presented on June 5, 2024.

 Limited individual tickets to the Medal of Leadership Awards Ceremony, are available here.

Hospitality Suite presented by Tito's

Thursday - June 6 - Leadership Conversations and Workshops, part 1 

The focus of the third PRO Leadership Retreat and Workshop will turn attention to our industry’s leadership evolution and innovation.  June 6th is when the "work" in the workshop begins. The PRO Board Chair and more are confirmed to lead conversations about how leadership is evolving in professional sports, where it needs innovation and what the future may hold. The discussions will be followed by workshops with practitioners offering tools to refine our efforts and impact. 

- Daytime - 

State of the Union in Pro Sports Leadership
Perspective is important. Proximity is powerful. Bringing together top leaders with significant influence and perspectives to explore the extraordinary challenges and opportunities ahead enlightens and empowers PRO leaders to chart a path forward. From owners to commissioners, to top leaders at teams and unions - each leadership perspective is critical to understanding how we are collectively responsible for creating a strong, healthy and fair future in the professional sports ecosystem. In the opening keynote panel featured leaders share an overall analysis of the current status of leadership in professional sports; where we are headed, the major pain points, and what to prepare for in the next 10, 20, or 30 years. By sharing responsibility for industry-wide threats and business matters PRO leaders can gain perspective to strengthen their own organizations and establish a front line of defense to help safeguard the industry.

MODERATOR: Shareef Abdur-Rahim, President, G League (NBA) 
    • Dan Lolli, COO, Sporting KC (MLS) 
    • Dionna Widder, CRO, Nashville Predators (NHL) 
    • Roscoe Mapps, CDO, SF Giants (MLB)
Re(Design)Thinking the Pro Sports Business Model
Necessity is the mother of invention innovation. From internal disruptors to external uncontrollables, such as evolving fan, staff and athlete preferences and broadcast consumption options to unpredictable political and global markets - professional sports organizations are rapidly evolving. Valuations are growing. Private equity and Sovereign Wealth are entering the ecosystem. Challenger leagues and brands are disrupting the status quo. Here we will consider the sustainability of the current model and learn from those reimagining the framework for the future so we can be prepared to lead through shifts in market dynamics.  

MODERATOR: Xavier Gutierrez, CEO, Arizona Coyotes
    • Charlie Neiman, Head of Sports Partnerships, Amazon
    • Jesse Wallace, Head of Sports and Entertainment Partnerships, Google


Workshop: Trends Driving Transformation with Rachel Bernardo of NAVIGATE

As we grapple with today's modern "Loneliness Epidemic", maybe the surprising answer to bringing us all together can be found through sports. With the number of Americans reporting ZERO close friends quadrupling over the last 30 years, it's imperative for business leaders to understand and take action in fans' growing search for community. This workshop will focus on how the underlying motivations of sports fans can be leveraged to shape a meaningful partnership strategy centered around authentic connection.

Attracting, Developing, and Retaining Top Talent
Players and coaches make up a high-profile and mighty 5% of the professional sports talent pool. The other 95%, an estimated 150,000+ full-time employees are responsible for running the business. With aggregate valuations of US-based professional sports franchises topping 500B (yes, that’s a B for billion), it’s incredible to consider what the other 95% are able to create and support for such valuations. In this conversation, we will explore how improving cross-sport connectivity, collaboration, and collective commitment to leadership development in pro sports helps to mitigate unnecessary vulnerabilities for owners/investors, top organization leaders, and the workforce. 

MODERATOR: Camye Mackey, EVP and Chief People Officer, Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena
    • Ann Seeney, Inaugural Chief People and Diversity Officer, US Soccer Federation 
    • Liz Geist, EVP of People and Culture & CHRO, Chicago Bears 
    • Natasha Russ, Vice President, Human Resources, Sodexo Live!

Workshop: What Does the Data Tell Us? with Stephan Solon of Intello Sports Partners

This engaging sprint-workshop focuses on the transformative power of a growth mindset within any organization. Stephon will provide key insights and data-driven evidence on how fostering a culture of growth can significantly enhance performance, innovation, and retention among leaders across all levels of your organization.

Public Policy in Pro Sports

In 2024, twelve Commissioners from US-based Major Leagues met for the first time as a collective group to consider leadership for the industry and the power of our collective platform to impact cultural, political and economic factors across society. From public financing to the systematic disassembly of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) to regulatory amendments and laws around alcohol consumption, bearing arms, land-use, labor relations, sports betting, AI, etc public policy and pro sports are ever intertwined. In this conversation we will learn from those who are guiding the tactical strategies for professional sports organizations to navigate the complexities of public policy at various levels of government - from municipal to state and federal.   

MODERATOR: Crispus Gordon, Vice President, Government Relations and Strategic Affairs, Monumental Sports & Entertainment
    • Mannone Butler, Head of Programs and Partnerships, Social Justice Coalition, NBA
    • Marquest Meeks, VP & Deputy General Counsel at Major League Baseball
    • Will McIntee, Head of Sports, The White House

Workshop:  Policy Priorities for the Professional Sports Industry

Navigating the Implications of an Election Year

As much as some might like to see a “Church and State” like separation between sports and politics, if 2020 taught us anything, it’s that pro sports leaders care deeply about how elections impact their personal and professional endeavors. Seen as community leaders, professional sports executives actions (or inactions) are sought from a variety of stakeholders and influencers. Managing the demands and expectations of such requires savvy stamina - and a well-equipped team. Here we’ll learn insights from the experts.

    • Marina Carpenter, EVP Public Affairs and General Counsel, Arizona Coyotes
    • Will Hurd, Former Member of Congress

Workshop: To Make a Statment or Not? with Crayton Webb, CEO, Sunwest Communications - Ashley Clinkscale, Vice President, Public Relations & Communications Houston Dynamo FC - Dave Lockett, VP, Arizona Coyotes

- Evening - 

Dinner and Fireside Chat: Women’s Sports…Can You Keep Up!?!

According to Nielsen, the 2023 NCAA tournament finale between Iowa and LSU garnered nearly 10 million viewers, marking a 103% increase from the previous year. The WNBA draft experienced a 42% rise in viewership from 2022 to 2023, with an 89% surge among female viewers. Interest in the Women's Super League soared by 81% between 2022 and 2023, while anticipation for the Women's World Cup has grown to 41% of the global population, up from 34% before the 2019 edition.

The growing enthusiasm for women's sports presents an opportunity for exploration, analysis, and learning, especially as we advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in our industry. In this fireside chat moderated by Stacy Johns, guests Amy Sheer and Sarah Jones Simmer will delve into the growth and unique challenges facing women's sports. They'll discuss how men's leagues can actively support as allies and the strategies women's sports leagues should consider ensuring sustainable growth. Additionally, we'll examine the social and cultural impact of these leagues in breaking barriers and empowering women worldwide through sports. Join us for an insightful discussion on the evolving landscape of women's sports and its profound implications.

Moderator: Stacy Johns, COO and CFO, LAFC
    • Amy Scheer, SVP Business Operations, PWHL
    • Sarah Jones Simmer, COO, NWSL
Finals Watching with a Friendly PRO Family Feud
    • Hosted by Dr. Jamil Northcutt

Hospitality Suite presented by Tito's


Friday - June 7 - Leadership Conversations and Workshops, part 2

Day 3 will challenge the way we think about key operations in our business. Dynamic sports leaders are concerned with what happens far beyond the competition; we will explore how to leverage our leadership influence for lasting impact on front offices, our community, and the industry of professional sports. 

- Daytime - 

Workshop: Personal Leadership Brand Development with Laura Barnard of BREAKTHRU Brands  

In this interactive workshop facilitated by the visionary Founder of BREAKTHRU Brands, Laura Barnard, you will be introduced to The Spectrum of Leadership EmpowermentTM  (SLE) — an innovative and inclusive leadership development model designed to inspire you to think internally, in terms of identifying your motivations to lead, as well as externally, in terms of stepping into your greatest power as a leader. During the workshop, you will be invited to explore and chart your own unique Leadership Type through BREAKTHRU’s self-guided, online Leadership Types Quiz. At the end of the workshop, Barnard will provide you with recommendations on how to apply these learnings to build a strong, authentic Leadership Brand, which can enable the confidence, clarity, and visibility required to drive business and organizational development, career advancement, and connectivity with your audiences and stakeholders.


  • Learn about The Spectrum of Leadership EmpowermentTM  — an innovative and inclusive way to understand and think about leadership styles, stereotypes and biases.

  • Chart your own Leadership Type through BREAKTHRU’s self-guided, online quiz.

  • Understand how your Leadership Type can help you best communicate and relate with others, setting you on the path towards building a strong, authentic Leadership Brand and enabling you to achieve your greatest impact. 

Workshop: Business Case for Inclusive Leadership from the Investor's Perspective with Dr. Debonaire Oates-Primus

While most executives today seem to agree that diversity and inclusion is the right thing to do in business, they often have differing views on strategies to achieve inclusive leadership. Today we will debate the equity approach versus the equality approach. Attendees will be tasked with developing compelling responses to common rebuttals to their assigned equitable or equal approaches and the workshop will culminate with a live debate of solution-based arguments. This workshop aims to create a safe and honest space for working through different ideologies and embracing new ideas on how to achieve our common goal of elevating the sports industry as the standard-bearer for inclusive leadership. 

Where do we go from here? Wrap up with the Co-Chairs 

As an Assembly of PRO leaders, what will we do individually and collectively to build organizations that thrive with intentional, inclusive leadership across professional sports? This isn’t a rhetorical question. Everyone is invited to share and support the work ahead.

- Afternoon - 

Recreation and Departures

Pro Sports Leadership Evolution & Innovation 

Over the years, professional sports have consistently expanded by capitalizing on established policies,  structures, and media outlets. Traditional practices involved attracting and retaining top talent, with corporate partnerships sustaining investments in in-game creative displays, out-of-home branding opportunities, and broadcasting stations serving as primary platforms for game viewing. TV ratings and cookies played pivotal roles in understanding sports enthusiasts' media consumption and purchasing behavior, respectively. Ticket sales often relied on exclusive partnerships with industry giants, allowing certain platforms to maintain a monopoly in the live-ticketed event industry. 

However, the advent of technology, AI, post-pandemic considerations, and shifts in local economics have triggered a significant transformation in how sports teams conduct business. This includes reevaluating fan engagement, talent attraction, consumer targeting, and overall financial health. The prevailing theme now revolves around evolution, innovation, and agility. In anticipation of the future,  pro sports organizations are reassessing revenue models, recruitment and retention strategies, facility enhancements, and reimagining spaces for community engagement. Locally, they closely monitor economic trends to gauge community spending capacities.  

In the era of social media influencing conversations, marketing teams are strategically planning viral campaigns to sustain consumer engagement. Collaborations between corporate partners and sports organizations aim to establish deeper connections with fans through community activations. The rise of streaming services has disrupted traditional live content consumption, intensifying competition for broadcast companies. These challenges, combined with the complexities of retaining top talent, surges in player and coaching salaries, and a national election season, present formidable hurdles for the sports industry in the times ahead. 

During The Assembly, our focus will be on assessing professional sports's current state of affairs, exploring future opportunities, and considering the necessary evolution and innovation in our organizations' strategies that could lead to a strong, healthy and fair future.

Accommodations Statement

If you have a disability that requires reasonable accommodation to fully participate in a PRO event, email [email protected] at least three (3) business days in advance for arrangements to be made. Your response helps us make all PRO events more inclusive.

Who’s Attending:

Arizona Coyotes

Atlanta Hawks & State Farm Arena

Austin FC

Buffalo Sabres

Chicago Bears

Chicago Fire FC

Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland Guardians

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Mavericks

Detroit Tigers

Houston Dynamo

Houston Dash

Ilitch Sports and Entertainment

Kansas City Royals

Los Angeles Football Club

Los Angeles Rams


Miami Dolphins

Milwaukee Brewers

Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx

Monumental Sports and Entertainment

Major League Baseball

National Basketball Association G-League

National Hockey League

National Women’s Soccer League

NRG Park

Oak View Group

Pacers Sports & Entertainment

Philadelphia Eagles

Phoenix Suns and Mercury

San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco Giants

Sporting Kansas City

St. Louis Cardinals

Tepper Sports and Entertainment

Ultimate Fighting Championship

U.S. Soccer Federation

United Soccer League

And more!


I'm interested in more information on The Assembly 2024! 

Thanks to the 2024 Assembly Sponsors