NEW YORK – Wednesday, ESPN President John Skipper was recognized by Women in Sports and Events (WISE) with the 2016 WISE Champion Award, an annual celebration of a male executive who has championed women in the workplace. At the New York Marriott Marquis Times Square, Skipper accepted the award on behalf of all ESPN women in front of 550 top sports and industry executives including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and more than 50 ESPN employees. Legendary television anchor and journalist Jane Pauley emceed the event.
– ESPN EVP & CFO Christine Driessen regarding ESPN President John Skipper
“We are thrilled to honor John for his dedication to support and mentor women of all professional levels at ESPN,” said Kathleen Francis, national chair of WISE. “Through his investment in the people and culture of ESPN, John has elevated women to the most senior levels across these brands and established an important legacy for our industry. We are proud to honor him as we spotlight his leadership on behalf of women in sports.”
Longtime colleague and friend, ESPN CFO and Executive Vice President Christine Driessen, introduced Skipper and said, “John has been an advocate for diversity for a long time. . . and he has long seen the benefits of diverse thoughts – and almost as important – a diverse leadership team.”
She went on to say, “John has created an environment at ESPN where groundbreaking and first-time opportunities for women and minorities are not a surprise but rather business as usual.”
Recipients of the WISE Champion Award are selected based on championing the role of women through the successful creation of new jobs, communicating a vision for women in the industry and their advancement and showing consistent commitment to the promotion of women’s careers.
Skipper’s remarks at the event proved he met the criteria.
– ESPN President John Skipper
“I am proud that ESPN has been a pioneer in providing opportunity for women – from the very beginning with [former SportsCenter anchors] Gayle Gardner to Robin Roberts to [current SC anchors and studio hosts] Linda Cohn to Hannah Storm to Sage Steele to [espnW writer] Kate Fagan, to mention just a few. Sunday night [basketball analyst and reporter] Doris Burke presented the NBA championship trophy to the Cleveland Cavaliers. That very same evening, [MLB analyst] Jessica Mendoza was in the booth for Sunday Night Baseball.”
“Increasingly, women are just in charge at ESPN. [Executive Vice President, Global Strategy and Original Content] Marie Donoghue runs our strategic planning and business development reporting to me. [Executive Vice President, Content Operations & Creative Services] Jody Markley runs all of our production operations.
“[Senior Vice President, espnW and Women’s Initiatives] Laura Gentile started and runs espnW, the premier website for women’s sports. Alison Overholt was recently named editor-in-chief of ESPN The Magazine – the first female editor of an American national sports magazine. If you watch the European championships [EURO 2016] on ESPN today … They are produced by [senior coordinating producer] Amy Rosenfeld. If you watch the SEC Network, that content is overseen by [Senior Vice President, Production College Networks] Stephanie Druley and the business of the SEC Network is run by [Senior Vice President, College Networks, Programming] Rosalyn Durant. These are just a few examples of women in charge.”
“I am among the many champions of women at ESPN for a simple but profound reason. It is the best way to assure that we have the greatest assembly of talent and brains to serve our fans and grow our business.”
WISE also awarded three Women of the Year awards. The 2016 recipients were Renie Anderson, SVP Sponsorship & Partnership Management, NFL; Kathy Behrens, President Social Responsibility & Player Programs, NBA and Karen Brodkin, President, Business Affairs, WME|IMG.