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“Diverse opinions are so important.”

ESPN's Miranda Thorpe on listening, leadership, Robin Roberts' mentorship and Black History Month

As part of our Black History Month observance, Front Row introduces you to an outstanding African-American leader at ESPN.

Miranda Thorpe is senior director of Management Operations in ESPN’s Charlotte, N.C., office. Celebrating her 20th year at ESPN in March, Thorpe is responsible for overseeing the Production Management team, a group of nearly 40 people based in four states. The team manages the budgets, credentials, contracts and staff assignments for more than 90 domestic and international events including College Football Playoff, SportsCenter, College GameDay, US Open Tennis, and ESPN’s NFL Draft coverage.

The former Florida A&M track star and Robin Roberts’ mentee answered some questions for Front Row.

A big focus for ESPN is diversity, inclusion and belonging. How do you help others feel included and valued?
When I’m holding a meeting, I think about what the room looks like. Is everyone the same around the table? Do we look the same? Are we from the same group or function within the company? Diverse opinions are so important. Even if we find out in the end that everyone around that table shares the same opinion, that’s fine – but it’s about having those different faces and voices and experiences at the table to weigh in.

And that’s part of it too – it’s not enough just to have the diverse faces in the room if we’re not actually hearing their opinions. I might call on those who are more shy or reserved in meetings to share their thoughts. It’s not trying to put anyone on the spot or in an uncomfortable situation, but it’s about being inclusive.

Tell us a little-known fact about you.
When I was growing up I was really into baton twirling, and I wanted to be a majorette in a marching band when I got to high school. In the end, I stuck with sports instead – I played high school softball, basketball, and ran track, which got me a full track scholarship in college where I ran the 400 and the mile relay.

Young Miranda prepares for a baton twirling competition. (Photo courtesy of Miranda Thorpe/ESPN)

What’s your proudest moment at ESPN?
One of my proudest moments is when I was paired with [former SportsCenter anchor, current Good Morning America host] Robin Roberts as my mentor. I grew up listening to her on radio and watching her on local news, and she’s a huge part of why I chose to go into sports broadcasting. At one point I wanted to be on air like her, but later decided to be behind the scenes.

What does Black History Month mean to you?
For me it’s about taking a pause and looking back at where we’ve come from. A time to reflect and celebrate the accomplishments that we’ve made. Growing up in the south, in Georgia, I’ve seen a lot and I’ve been exposed to a lot – If anything it’s made me more determined and focused. It’s my job and others’ to continue that growth and progress.

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