WISE National Board announces Women of the Year honorees

Awarded the distinction by the WISE National Board, the 2023 WISE Women of the Year honorees were recently announce and will be recognized for their accomplishments, contributions and support of their female peers at the 27th Annual WISE Women of the Year Awards Luncheon in March.

The honorees are Andrea Brimmer of Ally Financial, Jill Gregory of Sonoma Raceway, Hillary Mandel of IMG Media and Carla Williams of the University of Virginia.

“Each of these women exemplifies not only what it means to be a leader, but what it means to be a way-maker, paving the way for those who will follow their example,” said Kathleen Francis, WISE national board chair and president.

The WISE Women of the Year Award is a prestigious honor that recognizes extraordinary women who have made a significant impact on the business of sports. The WISE membership nominates women while taking into consideration if the nominees meet the criteria set forth by the organization.

“We look forward to celebrating Andrea, Jill, Hillary and Carla at our annual luncheon and the great work they do, creating opportunities for women,” said Francis.

In 1995, Women in Sports and Events, not even two years old, celebrated its first WISE Woman of the Year — Sara Levinson, then president of NFL Properties — at a luncheon in one of Madison Square Garden’s dining rooms, drawing nearly 200 attendees.

Since then, the event has grown, regularly attracting around 600 people or more, including some of sport’s most influential executives, to such iconic venues as the Waldorf Astoria and most recently the Ziegfeld Ballroom.

Not only has the event itself evolved, but the honor, too, as more and more leaders in the industry are added to this prestigious list of women.

“Over time, as we’ve gained recognition, awareness in the industry, respect and credibility, the award has really come to signify a crowning achievement for many of the people we honor,” said Sue Rodin, WISE founder and chair emerita.

“Anyone can create an award and give an award and have a big party, and it’s great.”

“But we want to be sure that we shine a light on women who have been available, who are visible leaders, generous leaders, supportive leaders who set a great example for those who are following in their footsteps.”

“It’s become a coveted award,” said Rodin.

In all, 66 women have been honored since 1995.

“These are women who have over the years been excelling in their roles, and at the same time, they have acknowledged the role that women have to play for other women, and they have been doing that in some ways without fanfare,” said Francis.

2023 WISE WOMEN OF THE YEAR HONOREES

Andrea Brimmer | Chief Marketing & Public Relations Officer, Ally Financial

In her role, Andrea Brimmer is responsible for leading all aspects of integrated marketing and brand transformation at Ally, driving unprecedented growth and disruptive consumer engagement.

Her passion for advancing diversity, equity and inclusion and using her platform to create good in the world led to Ally’s ground-breaking pledge to spend equally in advertising across women’s and men’s sports. Among her many honors, Brimmer was named a winner of the 2020 Adweek Brand Genius award, is a three-time honoree on the Forbes’ list of World’s Most Influential CMOs, is the only three-time winner of the Financial Communications Society Marketer of the Year award and was named to the 2022 Adweek Most Powerful Women in Sports list.

Prior to joining Ally, Brimmer spent 20 years on the agency side in Detroit, where she led the Chevrolet account. She holds several board positions at organizations including eHealth, the Ad Council and the Professional Advisory Board of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences at Michigan State University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree and played varsity collegiate soccer.

Jill Gregory | Executive Vice President & General Manager, Sonoma Raceway

As only the second female leader of a NASCAR sanctioned facility when appointed in 2021, Jill Gregory came armed with extensive leadership skills honed by her experience serving as executive vice president and chief marketing and content officer at NASCAR and the managing executive of the company’s Charlotte-based operations.

Under her leadership, the organization bolstered its overall marketing strategy to strengthen fan engagement and cultivate new fans among younger and more diverse audiences. In 2017, Gregory established the company’s first content strategy group to elevate strategic planning and enhance collaboration within NASCAR and the industry.

Before joining NASCAR, Gregory was senior vice president of motorsports marketing for Bank of America. Earlier in her career, she was director of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series marketing program for Sprint Nextel. She currently serves on the board of Speedway Children’s Charities, and is a national Trustee of Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Hillary Mandel | Executive Vice President & Head of Americas, IMG Media

As executive vice president for IMG Media, part of the Endeavor-owned company IMG, HIllary Mandel leads sports media sales and distribution for the Americas.

During her tenure at IMG, Mandel has advised, consulted, and negotiated for IMG’s portfolio of more than 200 premier content owners, professional sports leagues, teams, college conferences, and U.S. international federations on their media rights and strategy.

Among her clients are The AELTC (Wimbledon Championships), Big 10 Conference, Big 12 Conference, NWSL, The R&A (Open Championship), Milwaukee Bucks, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz, Roland Garros, Conmebol, PGA of America, NYC Marathon, WNBA, NCAA, NFL, NHL, and MLS and UFC. Mandel started her career at HBO in acquisitions, and went on to FOX TV affiliate KTVU, eventually moving to Golden Gate Productions which was acquired by TWI/IMG.

Carla Williams | Director of Athletics, University of Virginia

The first African-American woman to lead an athletic department at a Power Five School (ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12), Carla Williams was appointed director of athletics at the University of Virginia in 2017. Upon her arrival, she instituted The Master Plan project for UVA’s Cavalier football program and UVA Olympic Sports to address “the immediate needs to upgrade facilities.”

She has served on the executive committees of both the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators, in 2015 being named one of the top 10 senior woman administrations in the NCAA by CollegeAD.org. Prior to UVA, Williams spent 13 years in athletic administration at the University of Georgia, rising to deputy director of athletics.

She played professional basketball in Spain between graduation from UGA and returning for her Masters, serving as assistant coach for the Lady Bulldogs as they advanced to consecutive Final Fours in 1995 and 1996, and the 1996 national championship game.

2 thoughts on “WISE National Board announces Women of the Year honorees

  1. Congratulations to all present and past nominees for this prestigious award and a big thanks to Louis for giving us the history of the award and illuminating how this event has and continues to grow in stature

    Like

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