ATLANTA – Turner Sports vice president Tara August’s eyes sparkled like diamonds when she recalled how her career has ascended to the point where the White House is now calling her. Rolanda Gaines, the director of marketing over at Fox Sports, was temporarily transported back to the Motherland as she excitingly retraced how one of her jobs in sports took her on a mind-blowing excursion to Johannesburg in South Africa. And Nzinga Shaw, the current chief diversity and inclusion officer for the Atlanta Hawks, is a living testament to how dream jobs can be had despite a former employer telling her she would always lack the qualifications.
ColorComm’s “Minority Women in Sports PR” panel discussion in the club section in Philips Arena became a fascinating foray into how these black women accomplished and experienced things beyond their original comprehension as they pursued their goals in life.
And what was one of the best parts of the 90-minute panel discussion of highly-successful women who thrive in the competitive, lucrative and highly-rewarding occupation of sports business? Shaw, charged with enhancing diversity for the Hawks, is not even a rabid sports fan. The former PR person for world-renowned Edelman and Essence mag calls herself an “industry agnostic” — a person whose emotional temperature doesn’t rise and fall with the success of any team — but who is definitely a rabid fan of ensuring that qualified people of color are accorded opportunities they otherwise may not have gotten with the NBA franchise.
“This is my dream job,” she said.
August, on the other hand, was practically born on her hometown baseball diamond. Sports flows through her veins like red blood cells. Her addiction to sports resulted from her older brother playing the game and, after finishing college and not wanting to go into traditional corporate America, found that she could fulfill her love of being connected to sports without having to play it. Besides, it’s hard to tear your ACL while walking through the offices of Turner Sports.
The Sept. 15 event, spearheaded by prolific radio and TV personality Rashan Ali, helped the audience gain insight into the careers of women who spearhead marketing and PR agencies/organizations inside the sports world. The women talked about the obstacles and challenges of being the only woman and/or black in the sports boardroom, but also how rewarding their jobs are how they use their stilettos to crack the glass ceiling of possibilities.