The newly hired Clippers executive Gillian Zucker will join an elite group of top female executives in the world of sports such as Jeanie Buss, Kim Ng, Lesa France and Rita Benson LeBlanc. Unlike three of our top five female execs in sports, Zucker and Ng are not related to any owners or CEO’s of the organization they work for. Coincidentally, three of the top five work or worked for an LA-based team.
1. Kim Ng (MLB) — After spending 10 years with the Dodgers as the Assistant General Manager, Kim NG is now working under Joe Torre as the Senior Vice-President for Baseball Operations with Major League Baseball. Ng was the youngest Assistant GM at 29, when she was hired by the Yankees in 1998. The Asian-American played college softball at the University of Chicago, where she was named MVP as a third baseman in 1990. Ng started her career in baseball as an intern with the Chicago White Sox. In 2003, she was on Sports Illustrated’s 101 most influential minorities in sports. Her goal is to become MLB’s first female General Manager.
2. Jeanie Buss (Lakers) – Daughter of legendary Lakers owner Jerry Buss, Jeanie Marie took over as the team President after her father died of cancer last year. She represents the team on the NBA Board of Governors. A graduate of USC, Buss is currently dating New York team President Phil Jackson, who has won five titles as the Lakers head coach. She shares equal power handling the Lakers as does her brother Jim Buss. In 2011, Forbes named her “one of the few powerful women in sports management.” She has 5 NBA Titles as team executive.
3. Gillian Zucker (Clippers) – The former Auto Club Speedway President, Zucker was named the Clippers president of business operations on November 8, 2014. The highly-passionate woman joins Jeanie Buss as the only females who work as CEOs or presidents in major U.S. pro sports. Clippers owners Steve Balmer described her as “someone with enough intensity, enthusiasm and wisdom to really do this job well.” Unlike three of our top five female execs in sports, Zucker is not related to any owners or CEO’s of the organization she works for.
4. Lesa France (NASCAR) – Grandaughter of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., France is the Chief Executive Officer of International Speedway Corporation, which manages NASCAR race tracks, and the Executive Vice President of NASCAR. Forbes, in 2009, named France as the “most powerful women in sports.” Her family also ranks No. 54 on Forbes List of America’s Richest Families. Not only did she strengthen the NASCAR brand under her reign, but has also help boost the sport by 40% with the female fan base.
5. Rita Benson LeBlanc (Saints and Pelicans) — LeBlanc, 37, is the Vice Chairman of the Board for the New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans. She began working in the Saints front office while she was in high school. After college, she took over management of New Orleans’ Arena Football team the VooDoo’s, where she learned quickly how to run a team. In 2014, she was the Host Committee co-chairman during the NBA All-Star weekend in New Orleans.