2023 Billie Jean King Leadership Award Recipient

Stacey Allaster

Photo Credit: USTA

Chief Executive of Professional Tennis at the USTA and Tournament Director of the US Open

“I have always found a way. No matter what the challenge is.” For over 30 years, Stacey Allaster has demonstrated that no obstacle is too great for her to overcome. Despite never having played professional tennis, she is one of the most competitive, visionary, and successful leaders in the sport. Allaster has helped grow tennis on an international level while advocating for equality and has paved a path to the C-suite that other women can follow. For her dedicated advocacy and achievements on behalf of women athletes in one of the world’s most popular sports, she is being honored with the Women’s Sports Foundation’s 2023 Billie Jean King Leadership Award.

A native of Canada, Allaster began working in tennis at age 12, cleaning red clay courts for pocket change at a community club. By 16, she became a certified teaching professional to pay for her own lessons, eventually competing at the University of Western Ontario while earning her bachelor’s degree (and where she later received an MBA and Honorary Doctorate of Law). After being rejected three times for positions at Tennis Canada, she finally got her foot in the door in 1991, and became VP of Sales & Marketing, and the Tournament Director of the Canadian Open.

Joining the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) as president in 2006, she became Chairman and CEO in 2009. Under her leadership, the WTA grew the brand globally: doubling prize money, securing over $1 billion in revenue and creating one of the largest media rights and production ventures in women’s sports history. Allaster also ensured women athletes received equal prize money at 11 events, including the Grand Slams.

For these achievements, she was named one of the “most powerful women in sports,” a “50 over 50 Visionary” by Forbes, and a “Top 50 Hero in the past 50 years” by Tennis Magazine. In 2022, Allaster was named Companion of the Order of Canada, her native country’s highest civilian honor, for her trailblazing contributions to women’s equality in professional sport and for her dedicated mentorship.

Allaster now serves as Chief Executive of Professional Tennis at the USTA and Tournament Director of the US Open, the first woman director in its 140-year history. Only four years after her USTA tenure began, her leadership and crisis management skills were tested by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 when, with focus and determination, Allaster was a driving force helping to put the entire tennis industry back to work, not only in New York City but around the world. The 2020 US Open became a blueprint for how professional tennis could stage events during the pandemic. Most recently, Allaster was part of the team that staged the hugely successful 2023 US Open, celebrating Billie Jean King and the USTA’s commitment to awarding equal pay for 50 years.

Allaster has often reflected on the role that Billie Jean King played in her life and has often said that the best way she can express her gratitude and honor BJK is to “pay it forward;” to serve as a role model and inspire the next generation of women to accept no limits on their dreams, and to become leaders in the male-dominated world of sports business.

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2023 Wilma Rudolph Courage Award Recipient

Rosalie Fish

(Photo by Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

University of Washington’s long-distance runner and Indigenous people’s advocate

“Running with the paint changed my life.” Long-distance runner and activist Rosalie Fish first made international headlines when she ran a high school track & field event with a red handprint painted over her mouth, symbolizing the Indigenous women who were silenced by violence and “MMIW” painted on her leg to raise awareness of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women epidemic impacting her community and the country. What makes her deserving of the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Wilma Rudolph Courage Award, is her persistence, resilience and bold determination to get society to pay attention to a crisis often cast to the shadows and her desire to be a face of change for a safer, more just world.

Born in Auburn, Washington, Fish is a member of the Cowlitz Tribe, of Muckleshoot heritage, who grew up on the Muckleshoot Reservation. She first began running in middle school and quickly discovered its unique power to connect to her surroundings and ancestral roots. Running also helped her cope with the violence ravaging Indigenous women in the United States – with murder being the third leading cause of their death, acts of violence reported at alarming levels, and perpetrators often not being held accountable. Fish is a survivor of violence who attempted to take her own life when she was 14. She credits her family’s love for helping her through that difficult time and running for giving her a sense of purpose to live for others when she didn’t have the strength or confidence to live for herself. 

Inspired by Boston Marathon runner and Lakota activist Jordan Marie Daniel, Fish first donned the handprint and MMIW lettering at her state championships in 2019, where she dedicated all four of her races to Indigenous women who have gone missing or have been murdered, providing photos and information about them on a poster. One of them was her aunt, Alice Ida Looney, who disappeared when Fish was two-years-old and was found dead 15 months later. Fish won each of her races that day. Though her victories did not change what happened to the women she chose to honor, it did place a national spotlight on an issue that receives minimal visibility. 

Over time, racing for MMIW has become a form of empowerment for Fish who is now more comfortable and confident using her platform to bring attention to this epidemic that has directly impacted her and her loved ones. 

Fast forward to today and 22-year-old Fish has a long list of accomplishments to be proud of. In 2019, she became the first member of her tribe to sign a National Letter of Intent for college athletics when she committed to Iowa Central Community College following numerous Washington state track titles at the 1B level. In 2021, she was recruited by the University of Washington’s (UW) track & field team and in 2022 she became the first Husky student-athlete to win a Truman Scholarship, awarded nationwide to students based on leadership skills and who have demonstrated civic engagement, academic potential and a desire to pursue a career in public service. 

From the track to the classroom, she plans to continue her advocacy for all Indigenous people at UW by pursuing a Master of Social Work and graduate certificate in American Indian Studies. 

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Learn more about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women MMIW epidemic and take action. Visit and support the Urban Indian Health Institute at

2023 Champion For Equality Award Recipients

Jon Patricof and Jonathan Soros

Photo Credit: Athletes Unlimited

“What would happen if we started with a blank sheet of paper?” So began the genesis of a revolutionary new approach to professional women’s sports leagues. Jon Patricof and Jonathan Soros sought to put the power in the hands of athletes by building an innovative platform for women’s sports when they co-founded Athletes Unlimited (AU). Tossing the traditional sports model aside, these bold business disruptors have built an extraordinary partnership with pro athletes that puts individual players in control of the game – taking head coaches, club owners and locked rosters out of the equation. From player-led executive committees to creating unprecedented pathways for long-term equity and ways to give back to athletes’ chosen nonprofits, Patricof and Soros have truly created something transformative. For their unwavering commitment to elevating the voices of women athletes by building a more equitable and inclusive model for professional sports, they are the Women’s Sports Foundation’s 2023 Champion for Equality Award recipients.

Patricof and Soros launched AU’s cutting-edge model with softball in 2020, adding volleyball and lacrosse in 2021, and basketball in 2022. The leagues consist of a never-before-seen competition format, scoring system, and a player-led organizational structure. Forgoing bouncing back and forth between cities and stadiums, players compete in one place throughout a five-week season. At the beginning of each season, four captains are appointed to draft the first week’s teams and the one-of-a-kind scoring system rewards players for peak performance where they can earn points (and monetary bonuses) for winning as a team, their individual stats and being voted MVPs of the game. At the end of each week, the top four players become the new captains and draft a team from scratch for the next week. This model is tailored towards sports fans who follow athletes and not teams, providing a unique experience for them each week.

From Patricof’s experience growing the Disney, ESPN and ABC brands across emerging channels, leading the Tribeca Film Festival then the NYC Football Club to Soros’ experience founding JS Capital, co-founding Give Lively LLC, and sitting on the boards of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and GivingTuesday; these co-founders have demonstrated a visionary approach throughout their careers. AU’s game-changing model was built on this solid foundation and from day one, Patricof and Soros were prepared to dive in and disrupt the women’s sports ecosystem and it is paying off. In just three years, AU has had 13 seasons across 4 sports involving over 350 world class athletes and announced it had secured more than $30 million in new capital from investors both inside and outside of the sports ecosystem. Other notable milestones include becoming the first ever pro sports league to organize as a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC) and becoming carbon neutral in the United States. These are a few of the reasons why Fast Company recognized AU as one of the ‘world’s most innovative companies’ in 2023, making them the first women’s sports organization to receive the tribute.

Through AU, Patricof and Soros are out to prove that women’s sports, which have historically been undervalued in our society, can be successful by doing things differently. By striking deals with consumer brand powerhouses like Nike, Gatorade, and ESPN, they are helping give some of the world’s best athletes a platform to thrive like never before. It is their hope that AU’s model provides a roadmap for the future of all sports and shows what is possible when we upend conventional power structures and center athletes as decision-makers and stakeholders, ultimately reshaping attitudes and expectations around women as professional athletes and establishing new norms for how businesses show up in the world.

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2022 Champion For Equality Award Recipient

Alexis Ohanian

Founder of Seven Seven Six; Co-Founder of Reddit; lead founding investor in the professional women’s soccer team Angel City FC; outspoken advocate for paid family leave

Alexis Ohanian is amplifying women’s sports for what it is, “damn good business.” As co-founder and lead founding investor in Angel City FC, he issued a call-to-action for society to follow his lead and invest in women’s sports, confidently challenging all to “check the receipts in a decade.” A visionary entrepreneur, he invests in the future of girls and women through sports, venture capital and family leave advocacy. For his unwavering commitment to level the playing field – on the pitch, in the boardroom and in the halls of Congress – and inspiring a whole new generation of male leaders to become allies and take the smart bet on women, he is the 2022 Champion for Equality Award recipient.

Ohanian was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and grew up in the suburbs of Baltimore, M.D. He is an entrepreneur and investor widely known for knocking his business deals out of the park. He co-founded Reddit, one of the largest websites in the United States, which was funded by Y Combinator in 2005 and sold to Conde Nast in 2006. He returned as executive chairman in 2014 to help lead the turnaround of the now independent company that today is valued at over $10B. In 2016, he left Reddit to run the venture capital firm he co-founded, Initialized Capital, and built it to $100B in market value through early investments in companies like Coinbase, Opendoor, Instacart, Patreon, and Ro. 

He is a husband and has become one of the most recognized ‘girl dads’ – roles that encourage him to use his entrepreneurial skills to build a better world for all. After the murder of George Floyd, he considered a future conversation he’d have with his daughter, Olympia, about what he did to create a more equitable world online and offline for her. He resigned from the board of Reddit in June of 2020 in protest – relieved that Reddit fulfilled his wish to have his seat filled by a Black director and started taking steps to curb hate on the platform. 

In 2020, Ohanian also left Initialized Capital to launch Seven Seven Six, a firm built like a technology company that deploys venture capital. Since its inception, Seven Seven Six has already grown to oversee $769 million in assets. Fast forward to this year, he has officially launched the 776 Foundation to support marginalized individuals and announced a $20M commitment to climate action through his new 776 Fellowship Program

His advocacy on behalf of paid family leave demonstrates that his commitment to gender equity goes beyond women’s sports. Ohanian has lobbied for federal legislation that mandates quality paid family leave for all – birth parents, adoptive parents, and caregivers. As he penned in a 2019 New York Times opinion article, “All people deserve fulfilling work and close family ties.” He is especially focused on normalizing paternal paid time off, challenging a generation of dads to take the full opportunity if they get the chance. It’s an issue he dives into on his podcast, “Business Dad,” where he interviews other fathers about what it means to be a dad in today’s world and how they balance their careers and families.

Whether he is catching an Angel City home game at Banc of California Stadium or advocating for change on Capitol Hill, this savvy start-up investor strives to devote his time and skills to build a more equitable world, not only for women in sports but for families and the communities they live in.

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