Billie Jean King Leadership Award

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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2022 Billie Jean King Leadership Award Recipient

Dawn Staley

Head Coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks, 2017 and 2022 NCAA Champions; Naismith Hall of Fame basketball player and coach; five-time WNBA all-star; advocate for gender and racial equality

There are billions of people in this world, but there is only one Dawn Staley. Certainly, the accomplishments Staley has achieved during her decades-long basketball career are significant, but her leadership goes beyond statistics and sports highlights. She is fierce, unapologetic and tenacious in using her platform to speak out against inequities, advocate for increased opportunities for women in sports, and leads with purpose. That is why she is the 2022 Billie Jean King Leadership Award recipient.  

Catapulting South Carolina into the national spotlight, Staley has made the Gamecocks a mainstay in the battle for Southeastern Conference (SEC) and national championships since starting with the university in 2008. Under her leadership, the Gamecocks have reached many firsts: Staley made history as the first Black woman to win two NCAA National Championships as head coach, in addition to guiding the team to NCAA Final Fours, No. 1 rankings, SEC regular-season and tournament titles, SEC Players of the Year, National Players of the Year, WNBA No. 1 Draft picks and No. 1 recruiting classes – to name a notable few. 

In her 22nd season as head coach, Staley has led her college teams to 12 25-win seasons, a total of 18 postseason appearances, two Women’s National Invitational Tournaments and 147 weeks in the Associated Press top 10, including 44 in the No. 1 spot – the sixth most number of times in the top spot in the history of that poll.

Staley is an advocate to her core. With over 30 years of experience in the spotlight, she does not hesitate to teach, speak out and hold institutions accountable for the inequities in sports and beyond. When the ‘madness’ of the NCAA’s tournament in 2021 showed glaring disparities between the women’s and men’s facilities, she used her platform to bring national attention to the issue – which went well beyond barbells and swag bags – urging the NCAA to re-evaluate how they value women. She continues speaking out to this day, calling out institutions for how they market women’s sports and how they could be doing more to create an equitable playing field for all women in sports. 

While we celebrate Staley’s historic coaching milestones, let’s not forget she was an outstanding player as well. She was an integral part of the 1996 U.S. Olympic team – whose success and popularity helped pave the way for the creation of the WNBA – and is still recognized today as one of the most decorated players in the U.S. women’s basketball history. She broke out on the international scene in 1989, making her first appearance in a USA Basketball uniform as a member of the 1989 Junior World Championship Team and 15 years later played her final international game after assisting the organization to a 196-10 record. She also has quite an impressive medal collection – as an athlete she won three Olympic gold medals, two FIBA World Championship gold medals, one bronze and seven international invitational titles from 1989-2004. Flash forward to her USA Basketball coaching career, and Staley continued to land on the top podium, serving as an assistant coach on the 2008 and 2016 Olympic gold medal teams and leading the U.S. to gold in the 2020 Olympics as the head coach. 

Following the 1996 Olympic Games, Staley joined the Richmond Rage of the ABL, one of the two women’s basketball professional leagues started in the wake of USA Basketball’s success on the world stage. After two all-star seasons with the organization, she switched leagues, beginning with the WNBA in 1999 – playing for the Charlotte Sting and Houston Comets before announcing her retirement in 2005. Following her retirement, the WNBA began awarding the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award in 2007, honoring the player who best exemplifies the characteristics of a leader in the community in which she works and lives. 

From then to now, Staley encourages her teams to be active members in their community and is the co-founder of INNERSOLE, an organization that provides new sneakers to children who are homeless and who are in need.

Staley has built her success on a foundation of discipline and vision. She’s a leader on and off the court, using her platform to encourage others to get out of their comfort zone, challenge things that they know are wrong, and not be afraid to talk about hard hitting issues in and outside of sports.

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2021 Billie Jean King Leadership Award Recipient

Kim Ng

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Each year the Billie Jean King Leadership award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and made significant contributions to the advancement of women through achievements in sports and the workplace. This year we honor Kim Ng, the Miami Marlins General Manager, for her excellence, persistence and commitment to breaking down barriers in sports. 

Ng joined the Marlins organization in November 2020, becoming the fifth person in club history to hold the top position in baseball operations. She is the highest-ranking woman in baseball operations among the 30 MLB teams, the highest-ranking Asian-American female baseball executive, and the first woman hired to the general manager position by any of the professional men’s sports teams in the North American major leagues.

A recognized trailblazer, Ng has more than 30 years in Major League Baseball, including a combined 21 years of experience in the front offices for the Chicago White Sox (1990-96), New York Yankees (1998- 2001), and Los Angeles Dodgers (2002-11). She has been an integral part of eight postseason appearances, including six league championship series and three World Championships (all with the Yankees, 1998-2000). Prior to the Marlins, Ng spent nine years as Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations with MLB, where she directed international baseball operations, working with the front offices of the 30 major league clubs and many other baseball leagues and entities around the world. Ng also focused her efforts on growing the game of baseball, leading MLB’s efforts to improve the quality of play, caliber of talent, and rate of participation for amateur baseball around the world while also supervising MLB playing initiatives for girls and women. Additionally, she served on MLB’s Diversity Pipeline Advisory Committee.

Ng has appeared on Forbes’ list of the Most Influential Minorities in Sports, Forbes’ list of the Most Influential Women in Sports, and Adweek’s Most Powerful Women in Sports. Most recently, she was named one of InStyle Magazine’s Badass 50 Women, and was included among the South Florida Business Journal’s Power Leaders. Ng serves on the Anti-Defamation League’s Sports Leadership Council, and took part in the 2021 Presidential Inauguration as part of the Celebrating America event.

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Billie Jean King Leadership Award Recipient

Ursula Burns

(Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for FORTUNE)

After an influential career in which she demonstrated a commitment to diversity while breaking down barriers for the next generation of women leaders, Ursula Burns, retired Chairman and CEO of Xerox Corporation and VEON, Ltd., is the 2020 Billie Jean King Leadership Award recipient. The award will be presented at the Women’s Sports Foundation 2020 Salute to Women in Sport event on October 14.

Burns, the first Black woman to head a Fortune 500 company, has spent her extraordinary career breaking down barriers for the next generation of women leaders and advocating for gender and racial diversity in major companies.

Burns joined the Xerox Corporation as an intern in 1980 and spent most of her career with the company, rising to Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, roles in which she served from 2010-2017 and 2009-2016, respectively. She had held additional leadership roles in the company spanning corporate services, manufacturing and product development. As CEO, Burns led the company’s transformation from a global leader in document technology to the world’s most diversified business services company serving enterprises and governments of all sizes.

Since Burns retired from Xerox in 2016, there have been no other Black women and only four Black men Fortune 500 CEOs – a clear paucity of diversity at the highest echelons of corporate America, and the impetus for Burns’ continued advocacy for more women and Black voices at the table. She also helped launch The WomanMakers initiative, an outgrowth of The HistoryMakers, the nation’s largest African American video oral history collection.

Burns, who regularly appears on Fortune’s and Forbes’ list of the world’s most powerful women, is a board director of Exxon Mobil, Nestlé and Uber. U.S. President Barack Obama appointed her to help lead the White House national program on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) from 2009-2016, and she served as. Chair of the President’s Export Council from 2015-2016 after service as vice chair from 2010-2015. In 2008, Burns was also named to the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Board of Directors.

Applying her knowledge and expertise beyond the C-Suite, Burns also provides leadership counsel to several community, educational and nonprofit organizations including the Ford Foundation, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Corporation, Cornell Tech Board of Overseers, the New York City Ballet, and the Mayo Clinic, among others. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineers and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Burns is the 51st recipient of the Billie Jean King Leadership Award, which recognizes an individual or group who demonstrates outstanding leadership and makes significant contributions to the advancement of women through achievements in sport and the workplace.