On Thursday, November 10, 2016, WISE Los Angeles hosted its annual Women of Inspiration Awards at City Club in Downtown Los Angeles. This prestigious event recognizes three extraordinary women who have made a significant impact on the business of sports and events. The honorees are visible leaders in the industry who have broken down barriers and helped create new opportunities for other women in this field.
Our honorees for this year were Renata Simril, President & CEO, LA84 Foundation; Shelley Smith, Reporter, ESPN; and Claudia Teran, Executive Vice President & General Counsel, FOX Sports and Deputy General Counsel, Fox Networks Group.
Keynote Presentation: Rachana Bhide, Leadership and Organizational Psychologist
The evening began with a keynote presentation from Rachana Bhide. Bhide is an organizational development expert with 16+ years of experience leading change management programs for Fortune 100 companies on three continents. She currently serves as a lecturer to various universities and non-profits organizations.
Bhide’s recent work focuses on effective ways to engage men in organizational diversity efforts. She spoke on this topic for her keynote, emphasizing the importance of men championing women in the traditionally male-dominated field of sports. Using her own personal experiences of being bolstered by men in her life, including family members and friends from graduate school, Bhide not only encourages men to support women in the workplace, she also encourages women to seek out male mentors in every step of their career.
Renata Simril, President & CEO, LA84 Foundation
Simril was introduced by the Honorable Mark Ridley-Thomas, an old mentor from her time as Development Deputy for the Los Angeles City Council.
Service is at the very heart of who Simril is. Prior to college, Simril served three years in the military as the only female staff member in an all-male unit. Over two decades, she has worked in both the civic and private sector in various roles that exemplify her commitment to leadership and service.
“Service is the price you pay for the space you occupy,” said Simril. “At every point in my career, I’ve always found ways in which to give back to the community.”
Currently, Simril is the President & CEO of the LA84 Foundation. The organization aims to carry on the spirit and the legacy of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Summer Games through its investment in positive youth development through sport.
“What inspires me? I’m inspired by the LA84 Foundation and our mission to strive for excellence. I’m inspired to lead by example for those who follow. I’m inspired by the next generation,” shared Simril.
Shelley Smith, Reporter, ESPN
Smith was introduced by Alison Howard, Vice President of WISE Los Angeles, who read a letter on behalf of her daughter, Dylann Tharp who was unable to attend. Tharp is a producer at NFL Network who is following in her mother’s footsteps.
Smith is a trailblazer for female reporters in the sports industry. Now a four-time Emmy winner, she was one of the very first females on the sidelines and behind-the-scenes of broadcasts.
“People wondered why there was a woman in the locker room,” shared Smith. “It took everything I had to convince people I was professional and I was there to do a job. I wasn’t there to get a date, I was there to work.”
Over the years, Smith has worked for the preeminent voices in sports, including ESPN and Sports Illustrated. She has covered just about every sporting event in existence and has broken many stories throughout her career.
On top of her storied career, Smith is also a three-time cancer survivor who works to spread awareness of the disease.
At the end of her acceptance, Smith made sure to close things off full circle by thanking her own mother for helping to pave the way for her accomplishments.
Claudia Teran, Executive Vice President & General Counsel, FOX Sports and Deputy General Counsel, Fox Networks Group
Teran was introduced by Eric Shanks, President, COO & Executive Producer of FOX Sports, who has seen Teran in action both in and out of the boardroom throughout the years.
In her current role, Teran is responsible for all global business and legal affairs at FOX Sports. Her team in particular is responsible for domestic and overseas sports rights acquisitions. Additionally, she is also the No. 2 legal executive for Fox Networks Group at large.
“Seventeen years ago, it was unlikely that there would even be another woman in the room for some of the negotiations I was tasked with being the lead on,” said Teran. “So I was relatively used to walking into rooms and people looking around, trying to figure out who exactly I was supposed to be.”
Despite her poise and confidence in the boardroom, Teran imparted that rage and passion can often lead to great ideas.
“It’s okay to be mad, as long as you do something proactive about it,” said Teran. “Use the anger to turn off your doubting and refocus to find your clear voice. Your idea just might be the catalyst for change.”
Congratulations again to our outstanding honorees – we look forward to working with them in 2017 as each recipient joins the WISE Los Angeles Advisor Board!