Date: Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Time: 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Event Details: This prestigious, annual event recognizes three extraordinary women who have made a significant impact on the business of sports. For 2017, WISE Los Angeles is recognizing Janet Evans, Olympian & LA2028 Committee Member; Valorie Kondos Field, Head Coach, Women’s Gymnastics, UCLA; and Christine Simmons, President & COO, LA Sparks. Join us this November to celebrate our inspiring 2017 honorees!
Event Location: TAO | 6421 Selma Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90028
2017 Women of Inspiration Honorees:
Janet Evans | Olympian & LA2028 Committee Member
Janet Evans is widely considered to be the greatest female distance swimmer in history. Despite her small size and unorthodox windmill stroke, she was a natural-born swimmer, completing laps by the age of two. In 1987, when she was 15 years old, Janetburst onto the international swimming scene, breaking world records in the 400m, 800m
and the 1500m freestyle.
A year later at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Janet won gold medals in all three of her races: the 400 meter freestyle, 800 meter freestyle, and 400 meter individual medley. In 1992 in Barcelona, Janet defended her gold in the 800 freestyle and added a silver medal in the 400 freestyle. At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Janet swam in both the 400 meter and 800 meter freestyle but failed to medal. The highlight of those Games came at the Opening Ceremonies, where she passed the Olympic Flame to Muhammad Ali.
Through that once in a lifetime opportunity, she saw another side of the Olympic experience which changed her forever. She retired from competitive swimming at the end of the Atlanta Games.
During her career, Janet broke a total of seven world records in three events (400 meter, 800 meter, and 1500 meter freestyle). Her 1500 meter world record stood for 20 years, her 800 world record stood for 21 years, and her 400 world record stood for 19 years, making them some of the longest standing records on the swimming books. Janet was inducted into the US Olympic Hall of Fame in 2004 and the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2001. In 1989, she was awarded the prestigious Sullivan Award as the United States’ top amateur athlete.
In 2010, Janet mounted a comeback in the sport with the goal of competing at the Olympic Trials in 2012 in the 400 meter and 800 meter freestyle. She successfully qualified for the Trials, and, at the age 40, had the recent honor of trying out for the Olympic Team in both events in July of 2012. More recently, in September of 2015, Janet was selected to be the primary athlete voice of the Los Angeles 2024 Olympic Bid. As the Vice Chair of the Bid Committee and Head of the Athletes’ Commission, she worked closely with Paralympians and Olympians to ensure they were effectively represented in the city’s bid for the Games. She will continue her role with the newly formed LA2028 Organizing Committee, as her team works to ensure that the athletes of the world have the best possible athlete experience at the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Out of the pool, Janet has also made a name for herself as a commercial spokesperson, author, reality television personality, and a highly sought after motivational speaker. Her first book, “Janet Evans’ Total Swimming,” was published in 2007 and offers fitness programs, workouts, and proper swim techniques to readers. Janet executes speeches for top companies in varying fields including: Technology, Healthcare, Real Estate, Telecommunications, Apparel, Banking, Insurance, non-profits and many others. She lives in Southern California with her husband Billy and their two young children, Sydney and Jake.
Valorie Kondos Field | Head Coach, Women’s Gymnastics, UCLA
Valorie Kondos Field is the head coach of the UCLA Women’s Gymnastics team. She has led her team to six NCAA Championship titles and 29 Pac-12 and NCAA Regional titles. This preeminent coach was recently named the Pac-12 “Coach of the Century,” and in 2010, she became one of only two active coaches to be inducted into the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame.
Valorie’s coaching success is due to her extraordinary leadership and mentorship of young student-athletes. “Miss Val,” as she is known, views gymnastics as an incredible avenue through which valuable life lessons can be taught. Valorie considers the late John Wooden, the legendary and most successful collegiate basketball coach of all time, as one of her inspirations, and closest mentor and friend.
Valorie began her career as a professional ballet dancer and choreographer. Although never a gymnast herself, she’s transferred to her student-athletes all she learned in the world of classical dance. The result has been nearly three decades of coaching one of the premiere athletic programs in any sport.
Countless student-athletes praise Miss Val for her guidance during their athletic careers, and after they’ve graduated from UCLA and have entered the next chapter in their lives. Included in the hundreds of athletes she has coached and influenced are Olympic champions Simone Biles, Jordan Wieber, Kyla Ross and Madison Kocian.
Valorie is also known as the nation’s foremost gymnastics choreographer. Her many credits include choreographing and directing a myriad of live variety shows, including the NCAA Opening Ceremonies for Women’s Basketball, a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar roast, and 26 years of cirque-type shows for Sea World’s Summer Nights. Current projects include live stage shows and the development of a theatrical musical. She is also a dynamic and charismatic speaker with an extensive speaking schedule including “Corporate Coaching” for the likes of JP Morgan Chase.
This fall Valorie will be Co-Executive Producer and Choreographer for “Jump, Jive & Thrive,” airing on CBS Saturday, October 21, 2017. The show combines gymnastics, dance and music, with proceeds benefitting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Valorie is currently completing a book with the working title “Winning In Heels” published by the Hachette Book Group and released in fall 2018. It expounds on her life philosophy: “Don’t wait to see what life is going to hand you, take control of your life and design ~ choreograph it exactly how you want it to turn out”.
As a recent breast cancer survivor, Valorie’s discussion of life lessons is even more impactful. The positive outlook she exhibited through 18 months of surgeries and chemotherapy resonated profoundly with her student-athletes and fans, as they were witnesses to the life-affirming outlook Valorie maintained throughout that journey. Since beating breast cancer, she now has another life motto… “Life is Short ~ Don’t Wait to Dance”
Christine Simmons | President & COO, LA Sparks
Christine Simmons is President & Chief Operations Officer of the three-time WNBA Champion Los Angeles Sparks. Celebrating its 20th season in Los Angeles, the Sparks are one of three founding teams from the league’s inception in 1997 and are the reigning WNBA champions.
Simmons is in her third season leading all aspects of the team’s business operations including ticket and sponsorship sales and service, marketing, game operations, communications, community relations and finance. Under her leadership the team has seen a 34% increase in ticket sales, doubled ratings on Spectrum SportsNet and impacted nearly 30,000 lives through community programs.
Prior to joining the Sparks, she was an Executive Vice President with Magic Johnson Enterprises where she would evaluate investment opportunities and was responsible for business development. With over a decade of leadership experience in creating strategic alliances, leading business development and driving corporate initiatives, Christine has worked with many Fortune 500 corporations and multi-million dollar companies.
A proud UCLA graduate, she serves as President of the Board of the UCLA Alumni Association and in 2012 was named Alumnus of the Year by the UCLA Black Alumni Association.
She is an active member of the Los Angeles community, serving on the Board of Directors for the LA Sports Council, the Positive Coaching Alliance and on the NBA’s Global Inclusion Council. Her dedication and passion for giving back has earned her a number of honors including: LA African American Women’s Public Policy Institute’s 2015 Women in Action honoree, the LA Business Journal’s 2016 & 2017 list of 500 most influential in Los Angeles and the University of California President’s list of 2016 Remarkable Women of UC. She also volunteers for Better Futures for Thomazeau, a small, grass roots non profit that provides aid to Haiti.