The L.A. Sparks are naming Vanessa Shay as the team’s president Monday, when she begins her role overseeing all of the WNBA organization’s business operations.
Shay previously was the chief revenue officer for the NWSL’s San Diego Wave FC, guiding the new franchise through its expansion effort starting with the team’s inception in 2021. In that role, she oversaw all revenue generation for the team, including signing the team’s kit sponsors and medical partner and helping the team record its first set of consecutive sellouts.
Prior to joining the Wave FC, Shay spent 13 years as vice president of global partnerships for Anschutz Entertainment Group, with which she oversaw the launch of L.A Live. She also was named a 2018 International Sports Leaders Under 40 award winner and completed an invite-only Women in Sports Executive Leadership program at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.
“In partnership with Sparks ownership and general manager/head coach Derek Fisher, I look forward to making an immediate impact on the franchise for fans, partners and our players,” Shay said in a statement. “The Sparks are one of the premier franchises in women’s sports, and I am committed to innovating our business operations and building on the championship legacy of the organization.”
In the same statement, Sparks’ Managing Partner Eric Holoman said the organization was “ecstatic” about the hire.
“Through an exhaustive, national search, it became clear that Vanessa was the right leader for our organization,” Holoman said. “Her strong commercial background in the L.A. sports and entertainment market will be instrumental to the Sparks continued growth. She has a deep passion for women’s sports and is committed to leading the Sparks through a new era of success.”
Shay fills a role that has been vacant since Danita Johnson left to become D.C. United’s head of business operations in late 2020. The Sparks’ former president and COO became the first Black man or woman to serve as an MLS team president and one of the highest-ranking female club executives in that league’s history.
The Sparks are 2-2 and face the Minnesota Lynx in their home opener Tuesday at Cyrpto.com Arena.