While racial and gender diversity in sports leadership remains stagnant, several individuals are using their career paths to challenge the status quo and change the narrative, including Kiesha Nix. According to Sports Illustrated, she was appointed to serve as vice president of charitable affairs for the Los Angeles Lakers franchise.
The appointment is historic as it marks the first time a Black woman has held a vice president role in the organization’s history. Although her career path wasn’t traditionally in the social impact space, Nix had developed opportunities that would allow her to work on projects designed to drive change. While serving in roles at Merrill Lynch and Bank of America, she would organize community events.
Overseeing investments for CEOs and other clients as a financial advisor, Nix displayed ways in which wealth management and philanthropy can be interconnected. Through volunteerism, Nix also supported Bank of America’s charitable arm, often leading fundraising efforts and spearheading events. After transitioning into the bank’s community relations department, she fostered philanthropic partnerships with USC, the Dodgers and other institutions, ultimately leading her to land a role within the Lakers foundation.
Nix says taking on the new role speaks volumes to the importance of representation and hopes she can inspire and empower individuals who look like her to step into the corporate side of sports.
“I’ve never bounced a basketball in my life, but when I show up wearing my championship ring, they see that there are a lot of exciting career opportunities that happen behind the scenes, from social media to esports,” she said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “I think being the first Black woman vice president here is exciting. I once heard Jeannie Buss say when she became the first female team owner to win a championship that it’s O.K. to be the first, but you can’t be the only. I’ve adopted that mentality, and I’m looking to help the next generation of leaders to take my place.”
The appointment comes three years after Cynthia Marshall—the Dallas Mavericks chief executive officer—became the first Black woman CEO in the NBA.