Former President/Commissioner WNBA CEO Orender Unlimited
Donna Orender is a highly respected corporate business leader having led growth and innovation in several high-profile companies. She has been recognized as one of the top 10 Most Powerful Women in Sports and one of Newsweeks100 most Influential people in the business of sports and is a best-selling author with her 2018 release of Wowsdom! the Girl’s Guide to the Positive and the Possible.
Donna was recruited by Adam Silver to lead the WNBA in its most vulnerable time. She served 6 years as the President/Commissioner of the league, during which time she solidified its base and led double digit growth in all key business metrics. This included 20% plus growth in sponsorship in the height of the recession, 25% growth in television viewership and triple digit growth in digital. League operations were cash flow positive for the first time in the history of the league. With her focus on revitalizing the brand, its value and relevance, the league experienced 5 years of consecutive attendance growth, after 8 years of decline.
The league greatly benefited from an 8-year contract extension with Disney/ABC/ESPN, which for the first time included broadcast rightsfees and led negotiations for an unprecedented 6-year Collective Bargaining agreement. In addition, she was able to open new markets, bring in new owners, develop a franchise template for success and execute new revenue producing events and help innovate with ground breaking sales, marketing and digital strategies.
Prior to the WNBA, Donna spent 17 years at the PGA TOUR where she was one of 3 senior executives serving in the Office of the Commissioner. She developed and led the global production, programming and digital businesses for the TOUR, building globally recognized businesses in both revenue and prestige. She led the negotiating team that changed the paradigm for how PGA TOUR golf was both packaged and sold for television, resulting in billions of dollars of growth for the TOUR. She took a nascent International television business and grew it exponentially establishing a foothold in all major international markets.
As the Senior Vice President of Strategic Development. She was responsible for developing strategic direction across all business lines including direct oversight of brand management, advertising and digital strategy working closely with the Commissioner.
Donna’s business career began after playing 3 years in the Women’s Professional Basketball League, the WBL, where she earned All-Star status. This experience enabled her to work in network television sports at ABC and later in cable television at SportsChannel before forming her own production company. An accomplished producer, director and writer, she was responsible for the creative development and sales of programming globally.
As the CEO of Orender Unlimited, her current work has included the development of a strategic plan for the golf industry, initiated by the PGA of America, focused on the development of new consumer markets and the accompanying transformational changes necessary to realize success. Donna authored “Connecting with Her”, a guidebook on the impact of the women’s market, and how to understand and access it.
The focus on the betterment of women and girls is at the core of the development and launch of a platform called Generation W. Launched in 2011, GENERATION W and GENERATION WOW have become vibrant communities for enhancing and motivating people’s lives and creating change and impact in their worlds.
Donna’s business building expertise led to being elected as a founding board member of the WSL the World Surfing League. The Association relaunched their global business in 2014 and a global rebranding in 2015. She serves as an advisor for the College Sports Management Group, and private equity.
In addition, she serves on the nominating and compensation committees for the V Foundation for Cancer Research board, was elected to the executive committee of Maccabi USA and contributes to the boards of the Monique Burr Foundation for Children, the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, the DeVos Sport Business Management Graduate Program at UCF, UNF Brooks School of Health, Co-Chairs the UJA Sports for Youth Initiative and a founding member of the board of W.O.M.E.N, a mentoring organization for young women capable of reaching the C-suite. She has also been a Global Ambassador for Vital Voices, traveling to India to help mentor young women entrepreneurs.
Donna has been a recipient of the March of Dimes Sports Leadership Award and was honored by the UJA-Federation of New York’s Entertainment, Media and Communications Division for her dedication to the community. A Hall of Fame athlete at Queens College, her business acumen and experience make her a sought-after speaker on topics such as leadership, teamwork, motivation and gender/diversity issues.