WSBC Hosts Seminar on Sports for Social Change

Last Friday, November 16, the Warsaw Sports Business Club (WSBC) held a seminar on Sports for Social Change at the UO White Stag building in Portland. The heterogeneous group of 85 was comprised of area professionals, Warsaw Center alumni, current Warsaw MBA’s, and undergraduates in the WSBC. The seminar’s panel was moderated by Warsaw alum, and O Heroes Director, Judy Sheldon, and featured the following guests:

  • Cameron Foster, of FosterEasley Sports Management, is an athlete representative who works closely with each of his clients to develop 501(c)(3) charities for them, and offers to donate a significant portion of his signing commission to their causes.
  • Traci Rose, offered an inspiring story of how she worked her way up through the ranks of the Portland Trail Blazers organization from an entry level position in Public Relations, all the way to VP of Communications & Community Relations.
  • Christa Thoeresz who brought outstanding experience and insight into her role as the Director of Community Relations for the Portland Timbers, explained the importance of recognizing that for professional sports teams, the athletes are the product, and it is essential that they understand the role they can play for the brand as a whole.
  • Scott Welch is the Global Corporate Relations Manager at Columbia Sportswear, and spoke to the group about how difficult it can be to gain traction for social initiatives within a larger organization, and offered innovative ideas on how to reach goals and prove the ROI for social investments.

One of the highlights of the event was the group breakout and case analysis. During this time, students and alumni broke into groups for 15 minutes to brainstorm and develop a solution that would allow the panel members’ organizations to provide instant, actionable, and authentic impact for victims of Hurricane Sandy. Four finalist groups were given the opportunity to present to the panel, and then received feedback from an insider’s perspective on specific execution challenges that would not be apparent to industry outsiders.

After the more academic side of things, students had the opportunity to volunteers with Timber Joey, and some of the Portland Timbers players, at a community garden with which the team has long been affiliated. Throughout the day, seminar attendees were led through the process of developing their own community outreach ideas, obtaining feedback, and ultimately participating and seeing how groups within the industry actually participate in the community. This finally activity at he garden really helped to close the loop for students, and also happened to come with the perk of meeting a few professional athletes along the way.

Written by Andrew White

Andrew is an MBA Candidate in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. A native of Massachusetts, he came to UO to refine his business skills and build his expertise in the sustainability arena. His primary interest is in helping organizations implement environmentally and socially sustainable strategies for long-term success, and he is a regular participant on many of the MBA intramural sports teams.