On May 17, 2018, the Greater Orlando Sports Commission (then known as the Central Florida Sports Commission) hosted its inaugural Celebrating Women in Sports Luncheon presented by Orlando Health and honored three distinguished women in front of nearly 300 guests. The first ever Community Sports Leadership Awards – which will annually honor individuals for their longstanding commitment, contributions and service to the Central Florida sports community – were presented to Maribeth Bisienere, Linda Landman Gonzalez, and Joanie Schirm, all local industry executives. Each recipient demonstrated outstanding leadership, inspired others and increased the opportunities for women in sports.
ESPN’s first female MLB analyst and two-time Olympian (gold and silver medalist), Jessica Mendoza, was the featured speaker. She gave a memorable talk on her perspective as the first female MLB analyst and recounted her years as young baseball fan. "It was such an honor to be able to share my story at the Celebrating Women in Sports Luncheon," said Jessica Mendoza. "Being a woman in a male dominated industry has made me passionate about educating others to get outside their comfort zone to impact those around them, regardless of what limitations are in front of them.” Jessica shared her story as one of the most notable softball players during the last decade, and imparted her message that “all women deserve to play sports for inspiration, empowerment and enjoyment.”
Following the Celebrating Women in Sports Luncheon, GO Sports hosted a Student-Athlete Summit where Jessica Mendoza met with high school and collegiate softball players from Orange and Osceola Counties, as well as Rollins College and Stetson University. Jessica spoke about her work ethic and dedication that brought her two Olympic medals and the role she has played as a successful woman in the sports industry. In addition, she answered questions and took photos with each of the teams.
Author and founding President of the Central Florida Sports Commission
Walt Disney World & Disney Sports, Senior Vice President
Linda Landman Gonzalez
Orlando Magic, Vice President of Social Responsibility & President of the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation