Joan Benoit Samuelson, pioneer of women’s marathon running and Olympic Gold Medalist, will speak at the luncheon that honors local women for their distinguished service within the Greater Orlando sports community


ORLANDO, Fla. (August 22, 2023) – The Greater Orlando Sports Commission (GO Sports) has announced five award winners that will be honored during the 2023 Celebrating Women in Sports luncheon presented by Orlando Health Jewett Orthopedic Institute. The 5th annual luncheon will be hosted at UCF’s Addition Financial Arena on Wednesday, September 13 at Noon.

The luncheon will recognize the honorees in three categories: Latria Graham (GLB Media Group), Betsy Hughes (Track Shack) and Jennifer Lastik (Greater Orlando Sports Commission) will receive the Women in Sports Leadership Award, while Uneeke Armani (Florida Citrus Sports) will receive the Rising Star Award and Sari Kitelyn (Full Sail University) will receive the WISE Greater Orlando Women of Inspiration Award. Honorees were voted on by panels made up of GO Sports and WISE Greater Orlando Board Members, respectively. A complete list of past Celebrating Women in Sports award winners is provided below.

“We are honored to recognize Latria, Betsy, Jennifer, Uneeke and Sari for their passion, leadership and dedication to Greater Orlando’s sports community,” said Sharon Line Clary, Vice President of Strategic Marketing & Communications at AdventHealth and Chair of the Greater Orlando Sports Commission Board of Directors. “We are also thrilled to welcome Joan Benoit Samuelson as this year’s keynote speaker, continuing our tradition of offering insight and inspiration from some of the most noted female athletes and executives in U.S. sports history. With our community hosting the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in downtown Orlando in February of 2024, Joan is the perfect guest for this year’s luncheon.”

“Congratulations to this year’s class of winners. We’re excited to host this event every year and continue to shine a spotlight on the extraordinary women in our sports community,” said Jason Siegel, President & CEO of the Greater Orlando Sports Commission. “Thank you to Orlando Health Jewett Orthopedic Institute for their ongoing support as our presenting sponsor.”

In addition to Orlando Health Jewett Orthopedic Institute returning as the presenting sponsor, Florida Blue returns as the sponsor of the fireside chat with featured speaker Joan Benoit Samuelson, and VyStar Credit Union will sponsor the VIP Meet & Greet. This year’s award sponsors are First Horizon Bank, Holland & Knight, LPGA, Orlando Magic and WISE Greater Orlando. The current roster of event sponsors includes the City of Orlando, LMG, Orlando Cleaners, Orlando Valkyries Women’s Pro Volleyball and Universal Destinations & Experiences.

The Women in Sports Leadership Award recognizes leaders who have helped make the sports industry in Greater Orlando the success it is today. It is an honor reserved for those who have given their time, energy and passion to improving the industry and taking it in new directions.

Latria Graham, President and Founder of GLB Media Group, is known as a gamechanger and innovative brand strategy consultant who works to build community and collaboration among brands, sports leaders and athletes that result in actionable strategies to ignite powerful change. In 2019, Latria led her company to receive the Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council’s 2019 Minority & Women-Owned Business Enterprise Supplier of the Year Award, and in 2023 she was an honoree for Orlando Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business Awards. Latria also launched the first Orlando Chapter of Black Sports Professionals, which is dedicated to accelerating the advancement and impact of black professionals who work in sports. Prior to founding GLB, Latria worked in the NBA for 11 seasons and was responsible for overseeing the Orlando Magic’s community relations strategy, multicultural and diversity relations, cause marketing, and the NBA Cares global campaign activation in the Central Florida market.

Since 1983, Betsy Hughes and her husband Jon have co-owned the Track Shack retail store and Track Shack Events. Betsy’s passion for running began at age 14 while competing as one of two girls on the middle school track team, and she continued to race throughout her years at Winter Park High School, the University of Florida and as a young adult. Now, after 48 years of running, her experience allows her to share the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle with the community through clinics, classes and guest speaking engagements. Betsy has served on the course measurement team of three Olympic women’s team marathon trials, and she and Jon were inducted into the Running Specialty Hall of Fame and Running USA Hall of Champions. Passionate about giving back to the Orlando community, the Track Shack Youth Foundation was established in 1994, which to date has distributed more than $2.6 million to local charities.

Jennifer Lastik, Executive Vice President of the Greater Orlando Sports Commission, joined the organization in 2007. She oversees event logistics for a four-county region while managing business operations, the state grant program, budgets and contracts. Lastik co-authored Orlando’s 2026 FIFA World Cup bid and is playing a key role in leading the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon that will be hosted in downtown Orlando. In addition, she has managed local organizing committees for the NCAA DI Men’s Basketball Championship, Copa America Centenario, WrestleMania and MLS All-Star Game. Lastik was named to Orlando Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 in 2014 and 2018, Orlando Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business in 2021, and currently serves on the board of directors for the Downtown Orlando Partnership as well as WISE Greater Orlando, overseeing the WISE Within mentor/mentee program. She was inducted into the Inaugural Class of the Slippery Rock University Sport Management Hall of Fame and is a graduate of the WISE Executive Leadership Institute.

The Rising Star Award recognizes a young female professional in the sports industry who has demonstrated strong leadership, initiative, and exceptional contributions early in their career. The award is intended to support and encourage the next generation of female sports industry leaders who will take sport to new heights.

Uneeke Armani, Events and Operations Coordinator with Florida Citrus Sports, specializes in event operations and is responsible for helping plan and coordinate events such as the Florida Blue Florida Classic Battle of the Bands, Pop-Tarts Bowl and Cheez-It Citrus Bowl. Along with coordinating events, Uneeke oversees the day-to-day venue management and operations of the Varsity Club at Camping World Stadium. Originally from Louisiana and wanting to leave her impact on the sports world and the community around her, Uneeke enrolled at Full Sail University and excelled in the Sports Marketing degree program. Throughout her time as a student, she volunteered with Florida Citrus Sports which led her to her current role. She sits on the board of directors for the Orlando City Foundation and BeyondFour Foundation and serves as a committee member for additional non-profits that cover various missions that are reaching youth.

WISE (Women in Sports + Events) is dedicated to recognizing women who achieve a standard of excellence in sports business, lead by example and support other women. The WISE Women of Inspiration Award, determined and awarded by local WISE chapters, honor women in chapter markets who exemplify the spirit of the WISE mission and are making a positive impact on the business of sports while serving as positive role models and mentors for other women.

Sari Kitelyn is the Director of Esports for Full Sail University and the owner of Greater Orlando XP League. For the past 16 years, she has successfully developed brand initiatives for Full Sail, including brand campaigns, community outreach projects, new business development, and strategic planning. Since 2016, Sari has been building Full Sail’s award-winning esports ecosystem from the ground up, including establishing Full Sail Armada, Full Sail’s varsity esports team. In 2020, Sari’s efforts were recognized by eFuse when she was named one of the Most Impactful Women in Collegiate Esports and in 2023 when she was featured by Femme Gaming in “Powerhouse Women Making a Difference.” Sari was an honoree for Orlando Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business Awards in 2023 and was also selected as an Orlando Magic Diversity Game Changer, which celebrates leadership in social justice and equality. Sari co-founded Esports and Coffee – a Twitch show and online community dedicated to supporting marginalized voices throughout esports and gaming, which she developed with other women, advocating for more diversity in those spaces. She also serves on WISE Greater Orlando’s WISE Within mentorship committee and events committee.

Registration and networking will begin at 11:30am and the luncheon will begin promptly at Noon. Table Sponsorships are $2,000. To purchase a table for the event or to learn more about sponsorship opportunities, contact Michael Kalinich at Individual tickets are $100 and may be purchased at

Winner of the first Olympic Women’s Marathon at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Joan Benoit Samuelson is a pioneer of women’s marathoning. Born in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, Benoit Samuelson took to long-distance running to help recover from a broken leg suffered while slalom skiing. In 1979, she entered the Boston Marathon as a relative unknown and won the race. In 1981, she captured the U.S. 10,000-meter championship, and in 1983 she repeated her Boston Marathon success with a world record time of 2:22:43. Benoit Samuelson won the 1984 Olympic Marathon Trials at age 26, just 17 days following arthroscopic knee surgery. Three months later, she won the first Olympic Women’s Marathon in 2:24:52. She was world ranked five times in the marathon, twice at no. 1, and in 1985 was awarded the prestigious AAU Sullivan Award as the nation’s finest amateur athlete. She continues to race at a highly competitive level today.

Celebrating Women in Sports History – Featured Speakers and Award Winners


Featured Speaker – Jennifer Rizzotti, Connecticut Sun (WNBA) President and Team USA assistant coach

Women in Sports Leadership Award

Rising Star Award

WISE Women of Inspiration Award


Featured Speaker – Brandi Chastain, 2-time FIFA World Cup Champion, 2-time Olympic gold medalist

Women in Sports Leadership Award

Rising Star Award


Featured Speaker – Stephanie McMahon, WWE Chief Brand Officer

Women in Sports Leadership Award

Rising Star Award


Featured Speaker – Jessica Mendoza, Olympic gold medalist and ESPN MLB analyst

Women in Sports Leadership Award



GO Sports is a private, non-profit organization established to attract and manage sports-related events, conferences and activities that drive positive economic development in the City of Orlando, Lake County, Orange County, Osceola County, and Seminole County. Founded in 1992-93, the organization has hosted or co-hosted more than 1,550 events in the Greater Orlando area with a total economic impact exceeding $2.1 billion in spending within the community. For more information, please visit