WWE’s Chief Brand Officer, Stephanie McMahon, will be this year’s featured speaker, and the event will again honor three distinguished women for their service within the community
ORLANDO, FL (May 28, 2019) – The Greater Orlando Sports Commission (GO Sports) today announced the three local award winners that will be honored during the 2019 Celebrating Women in Sports Luncheon presented by Orlando Health. The 2nd annual event returns to the Ballroom at Church Street from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12.
The luncheon will recognize the local honorees in two categories: Donna Dowless (XOXO Media Group) and Marci Doyle (Arnold Palmer Invitational) will receive the Women in Sports Leadership Award, while Shelly Wilkes (Lakeland Magic) will receive the Rising Star Award.
This year’s featured speaker is WWE’s Chief Brand Officer, Stephanie McMahon, who will participate in a fireside chat with the event’s emcee Danielle Knox, the Emmy Award winning Good Day Orlando morning anchor at Fox35 Orlando. As Chief Brand Officer, McMahon oversees Community Relations, and Pop Culture strategy, which includes celebrity integrations and partnerships within the entertainment industry. Stephanie represents the company as its global brand ambassador, and also plays a character who appears regularly on WWE programming. Among her many contributions, McMahon has been the driving force behind WWE’s women’s evolution, which has given female performers an equal share of the spotlight both in and out of the ring. Adweek has included McMahon in their list of the Most Powerful Women in Sports for the past three years, and she was selected as part of Sports Business Journal’s 2017 class of “Game Changers: Women in Sports Business.”
The Women in Sports Leadership Award recognizes leaders who have helped make sports in Greater Orlando the successful industry 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. After decades of working in the sports and entertainment industry, Donna Dowless now manages her own Arts & Entertainment consulting company, XOXO Media Group. Dowless became the Executive Director of Ticketmaster Florida in 1987 and rose through the ranks, ultimately holding the title of Executive Vice President of Industry Relations, where she remained through 2006. She has been an active member of the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) and was a founding member of the Board of Regents and an instructor for the IAVM Venue Management School. VenuesNow named Dowless one of five ‘Women of Influence’ in sports and entertainment in 2007, and earlier this year the IAVM Venue Management School honored her with the Ray Ward Award which is annually given to individuals whose contributions have resulted in significant and long lasting improvements to the overall success of the school. But Orlando residents may know Dowless best as the city’s “Ambassador of Love,” a title given to her by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer in 2007 as a result of Donna’s inspirational efforts to spread love through art and culture.
Marci Doyle is in her 11th year with Arnold Palmer companies, and currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer and Tournament Director of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. In 2014, when Palmer himself asked her to step into the Tournament Director role, she became just the second female within the PGA TOUR’s 42 events to hold that position. Doyle began her 25+ year career at global sports firm DWA, managing sponsorships and operations for multiple sporting events. She also served as Account Director with event marketing firm Wunderman for eight years, where she was recognized as “Top Contributor” within the agency. Just prior to joining the Invitational, Doyle spent three years as Managing Director of Consumer Partner Promotions at Golf Channel. She is heavily involved in the Greater Orlando community, serving on boards and committees for the Greater Orlando Sports Commission, Orlando Economic Partnership, The Perfect Game Foundation, and numerous women’s networking groups.
The Rising Star Award recognizes a young female professional in the sports industry who has demonstrated strong leadership, initiative, entrepreneurship 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. Shelly Wilkes serves as President of the Lakeland Magic, G League affiliate of the Orlando Magic, and was the first female NBA G League team president. In this role, she is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day business operations of the team. Wilkes spent 13 seasons with the Orlando Magic, starting fresh out of college as a game-night staff member in the marketing department during the 2003-04 season. She held multiple positions within the sales and marketing areas of the company, most recently as the Senior Director of Live Entertainment and Production Services in July 2015 before being named President of the Lakeland Magic in December 2016.
The inaugural class of award winners who were recognized at the 2018 Celebrating Women in Sports presented by Orlando Health included Maribeth Bisienere of Walt Disney World, Linda Landman Gonzalez of the Orlando Magic and Joanie Schirm, founding CEO of the Greater Orlando Sports Commission and chair of Orlando’s host committee for the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
“On behalf of our Board Chair Jackie Hayter and our Board of Directors, we are so pleased to honor Donna, Marci and Shelly for their passion, leadership and dedication to Greater Orlando’s sports community,” said Jason Siegel, CEO of the Greater Orlando Sports Commission. “We are also thrilled to welcome Stephanie McMahon as the featured speaker for this year’s luncheon. WWE has a tremendous presence in our community and has thrilled audiences for years with annual events at Amway Center, WrestleMania 24 and 33 at Camping World Stadium, and NXT events at Full Sail University. The WWE has also been operating their Performance Center in Orlando since 2013. We are thankful to our Board Member and former sports commission CEO John Saboor for helping bring WWE on as a partner for the 2019 luncheon.”
Registration and networking will open at 11:30 a.m., with the luncheon program beginning at noon. A limited number of table sponsorships and individual tickets are still available for purchase. Table sponsorships are $2,000, which include eight tickets to the luncheon, two tickets to a VIP Meet & Greet with Stephanie McMahon, and logo recognition at the event. Individual tickets may be purchased at Greaterorlandosports.com/celebrating-women-in-sports for $75.
To purchase a table sponsorship, please email Michael Kalinich at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Celebrating Women in Sports presented by Orlando Health, please visit Greaterorlandosports.com/celebrating-women-in-sports.
For the second year in a row, Orlando Health is the presenting sponsor of the event. Returning as an event sponsor is the USTA National Campus, joined by new event sponsors, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and First Class Cleaners. This year’s Award Sponsors are CenterState Bank, Full Sail University, and Orlando City Soccer Club. Additional sponsors include the Florida Sports Foundation and a special thank you this year’s media partners: AMI Graphics, Fox35 Orlando, Orange Appeal, Orlando Business Journal, Pelican Productions, and True Marketing.
About Greater Orlando Sports Commission:
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 1993, the organization has hosted or co-hosted more than 1,300 events in the Greater Orlando area with a total economic impact exceeding $1.4 billion in spending within the community. For more information, please visit GreaterOrlandoSports.com.