Gamechangers who will push the boundaries

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They are strong, unafraid and push boundaries - and not just in terms of sport: the influential women of the sports world. They are officials, NGO employees and founders, coaches, but also lawyers and presenters - and they are still in the minority. We looked for the most important women - and found them. Here are our top 30 female game changers who are not only positively influencing the world of sport and the outdoors, but also shaping and changing it!


Gbemisola Abudu, Vice President NBA Africa & Country Head NBA Nigeria (born 1985)

Gbemisola Abudu is the youngest and only black woman to run an office in the league. Her passion for basketball began at a young age, when she was practically forced to watch games by her brother. Luckily, she quickly fell in love with Koby Bryant's discipline, talent and ability to concentrate. Driven by this enthusiasm, she pursues her passion for basketball to this day - and no longer just from the stands.


Nita Ambani, Owner Mumbai Indians & Founder Reliance Foundation (born 1963)

She is the richest woman in India and was named the most influential female CEO in Asia by Forbes magazine in 2016. But resting on her laurels is not her thing: Indian sports official Nita Dalal Mukesh Ambani is co-owner of the Mumbai Indians, a cricket team from the Indian Premier League. In 2010, she also founded the country's largest philanthropic initiative, which promotes education, art, culture and sport, among other things. She has been honored for her work in these areas at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, among other places.


Freeride Anne, transgender mountain biker

Freeride Anne impresses the mountain bike world as a transgender athlete and sets new standards as an influencer and pioneer. With her openness and commitment to diversity and inclusion, she inspires a large community. Her story is a prime example of courage and change in sport. Anne shows that identity and passion can go hand in hand and challenges traditional notions of mountain biking. Her role as a trailblazer strengthens the visibility of transgender people in sport and motivates others to follow their own path.


Massy Arias, fitness influencer (born 1990)

With 2.8 million followers on Instagram, she is one of the biggest names in the fitness business. Massy Arias suffered from depression and talks about her way out of the crisis. Born in the Dominican Republic, she began to live a healthy lifestyle - overcoming her illness and making physical limitations a thing of the past. She is an example of how a healthy diet and an active lifestyle can change your life mentally, physically and spiritually. She shares her knowledge charmingly and with power on various social media channels - with great success. She currently lives and trains in Los Angeles.


Jana Bernhard, Managing Director S20

Jana Bernhard, the dynamic Managing Director of S20, is at the forefront of a movement that combines innovation and sustainability in the business world. With an impressive background in business, Jana Bernhard brings a fresh perspective and relentless drive to her role, with a particular emphasis on ethical practices and forward-thinking strategies. Her leadership is characterized by a passion for positive change and a deep understanding of how businesses can make a difference. Jana is not only a source of inspiration for her team, but also a role model for innovative leadership in the modern business world. With Jana at the helm, S20 is on an exciting path to shaping the industry while leaving a lasting impact.


Jeanie Buss, owner and president LA Lakers (born 1961)

Jeanie Buss achieved something outstanding in 2020: She became the first female owner to lead her baskeball team, the Los Angeles Lakers, to the NBA championship. She is following in the footsteps of her father Jerry Buss, who bought the Los Angeles Kings and Los Angeles Lakers for 67.5 million US dollars. The sports official is one of the most influential and powerful women in sport and the sports business. In 2018, she even came eighth in the Forbes list.


Stephanie Case, ultrarunner and founder of Free to Run

She is the Ultra Runner Girlshe's a human rights advocate, she's The North Face Explorer, she's a TEDx speaker and she's the founder of Free to Run. "My ultra running and my work keep me sane and slightly crazy in equal measure, but I wouldn't have it any other way." A true all-round talent, she is committed to helping women and girls in conflict zones with Free to Run. The aim is to promote their physical, emotional and social well-being through adventure sports.


Mary Davis, CEO, Special Olympics (born 1954)

Mary Davis' journey with the Special Olympics began after college as a volunteer and coach. Since then, she has been a longtime leader in the Special Olympics movement, currently leading an international team of 250 employees and is passionate about creating a welcoming and inclusive society.


Marinel de Jesus, Founder, Equity Global Treks

For 15 years she was a civil rights lawyer until she decided to devote herself to her passion and go to another extreme: Marinel de Jesus leads a life as a mountain gnomad. To give even more attention to her passion for mountain sports, she founded Peak Explorations, now called Equity Global Treks, with the aim of promoting equality and the inclusion of women and indigenous communities in the trekking industry. In 2019, Marinel also founded the non-profit organization The Porter Voice Collective and works with it to promote human rights.


Margo de Lange, Secretary General IGOTC

Since 2017, the "It's Great Out There Coalition" (IGOTC) has wanted to encourage more people in Europe to get active in nature. Margo de Lange has led the non-profit association of various initiatives as Secretary General since 2023. The IGOTC's projects focus in particular on inclusion and environmental education. Margo is considered a luminary in environmental protection and embodies the idea that access to nature is a fundamental right, with which she has already initiated some positive changes. She is a woman who fights every day for one of the most important issues of the future, improving the world one step at a time.


Majken Gilmartin, Co-Founder and CEO, Global Goals World Cup

Majken Gilmartin's goal is to "find every opportunity to involve girls and women in the world of sport and keep them there." For example, she was the organizer of the world's first soccer training and tournament for refugees in Denmark. As a role model and driver of change, she has made an impressive contribution to developing, promoting and strengthening women's participation in sport, for which she was honored with the IOC Women and Sport Award in 2016.


Sophie Goldschmidt, President and CEO, U.S. Ski & Snowboard

She made her debut as a professional tennis player in 1991, but soon had to stop due to an injury. But even if her tennis career didn't pan out, Sophie continued successfully. Sophie Goldschmidt is currently head of the national governing body for Olympic skiing and snowboarding in the United States. She previously served on the advisory board of the World Surf League (WSL). In 2018, she was included in the Forbes list of "Most Powerful Women In International Sport".


Pattie Gonia, Outdoor Drag Queen

The celebrated drag queen and environmental activist champions inclusivity and diversity in the outdoor world. She combines her passion for environmental protection with outdoor activities such as climbing and hiking. Pattie co-founded the Outdoorist Oath with a community of over a million people. This brings BIPOC, LGBTQIA+ and women into the outdoors. She also created the Queer Outdoor and Environmental Job Board to increase diversity in environmental jobs. Patty's work and projects demonstrate her commitment to an inclusive and sustainable outdoor culture. She has raised over 1.5 million dollars for non-profits and raised awareness for environmental crises. Wow, what a strong woman!


Dame Katherine Grainger, former rower, Chair, UK Sport

From world-class rower to chairwoman of UK Sport. Katherine Grainger's career is an impressive one. Back then, she won six world championship titles, four Olympic silver medals and one Olympic gold medal. Today she takes her experience as an athlete and contributes to the success of the British high performance agency UK Sport.


Stephanie Hilborne, Chief Executive, Women in Sport (born 1968)

A heroine of female empowerment! Since 2019, she has been fighting for women and girls at Women in Sport to give them the chance to experience the joy of sport and draw strength from it. She believes that sport develops fundamental skills such as resilience, leadership and teamwork - which girls and women all over the world should have equal access to.


Nicole Lynn, sports agent and President of Football Operations at Klutch Sports Group

Nicole Lynn is an American sports agent and the first black woman to represent one of the National Football League's top three draft picks, defensive end Quinnen Williams. She is also President of Football Operations for the US-based Klutch Sports Group, which represents both NFL and NBA athletes. Nicole Lynn worked her way up from a poor background to become a financial analyst on Wall Street, later she was a lawyer and now she plays at the top as a top agent for top athletes and entertainers.


Susanne Lyons, Chair, United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (born 1957)

For 30 years, she conquered the American financial services industry as a director of various companies. She then devoted herself to philanthropic endeavors. Susanne Lyons has been Chair of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee since January 2019. In view of the war in Ukraine, she also spoke out in favor of the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in Paris 2024.


Yusra Mardini, UNHCR Ambassador

She saved the lives of almost 20 people when she fled to Germany in 2015. As part of the Refugee Team, the Syrian then took part in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. At the end of 2022, a movie about her life was released on Netflix. But Yusra Mardini is not just a professional swimmer, as a UN Special Envoy she is an encourager for millions of refugees around the world.


Cynthia Marshall, CEO of the Dallas Mavericks (born 1959)

In February 2018, Marshall became the first black female CEO in the history of the National Basketball Association. The managing director of the Dallas Mavericks is a true leader: "There is a difference between doing things right and doing the right things. Leaders do the right thing." She has big plans for 2023: "In 2023, no negativity, no pessimism and no bad things will be tolerated. Positivity, optimism and productivity are the things that will lead to an abundance of good and blessings. We are about to change some lives, save some children and make the world a better place."


Sandra Douglass Morgan, Attorney & President of the Las Vegas Raiders (born 1978)

History was made in 2022: Sandra Douglass Morgan became the first black woman to become president of an NFL club. And this shortly after head coach Jon Gruden was sacked for racist and misogynistic remarks, among other things. "I look forward to carrying the spirit and commitment of this team to excellence on the field into all areas of this organization."


Johanna Mühlbeyer, Founder and Managing Director, Equalate

She is an entrepreneur, speaker and one thing above all else: an energetic campaigner for more diversity in sport. In 2021, Johanna Mühlbeyer founded her consulting firm with a focus on sports business. She supports companies and sports organizations in implementing a diversity strategy. "Because a lack of inclusion costs a lot of money," says the power woman. And in the Sponsors podcast (now Spobis podcast), the Equalate boss emphasizes that "diverse teams not only generate higher turnover, but employees are happier and companies are less affected by staff turnover". This also saves costs.

Image credit:
Johanna Mühlbeyer

Kimberly J. Ng, General Manager of the Miami Marlins (born 1968)

She has been one of the most influential women in sport for years, but she had to wait many years to get a position at the top of Major League Baseball. In November 2020, the time had finally come: Kimberly J. Ng was appointed General Manager of the Miami Marlins, making her the highest-ranking female baseball manager. And she really is a professional: she played softball herself and started her career with the Chicago White Sox in the 1990s.


Muditambi "Ntambi" Elizabeth Ravele, Founder and Chairperson, South African Women and Sports Foundation

Muditambi Ravele is the founder and chairperson of the South African Women and Sports Foundation. Since around 2008, with the establishment of SAWASF, Muditambi and her foundation have been the only effective voice for women in sport in South Africa. Muditambi also uses her foundation to lobby for changes to existing laws to make it easier for women in sport.


Erin Sprague, CEO Protect Our Winters

Since the beginning of 2024, Erin Sprague has been the first female CEO to lead the climate protection organization Protect Our Winters (POW), an initiative launched in 2007 by professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones. With over 20 years of experience in the outdoor industry and a strong commitment to climate action, Erin is determined to strengthen POW's impact in the climate movement. "The fight against climate change is our life's work. POW is at the forefront of this movement thanks to its diverse community of athletes, artists and scientists. I look forward to strengthening our ranks with more outdoor enthusiasts," Erin explains with motivation.


Katy Stevens, Head of CSR and Sustainability, EOG

As Head of CSR and Sustainability at the European Outdoor Group (EOG), Katy Stevens plays a key role in promoting sustainable initiatives in the outdoor industry. As a driving force for protecting the environment, she is also a mentor, helping EOG member companies to adopt greener and more ethical practices. Katy's commitment to the planet inspires innovative solutions that benefit both the environment and the community. She skillfully bridges the gap between environmental activism and its practical implementation. In this way, she becomes an indispensable inspiration for a greener future for the outdoor industry. Katy Stevens is an important shaper in the outdoor industry with a clear focus on sustainability. It remains exciting to see what other positive changes she will initiate.


Heike Ullrich, Secretary General of the DFB

Since April 2022, Heike Ullrich has been the first woman to hold this position at the German Football Association. The sports economist has been working at the DFB since 1996 and started her career in the match operations department, focusing on women's and girls' soccer. Promoting women in soccer is still important to her: at the World Cup in Qatar, she was in charge of the DFB workshop "Future Leaders in Football", which was a female edition. A total of 20 young women from 14 different countries in the Arab world took part.


Luise Walther, neuro-trainer, health consultant, pain and performance coaching

"It's time to radically rethink training! It's time for a holistic approach to physical performance. It's time for ease and enjoyment in training and movement." This is how Luise Walther describes the paradigm shift she wants to introduce with neuro-centered training. In her own words, it is not about self-optimization, but about a balance of tension and relaxation of the nervous system. Neuro-centered training has been on the DFB's agenda since 2019.


Hedvig Wessel, freestyle skier and founder of Sister Summit

Hedvig Wessel lives and breathes freestyle skiing. With difficult tricks, outstanding jumps and unique acrobatics, she revolutionized big mountain freeriding and took part in the 2014 Winter Olympics. To bring snowboarders and freeskiers together and promote femininity in outdoor sports, she launched Sister Summit - and infects other enthusiasts with her passion at the competition and networking event.


Sarina Wiegman, coach of the England women's national soccer team (born 1969)

The 2017 World Coach of the Year is still coaching a women's team, but perhaps she will also take over a men's national team at some point - some would believe she is capable of it. But until then, the former international will continue to shake up the women's soccer scene. In 2017, she led the Dutch national team to victory in the European Championship and in her current role as coach of the English national team, she also won the European Championship in 2022. A record! This makes her the first female coach to win a European Championship with two different national teams. Her mission: to make female soccer even more attractive.


Claire Williams, Brand Ambassador, WAE Technologies

Claire Williams was Motorsport Manager and Deputy Team Principal of the Williams Formula 1 team and is now making a comeback. She is returning to WAE Technologies as a brand ambassador. There she plans to support the company in its mission to decarbonize the heavy-duty transport industry. A fighter for a sustainable future.


Stefanie Mirlach, Head of Project Management Sports, Sky Deutschland GmbH

Stefanie Mirlach's path took her from the limelight to behind the scenes. As a former professional footballer, she not only won the DFB Cup, but also became U20 World Champion. Today, she is responsible for the women's strategy at sports broadcaster Sky and is also committed to the visibility and development of women's sport. At Sky, the topic is addressed in an exemplary manner, especially with the motto "Women on and behind the screen". A prime example of this is the program #GameCHANGERINNEN.

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