Donna Orender stepping down as WNBA president

LA JOLLA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14:  (L-R) Donna Orander and Amy Mickelson pose for a photo during Fortune Magazine Clinic at the LPGA Samsung World Championship on September 14, 2009 at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, California.  (Photo By Donald Miralle/Getty Images for the LPGA)

Donna Orender and Amy Mickelson pose for a photo during Fortune Magazine Clinic at the LPGA Samsung World Championship on September 14, 2009 at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, California. (Photo By Donald Miralle/Getty Images for the LPGA)

The WNBA announced today that league president Donna Orender is stepping down at the end of the year after six seasons at the helm. She will serve as a consultant to the league and start her own media and marketing called Orender Unlimited.

The search for Orender’s successor will begin immediately, and NBA Senior Vice President, Team Marketing and Business Operations Chris Granger will oversee the league’s operations on an interim basis.

“I am extraordinarily proud to have served as WNBA President and to be a part of this league and all that it stands for,” Orender in a statement. “While delivering a major-league experience on the court, the WNBA is truly a beacon for global, social, and cultural change off the court. The opportunity to play a role in growing this league, building its business and leveraging the power of sports to truly help change people’s lives has been extraordinary.

“It was simply time for me to take this step in my life. My work on behalf of women and girls around the world will only deepen as will my ongoing engagement in sports. I am pleased to be able to continue my involvement with the WNBA as I move ahead with my new venture.”

Orender, appointed to the position in February 2005, has overseen many major changes in the league – from contractions to major sponsorships at the team and league level. She succeeded Val Ackerman, the league’s president for its first eight seasons

“Donna’s contributions to the WNBA and women’s sports have been extraordinary,” said NBA Commissioner David Stern. “Under her leadership, the WNBA has continued its growth and further solidified its position as an icon for social change, achievement, and diversity. We are grateful for her passion and dedication and look forward to her continuing counsel as we build upon the success she helped sustain.”

In her blog Orender wrote:

This is a tough message today, but one that had to come at some point, I suppose. You see, there comes a time, when it’s time. The time when you know that your efforts have made a difference and the time to apply them elsewhere has arrived. That time for me is now.

It was six years ago already, that I had made a four year commitment to the WNBA. Having the chance to work with phenomenal athletes and passionate colleagues who believed in creating change and inspiring people certainly made the time fly.

But as you all know, time is the one thing you just can’t get back. It is a swift current that grabs you and won’t let you go until you forcibly remove yourself from its clutches. It’s difficult because the ride is fast and consuming, but suddenly you look around and realize that while you have traveled far, so have the young boys at home who have suddenly turned into young men and you realize that in a blink of an eye .

Prior to joining the WNBA, she spent 17 years with the PGA TOUR, serving most recently as Senior Vice President of Strategic Development in the Office of the Commissioner. She also ran the tour’s worldwide television and production businesses for nine years.

She began her sports career began in television production at ABC Sports and later moved to the SportsChannel. She also owned her own production company, Primo Donna Productions.

In college, Orender played basketball, earning Regional All-American honors. She played three seasons as an All-Star point guard in the Women’s Professional Basketball League.

A graduate of Queens College, Orender did graduate studies in social work at Adelphi University.
A native New Yorker, Orender is married to MG Orender, Honorary President of the PGA of America and owner/partner in Hampton Golf, Inc. She has twin boys, Jacob and Zachary, and two stepchildren, Morgan and Colleen.

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