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In "The Wisdom of Women", Barbara Jordan wrote, "The twentieth century will not close without the presence of women being felt." Nor the twenty-first.
I've spent years scouring the shelves of the self-help sections in bookstores trying to find the meaning of my life. Never content, never satisfied, I'm always searching. With 25 years accumulated in the sports industry and headed toward the big 5-0, I desperately was searching for hope. I met her interviewing for a job.
Never one to attract attention to herself, not once listed on the Who's Who of Women Executives in the Sports Industry, Joann Klonowski is one of the most sought-after senior marketing executives in sports. She's had a life and successes only few can dream of. For thirty years she's been a teammate in a myriad of some of the most exciting sports ventures ranging from golf, basketball, baseball, soccer, hockey, Paralympics and football.
Tall, lean, always fashionably dressed, Joann carries herself with a grace of quiet confidence, practicality, patience, an easy laugh and a contentedness that surely ripens with age and success.
In an industry where Presidents are named at 34 years of age and more men have ascended to higher levels than women, this woman has had her greatest successes after the age of 40. Can this be true?
In 1994, Joann and her staff generated $42 million in ticket revenue for the 1994 World Cup. Later, in 1994, Joann managed the successful ticket sales campaign for the 1994 Paralympics. In 1995, Joann led the sales and marketing of one of the most successfully marketed MLS teams - the LA Galaxy - where she and her staff generated over $10 million in revenue in its inaugural year. And in 2000 when the XFL made a point to seek out the best females and minorities to serve in senior roles with their XFL teams, Vice President of Administration, Billy Hicks, pointed to Joann Klonowski as his favorite to serve as the Chief Marketing Officer of the LA Xtreme.
"My mother, bless her heart, is constantly asking me when I'll marry again and settle down," she offered easily. "I keep telling her I'm having too much fun. I love my life."
"Don't you ever feel you're getting too old to make a difference?" I probed.
"Why, it's never been about age; should it be?" she answered so practically.
That surely settled my fears. Upon stacking up my pile of self-help books the next day, I noticed a page flew open to a line by George Eliot, "It's never too late to be what you might have been." Thank you, Joann.
Joann now works for SR Productions in Los Angeles
Buffy G. Filippell founded TeamWork Consulting, Inc., an executive search firm for the sports and event management industry in September of 1987. The firm's more than 120 clients have included: NASCAR, PGA TOUR, NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, International Speedway Corporation, Major League Soccer, Olympic Governing Bodies, corporate sponsors, and sports marketing agencies. Learn more at http://www.teamworkonline.com.
All TeamWork Online content copyright © 2008 Buffy Filippell, President, TeamWork Online LLC.
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