Women recognized for contributions to MLB

December 10th, 2018

LAS VEGAS -- Over a year has passed since Major League Baseball suffered the sudden death of its own Katy Feeney, but no amount of time will erase the legacy she has left.

After 39 years of hard work that took her from an entry-level assistant to breaking gender barriers as an executive, directing the construction of the entire Major League schedule not only left behind an impressive resume, but opened doors for young women who aspired to be just like her.

On Sunday at the Winter Meetings at Mandalay Bay, 40 current female executives from all 30 Major League clubs, MLB's central office and MLB Network were selected based on professionalism, integrity and leadership qualities that resembled the traits that Feeney exemplified throughout her career to attend the second annual Katy Feeney Leadership Symposium.

"For those of you who did know Katy, you would know that she would be absolutely mortified to have this event be named after her. She's a very humble person. She was loath to be the center of attention," MLB deputy commissioner of baseball administration Dan Halem said. "But I know, everybody knows, that Katy would be extremely proud that her legacy was the impetus for her family and for all of us to come together to put together this event to focus on women in leadership in baseball."

Created last year as an initiative to focus on career advancement for existing women baseball employees, the symposium is a day-long event that consists of discussions, panels and activities to help support existing female workers at MLB and accelerate their growth within the industry. For the second consecutive year, each session was administered by professors Sarah Soule and Shelley Correll from the Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Education Program.

"I think the biggest thing we've seen [over the past year] is in the program," Soule said. "The program has so much more that's on diversity, equity and inclusion, on issues related to women in the work place. ... What I've seen is it seems to be baked in to the whole program this year as opposed to just some few little siloed events here and there, so to me that's a huge win."

50 women 'Take the Field' at MLB Vegas event

MLB chief diversity and inclusion officer Renee Tirado and Halem opened the event with a few words before Feeney's brother, Stoney, took the podium to announce Elizabeth Stephens as the first winner of the scholarship for sports management from the University of San Francisco that was created in his sister's name. From there, Soule and Correll dove into deep discussions about the importance of working together in a work environment and how to create workplaces where both men and women can thrive.

"It's such an honor," Stephens said of being able to attend the Symposium. "I have always loved baseball and I've always been a big advocate for women in their field, and I think Katy was definitely a pioneer at that and I hope that one day I can do that as well."

At the end of the day, the women were invited to attend the third annual Women at MLB Networking Reception, joining Halem, Tirado and Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson, for a night of mingling.

"This organization, whether they looked at me funny when I came in, I think we eventually showed that we do make a difference. Women make a difference in any organization," Robinson said to the crowd. "What's most important for all of us is that we continue to allow women and young girls to believe in themselves and know there's a future for them in sports. And that's what you all represent."

In its inaugural year, the Women at MLB Networking Reception had about 50 women in attendance. Just two years later, the event hosted 130 women and Major League Baseball will continue to work to ensure that number never stops growing.

"It is true what they say: The future is females," Tirado said. "And I think that's the truth for baseball as well."