Major League Baseball’s Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion hosted its annual _“Unfiltered Series” _featuring conversations with MLB Chief Baseball Development Officer, and former Los Angeles Angels General Manager, Tony Reagins, as well as leadership from The Players Alliance, including Curtis Granderson, Chris Dickerson and Chris Young. The panel series, which is typically held during Baseball’s Winter Meetings to provide attendees with an opportunity to hear perspectives from figures throughout the sport on issues related to diversity, was streamed on MLB.com with the full video available at MLB.com/diversity-and-inclusion:
- GM Chronicles with Tony Reagins: Reagins, who is currently the Chief Baseball Development Officer for Major League Baseball and serves on Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred’s executive leadership team, discussed his journey from growing up in Indio, Calif., his rise from seasonal intern with the Angels to the General Manager of the Club, and to his current role at the Commissioner’s Office. ESPN Baseball Analyst Eduardo Pérez guided Reagins through a conversation that touched on his mentors along the way, insightful anecdotes, and efforts led by his department at MLB to help grow the future of the sport. Historically, the GM Chronicles session at the Winter Meetings have featured Kenny Williams (White Sox), Al Avila (Tigers) and Farhan Zaidi (Giants).
- The GM Chronicles with Tony Reagins can be viewed here: https://www.mlb.com/video/unfiltered-gm-chronicles-2229
- A Conversation with The Players Alliance: Curtis Granderson, President of The Players Alliance (TPA), was joined by former Major Leaguers and members of TPA’s Player Committee Chris Dickerson and Chris Young in a conversation alongside MLB’s Chief People & Culture Officer Michele Meyer-Shipp. The panel, which was moderated by MLB Network Analyst Harold Reynolds, discussed a variety of topics, including TPA’s mission, goals and current “Pull Up Neighbor” Tour. The conversation also focused on the significant issues related to diversity at all levels of the sport and how this past year has inspired future actions of The Players Alliance and MLB.
- A Conversation with The Players Alliance can be viewed here: https://www.mlb.com/video/unfiltered-the-players-alliance-2232
The “Unfiltered Series” followed several virtual symposia hosted by MLB’s Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion that centered on professional development for women, in both front office business & baseball operations roles, and supporting diverse-owned businesses. These efforts included the following:
- The Supplier Diversity Summit was held for the fifth consecutive year during MLB’s offseason. The Summit included a number of panel discussions, such as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on diverse businesses and a discussion on doing business with baseball. The Summit also included speed networking rounds providing diverse-owned businesses (inclusive of those owned by people of color, women, veterans, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities) the opportunity to pitch their businesses to representatives from MLB, MLB Clubs and MLB Partners. Created in 1998, the program is an economically-driven business initiative designed to cultivate new and existing partnerships with diverse-owned businesses, by increasing opportunities for them to participate in the procurement activities of MLB. It is the longest running Diversity Supplier Program in major sports. To date, MLB has spent nearly $2 billion with diverse businesses since this initiative began.
- Club testimonial:
- Jorge Fajardo, Director of Procurement, Washington Nationals: (on new vendors/attendees of the Supplier Diversity Summit) “It’s our job to bring them in, train them, coach them and make them feel like they are a part of our family because they are – we want to partner [with] them.”
- For the fourth consecutive year, MLB hosted the Katy Feeney Leadership Symposium to focus on career advancement for current women executives in baseball. Since its inception, nearly 120 women have participated in the program, coming from various facets of the business including Baseball Operations, Marketing, Community Relations, Human Resources, Legal and Communications. The event, administered by the Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Education Program, was held in honor of Katy Feeney, who was an influential baseball executive and mentor throughout her 40-year career. The invitation-only guest list included women from all 30 MLB Clubs, MLB’s Central Office and MLB Network.
- Previous Attendee Testimonials:
- Hannah Basinger, Atlanta Braves, VP Guest Operations & Strategy: “Knowing how much Major League Baseball is pouring in into female leadership, I think it’s extremely gratifying for me and actually motivating for me, to know that Major League Baseball cares about this initiative and really wants to take the time to foster and develop female leadership.”
- Brenda Best, Director of HR, Milwaukee Brewers: “It is very refreshing and validating to get comments from people at your table and our facilitators in the sense where things that you are experiencing aren’t unique to you, that other people have seen it and other people are looking to correct them. [The program has] definitely given me very important tools that I think could be very effective, so I hope to bring those back and try to implement those in my day to day with my team.”
- For the third consecutive year, MLB hosted Take The Field, a program specifically designed to provide women who are interested in careers in coaching, scouting and player development in baseball with the opportunity for education and engagement with Club personnel through panels, breakout sessions, and networking opportunities. Added focuses this year has been programming specifically designed to support women currently working with Clubs and the Commissioner’s Office in these baseball operations and on-field roles. The event, intended for those who have an existing connection through baseball or softball, featured more thab 260 women listening to sessions led by coaches, scouts, and front office personnel (League & Clubs) who provided insight on a variety of topics to prepare attendees for these roles s. Additionally, attendees participated in professional development sessions, including mock interviews. Notable baseball representatives leading discussions and breakout sessions included Michele Meyer-Shipp, Jean Afterman (SVP and Assistant General Manager, NY Yankees), Eve Rosenbaum (Director of Baseball Development, Baltimore Orioles), Nichol Whiteman (CEO, Dodgers Foundation) and many more. Notable previous attendees of Take The Field include Alyssa Nakken (Asst. Coach, San Francisco Giants), Rachel Folden (AZL Lead Lab Tech & 4th/Hitting Coach, Chicago Cubs), and Veronica Alvarez (Spring Training Catching Coach, Oakland A’s).
- Previous Attendee Testimonials:
- Danielle Dockx, Diversity Fellow w/ Tampa Bay Rays: “I’ve had the opportunity to touch a bunch of different areas. Ultimately I kind of found my niche in player development with a little bit of performance science, but it’s been awesome to see how the front office works and how everyone can cooperate [to] put a product on the field.”
- Lisa Norrie, Assistant Coach, Brisbane Bandits, Australian Baseball League: “I never knew that there so many opportunities in baseball for women. Getting to know that last year and hearing more about it this year, it just shows that it’s achievable. The door opens for many women.”
- Rachel Folden, Arizona League 4**th** Coach for the Chicago Cubs: “It’s important to give women a hope that we can work in this industry. Also, I think It’s important that we empower each other, so when you put us all in the same room ‘hey, it really can be done,’ I think that’s really really powerful and really valuable. I also think that just giving women a collective voice to say ‘hey we can work in this industry…there’s a lot of us that want to work in this industry’ I think that’s…important.”
- As part of MLB’s ongoing commitment to growing and developing programming, the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion launched a new Winter Meeting titled Women On Deck - designed as a space for conversations around the impact women are making in our sport. On Wednesday, December 17, Michele Meyer-Shipp launched this exciting discussion featuring a diverse group of women across Baseball Operations with panelists Raquel Ferreira (EVP & Asst. General Manager, Boston Red Sox), Caroline O’Connor (COO, Miami Marlins), Andy Acosta (Senior Developer, Baseball Systems, Milwaukee Brewers), Bianca Smith (former Asst. Baseball Coach & Hitting Coordinator at Carroll University in Wisconsin), and moderated by Tyrone Brooks (Sr. Director, Front Office & Field Staff Diversity Pipeline Program, MLB). Open to employees throughout the league, participants had an opportunity to engage directly with women who have navigated careers and continue to have an impact throughout baseball front offices.
Beyond these efforts, MLB has an ongoing focus on the recruitment of diverse professionals to the League via efforts such as the Diversity Pipeline Program, the Diversity Fellowship Program and other efforts.