The 2017 ANA Inspiring Women in Sports Conference features marquee figures from around the sporting world. They all have one thing in common: an inspiring story to tell.
Billie Jean King
Sports Icon and Social Justice Pioneer | Keynote Speaker
Named one of the “100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century” by Life magazine and a 2009 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Billie Jean King is the founder of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative and the co-founder of World TeamTennis. She founded the Women’s Sports Foundation and the Women’s Tennis Association. In August 2006, the National Tennis Center, home of the US Open, was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in honor of her accomplishments on and off the court. King serves on the boards of the Women’s Sports Foundation, the Andy Roddick Foundation, the Elton John AIDS Foundation and is a past member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.
Professional Tennis Player
Maria Sharapova is the winner of five Grand Slam titles and is an Olympic silver medalist. She is just one of a handful of players to hold all four Grand Slam titles – Wimbledon (2004), US Open (2006), Australian Open (2008), and Roland Garros (2012, 2014). She has held the World No.1 ranking for 21 weeks and has won 35 singles titles in her career.
Maria made history on numerous occasions when Forbes named her the highest paid female athlete of all time in 2005. She has held that title for a record 11 years.
Raised in Sochi, Sharapova holds a number of firsts for her native Russia. She is the first Russian to become World No.1, is the only one to hold a career Grand Slam, and is the first woman to carry the Russian flag at the Olympics (2012 Summer Olympics in London). Additionally, she acted as an Olympic Correspondent for NBC’s coverage of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
As an international icon, Maria garners worldwide press coverage both on and off the court with a dominating social media presence that includes 14 million Facebook fans, more 4.8 million Twitter followers and 2.2 million followers on Instagram. She serves as an ambassador to many of the world’s top luxury brands and a number of Fortune 500 companies including Porsche, Nike, Evian and HEAD. In 2007, Sharapova became a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and has made significant contributions to Chernobyl-related projects in her native country. In 2012, Sharapova flexed her entrepreneurial muscles and debuted her eponymous couture candy collection “Sugarpova”, with a portion of its proceeds benefitting the Maria Sharapova Foundation. She is also co-owner of Supergoop!, a skincare company dedicated to SPF protection.
Aly Raisman is the two-time team captain of the gold medal winning U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Teams in 2012 and 2016. The most decorated U.S. gymnast at the 2012 Games and first American gymnast to win gold in the floor exercise, Raisman stole the hearts of millions during her silver medal performance in the All-Around competition at the 2016 Games. Raisman is the second most decorated American gymnast of all-time with six total Olympic medals and is one of two U.S. gymnasts to make back-to-back Olympic teams in more than 15 years.
A native of Needham, Massachusetts, Raisman is the oldest of four and started gymnastics at 18 months old with her mother during mommy and me classes. A leader both in and out of the sport, she’s an advocate for positive body image and empowering everyone to be comfortable and confident in their own skin.
Paralympic Swimmer, ESPN Reporter
Victoria Arlen’s life drastically changed in 2006 at the tender age of eleven when she developed two rare conditions known as Transverse Myelitis and Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis. This was an incredibly rare scenario and Victoria quickly lost the ability to speak, eat, walk and move. She slipped into a vegetative state in which doctors had written her off as a lost cause. Victoria spent nearly four years “locked” inside her own body completely aware of what was going on just unable to move or communicate. Doctors believed there was little hope of survival and recovery was unlikely. Victoria, however was not ready to give up. In 2010 after almost four years she began the nearly impossible fight back to life. Learning how to speak, eat and move all over again.
Victoria went on to exceedingly defy the odds and not only recovered but has since become an accomplished Motivational Speaker, Actress, Model, and Swimmer. Her swimming resume includes three Silvers and a Gold medal from the London 2012 Paralympic Games as well as multiple World, American and Pan American Records.
In April 2015, Victoria made the transition from professional athlete to sportscaster and joined ESPN as one of the youngest on air talents hired by the company and reports for various platforms including ESPYs, Frozen Four, Invictus Games, Special Olympic World Games, X Games, espnW and Sportscaster.
More recently Victoria defied yet another odd and after spending nearly a decade in a wheelchair paralyzed from the waist down was able to learn how to walk. She recently landed a major book deal with Howard/Simon and Schuster. Victoria has become world famous not only for her story and accomplishments but for her message: “Face It, Embrace It, Defy It, Conquer It“.
Olympic Softball Player, ESPN Analyst
Jessica Mendoza is an Olympic gold medalist, former collegiate 4-time First Team All-American softball player and sportscaster of Mexican descent originally from California. Jessica attended Stanford University and was a member for the U.S. Women’s National Softball Team. ]
Jessica works as a color analyst during the Women’s College World Series and a sideline reporter for ESPNU. In 2014, Mendoza began working as an analyst on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight on Monday’s edition of the show. In 2015, Jessica became the first female broadcaster in the booth for ESPN’s College World Series coverage with Karl Ravech and Kyle Peterson. Jessica was also the first female analyst for a Major League Baseball game in the history of ESPN during a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Six days later, Mendoza filled in for Curt Schilling for the Cubs-Dodgers game on Sunday Night Baseball. Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta pitched a no-hitter in the game. John Kruk, Dan Shulman and Mendoza called the 2015 American League Wild Card Game where Mendoza became the first female analyst in MLB postseason history.
Mendoza is the Women’s Sports Foundation President, athletic ambassador for Team Darfur and board member of the National Education Association. You can currently watch Jessica on Sunday Night Baseball as ESPN’s first ever female Co-Anchor.
ESPN SportsCenter Anchor
Over the past 4-years, Cari Champion has become one of ESPN's most prominent female hosts and interviewers. Cari was named SportsCenter anchor in July 2015, and since February 2016, she has served as co-anchor of "Sportscenter Coast-to-Coast", ESPN's weekday midday edition of the iconic franchise. She is based out of the network's Los Angeles studios, while her co-anchor, David Lloyd hosts the show from ESPN's headquarters in Connecticut. In addition, Cari continues to serve as one of the primary faces and contributors to ESPNW, including hosting her popular weekly podcast, "Be Honest with Cari Champion." What makes Cari unique is her ability to showcase her chops as a serious journalist, who can break stories, while displaying an engaging personality with quick wit, style and authenticity. As a stellar interviewer, she demonstrates a seamless repartee with sports stars, celebrities, and newsmakers.
Cari launched her career at ESPN in 2012 in her breakthrough role as host/moderator of the network's debate program, "First Take". Prior to joining ESPN, Cari served as anchor and courtside reporter at the Tennis Channel, covering prominent players like Venus and Serena Williams. Cari is no stranger to the red carpet either, and has been a red carpet correspondent for the ESPY awards for many years. She is also the first female sports broadcaster to be featured in the June 2016 edition of Vogue Magazine in over two decades.
Analyst and Reporter for ESPN and ABC, Olympic Soccer Player | Moderator
Julie had a sensational soccer career while playing on the USA National Team for 17 years. She is the former Captain of the US Women's National Team. She was a captain on the National Team for 13 of her 17 years with the team. Julie participated in 4 Women's World Cups and 3 Olympics for the USA Team. She is a two-time World Cup Champion and she is also a 1996 Olympic Gold medalist, 2000 Olympic Silver medalist and 2004 Olympic Gold medalist.
Julie was inducted in the US National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2007, alongside longtime teammate and friend, Mia Hamm.
Julie founded the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy (JFSLA) in 2006, along with her husband Ian Sawyers. The JFSLA is a unique residential camp experience for girls that uses sports as a vehicle to teach leadership skills for life.
Most recently, Julie wrote a book for teenage girls and young women on leadership, titled Choose to Matter: Being Courageously and Fabulously YOU. The book is being published by Disney and espnW and will be available in stores in May of 2017.
Changemaker, ANA Blue Wing Program
For Elizabeth Hausler, safe housing is a basic human right. When quake-vulnerable housing collapses in a disaster, she argues, humans - not nature - are to blame. By thoroughly overhauling the approach to homebuilding, Hausler is working to make safe construction a reality.
You can learn more about Elizabeth Hausler and ANA's Blue Wing program by clicking here.