LPGA Names Evans as Acting Commissioner Following Bivens' Resignation;
LPGA Legend Annika Sorenstam appointed Advisor to the Board of Directors
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., July 13, 2009 - Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Board of Directors Chairman Dawn Hudson announced today that Rear Admiral Marsha J. Evans, U.S. Navy (retired) and a member of the LPGA Board of Directors, will serve as the player association's Acting Commissioner effective immediately. The move follows the resignation of Commissioner Carolyn Bivens, also announced today. The association has embarked on a search for a full-time Commissioner and made several changes within the leadership structure of the organization, including the appointment of LPGA player legend Annika Sorenstam as Advisor to the LPGA Board of Directors.
"We'll soon have in place a Commissioner to lead us into 2010 and beyond, but until then, it's important that we immediately appoint an Acting Commissioner whom we know and trust," Hudson said. "As a Board of players and independent directors, we wanted an Acting Commissioner with experience leading large organization, one who appreciates and listens to our player members and tournament owners, understands sponsors and their challenges and needs, and has a track record that commands respect. We're pleased that Marty Evans will be our Acting Commissioner, as she fits all the criteria necessary during these challenging economic times for sports leagues."
"We respect Carolyn's decision to resign since she has led this organization professionally and passionately the past four years," said LPGA Board of Directors President Michelle Ellis. "We appreciate the unwavering commitment that she provided the LPGA, and during her four years, Carolyn accomplished a great deal for the LPGA and its player members."
During her tenure starting in 2005, Bivens acquired and integrated the Duramed FUTURES Tour, a burgeoning developmental Tour, into the LPGA; secured ownership of a Major, the LPGA Championship; upgraded the quality of the courses on which LPGA players compete; introduced the first drug-testing program in professional golf; secured a landmark five-year TV rights agreement with South Korea's J Golf which includes a new tournament in southern California starting in 2010; and secured a ten-year partnership from 2010-2019 with the Golf Channel, creating a dependable viewing schedule for LPGA events.
"The LPGA is a special organization comprised of great players, teachers and fans with a rich history," Bivens said. "I love the LPGA and have been proud to serve as its Commissioner for the last four years. I am also proud of what the LPGA has accomplished during my tenure. My job was to be a change agent, to help move the LPGA into the strongest possible position to ensure its future. Those changes were only possible because the members are dynamic women who provide great value to our sponsors and tournaments. We also have a talented and dedicated staff supported by an engaged board that worked closely together to make progress.
"It is time to turn this organization over to someone who can build on the solid foundation we've established. I wish the LPGA and its members nothing but fairways and greens as it enters its 60th year."
Evans has a distinguished background that includes a nearly 30-year career with the U.S. Navy, where she rose to the rank of Rear Admiral. She also has served in top leadership positions with the American Red Cross and Girl Scouts of the USA. She served on the LPGA Commissioner's Advisory Council in 2007-2008, and began serving on the LPGA Board this year. Click here to read Evans' full bio.>>
"It is an honor to have been selected to serve in the role of Acting Commissioner pending the selection of the Association's next Commissioner," Evans said. "We look forward to making progress on completing negotiations for the 2010 schedule and build on the impressive work of Commissioner Bivens to execute the Association's long-range strategic plan."
The Executive Search Committee will be led by LPGA Board member Leslie Greis and joined by Board members Juli Inkster, Helen Alfredsson and Bill Morton. Their work will be supplemented by the full Board of Directors and renowned executive search firm Spencer Stuart.
Hudson also announced several other changes within the LPGA. Sorenstam, one of the LPGA's legendary players who retired last year and has embarked on her own business ventures, will serve as Advisor to the Board of Directors, assisting the association with on-going discussions with tournaments and sponsors.
"Obviously, I will do everything possible to ensure that the LPGA remains the pre-eminent women's sports association in the world," Sorenstam said. "I'm committed to getting up to speed quickly on the challenges facing the Board right now, and will assist the LPGA in a number of ways both immediately and long-term."
Zayra Calderon, the LPGA's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales and CEO of the Duramed FUTURES Tour, has been promoted to Executive Vice President, Tournament Development & Worldwide Sales. She now will assume responsibility for all tournament business affairs, working closely with tournament owners and title sponsors to secure renewals and new tournaments and sponsors for the LPGA. She will retain her responsibilities with the Duramed FUTURES Tour.
Additionally, Bill Susetka, who recently retired from the LPGA as its full-time Chief Marketing Officer, has been nominated to fill Evans' position on the Board of Directors.
"The LPGA Tour has a bright future thanks to its appealing fan- and sponsor-friendly players, world-class sporting events, and stability as a women's organization that was founded 59 years ago," Hudson said. "The community and charity outreach of the LPGA players and tournaments remains imbedded in the organization's DNA, and the LPGA boasts impressive domestic and global strength due to its membership make-up and media reach. We anticipate great things for the LPGA in the months and years ahead."
LPGA Announces Leadership Changes, press conference transcript, Daytona Beach, Fla., July 13, 2009
Marty Evans, acting LPGA Commissioner
Dawn Hudson, LPGA Board of Directors, Chairman
Christina Kim, LPGA player
Annika Sorenstam, Advisor to the LPGA Board of Directors
David Higdon, LPGA Chief Communications Officer
July 13, 2009
An Announcement by the: LPGA
DAVID HIGDON: Good afternoon and welcome both in person and on television to LPGA headquarters in beautiful and sunny Daytona Beach, Florida. My name is Dave Higdon, chief communications officer for the LPGA.
And before we begin today, I wanted to take this opportunity to acknowledge the great performances that we witnessed this past weekend at the U.S. Women's Open in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
The USGA once again staged an amazing event, and we watched a superb display of golf by a number of players, led by the 2009 champion Eun Hee Ji. Congratulations to Eun Hee and all the LPGA Tour players who showcased, once again, why they are the premiere women golfers in the world.
Joining us today are three of our Association's members of our board of directors. First, seated in the middle is Dawn Hudson, the chairman of the LPGA board and a prominent member of the golf, sports and business communities. Dawn has been a member of the LPGA board for eight years, contributing in a variety of ways to our Association. Great to see you as always, Dawn. Thanks for coming down.
Next to Dawn on her right sits Rear Admiral Marsha Evans, U.S. Navy retired. Marty began serving on the LPGA board this year after two years on the Commissioner's Advisory Council. Though she lives just up I95 in Jacksonville Beach, she flew in for today's announcement from Washington, D.C. Thank you for joining us, Marty.
And last, but never, ever least, is Christina Kim who just completed the U.S. Women's Open yesterday and also serves on our board of directors. Christina was chosen by her peers earlier this year to represent them on the board and, like all of the player members on the board, she's committed a significant amount of time and energy to this role.
Yesterday Christina shot an extremely impressive 71, yes, a great round to complete her tournament. But you have forgotten your Sunday round already, correct, Christina?
CHRISTINA KIM: Hmm.
DAVID HIGDON: Yes, okay. Always good to see you.
I would like to now turn it over to Chairman Hudson who has a number of announcements to make today. Dawn?
DAWN HUDSON: Thank you, David. And thank you all here today and those joining us live via the Golf Channel and other media outlets. We have several announcements to make today.
First, we begin by announcing that Carolyn Bivens, the commissioner whom has led this organization professionally and passionately for the past four years, has resigned effective today. We respect her decision and more importantly appreciate the unwavering commitment that she has provided this organization.
History has shown that different times require different kinds of leaders. And when Carolyn became our commissioner four years ago during a rising economic climate, she helped us think big and rethink necessary issues. She helped bring about vital organizational changes and accomplished a great deal for the LPGA and its player members.
During her tenure, we acquired and integrated the Duramed FUTURES Tour, the burgeoning developmental Tour, into the LPGA. We secured ownership of our own major, the LPGA Championship. We upgraded the quality of the courses on which LPGA players compete, and last year added an agronomist through a partnership with the NGCSA.
The LPGA under Carolyn also increased coverage of child care on the Tour and budgeted coverage of a physiotherapist to travel with the players. Carolyn led the LPGA as it introduced the first drug testing program in professional golf, which has gone a long way in our bid to get golf into the Olympics, hopefully as early as 2016.
Early this year, Carolyn announced a fiveyear partnership with South Korea's JGolf, establishing not just a new television partner for the LPGA but also a new tournament partner for the Southern California market.
She also secured a tenyear partnership with the Golf Channel which creates a dependable viewing schedule for LPGA events to the delight of many of our loyal fans. Finally, we have a television home with the Golf Channel upon which we can grow our fan base.
We are grateful to Carolyn Bivens for her devotion to the LPGA and we salute her as a woman of heart and character and great business acumen who has positioned us for the future.
Personally, I would like to add she has been a pleasure to get to know and to work with, and I look forward to maintaining and strengthening our personal relationship in the years ahead. It is now time, however, for a change of leadership who will help us through these tough economic times and challenges that the LPGA and all professional sports leagues are facing.
We embark today on a search for a new commissioner to lead the LPGA. The executive search committee will be led by board member Lesley Greis and joined by board members Juli Inkster, Helen Alfredsson and Bill Morton. Their work will be supplemented by renowned executive search firm Spencer Stuart, and we will conduct a thorough and extensive search. And based on the inquiries that I already have received by several prominent business and golf industry executives, I'm confident that we will soon have in place a commissioner who will lead us into 2010 and beyond.
Until then, it is important that we have an acting commissioner whom we know and trust, one who appreciates and listens to our player members and tournament owners and understands sponsors and their challenges and needs and has a track record of leadership that commands respect.
I'm very pleased today to announce that the woman seated at my right, Marsha Evans, whom we all know as Marty, has accepted the player and independent board members' request to serve as acting commissioner of the LPGA.
Marty joined the LPGA board this year after two years on the Commissioner's Advisory Council. Marty had a very distinguished 30year career with the U.S. Navy where she was the first woman to command a U.S. naval station and served as chief of staff at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. She is one of only a handful of women to reach the rank of rear admiral, a position she held when she retired in 1998. She gained a reputation for forging new ground for women in the military, including chairing the task force in 1992 that developed a strategy to address the genderbased issues that gave rise to Tailhook.
Upon retirement from the Navy in 1998, Marty assumed leadership of the Girl Scouts where she turned it into a more crosscultural organization and created new programs for girls, including several involving sports. Starting in the summer of 2002, Marty became the 13th president and CEO of the American Red Cross, the U.S.'s largest humanitarian relief organization. She is named executive of the year by "Nonprofit News" in 2005 after demonstrating her leadership of the American Cross Relief efforts following hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma as well as December 2004 tsunamis in south Asia.
Marty serves not only on our board but also as a director with Home Depot, Weight Watchers International, Huntsman and the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation.
Before I turn the microphone over to Marty, I wanted to make a few other announcements that will enable the LPGA to immediately effect discussions with tournaments and sponsors. First, Zayra Calderon, the Tour's senior vice president of worldwide sales and former CEO of the Duramed FUTURES Tour, has been promoted to executive vice president, tournament development and worldwide sales. She will now assume responsibility for all tournament business affairs working closely with tournament owners and title sponsors to secure renewals and new events for the LPGA.
Zayra has been a passionate proponent of the LPGA since we brought her on board through the acquisition of the Duramed FUTURES Tour, and we feel shifting her primary focus toward tournament business will provide an immediate boost to our tournament discussions. Zayraa wasn't able to join us today as she is in Connecticut for this week's Duramed FUTURES Tour event.
Second, we've nominated Bill Susetka, who recently retired from the LPGA as our chief marketing officer, to step into Marty's position on the Board of Directors pending ratification by the player body. Bill has been a tireless promoter of the LPGA brand and the players, and we feel adding him to the board provides us with a smart businessman who knows the LPGA organization from the inside out.
And, finally, I received a call last week from Annika Sorenstam who asked how can she help the Association that has meant so much to her. That was one call that I was happy to receive last week. So effective immediately, Annika has agreed to serve as Advisor to the Board of Directors. She will work closely with us and assist in a number of areas including our ongoing discussions with current LPGA tournaments and sponsors.
It is now my extreme pleasure to turn over to a true friend of the LPGA and someone with whom I've had the pleasure of serving on the board, Marty.
MARSHA EVANS: Thank you so much, Dawn. And thanks to all of you for attending today.
I first became acquainted with the LPGA during my service as the national executive director of Girl Scouts of the USA when that organization became partners with the LPGA to offer golf lessons to Girl Scouts. I saw the power of girls engaging in sports, and I witnessed firsthand the impact of LPGA golfers as role models for girls and young women.
Since then, it has been my distinct honor to serve first as a member of the LPGA Commissioner's Advisory Council in 2007 and 2008, and this year I've served as a member of the Board of Directors. I have admired the dedication, the passion and the skills of the Tour players and the Teaching and Club Professionals who form the membership of this Association. They have and continue to inspire me.
These are challenging times for sports organizations in general and particularly for women's sports. It is an honor to have been selected to serve in the role of acting commissioner, pending the selection of the Association's next commissioner. Our most immediate focus will be to reach out to several critical constituencies in the spirit of the LPGA's fanfirst philosophy to reach out to the fans who follow the LPGA and have always impressed me with their spirit and enthusiasm with which they embrace this sport; to reach out to the women and players who are our Association's members and our tournament owners, operators and title sponsors; and also to reach out to our existing sponsors and partners and those who want to be part of the LPGA Tour; and, finally, to work with this great staff and the media assembled here and listening or watching around the world.
We look forward to making progress on completing negotiations for the 2010 schedule and build on the success of the Association and the tremendous talent of our golfers.
And on a personal note, I want to thank Carolyn for inviting me to be part of the Association. I know that she put her heart and soul into this organization, and I wish her the best of every success in her personal and professional career.
I ask all of you to for support and assistance. I ask you to join with us to ensure that the LPGA continues to run a great Tour and offer the highest level of women's golf to current and future generations of fans around the world. Thank you so much.
Thank you, Dawn.
And now back to you, David.
DAVID HIGDON: Thanks, Marty. Congratulations. I know I speak for all of us at the LPGA in pledging our support to you as you commence your new active duty as our acting commissioner.
That leaves Christina. I'm sure it's been an interesting ten days for you and your fellow players. How are you feeling right now about the decisions that you made with Marty, with Annika coming on board? How are you feeling about that right now?
CHRISTINA KIM: Well, like you said, it has been a very interesting last ten days. We've had numerous conference calls. Between that and juggling the Open, there was a lot of stuff going on.
I have to tell you that I'm just so thrilled right now with the decisions that we have made, having Marty coming in as our acting commissioner. She is you know, I have gotten to know her a bit this year as we were both voted in on the board of directors this year. And I haven't met anyone more compassionate, more compelling and with so much passion for the future of the organization. So, you know, I'm just thrilled to be able to be a part of it. And I really want to thank you and welcome you.
DAVID HIGDON: Thanks, Christina.
And I believe we have a former player on the phone with us here. Annika, can you hear me?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I can hear you.
DAVID HIGDON: Oh, great. Where are you? On the West Coast? Annika, are you on the West Coast? I think we might have lost her. That cell service, I tell you. She should have stayed in Orlando. Well, let's see if we can try to get her back up.
In the meantime, I did want to make sure that we talk a little bit about the role that Marty will be playing as acting commissioner. Just to be clear, acting commissioner or longterm commissioner, what are your feelings about that?
MARSHA EVANS: David, let me just say that I was very, very happy in retirement serving on boards and pursuing my passions, one of which was golf is golf. And it would have taken a lot to get me to come out of retirement and take on a fulltime job.
But I will tell you, when the chair of the board called and when the president of players, Michelle Ellis and vice president Sherry Steinhauer called and asked me to consider this, I have such a commitment to the organization, a commitment to women's sports. I want the next generation of girls and young women to have the opportunities, to have even greater opportunities. I decided it was time to break my rule of "no more fulltime jobs."
So I will say here and now that I am the acting commissioner, but I have no interest, no intention to serve as the commissioner. I think we need someone with new energy who can bring passion and skills and experience, and I will be very happy to facilitate a smooth transition to that individual, when selected.
DAVID HIGDON: Okay, thank you.
I've had a lot of people actually hanging up on me the last week but I never thought, Annika, that you would do that. Are you there now?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Yeah, sorry, David. I didn't do it on purpose.
DAVID HIGDON: Yeah, sure. You still haven't forgiven me for pointing out that you're foot faulting on your blog. So I'm glad to see that you have a good sense of humor.
Tell me, actually, Dawn mentioned you called her. I got an email from you, again, that was very welcomed last week. What made you decide to reach out to us this past week?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, you know, I've been and still am a member of the LPGA and I care deeply about the Tour and I think we have so much to be proud of and, you know, I have learned a lot the last two years and figured, you know, if you need some help, I'm here. I have some time on my hands now and thought I would offer my expertise where needed.
DAVID HIGDON: Well, great. What do you think you'll be able to contribute in both the shortterm and the longterm for us?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, like I said, I mean, I have been a member for over 15 years and golf has been part of my life for over 20 years. I have seen a lot and heard a lot and experienced a lot. I know what the players like. And, you know, like I said, I want to help in so many different ways. I'm growing the game in different areas either through my foundation or through the USGA, you know, and why not continue with the LPGA.
And I have been lucky to be affiliated with some great sponsors through my career. I feel I have a good relationship with the different sponsors and just really want to share that experience, if needed.
DAVID HIGDON: And what do you think our chances are of getting into the Olympics in 2016?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, I got my fingers crossed. I thought we had a great presentation in Geneva a few weeks ago and I know that's another way to grow the game. You know, I'm all for it. I mean, it's a wonderful game. It's given me a lot. It's time I give back, and I'm here to help.
DAVID HIGDON: Thanks, Annika. And thanks for joining us. That will conclude the formal part of our announcement.
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Topics: Press Release