Cindy Spera: “I am excited to apply my combination of soccer and business experience to develop the league and bring it to the next level of success.” (Bethanie Dardant/NPSL.com Photo)

 

Long Island native Cindy Spera has been named managing director of the National Premier Soccer League, the league announced Friday.

Spera, who was the league’s director of operations, succeeds Jef Thiffault, who recently stepped down “to explore new opportunities,” he said on his Facebook page.

“We are so fortunate to have within the NPSL family a proven leader who has shown success in both soccer and business,” NPSL chairman Joe Barone said. “Cindy’s played many, many critical roles in the building of the NPSL so she can fit right in and manage the league accordingly.”

A Northport, N.Y. native, Spera has combined a soccer and financial career to become one of the sport’s leading women executives.

As a player, Spera performed for the Northport/Cow Harbor Chargers in the Long Island Junior Soccer League.

At Cornell University, she performed on the women’s soccer team from 1988-1991. She was named to Soccer America’s freshman All-American Team (1988) and Ivy League rookie of the year (1988), first team All-Ivy League (1991) and Northeast All-American (1991) honors.

Spera also played for the Long Island Lady Riders from 1994-2002, winning W-League titles in 1995 and 1997. She was also part of three U.S. Adult Soccer Association national championships with New York Athletic Club as a player (2007), player/chairperson (2010) and chairperson of soccer (2014).

“This is an exciting time to be involved with soccer in this country,” Spera said. “The amateur game and grassroots soccer, and leagues like the NPSL, will play an important part in the evolution of soccer in the United States. I am excited to apply my combination of soccer and business experience to develop the league and bring it to the next level of success.”

Spera has more than 20 years of experience in the financial industry. She started her career at Chemical Bank in their collateralized lending group. In 1997, she joined Morgan Stanley and remained there for 16 years. She joined the organization as a financial controller, and eventually moved into various areas of project work.

Her longest role within Morgan Stanley lasted eight years and involved analyzing global markets for new operations and technology centers with a focus on financial sustainability. She was the COO of Global Operations in her latter years with the company and part of a team that produced consolidated management reporting for the firm’s global technology and operations areas, which had a combined budget of $4.2 billion.

Spera has also held high-level positions with a number of soccer leagues and organizations. She served as NYAC’s chairperson of soccer for five years in addition to serving on its board of governors from 2015 to now. She spent time as the north region commissioner for the Women’s Premier Soccer League and currently serves as a conference liaison. She also served on the Cosmopolitan Soccer League’s board of directors for two years.

With the NPSL, Spera spent three years on the league’s board of directors as treasurer. She later served as the league’s director of operations.