Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber Monday announced two promotions of the league’s executive leadership.
JoAnn Neale has been promoted to president and chief administrative officer while Gary Stevenson will assume the title of deputy commissioner and president of MLS Business Ventures.
Neale, Stevenson and MLS president and deputy commissioner Mark Abbott will report directly to Garber.
“This structure enhances our league office by maximizing the skill, experience and dedication of Mark, JoAnn and Gary and everyone on our leadership team,” Garber said. “This is a period of explosive growth in all areas of the league. We look forward to continuing to build on our momentum, and to delivering the greatest experience in sport to our fans.”
Neale joined MLS as legal counsel in 1998 and most recently held the title of chief administrative and social responsibility officer. In her new role, she is assuming responsibility for strategic planning and information technology, while maintaining oversight of all aspects of the human resources and administration and facilities departments. As the architect of MLS WORKS, the league’s social responsibility platform, Neale spearheads its overall strategy. Neale also oversees programs to support player education and engagement, and assists with off-field career development and transition.
An executive in the sports industry since 1980, Stevenson joined MLS in 2013 as president and managing director of MLS business ventures. He oversees the domestic and international commercial business of MLS which includes Soccer United Marketing, media and broadcasting, digital, club services, marketing, consumer products, special events and content creation and distribution.
Abbott has been instrumental in many of the league’s major accomplishments since he became the organization’s first employee in 1993, three years before MLS’ first season. He is a leading force in the league’s strategic expansion, with MLS adding nine clubs in the last decade, and four more joining in the coming years. Abbott manages all areas of league operations and competition, including product strategy, player relations and communications. The architect of MLS’ business plan, Abbott was named president and deputy commissioner in 2013.