The National Women’s Soccer League has named Lisa Baird as its commissioner, the league announced Thursday.
Baird will be responsible for overseeing all operations for the league and NWSL Media with a focus on growing revenues and audience while elevating the profile of the league globally.
She will begin the position on March 10.
“We are thrilled to name Lisa as the Commissioner of the NWSL,” NWSL executive committee chair and North Carolina Courage owner Steve Malik said. “Her impressive background at the forefront of sports and commercial business for some of the most iconic properties worldwide will be instrumental to the future success and growth of the league.”
“As a long-time fan of the game and the players, I am excited to be joining the league at this time. The NWSL has tremendous positive momentum and a clear path towards growth,” Baird said.
In conjunction with Nolan Partners, a top global executive recruiting firm, the league conducted a comprehensive search for the next NWSL commissioner. A committee, including a representative from each NWSL club, conducted in-person interviews with finalists. With unanimous support, Baird emerged as the clear choice.
“Among the extremely talented finalists we saw, Lisa had the right combination of experience and leadership which immediately captured the board,” Portland Thorns president Mike Golub, who was a member of the commissioner search committee. “Lisa’s stellar accomplishments with some of the most successful properties in our industry and her well established reputation as a leading global marketer make her the best person to steward the league’s next phase of growth.”
Baird joined the NWSL from New York Public Radio, where she served as the Chief Marketing Officer for more than a year. She oversaw all sponsorship, membership and marketing endeavors.
Baird spent a decade as the Chief Marketing Officer at the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee. With the USOPC, Baird played the leading role securing broadcast, sponsorship and licensing deals and launched the iconic Team USA brand, in addition to working with the national governing bodies including U.S. Soccer on several marketing and media initiatives.
Baird has earned several organizational and personal honors and recognitions. She was named the 2011 WISE Woman of the Year for making a significant impact on the business of sports and was recognized in the 2011 Sports Business Journal’s inaugural class of “Game Changers: Women in Sports Business.” She was named to the 2016 Business Insider TOP 50 Most Innovative Global CMO’s and most recently in 2019 as an OpCon Top 50 Marketer.
A graduate of Penn State University, with a master’s degree in Management, Marketing and Statistics from the Smeal Business School, Baird began her career at the Proctor & Gamble Co. where she spent six years in brand management.
She eventually became the senior vice president of marketing and licensing for the National Football League in 2005, directing the NFL’s consumer products, entertainment marketing and advertising programs. During her three-year tenure with the NFL, she launched NFL Play60, and expanded the league’s licensing business with first time deals with Nike, Under Armour and Fanatics.
Baird currently serves as an independent director on the Board of GK/Elite Sportwear, a Riverside Partners portfolio company, and Fox Racing, Inc, a portfolio company of Altamont Capital Partners.