Several women in leadership positions with the Broncos took part in a panel discussion at CSU. (Photos by Aric DiLalla)
FORT COLLINS, Colo. —Four women in leadership positions with the Denver Broncos shared their experiences in professional sports Monday with Colorado State University students.
The event was part of the Denver Broncos Sport Management Institute's Women in Sports Industry Symposium, which partners the Broncos and CSU.
Vice President of Community Development Cindy Kellogg, Director of Partnership Marketing Sandy Young, Manager of Community Development Liz Mannis and Manager of Partnership Activation Kellie Sciacca joined two CSU employees for an hour-long panel discussion that focused on navigating the industry as women.
The conversation touched on signs of progress, work-life balance, collaboration, important traits for leaders and a wide variety of other topics. And while none of the panelists shied away from the difficulties that women often encounter in the industry, the prevailing theme was one of optimism.
The panelists consistently encouraged the audience to use compassion as strength and to show up every day ready to work and take a step forward.
"There is progress being made," Mannis said. "We work alongside a lot of strong, smart women."
Though the audience of more than 100 was primarily women, dozens of male students attended in hopes of serving as allies to their female counterparts. That support was just one of the encouraging signs to the women on the panel.
Kellogg said she's seen growth in opportunities for women since she entered the profession nearly two decades ago.
"At the league level, they've been very, very progressive in hiring women," Kellogg said. "That for me, 16 years later, is a sign of progress."
Still, Kellogg recognizes that until there is no longer a "box to check" for companies in regards to hiring a diverse staff, the journey toward total equality will not be complete.
"We're getting there on the collaborative front, but I do feel like there is work to be done," Kellogg said.
After the group discussion ended, students had the chance to meet one-on-one with the six panelists to receive more advice about how to proceed in the industry.
The event Monday was the second in the past week that brought Colorado State and the Broncos together.
On Friday, students from the Denver Broncos Sports Management Institute met with representatives from the Denver Broncos and Coca-Cola to pitch ideas to market and promote a Coca-Cola sponsored watch party for a CSU football game at the Mile High Monument.
The students were given feedback and guidance on how to make the event a reality, which gave them a real-world look at organizing and marketing an event in this unique venue.
"We appreciate the students who took the initiative to come up with new ideas and participate in the challenge that the Broncos and Coca-Cola offered to the Denver Broncos Institute for Sports Management," Vice President of Business Development Darren O'Donnell said. "We'll continue to search for ways we can offer these students real world challenges to better prepare them for careers in the sports and entertainment business."
In both cases, students took tangible steps toward their future career goals. For Kim Mbadinga-Nzamba, a panelist who works in the CSU athletic department, the ability to provide students with a window into the sports world was the key to Monday's event.
"This is very inspirational," Mbadinga-Nzamba said. "There are so many areas you can go into and there are women leading in every avenue.
"That clicks for [the students]. It grabs them. It really does."