In honor of International Women’s Day, the Dynamo Charities hosted a panel for 60 girls from Chavez High School and HISD Roses last Wednesday. The panel consisted of five women who work for the Houston Dynamo, Houston Dash and BBVA Stadium, including two C-level executives, a former Olympian, a professional soccer player and the woman who keeps BBVA Stadium humming on game days.
The panel shared their various experiences as women in a male-dominated field and also imparted advice for the high school girls in the audience, encouraging them to follow their own path but also to lean on those who support them.
Human Resources Compliance Director Carol Lewis’ path was far from where she thought it would be. Lewis is a former Olympian, competing in track and field for the United States in 1984 and 1988 Olympics. After her track and field career, she went on to become an expert commentator for several national sports networks for 20 years. Lewis also joined the United States Bobsled team at the age of 40 as preparation for becoming an expert commentator in 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, where her former teammate Shauna Rohbock won silver. After an incredible career in sports commentary, Lewis transitioned into Human Resources. After eight years away from home, she moved back to Houston to care for her mother and found the opportunity to work in the HR department for the Houston Dynamo and Dash.
Houston Dash defender Satara Murray has known soccer all her life. Born in Brooklyn, New York and then raised in Austin, Murray grew up on the soccer field, starting at five years old. Her coaches found potential in her and encouraged her to play select soccer when she was old enough. In high school, she received a full scholarship to the women’s soccer powerhouse, the University of North Carolina. In her time as a Tar Heel, Murray won the 2012 NCAA Championship, scoring her first collegiate goal in the national championship match. After college, she spent four seasons with Liverpool FC in England before returning back to the states last year to play for the Houston Dash.
BBVA Stadium’s Director of Event Services Lana Ramirez did not start her career in sports, though that was the long-term goal. After receiving a degree in marketing and sports business, she kicked off her career in food and beverage service and events. From there, she found her way into sports, working for various stadiums including the Green Bay Packers’ legendary home, Lambeau Field, and then becoming the first event manager to oversee non-game day events for the San Francisco 49ers as they opened Levi’s Stadium. Still wanting to connect with the team aspect of stadiums, Ramirez moved to Houston where she now oversees the events team, guest services department and soccer operations for the Home of the Dynamo & Dash.
Chief Revenue Officer Dionna Widder has loved basketball and soccer all her life, striving to chase that feeling of being part of a sport and a team. On her twelfth birthday(?), sitting courtside at a Detroit Pistons game, the Flint, Michigan native noticed all the people walking around the court in business suits. It was then that she decided she wanted to be one of those people, doing whatever they did. Years later, she fell in love with sales after an internship with Buick Golf. Since then, she’s worked in sales with the Indiana Pacers, the Detroit Lions, at the NBA league office in New York, and with the championship-winning Cleveland Cavaliers before finding her way to the Houston Dynamo and Dash over a year ago.
Chief Marketing Office Katie Scallan is Texas born and bred. Although she was never an athlete, sports always come back in her life. She started her career off with what was then called the Dallas Burn – now FC Dallas – in Major League Soccer’s second season, doing a little bit of everything varying from sales to community relations and even serving as stadium security in a pinch. She then decided she wanted to learn more about advertising and branding, spending five years with various advertising agencies. These experiences led her to the corporate sector with Gulf States Toyota, but she still remained connected to sports. Scallan spent 17 years handling sports marketing, special events and public relations for the company. In her time with Toyota, Scallan negotiated the naming rights to Houston’s very own Toyota Center, home of the Houston Rockets, as well as Toyota Stadium in Frisco, the home of her former employer, and San Antonio’s Toyota Field. She joined the Houston Dynamo and Dash just last July, seeing the perfect opportunity to expand her horizon while returning to her professional roots.
These five women come from incredibly diverse backgrounds, but now, together with the Forever Orange family, they are continuing to pave the way for the future of women in sports.
It was an excellent celebration of women’s empowerment and served as a reminder for the next generation that women can accomplish anything, whether it be on the field or in the workplace.