The New York Liberty of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) announced that Keia Clarke has been promoted to Chief Executive Officer. Ms. Clarke is an accomplished media and sports executive who served in a variety of senior leadership roles for the Liberty over the past 10 seasons, most recently as Chief Operating Officer.
In her new role as Chief Executive Officer, Clarke will lead and manage all business aspects of the Liberty organization, including strategic planning, revenue, P&L and operations. Elevating an executive of Clarke’s caliber and experience comes at a critical juncture for the Liberty as she will work closely with Liberty Alternate Governor Oliver Weisberg and General Manager Jonathan Kolb to provide senior leadership in an organization that is receiving renewed attention and fan excitement.
Under new ownership led by Joe and Clara Tsai, who also own the Brooklyn Nets, the Liberty has announced that the team will move their home to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York for the 2021 season. In April, the Liberty drafted six rookies in what was billed the most successful college draft in team history, including the franchise’s first-ever number one pick Sabrina Ionescu, the NCAA all-time leader in triple-doubles.
“Keia has an incredible ability to combine strategic thinking, operating excellence and a focus on people and talent,” said Joe Tsai. “These qualities, plus her unassuming leadership style, will take our Liberty franchise to the next level.”
“Keia brings deep experience and thoughtful perspective to the team. She is a great partner,” said Clara Wu Tsai. “I look forward to working with her to raise the profile of the Liberty and contribute to growing the WNBA.”
Clarke was instrumental in planning the Liberty’s strategic move to the Barclays Center. The team most recently played its games in Westchester County and by moving back to an NBA-quality arena, Clarke restored the team’s presence in New York City and positioned it for a broader fan base from the City’s five boroughs. In addition, Clarke played a key role in increasing viewership by inking a deal with the YES Network, which will show Liberty games in the New York tri-state market.
“I am very excited about my new role at the Liberty. We have an opportunity to bring world-class basketball to fans, starting with games at the Barclays Center that will enable a fan experience no one has seen in the WNBA,” said Clarke. “The league is at a key inflection point and I look forward to playing a part in elevating professional women’s basketball to national prominence.”
Clarke also recently joined the WNBA’s Social Justice Council which is a collaborative cohort including players, league senior management, and team leaders to develop a long-term WNBA social justice platform.
Over the past ten years at the Liberty, Clarke’s career spanned multiple areas of business operations. She joined in 2011 and rose through the ranks to the head of marketing before becoming Chief Operating Officer in 2018. In 2019, Clarke was named to the Notable Women in the Business of Sports List by Crain’s New York Business.
Prior to joining the Liberty, Clarke worked across all areas of the WNBA business as a member of the Team Marketing & Business Operations (TMBO) at the NBA/WNBA league office. She graduated from Canisius College with a BS degree in Marketing and was a four-year member of the school’s women’s basketball team. She earned her masters degree in sports business from New York University.
The New York Liberty is currently preparing for the start of the 2020 season under new head coach Walt Hopkins. Leading a young roster will be veteran guard Layshia Clarendon, who joined the team this year from Connecticut, Swedish center Amanda Zahui B. and WNBA all-star guard Kia Nurse.
The 2020 WNBA season will be held at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Each of the 12 teams in the league will compete in a 22-game regular season followed by playoffs. The Liberty will play their opener against the Seattle Storm on Saturday, July 25 at 12 noon (ET) and the game will be televised on ESPN.
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