From The Court To The Sidelines

Jacqueline LeBlanc

erri Jackson is the executive director of the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA), and when she helped negotiate the league’s new collective bargaining agreement ahead of the 2020 season, she was more than prepared for the challenge.

Jackson attended Georgetown University, where she received both her undergraduate and law degree, and worked as an attorney before working as an adjunct professor at American University and Tulane University. She created and taught a women in sport course that examined the history and culture of sport with an emphasis in law and equity. She later moved on to become the assistant general counsel for athletics, student affairs, and business services at the University of the District of Columbia for four years.

“My personal life — understanding basketball and the business side of basketball from the players’ perspective way — gives me an opportunity to be one of the only people in the room when we are negotiating a collective-bargaining agreement to have that kind of vantage point and that kind of perspective,” Jackson told SportsBusinessDaily. “It gives me the best opportunity to see what’s possible for the women of my membership.”

Jackson helped negotiate one of the best deals the women of the WNBA have ever received. Top players will earn more money and everyone will have better health and medical benefits. There was a lot to be happy about for sure, but Jackson knows there is still work to be done for women on and off the court.

“I always say that if you’re in a boardroom or a meeting and you’re the only girl at the table, celebrate that moment; but then realize that you have a responsibility to make sure that never happens again,” Jackson told The New Tri-State Defender.

Jackson also said that adding diversity to the coaching ranks was a focus of hers while negotiating. There is a severe shortage of black women coaching in the WNBA, and in women’s basketball in general.

“If you play in the WNBA for eight, nine, 15 years, like some of these players have played … you’re an expert at the game. You’re an expert at the game of women’s basketball,” she said in an interview with The Athletic. “So how do we transition more coaches? A lot of it has to do with who is in the decision-making seat, that seat of owners, that seat of general managers, that seat of president of basketball operations. We have to get more diversity in those seats. Because those are the folks that are making decisions.”

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