Tennis Weekend speakers
Renée Tirado- Keynote Speaker
Renée E. Tirado is the first Global Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Gucci. In her new role, she will hire a global team to develop and execute plans to create a more inclusive and equitable workplace and increase workforce diversity as it relates to Gucci’s business initiatives.
She is the former Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer for Major League Baseball, MLB Advanced Media, and MLB Network. She was the first female Chief at Major League Baseball. There, she was responsible for leading the development, communication, and coordination of Major League Baseball’s overall diversity and inclusion strategy, including creating new programs and expanding existing activities that foster an inclusive culture throughout the league and its thirty Clubs.
In her previous role, Ms. ADVERTISEMENT Tirado advised MLB senior leadership and Club owners on all matters related to diversity and inclusion recruitment, retention, engagement, and related initiatives such as supplier diversity and community outreach. Ms. Tirado also oversaw the Diversity Pipeline Program, which is focused on improving the recruitment and development of diverse and female employees for leadership roles in baseball operations and front offices of MLB’s Clubs. Under her leadership, a league wide Fellowship Program and the Katy Feeney Leadership Symposium were launched, as well as MLB’s first business resource groups.
Prior to joining MLB, Ms. Tirado worked at AIG leading the global diversity and inclusion agenda for the Americas and the Middle East. She also worked as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the United States Tennis Association where she launched their diversity internship program among other initiatives.
Ms. Tirado is a licensed attorney who graduated from Rutgers University School of Law and holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and master’s degree in Education and Curriculum from the University of Rochester. She currently serves as the chair of the United States Tennis Association’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee and is a member of The Coca Cola Company’s Hispanic Advisory Council. Ms. Tirado was an honoree at the 2017 SportsBusiness Journal Game Changer Conference, which recognizes women who are contributing to the success of the sports industry.
Rafael Rivera- "Bring the Disney Magic To the Tennis Courts"
Rafael Rivera is the Guest Experience Manager for the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Florida. Rafael, a natural performer, started working as a performer at the Walt Disney World Resorts as a teenager. Through his support of the entertainment department and his work ensuring that guests had a magical experience, Rafael found his passion for the customer service industry.
Over the last 15 years, Rafael has parlayed his passion for service into a career in human resources talent development and training. Rafael is a certified trainer in the hospitality industry with expertise in the principles of adult learning. Through the collaboration with the Disney Institute, Rafael has assisted in the development of the service framework that support the brand of the United States Tennis Association at the National Campus. He recently brought his expertise to successfully enhance the player experience for the US Open. His strong commitment to educating teams exceeds customer expectations and cultivates customer relationships.
Outside of work, Rafael is a board member of the Area 3 Foundation, a non-profit organization founded to provide educational scholarships and crisis grants to current and former Walt Disney Company park performers. Through all he does in life, he gives back to others, setting the stage for everyone to succeed.
Heather Hawkes- "Let Tennis Management Tools Do the Work for You"
Heather Hawkes has a technical and customer service background in telecommunications and sports technology, specializing in public speaking and education.
Heather began her relationship with USTA 13 years ago, supporting TennisLink. She started out providing customer support services and moved to product management for USTA’s Adult and Junior League programs, as well as their proprietary tennis rating system – the NTRP.
Ratings has since been a passion for Heather and central to her focus with the USTA for almost a decade. Three years ago, Heather joined the team at USTA National and currently serves as Senior Manager of Digital Services in their Community Tennis division. Heather’s primary focus includes NTRP Ratings and USTA Ratings strategy, Digital Partnership development, and Operations where she serves as a liaison to the field where she provides education and helps manage key relationships.
Lauren Tracy- "Protecting Your Business In Today's World"
Lauren Tracy is Director of Strategic Initiatives for the United States Tennis Association, a not-for-profit organization which serves as the national governing body for the sport of tennis and owns and operates the US Open, the highest-attended annual sporting event in the world.
She is responsible for executing many of the USTA’s organizational priorities, including the USTA’s athlete safeguarding program, Safe Play. Safe Play embodies the USTA’s commitment to respect and safety in tennis. Lauren developed the Safe Play program in 2012 and continues to lead the effort working closely with the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and the U.S. Center for SafeSport.
Lauren received her BA from the University of Delaware and her MBA from Marist College.
J. Scott Laakso- "Utilizing Public Courts to Grow the Game"
Scott is the Athletics Coordinator for the Roswell Recreation, Parks, Historic and Cultural Affairs Department in Roswell, Georgia where he supervises all youth sports except for soccer. Over the 17 ½ -years Scott has worked for the City of Roswell, he directly supervised the tennis program for 15 years, and for the last 2 ½ years the tennis supervisor reports to Scott.
Scott has volunteered with the USTA throughout his entire career at every level. Currently, Scott’s involvement with the USTA is: USTA National Public Parks Committee Chair, USTA National Emerging Leaders Cohort 2.0 Mentor/Coach, USTA Southern Community Development Committee Member, Parks sub-committee Member, Grants sub-committee Member, USTA Georgia Junior Team Tennis Committee Member, USTA Atlanta Juniors Grievance Committee Chair.
Scott is a graduate of Florida State University (MS- Sport Administration, 2000 & BS – Recreation and Leisure Services Administration, 1999). You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who loves and supports their alma mater more than Scott, Go Seminoles!
Scott grew up in South Florida where he got interested in tennis at age 7 by hanging around the tennis courts while his parents played. Eventually, he played for hours at a time and virtually every weekend at tennis courts in his neighborhood that were maintained by the City’s Recreation and Parks Department. Currently, Scott lives in Alpharetta, Georgia, which is about 25-miles north of Atlanta and while you probably won’t find him on a tennis court because of
Ryan Harry- How to Run an Effective Practice
At the age of 16, Ryan found his true calling when he was introduced to the world of coaching. Twenty years later, Ryan has coached coast to coast from New England to Southern California, learning under some of the most impactful coaches within the game. He has been fortunate to be a part of the developmental process for all levels, with prior students reaching heights of the ATP tour. Along with his duties at the Hall of Fame, Ryan currently represents the International Tennis Hall of Fame on the USTA RI Board of Directors. Other acknowledgments include certifications as USPTA Elite, PTR Performance, Cardio Tennis and CPR/AED.
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