How Hannah Gordon is leading the 49ers’ diversity and inclusion efforts

Over the summer time of 2019, SB Nation interviewed a number of girls who presently maintain or have beforehand held management positions inside the NFL to seek out out extra about them and the work they do. This Q&A collection highlights the highly effective girls who’ve dared to shake up one in every of sport’s largest boys golf equipment. First up in the collection was ex-Raiders CEO Amy Trask, adopted by the Dallas Cowboys’ govt VP and chief model officer Charlotte Jones Anderson.

Hannah Gordon is presently the Chief Administrative Officer for the San Francisco 49ers. She started her work with the 49ers again in 2011, when she was employed as the crew’s director of authorized affairs. She then grew to become the vice chairman of authorized and authorities affairs in 2015, then basic counsel from 2016-17 earlier than getting moved to her present function. Some of her obligations embrace overseeing group and fan engagement tasks — like Women of the Niners and 49ers PRIDE for LGBTQ+ followers — in addition to authorized and strategic communications.

Author’s observe: This interview has been evenly edited for readability and size.


SB Nation: Your profession path is fairly distinctive, in that you just truly began your profession in journalism and PR earlier than attending Stanford Law School. Tell me a bit extra about that.

Hannah Gordon: For me, [my career] actually began in school at UCLA. I was actually homesick and making an attempt to determine what I needed to do with my life, and watching Hannah Storm host the halftime present throughout the Lakers’ run for the championship that 12 months — I love good, humorous individuals and conversations, and I loved the repartee that she was facilitating and I thought, “That seems like such a cool job, how do you do something like that someday?” And I began trying into journalism.

While I was in school I interned for the Raiders, NPR, and as a manufacturing intern at Fox Sports West. After school, I went to the NFL Players Association for the 2003 season, and then from there went into the PR world and did media relations at Cal for soccer, monitor and swimming from 2004-05.

At that time, I had gotten accepted to regulation college at Stanford and I needed to get expertise at an company as nicely, so I did a six-month stint at Octagon, doing the PR for his or her soccer class of shoppers. In regulation college, I went again to the Raiders as a regulation clerk, then went again to a agency after college.

SB: You additionally labored as an legal professional for the NFL throughout the 2011 lockout, which sounds tremendous attention-grabbing!

HG: I was with the administration council engaged on participant contracts, wage caps, and CBA. It was the very best time to be there as a younger lawyer as a result of it was the final uncapped 12 months. And then making an attempt to get a brand new settlement, the CBA expiring, attending to study from actually superb senior attorneys when it comes to exterior council, and getting to trace the bid ask of each CBA negotiation.

In the midst of the lockout I was known as by [president of 49ers Enterprises and executive vice president of football operations] Paraag Marathe to return [to San Francisco].

SB: In your present function with the 49ers, you oversee fairly a bit, together with authorized, public affairs and strategic communications, and group relations. Describe what all of your job entails.

HG: It’s pushing ahead each enterprise initiative that we now have by the operate of authorized. Because something you’re doing as a enterprise, whether or not it’s season ticket agreements or suite agreements or sponsorships, all of that is a relationship between two events and in enterprise it all the time entails an settlement.

The second half can be serving each 49ers fan in our bigger group, whether or not or not they’re prospects. And for me that’s type of what connects all of our different capabilities. So whether or not its our public affairs division, our basis that educates and empowers Bay Area youth, our group relations division which hosts the themes that you just in all probability see in video games when it comes to bringing out most cancers survivors in October.

That a part of my job is about how will we serve everyone who is a constituent of ours. They might or will not be a enterprise associate of ours, however we nonetheless need to have a connection to them.

SB: You additionally oversee fan teams, like Women of the Niners (WON) and 49ers PRIDE for LGBTQ+ followers. How did inclusiveness grow to be such an essential a part of your job?

HG: I was lucky sufficient that fan engagement was one in every of the departments that I was tasked with about two and a half years in the past. And as we checked out “how are we serving underserved demographics of fans?” whether or not that’s children — we now have a powerful children membership — or girls followers or LGTBQ+ followers. I needed to be sure that we created distinctive experiences for all these totally different individuals and that they felt like they have been part of the 49ers household and that they know that they’re valued by us.

For one, we actually simply checked out it when it comes to what we have been doing now, how might we proceed to scale that, and improve that, and make it one thing that they really feel a way of possession in. And it actually is respectful of the undeniable fact that these are a few of our most avid followers.

In phrases of PRIDE, that only for us felt actually pure. We’re the San Francisco 49ers, we ought to be leaders when it comes to progress inside the NFL and ensuring that everyone does really feel included. That’s simply a part of our model and our tradition.

SB: What’s a typical day of labor like for you?

HG: It normally begins at 6 a.m. I attempt to hop out mattress, come into the facility, get a exercise in as a result of we even have a fitness center and lessons that we do for workers. So I try this at 6:30, go dwelling, bathe, come again. Then it’s conferences most of the day. I assume in all probability all of us that’s how our lives work, and then at 5 you notice you have got like 200 unread emails, so that you spend two hours getting by these. And then you definitely really need to begin getting actual work accomplished and knocking out agreements and stuff like that.

SB: What are a few of the more difficult elements about your job?

HG: Anytime you have got a tricky season, it actually does put on on everyone in numerous methods. Obviously, it doesn’t put on on of us on the enterprise facet the identical that it does a participant or coach. But you’re deeply invested, and I assume that that may be difficult.

SB: As an NFL entrance workplace worker, you’re requested loads about the way it feels to be a lady in a male-dominated business. Is that query one thing you’re uninterested in being requested or do you embrace it?

HG: I assume that that’s all the time been a tough query for me as a result of I all the time fear about being put in a field of “Oh you’re the female,” and I assume there’s all the time a danger that after you might be pigeon-holed that approach you aren’t in a position to proceed to develop into future, bigger management roles. So it’s all the time a query that, to be trustworthy, makes me slightly uncomfortable.

But at the identical time, like most experiences in life, it may be each actually nice and at occasions, positive. Oftentimes I neglect partially as a result of I’ve spent my entire profession just about on this enterprise, so I don’t actually have any reference factors for what it might be like to not be in a male-dominated business. For me, this is simply life, proper?

And I assume for lots of people that’s truly the case as a result of when you concentrate on different industries — whether or not it’s finance, regulation, building, or politics — when you get to that higher echelon, it’s in all probability male-dominated. That’s the world that we proceed to dwell in, so I don’t know that my expertise would essentially be tremendously totally different from different individuals.

SB: There are much more girls in the league than there was again in the day. How inspiring is it to see that?

HG: I do assume one in every of the issues that’s thrilling to see over the final 20 years is I see so many different younger girls supporting different younger girls. It’s not that it didn’t exist earlier than, however I love seeing our scout Salli Clavelle, and our coach Katie Sowers, and our coach Laura McCabe all getting collectively and supporting one another.

A couple weeks in the past, we took all the coaching interns out, and I’m seeing so many extra younger girls in the subject and they’re there to assist one another. Not to be exclusionary of their male colleagues, however I assume that there’s an actual energy in that as a result of none of us need to be that solely lady who’s in a sure room. That’s not the objective — the objective isn’t “Oh, look I made it and you didn’t.” The objective is everyone who has a voice who has one thing clever to contribute to the dialog, we would like everyone at the desk.

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