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2020 Achievement Awards
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2020 Achievement Award



SUSAN O'MALLEY (79) - Susan OMalley became the first female president in NBA history when she became president of the Washington Bullets in 1991 at the age of 29. She went on to hold the position until 2007.


Susan attended college at Mount St. Mary's University, graduating in 1983. She earned a law degree at Georgetown University Law School in 2007.


As an undergraduate, O'Malley interned for the Washington Capitals as well as the National Basketball Association team, the Washington Bullets. After graduating from college, she began her career working for the Earle Palmer Brown advertising firm.


In 1986, O'Malley joined Abe Pollin's Washington Sports & Entertainment group as director of advertising for the Washington Bullets (later renamed the Washington Wizards)


She was promoted to director of marketing, then to executive vice-president in 1988. O'Malley's work on marketing and promotions boosted the team's ticket sales even as the team struggled on the court; between 1988 and 1992 O'Malley produced a 25% increase in attendance, with the 1991- 1992 season recording the team's highest average attendance in 13 years and the most sold-out games in team history.


In May 1991, Abe Pollin appointed O'Malley president of the Bullets. Then 29 years old, O'Malley became the first woman to hold the position for any team in NBA history, and the third woman to be president of a major professional sports team in the US. As president, O'Malley oversaw the opening of the MCI Center (later renamed the Verizon Center, then the Capital One Arena) in 1997 in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., a project that spurred the economic redevelopment of the downtown area as well as set a new record for naming rights deals: MCI paid $50 million for a 10-year commitment.


In 1994, Pollin named O'Malley head of corporate advertising and sponsorship for USAir Arena, home stadium for both his teams. Shortly thereafter he promoted her again to head of business operations for the Washington Capitals.


O'Malley served as president of the Wizards through 2007. In addition to that role she was President of Washington Sports and Entertainment, overseeing all off court operations of the Wizards, Capitals, and Mystic and the overall operations of the Verizon Center. On her announcement that she was stepping down, Pollin described her as his "right hand through the past 20 years"


Susan is currently a senior instructor in the Department of Sport and Entertainment Management at the University of South Carolina.