Meet Bonnie Hammer, our 2021 LEAD Event Keynote Speaker

Bonnie Hammer is Vice Chairman, NBCUniversal.  As a strategic advisor to Jeff Shell, CEO, she leverages her strong business and creative experience, broad industry relationships and long-standing commitment to prosocial advocacy to further company initiatives. 

In her 40 plus year career, Hammer been involved in every facet of the television business, often being tapped to position emerging platforms for success.  In her previous role as Chairman of the Universal Studio Group, she strategically aligned NBCUniversal’s content business for the global market, bringing together the company’s three powerhouse studios — Universal Television, UCP and NBCUniversal International Studios — under one umbrella.  Prior to her studio purview, Hammer was Chairman, Direct-to-Consumer and Digital Enterprises, overseeing the creation of Peacock, NBCUniversal’s new streaming platform.  

Hammer moved to Peacock after serving as Chairman, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment where she had executive oversight of leading cable brands USA Network, SYFY, Bravo, Oxygen, E! Entertainment and Universal Kids.  Under Hammer’s leadership, these cable networks experienced tremendous growth domestically and internationally.  During her tenure at USA, the network was the most-watched entertainment cable channel for record-setting 13 consecutive years.  She also grew the network’s profitability by and impressive 33%.  As her portfolio grew, Hammer developed SYFY into a global brand by extending its reach to 116 countries worldwide, guided Bravo to top 5 cable network and directed the growth, both domestically and internationally, for E! Entertainment.  She also created and oversaw two award-winning production studios, UCP and Wilshire Studios, as well as the digital business Bluprint.  

In addition to leading network growth Hammer also cultivated a roster of award-winning series and talent.  Under her leadership, USA, SYFY and UCP recorded 167 Emmy award nominations and series such as “Monk,” “Mr. Robot,” “The Sinner,” “Homecoming,” “The Act,” “Dirty John” and “Battlestar Galactica” were regularly lauded by the Television Academy, HFPA and Screen Actors Guild.  “Mr. Robot” and “Battlestar Galactica” also received Peabody and AFI awards. 

In 2016, with a move that Variety Magazine described as “blowing up the cable TV management playbook,” she centralized all original scripted content for the portfolio under one team and formed a new division tasked with developing forward-thinking planning, Strategy and Commercial Growth.  

Earlier in her career, Hammer was an original programming executive at Lifetime Television Network, where she executive produced several award-winning documentaries for the network’s acclaimed Signature Series. She was honored with the Lillian Gish Award, several Cine Golden Eagles and the National Association for Youth’s Mentor Award.  Before coming to New York, Hammer executive produced “Good Day!” for WCVB in Boston, and produced the series “This Old House,” “Infinity Factory” and “Zoom!” for PBS. 

As a leader, Hammer sought ways to use her platforms to promote social inclusivity.  She created and launched a pro-social campaign designed to fight hate and discrimination in America, “Erase the Hate,” in 1994.  The initiative received a coveted Governors Award from the Television Academy for its groundbreaking documentaries and specials, community programs and educational materials.  

Throughout her career, Hammer has been lauded for both her executive prowess and her dedication to social responsibility.  She was named the 2019 “Executive of the Year” by The Hollywood Reporter.  She is also consistently included on The Hollywood Reporter’s “Power 100” list and was named “Most Powerful Woman in Entertainment” by the publication.  Hammer is regularly included on Fortune’s “50 Most Powerful Women” list, Forbes’ list of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” and Vanity Fair’s annual “New Establishment” list.  In 2008, Hammer received the Anti-Defamation League’s Entertainment Industry Award; she has since chaired ADL’s National Entertainment Advisory Council.  For her professional contributions, Hammer has been honored by UJA Federation of New York with the group’s Steven J. Ross Humanitarian Award, the Matrix Award from New York Women in Communications, and the prestigious Crystal+Lucy Award from Women in Film.  She was also inducted into Broadcasting & Cable’s Hall of Fame.  

Hammer currently serves on the Board of Directors of eBay and IAC/InteractiveCorp. She also sits on the AFI Board of Trustees, the Board of Governors for the MPTF Foundation and serves on the strategic planning committee for Boston University’s College of Communication. 

Outside the office, Hammer is also an accomplished photographer who has had her work displayed in several galleries and in leading publications such as Time magazine and The Boston Globe.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in media and new technology from Boston University. She also received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Boston University in 2017. 

Join us as we welcome our Leadership Academy Class of 2022!

We had an AMAZING kick-off dinner for the third class of the LLB Leadership Academy! This year, we welcomed 22 incredible young women to the program.

This year the Live Like Blaine Leadership Academy has 22 student-athletes representing: 17 different schools, 11 different sports (lacrosse, field hockey, basketball, softball, track, cross country, swimming, dance, figure skating, soccer, and squash), 20 different club teams, and a plethora of different hobbies including baking, dancing, drawing, golfing, painting, reading, sailing, skiing, and singing. Many of our girls are volunteers in their communities. We also have a couple of musicians, a girl scout, and an author. We can’t wait to see what’s in store this year.

For those of you who don’t know, the LLB Leadership Academy is a year-long leadership program for high school sophomore girls. Combining classroom and experiential learning, along with mentoring and bonding opportunities, we prepare girls to be leaders on the field and in life! 💪

Live Like Blaine Intern Mitzi Colin Lopez visits with President Biden!

We are so proud to share Mitzi’s amazing accomplishment! Proof that Leadership in Action can make a huge difference in our community.

This past weekend, Live Like Blaine Foundation’s Summer VISTA Associate, Mitzi Colin Lopez, had the incredible honor of meeting President Biden. Mitzi, a recent graduate of West Chester University along with seven other DACA recipients, was able to meet with President Biden to share their stories of being undocumented and why we must push for citizenship for all 11 million immigrants. She had the opportunity to attend the event due to her advocacy work at CASA. CASA is a non-profit organization that works to empower immigrants, Latinos, and working-class families. After introducing themselves, sharing their stories, and discussing the importance of immigration reform, each DACA recipient was able to take pictures with the President.

#presidentbiden #DACA #FITTOLEAD 

Click here to see Mitzi’s interview

Live Like Blaine Foundation Leadership Academy Student Bella Hanson honored

Congratulations Bella! We are proud of you and your commitment to @blacklivesmatter! #FITTOLEAD

Our 6th annual LLB Captains’ Practice Leadership conference

On Martin Luther King Day 2021, Live Like Blaine Foundation sponsored the Sixth Annual Captains’ Practice Leadership Conference, bringing together over 120 high school female athletes from over 52 schools for a day of leadership, positivity and resilience. Due to COVID restrictions, the conference met virtually for the first time this year, allowing high school female athletes from across the country to join to hear from and connect with female leaders in sports and business, as well as a panel of collegiate athletes. The conference focused on leading with resilience and gratitude as we navigate through this uniquely challenging time.

The day began with an inspiring talk from co-founders Jill and Sid Steinberg about the LLB mission to empower young women and to carry on Blaine’s legacy through sports and leadership.

Felicia Norwood, the Executive Vice President of Anthem Inc.’s Government Business Division, then spoke about her career path and leadership journey. She shared the importance of risk taking and resilience, whether it be in applying to law school or shifting career paths. Felicia also touched on the ways in which she connects with and inspires her team and colleagues. We then had the opportunity to ask Felicia questions about her leadership experiences.

Next, Linda Shirmeister-Gess led a Strive-Leadership Training session that focused on how we can energize ourselves to achieve our goals by recognizing our sources of passion and happiness in our lives. She shared how we can apply the same resilient mentality we use when completing practice reps in sports to facing challenges in all areas of our lives. Through a variety of exercises, we learned to practice deliberate gratitude while having fun. Have you set your gratitude alarm yet?

“Everytime you fail, you gain information to make you better….Every mistake is just one rep.” -Linda Shirmeister-Gess

Next, we heard from Tamika Catchings, VP of Basketball Operations and GM of the Indiana Fever, WNBA Champion, and Four-Time Olympic Gold Medalist. Tamika shared her lifelong journey of resilience, beginning with the discovery of her hearing disability as a child and continuing through her many accomplishments as a professional female athlete and leader in sports. Tamika encouraged all of us to use our voices and to have courage to speak up. The attendees asked Tamika questions about her own role models, how she responds to failure, and her leadership lessons.

The day concluded with a collegiate athlete panel featuring Kenya Boston from Yale Lacrosse, Eleah Parker from Penn Basketball, and Helen Mackay from Franklin & Marshall Lacrosse. The college panelists shared their experiences balancing academics and athletics and working with their teams to stay unified during COVID-19 and promote positive social change. The attendees had the chance to interact with the panelists and ask them questions about life as college athletes.

From Helen:

I recently joined the LLB team as an intern, and I was so excited to participate in Captains’ Practice and to share my experience as a college athlete. During the panel, one attendee asked us what we wish we had known in high school. I shared that in high school, we tend to think of everything as a stepping stone to college and sacrifice important experiences in pursuit of an ideal future. But, we fail to realize that this won’t end once we get to college. New challenges and goals will always replace the ones we just faced. Living in the “What’s next?” mentality can eventually become unsustainable and unfulling, but finding passion and joy in our current lives can help us move towards our future goals. Obviously, this is much easier said than done, especially during a pandemic, but the first step is just becoming conscious of when we have moments of tunnel vision. I wish I could tell my younger self not to let the pressure of the college recruiting process impact so much of my early high school experience. It wasn’t until I stopped obsessing over the future that I finally separated what I really wanted from what I just felt expected to do.

As many athletes struggle with the cancellations of our in-person sports and with the loss of time with our teams, Captains Practice provided a much needed opportunity to connect with and learn from new people with shared passions. Since joining my team at F&M, I have been so positively impacted by my teammates and alumni, and they have shown me the value of connecting with older girls and women. I am grateful that speaking at Captains’ Practice gave me a chance to help younger athletes navigate these exciting and uncertain times in the way that my teammates have helped me. 

Weeklong stay at new shore house

Enjoy a week at Jill and Sid’s beach house (brand new construction) in Ventnor, NJ.! Desirable southside location, just 1.5 blocks from the beach & boardwalk, heated in-ground pool and ocean views from top deck.  5 bedrooms (1 king bed, 2 queen beds, 1 queen sleeper sofa and 1 queen Frontgate blow up mattress on legs).  3.5 nicely appointed bathrooms. 

Landscaped back patio with outdoor space including sectional sofa, chaise lounge chairs, TV, grill and enclosed outside shower – perfect for entertaining & family fun!  Three decks, one with full dining table and others with rocking chairs. Beautiful new kitchen with island, two sitting areas with TVs and dining room. Attached garage plus 2 additional parking spots!  (Photos show original staged furniture which has been replaced). Use on a mutually agreeable week in 2021.  Excludes summer holiday weekends and August 13-20. No pets allowed.  

Meet Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Born and raised in upstate New York, Kirsten Gillibrand inherited a dedication to public service from her grandmother and mother, who organized women and served their communities as activists. Gillibrand received her law degree from the UCLA School of Law and served as a law clerk on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Drawing inspiration from the women in her life, Gillibrand worked as an attorney in New York City for more than a decade and then decided to pursue a path of public service leadership.

After serving in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C., she decided to move home to upstate New York to raise her family. She pulled off a stunning upset in her first Congressional race, unseating an entrenched incumbent by building the biggest grassroots campaign in the district’s history. She served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for two years before being sworn in as United States Senator from New York in January 2009. Gillibrand won her 2012 re-election campaign with a New York statewide record 72 percent of the vote. She has earned national recognition for creating bipartisan coalitions, especially on issues such as how sexual assaults are handled by our military and on our college campuses. She has also fought for congressional ethics reform and paid family leave.

Gillibrand has made it her life’s mission to support and empower more women to step up and run for office. Ten years ago, Gillibrand launched Off The Sidelines, a call to action to encourage women and girls to make their voices heard on the issues they care about. Off the Sidelines has since recruited, mentored, and supported dozens of women candidates for higher office and helped elect some of the brightest rising stars in office today.

Senator Gillibrand is a magna cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College. Sports have been a big part of Senator Gillibrand’s life dating back to high school when she played tennis and soccer. She entered Dartmouth as a tennis player but was then recruited away to play squash by the squash coach. Gillibrand ended up leading the Dartmouth squash team as its captain. She has spoken about how her tough matches prepared her for the competitiveness of politics later in life. She said her sports experience “helped take the fear out of something like running for office and putting yourself out there in a competitive contest and letting the people choose.” Senator Gillibrand was also a member of Dartmouth’s Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority that Blaine later joined as well.

Meet Laurel Richie

Laurel Richie has made a name for herself as a proven leader in multiple fields throughout her career, including marketing, education, sports and the nonprofit world. She has weaved women’s advocacy into all aspects of her career.

Ms. Richie currently serves as an independent director at Synchrony Financial and Bright Horizons and as a leadership consultant to Fortune 100 c-suite executives at Merryck & Co. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College where she has served for eight years on the board of trustees eight years ago and currently serves as its chair.

Richie became the first person of color to lead a major national sports league when she served as President of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) from 2011 to 2015, leading led the league’s business, operations, and marketing initiatives. While she did not play sports growing up, she understands the value of teams through her group experiences in theater. She has also spoken about the fact that research suggests that participation in sports has a very positive impact on girls, leading to higher self-esteem, higher likelihood of graduating from college, and a large percentage of female executives played team sports growing up.

Prior to leading the WNBA, she served as senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Girl Scouts of the USA, where she led the development of a new brand strategy that helped revitalize this iconic brand, and as a senior partner and executive group director at advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather, where she worked with many blue-chip corporate and pro-bono nonprofit clients and became a founding member of the agency’s external Diversity Advisory Board.
A frequent keynote speaker and panelist on Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion, Richie is a recipient of the Black Girls Rock! Shot Caller Award, Sports Business Journal’s Game Changer Award, and the YMCA Black Achievers in Industry Award. She was awarded Ebony magazine’s Outstanding Women in Marketing and Communications award and named to its Power 100 List. Black Enterprise magazine named her one of the Most Influential African Americans in Sports, and Savoy magazine recognized her as one of the Most Influential Black Corporate Directors.