The Power of Women in Sports

Women's professional sports have gained momentum and recognition in recent years, and Tampa Bay plays a prominent role in this positive movement. With the addition of the first women's pro soccer league and the University of South Florida adding women's lacrosse and beach volleyball in 2024-25, plus hosting the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship and Women's Final Four in the next two years, there is a lot to discuss. These events not only showcase the talent and dedication of female athletes but also provide a platform for women's sports to reach a broader audience. We will hear from female leaders leading the way in this historical paradigm shift during this invigorating conversation as they highlight the growth of women's sports, specifically sponsor investment, broadcast deals, and the importance of grassroots participation, access, and equity.

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Devin O’Connell was named vice president of communications and public affairs in January 2023 and enters her 18th season with the Rays. In this role, she focuses on corporate communications, often highlighting innovation and policy, as well as internal communications, social responsibility initiatives and military affairs, and she leads a small team of excellent relationship builders. She has held multiple roles since joining the Rays in 2006, including director of corporate partnership services and season ticket services specialist. Throughout her tenure, O’Connell has been the recipient of the Joyce Smith Community Spirit Award (2016) and Rays co-Employee of the Year (2014). Prior to the Rays, she worked in radio broadcasting and audio production in live music venues, recording studios and post-production facilities. She has degrees from the University of Florida and the New England Institute of Art. O’Connell volunteers with the Awards Committee for USF’s Women in Leadership & Philanthropy and is on the board of directors for the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce. She was a member of the founding board of directors of WISE (Women in Sports and Events) Tampa Bay and continues to encourage the Rays and Rowdies corporate memberships in that organization. She is a big fan of early-morning workouts and wandering with her dog. She prefers to be outside, would love to stay awake long enough to read more and is grateful her partner loves to cook. She grew up in Tampa and lives in St. Petersburg with her family and their two mutts, Sandy and Lentil.