October 12, 2022 – Today, Athlete Ally announced that Billie Jean King, sports icon, equality champion, and Founder of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative; Sammy van den Berg, Senior Manager of Social Impact, NAM Purpose at adidas; and Jennifer Schmit, Sr. Director of Community Marketing & Impact for Gatorade, will co-chair the upcoming Eighth Annual Athlete Ally Action Awards. Athlete Ally is a nonprofit organization focused on fostering inclusive athletic environments and mobilizing the athletic community to champion LGBTQI+ equality. Billie Jean King, who will serve as an honorary co-chair, received an Athlete Ally Action Award in 2019.
The awards ceremony will take place on Tuesday, October 25th at 7:00pm EST at the Edison Ballroom in New York City, and will honor NWSL player Imani Dorsey, NBA player Reggie Bullock, athlete, advocate and model CeCé Telfer and Athlete Ally’s Columbia-Barnard University Campus Chapter.
“We’re incredibly honored to have Billie Jean King, Sammy van den Berg and Jennifer Schmit as the co-chairs for this year’s Athlete Ally Action Awards,” said Hudson Taylor, Executive Director of Athlete Ally. “Billie is a tireless advocate for LGBTQI+ inclusion in sport. Sammy is a trusted partner in our work with adidas mobilizing pro and student athletes alike to champion change in their communities. Jennifer’s partnership has been invaluable in our work with Gatorade to ensure that comprehensive LGBTQI+ education is widely accessible to and throughout the athletic community. These three women are iconic and impactful, and we’re grateful for their leadership as we celebrate this year’s honorees.”
About Billie Jean King (she/her)
Named one of the “100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century” by Life magazine and a 2009 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Billie Jean King is the founder of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, the Women’s Tennis Association and the Women’s Sports Foundation, and part of the ownership groups of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Angel City FC and the Los Angeles Sparks.
In her legendary tennis career, King captured 39 Grand Slam singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles, including a record 20 Wimbledon championships. Her historic win over Bobby Riggs in the 1973 Battle of the Sexes, is one of the greatest moments in sports history. In June 2022, she received France’s highest order of merit, the Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur, from President Macron, and was inducted into the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee Hall of Fame as a special contributor. Her memoir, ALL IN: An Autobiography, was published by Knopf in 2021 and will be released in paperback in 2023.
About Sammy van den Berg (she/her)
Sammy started at adidas in 2016 as an HR intern fresh out of college. She was in the Talent organization for nearly three years before moving onto Global Purpose to manage volunteer projects and employee donation campaigns. She then moved into the Global Brand Comms organization, as a member of the Planning team before her latest role in Social Impact. Sammy is also in her fifth year as a Co-Lead of Proud to Play, the LGBTQ+ ERG. Nowadays, she spends most of her time bringing to life activations and programs in partnership with adidas non-profit network.
About Jennifer Schmit (she/her)
As the Sr. Director of Community Marketing & Impact for Gatorade, Jen Schmit is responsible for leading the team that brings Gatorade directly into local athlete communities, with a particular focus on community impact and working to break down barriers to ensure all athletes have the ability to play and belong in sports. Schmit also leads field marketing and grassroots efforts that ensure athletes have access to the Gatorade portfolio at every “point of sweat.”
During her 13-year PepsiCo tenure, Schmit has held several roles within the Gatorade U.S. Business. Prior to her current role, Schmit created the Partner Services Team that now serves sports performance practitioners through the Gatorade Performance Partner community and provides best-in-class service to sports marketing partners.
In addition, Schmit has worked in brand marketing where she was responsible for re-launching the Gatorade Endurance business and also led the Gatorade Communications team.
Prior to Gatorade, Schmit was a PR agency veteran, with expertise working on a variety of blue-chip brands including P&G, General Mills and Reynolds Consumer Products. She got her start in the automotive industry working for General Motors. Schmit is a graduate of Michigan State University (GO GREEN!) and now lives in Glen Ellyn, IL, with her husband Jonathan and their mini-goldendoodle, George.
To learn more or purchase tickets to the Awards, click here.
About Athlete Ally and the Action Awards
Athlete Ally believes sport will change the world when it welcomes and empowers all people. As a leading national nonprofit working at the intersection of sport and LGBTQI+ equality, Athlete Ally works to end the structural and systemic oppression that isolates, excludes and endangers LGBTQI+ people in sport. We educate individuals and institutions to understand obstacles to inclusion for LGBTQI+ people and how they can build an inclusive culture within their athletic communities. We work to ensure sport governing bodies, teams and leagues adopt policies that reflect the diversity of their constituents. We incubate athlete activism to advance LGBTQI+ equality in and through sport.
The Eighth Annual Athlete Ally Action awards are made possible due to generous support from this year’s Award Sponsor, Gillette, in addition to other corporate supporters including Adidas, Nike, Gatorade, Constellation Brands, the NBA/WNBA, TransPerfect, and Major League Soccer. The generous philanthropy of our dedicated Host Committees and Board of Directors also make this event possible.