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Jessica Berman

A New Playbook for Women in Sports


In this episode

Today, our guest is Jessica Berman, the Commissioner of the National Women's Soccer League, a trailblazing executive in professional sports. With a history of transformative leadership, she played a pivotal role in the growth of women's soccer.

From Deputy Commissioner of the National Lacrosse League to her impactful years at the NHL, Jessica has consistently broken barriers.

Jessica attended Fordham Law School, interning with the NFL during her studies. She later worked at Proskauer Rose, specializing in labor and employment law, where she dealt with the legal aspects of the NHL. Her story is one of leadership, innovation, and breaking barriers in the world of sports.


0:00 - Intro

2:23 - Jessica’s Background & Influence of Parents

- Diverse upbringing in Brooklyn, with an Orthodox Jewish family.
- Phyllis, Jessica's mom, pursued a PhD after taking care of her.
- Ted, Jessica’s dad, was an entrepreneur with golf gas stations in New York.
- Dad's immigrant background, emphasizing hard work as the key to success.
- Dad's grassroots business approach and resistance to advanced technology.

6:15 - The Brady Bunch Family

- Jessica's family, a blend of her dad's kids from a previous marriage and her mom.
- The uniqueness and challenges of growing up in a mixed family.

7:45 - Early Interests in Dance and involvement in sport manangement

- Focus on dance and cheerleading due to limited sports opportunities for girls.
- Volunteering as a student manager for high school sports teams.

8:12 - Dealing with Frustration and Pursuing Passions

- Lack of opportunities to play sports directly
- Involvement in cheerleading.
- Advice on dealing with frustration and finding alternative paths.

10:36 - Epiphany at a Hockey Game

- The pivotal moment at an Islanders game that led Jessica to aspire to work in the sports industry.
- The Nelson Mandela quote

16:38 - Inspiring Social Change in Youth

- Reflection on her Jewish education instilling values of equality and respect.
- Encouraging parents to inspire social change in their children.

19:16 - Pursuing Dreams (Square peg, Square(Round) hole moment)

- Jessica's advice to relentlessly pursue one's passion
- Remaining open to different paths.
- Balancing focused pursuit with openness to unexpected opportunities.

24:00 - Breaking Through and Adding Value

- The importance of making oneself useful.
- Adding value in the absence of formal internship paths.
- Challenges of breaking through.

29:56 - Networking and Following Up

- Disappointment in the lack of follow-ups after informational interviews.
- The simplicity of standing out
- Making lasting impressions in today’s competitive world.

32:46 - Law School and Career Path

- Attending law school
- Role of a graduate degree in her career.
- Working with the NFL during law school
- Later joining Proskauer Rose to work with the NHL.

36:39 - Do you need a graduate degree to be successful?

- Jessica’s decision to attend law school to pursue her career goals.
- Reflections on the value of legal training in her career.
- The necessity of graduate degrees for success in various fields.

41:02 - Jessica’s Law school experience

- Post-law school and her decision to leave the

Sandee | Bliss: Beaches

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