Renee M. Brown

Chief of Operations ? Women?s National Basketball Association ? New York, N.Y.

Renee Brown chief of basketball operations and player relations for the Women?s National Basketball Association, says ?My mother instilled in me a passion for what I do.?

Brown credits her 91-year-old mother for the individual she has become, not only for the upbringing her mother gave her, but also for nurturing her dreams and faith in herself and for emphasizing the importance of hard work. Brown?s passion became reality in 1978 when, after graduating from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas with a bachelor?s degree, she coached women?s basketball at the University of Kansas, Stanford University and San Jose State University. While coaching the U.S. Olympic team in Atlanta in 1996, she was invited to join the WNBA

?I never thought of the WNBA, or being a part of it not as an African-American woman. But I was coming into it with knowledge and experience and I believed that the leadership had confidence in my abilities to help develop the league. This has been one of the best experiences of my life,? says Brown, who obtained a master?s in education from her alma mater in 1981.

Off-season, Brown travels around the country giving motivational talks to children. Knowledge is power, she says. ?Seek something new every day and do not think you know everything. It is very important to me to have a strong sense of self and passion?be willing to get out of your comfort zone and be selfless,? she advises others.

The women of the WNBA, she says, are inspirational and motivational models for boys and girls. It is important for people to see that they are not just basketball players, but mothers, educated women and the girl next door. Brown says she is now a part of helping a number of women all over the world to make their dreams come true.

?I want Oprah Winfrey to invite some of these phenomenal women, who are 6 feet 5 inches and taller, on to her show to showcase more than just their basketball skills, but the wealth of knowledge and experience they possess,? she says.