ARLINGTON, TX (August 2, 2023) – The Dallas Wings have announced the three award winners for the inaugural Nancy Lieberman Women of Inspiration Awards, the team announced today. Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall has been named the Trailblazer Woman of Inspiration Award winner, the 'Grandmother of Juneteenth', Opal Lee has been named the Community Woman of Inspiration Award winner and the Executive Director of the Dallas Sports Commission, Monica Paul has been named the Businesswoman of Inspiration Award winner.
The Wings will host Inspiring Women Weekend this Friday, August 4 and Sunday, August 6 in back-to-back match-ups against the Chicago Sky. Ms. Opal Lee and Monica Paul will be in attendance on Friday to accept their awards and participate in a halftime fireside chat moderated by Fox 4's Tisia Muzinga. Marshall will receive her award on Sunday and share her story during a halftime chat moderated by Ivy Awino.
Marshall has been a dynamic force for inclusion and diversity within the Mavericks organization since 2018, after 36-year career at AT&T. Under Marshall's leadership, the Mavericks have twice received the NBA's Inclusion Leadership award. Prior to the Mavericks, Marshall founded Marshalling Resources, a consulting firm specializing in Leadership, Diversity & Inclusion, Culture Transformation and overall optimization of people resources. Her notoriety began many years ago as a young Officer at AT&T and grew exponentially when she served as Senior Vice President – Human Resources & Chief Diversity Officer at AT&T. There she was responsible for identifying and developing leaders, aligning employees with the company's vision and priorities, overseeing major business unit HR support, developing and executing the company's diversity, equity and inclusion strategy and skills transformation initiatives.
Marshall has been the recipient of a long list of awards. In 2021, Forbes named her one of 15 of the world's most inspiring female leaders. The Women's Forum of New York bestowed the Elly award upon Marshall and Texas Women's University recognized Cynt with the Virginia Chandler Dyke Leadership award. She also received the 2020 Girl Scouts of America Lifetime Achievement award and was touted as one of Adweek's 30 Most Powerful Women in Sports.
Ms. Opal Lee is affectionately known as the 'Grandmother of Juneteenth.' For over 40 years, Ms. Opal, along with the help of many others, strived every year to keep and expand the celebration of our "Day of Freedom" which commemorates June 19, 1865 when slaves in Texas realized they were free. Her vision for Juneteenth has grown from a single day community picnic at Sycamore Park to a multi-day celebration in downtown Fort Worth. On June 17, 2021, President Biden passed a bill making Juneteenth a national holiday. Ms. Opal stood alongside the President during this historic occasion and received the pen in which he used to sign off on the law.
Ms. Opal Lee has also played a significant role with the Community Food Bank, formerly known as the Metroplex Food Bank, which was established in 1982. The Community Food Bank now services more than 500 families a week at the generously donated 43,000 square foot facility located at 3000 Galvez Street in Fort Worth. Her continued efforts to better the lives of the unemployed or recently incarcerated has led her to develop a five-acre farming project, Opal's Farm, to train citizens in the area of husbandry providing education, jobs, volunteer opportunities and fresh vegetables for the community.
Paul is the driving force of the Dallas Sports Commission, serving as the Executive Director since the organization's inception in 2014. Paul plays an essential role in implementing bid strategies and marketing programs that enhance Dallas' acquisition of sports competitions and events, including solicitation of Olympic, professional, collegiate and amateur sports. Paul also works closely with professional leagues, the NCAA, Olympic National Governing Bodies and amateur sports federations, promoting Dallas as a premier destination for events, conventions and meetings. Paul has proven instrumental in generating billions of dollars in economic impact for Dallas since the commission was formed nine years ago. That includes bringing more than 300 events to the area creating tens of thousands of jobs.
Paul's role in securing national and global sports and entertainment events has put the eyes of the world on North Texas. Most recently, Paul was instrumental in Dallas's successful bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Paul has also led Dallas' acquisition of the 2030 Men's Final Four, and the 2031 Women's Final Four. All of this comes on the heels of the 2023 Women's Final Four at the American Airlines Center, which has been hailed as the most successful NCAA Women's Final Four of all-time. Under Monica Paul's leadership, the Dallas Sports Commission has been responsible for a 268% increase in sports event production since 2009. Moving forward, future event bookings estimate an economic impact of more than $1.3 billion, and more than 2.2 million attendees. With Paul leading the Dallas Sports Commission, Dallas received national recognition this year being named the country's number one sports business city by Sports Business Journal.