Equality Night Spotlight: Lisa Feigenbaum
What is your role with the Sacramento Kings and how long have you been with the team?
“I moved across the country from Connecticut six years ago to be part of one of the best leadership teams in sports. I’m currently the VP of Group, Premium Hospitality & Event Sales. I oversee the strategy for Kings and Golden 1 Center group sales, as well as the arena’s nearly 100 premium suites, lofts and balcony boxes. I also had the opportunity to take the lead on building a new team to facilitate the use of the arena for special events.”
How would you describe the experience of coming out to your family, friends and teammates?
“I was afraid of how those closest to me would react, and am fortunate to have had a great experience coming out. I came out in my senior year of high school and the most common response I got was, ‘Yeah duh, if you didn’t tell us soon, we were going to tell YOU.’ I guess that’s not surprising for a tom-boy with a bowl cut, that once wore a tux and bow tie to a wedding as a kid.
For me, it was hardest to come out to those I was the closest with. My twin sister is my best friend, we have the stereotypical twin bond but for some reason she was one of the last people I told. In the end, she was, and is still, the most supportive of me and my coming out didn’t affect our bond at all.
That said, I feel like I still come out almost every day and at times I have that little thought in the back of my head – ‘What if they don’t accept me?’”
How has your personal experience helped you in your profession?
“Being a lesbian, female in a very male dominated sports industry, has made me resilient, progressive, and a dynamic leader. I oversee one of the most diverse staffs in professional sports and entertainment, and have cultivated a culture of growth, family and collaboration.
My experience has helped shape me into a leader that encourages diverse thought and challenges the status quo.”
What challenges as an LGBTQ member have you faced working in the sports industry?
“I’m thankful and lucky to say, no experience sticks out to me. I’ve been intentional in surrounding myself with leaders and peers that support me. I will admit however, that I am conscious of my interactions in the workplace as a gay female, and recognize not everyone is as fortunate as I have been to be in such an accepting work environment.”
How do you think companies can be more inclusive of their LGBTQ team members?
“I think companies can start Employee Resource Groups like the Kings have. In addition to launching the Career Advancement Program, I serve as a member of the Diversity Council, and just recently launched our Women in Sports Network group. These groups can engage, retain employees, and help be a tool for awareness and change.”
How can fellow team members help advance awareness and equity for their LGBTQ teammates?
“Be aware and emotionally intelligent. Do what you can to be inclusive, make everyone feel welcome, and help educate others to become aware if they are doing anything otherwise. Be supportive of pride events, or walk side by side with them and other members of the Kings for the pride parade.
Don’t tell them you accept them, show them in your actions.”
What advice would you share with members of the LGBTQ community who are looking to get into the sports industry?
“Don’t make excuses, you can do it. Surround yourself with people who will support you, challenge you, and grow you – just like my boss, Phil Horn. Own who you are and be authentic. So many jobs these days are about who you know. Don’t be afraid to use your networking skills in your own community; it could turn into a job!”
What resources would you recommend for fellow LGBTQ members in the sports business?
“Develop a strong network within your field. Find great mentors, develop meaningful relationships, and don’t forget to pay it forward.”
What does it mean to you that the Sacramento Kings organization hosts and participates in causes that strive to bring greater awareness and equity to the LGBTQ community?
“It means everything to me. I’ve been brought to tears of joy while seeing the Kings wave a giant rainbow flag and when my peers walked by my side at the annual Sacramento Pride parade. I’m proud to say the Kings have hosted an Equality Night for a number of consecutive years.
I’m proud to be an out and successful member of the LGBTQ+ community and to also be part of one of the best Executive teams in professional sports and entertainment. I’m proud to bring my girlfriend to work functions and feel welcome!
I’m proud to feel like I can be an example for those in the LGBTQ+ community, it does get better.”