It would certainly seem that Lisa Motley was destined for a future in sports. Growing up in Minneapolis/St. Paul, she played soccer for 15 years—also participating in softball and track—and watched the Twins and the Timberwolves. But when she relocated to Las Vegas after college in 2000, she didn’t do so to work for the sports industry—because there wasn’t much of one here.
“I never actually set out to work in sports; I just love Las Vegas,” Motley says. “I took more traditional marketing work. It was happenstance that I ended up with sports.”
Nearly two decades later, the Las Vegas sports machine is big business, anchored by professional teams like the Stanley Cup-contending Golden Knights and the incoming Raiders, along with a diverse group of sporting events ranging from National Finals Rodeo to the NBA’s Summer League. And as the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s top sports marketing guru, it’s Motley’s job to sell it to Vegas’ 42 million visitors.
It’s clearly a passion of hers, whether doing promotions ahead of NASCAR races—or demonstrating the allure of eSports at NASCAR races. And her participation in the sporting world isn’t limited to marketing. Motley volunteers for several charitable and nonprofit sports organizations, including serving as vice president of the executive board and as membership chair of Women in Sports and Events (WISE). The Vegas chapter just launched in October, but it’s already 147 members strong. That speaks not only to the success of the local sports industry, but how it’s redefining gender roles for the entire sports industry. “[Vegas is] one of the leaders,” Motley says. “We’re getting away from sports being a male-dominated industry.”