As part of its ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, the National Football League will host the second-annual WOMEN'S CAREER DEVELOPMENT SYMPOSIUM March 24-25 in Phoenix.
Bringing together more than 40 female executives from across the 32 NFL teams and league office, the symposium will educate, develop and train participants on specific career paths in Football Operations, including football administration, operations, coaching and scouting. The two-day event will include presentations, panel discussions, breakout sessions and networking opportunities with club and league executives and industry experts.
Among the speakers and presenters are RSE Strategy and Business Development Executive DAWN APONTE; Cardinals Owner MICHAEL BIDWILL; Bengals Executive Vice President KATIE BLACKBURN; Falcons Assistant General Manager SCOTT PIOLI; and Chargers President of Football Operations JOHN SPANOS.
In addition, NFL Senior Vice Presidents of Football Operations DEAN BLANDINO, KIM FIELDS, DAVE GARDI, ROD GRAVES and ARTHUR McAFEE, alongside other League office executives, will participate in roundtable discussions and a networking session with the aspiring Football Operations professionals.
Symposium sessions include: "Football Operations: Culture and Expectations," "NFL Salary Cap and Roster Management" and "Introduction to Player Evaluation." Following the presentations on March 25, participants will attend the inaugural NFL Pro Player Combine, where they will observe and take part in the player evaluation process alongside experienced NFL scouting personnel.
The Steering Committee for this year's Symposium includes Aponte and Graves, along with NFL Director of Football Development SAMANTHA RAPOPORT, NFL Director of Human Resources SARA SCHULTZ and NFL Senior Vice President of Talent Management MIKE SMITH. The initiative is directed by NFL Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer ROBERT GULLIVER and NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations TROY VINCENT.
Career Development Symposium participants are nominated by NFL clubs and league office staff and include one representative from each club and other participants from the league office who currently hold or are interested in positions in Football Operations. The NFL partnered with the "Women Leaders in College Sports," formerly the NACWAA, and the Fritz Pollard Alliance to identify and select eight qualified women across other levels of the sport to participate.
This effort is the latest iteration of the annual Career Development Symposium, which previously ran from 1998-2008 and returned in 2013. Last year's event focused on engaging aspiring female executives. Earlier this year, the NFL hosted the inaugural Women's Careers in Football Forum at the Pro Bowl in Orlando, where more than 220 women were introduced to career paths in Football Operations. All participants were entered into the NFL's Diverse Talent Community – a recruitment platform that encourages quality, dynamic candidates with diverse backgrounds to join its ranks through a shared talent acquisition database for Human Resources across the NFL and its 32 clubs.