Industry News

Donna Orender and PXG’s Renee Parsons punctuate Generation W Links to Leadership Summit at the PXG Women’s Match Play Championship

Prominent executive leaders punctuate an important day of women’s empowerment at the center of the market’s first professional women’s golf tournament in more than a decade

Ponte Vedra Beach, FL – Since its inception nearly two years ago, organizers of the PXG Women’s Match Play Championship have talked about the unique two-week professional golf tournament as being much more than “just a golf tournament.” Today, Generation W Founder and CEO Donna Orender announced the speaker lineup for the Generation W Links to Leadership Summit, presented by Circle K: a ½ day of programming created by Generation W, a Jacksonville based women’s thought leadership organization, to provide important guidance, inspiration and leadership development for the female competitors, as well as other invited female guests.

The PXG Women’s Match Play Championship, a Generation W Collaboration, will feature 64 female professionals who are pursuing their dream of playing on the LPGA Tour. Hosted at The World Golf Village, the golfers will battle over two weeks in two separate, but connected, tournaments. The first week will feature a 54-hole stroke-play format on the King & Bear course, which will also seed the second week’s event, a 64-woman match play championship at Slammer & Squire.

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As part of the overall women’s development mission of the tournament, Generation W Links to Leadership is designed to offer enrichment programming beyond the competition. “This event goes beyond the golf course,” said Donna Orender. “Links to Leadership will be energizing, informative and inspirational. It is designed to create the opportunity for the players and guests to learn from each other, develop personal leadership skills and provide opportunities to connect with each other.”

The Generation W Links to Leadership Summit will feature opening remarks from Orender followed by “A Conversation with Renee Parsons,” President and Executive Creative Director of PXG Apparel. Parsons is also the Co-Founder of The Bob and Renee Parsons Foundation, which gives on average a million dollars every 14-days to charity, and leads hospitality and design at Scottsdale National Golf Club.

Orender will then moderate a lively executive panel discussion followed by a mentorship session where groups of 8-10 guests will engage in roundtable discussions with an area female executive at their table. The day will also include a letter-writing exercise, where the women golfers in attendance will be asked to consider what they would want to tell their “future selves” about what they hope to accomplish in their careers and personal lives. The GenWL2L will conclude with a networking reception, all held at the World Golf Village Renaissance Resort Hotel & St. Johns County Convention Center. 

The panel is comprised of a diverse array of accomplished executives and civic leaders, including:

  • Anya Alvarez: Former LPGA golfer, turned media professional who has championed diversity in golf since leaving the sport. Before hanging up her sticks, Anya was a top college ranked player at the University of Washington and turned pro in 2011. Anya left the game and began writing and commentating about golf for ESPN, the Guardian, NPR, the BBC and various other outlets in addition to her writing career, Anya hosted a season of “Talk Birdie to Me” with the LPGA, boasting with guests such as Cheyenne Woods, Juli Inkster, and Mike Whan. In addition, she produced a podcast episode with NPR about Althea Gibson being the first black woman to play on the LPGA, and later produced a documentary with CBS Sports about Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe, titled Althea and Arthur.
  • Rear Admiral Marty Evans (Retired): Marty Evans' exceptional career has combined both military service and stewardship of the nation's preeminent non-profit organizations. During her nearly 30 years with the Navy, Evans distinguished herself as one of only a handful of women to reach the rank of rear admiral and was the highest-ranking woman in the Navy; she retired in 1998.  Evans next assumed leadership of Girl Scouts of the USA, where she revolutionized the 90-year-old organization and modernized its vision and programs for its nearly three million young members. In 2002, Evans was selected as the 13th President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross, skillfully steering the organization through some of the most tumultuous and destructive events in history including Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma and the deadly Southeast Asian tsunami in 2004. Most recently, Evans served as the Acting Commissioner of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), the premier women's professional sports organization in the world.
  • Latria Graham Leak: President and Founder of GLB, whose purpose is to help build world class purpose-driven brands through authentic communications strategies and innovative products. GLB’s clients largely consist of sports and entertainment brands, large corporations, universities, and government entities. Prior to founding GLB, Graham worked in the NBA for eleven (11) seasons and gained experience at ESPN Radio (WCCG), BET.COM, BET Nightly News, WJXT Jacksonville, and the University of Florida’s University Athletic Association. Graham serves on several non- profit board of directors including as the first ever African American woman Board Chair of Habitat for Humanity of Orlando and Osceola.
  • Whitney Meyer: University of North Florida Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion. Responsible for advising on diversity, inclusion and racial equality related to strategies and policies, learning and research, community relations and the recruitment, retention and admission of faculty, staff and students of color. Meyer oversaw the UNF’s new model for diversity and inclusion, sharing best practices and identifying opportunities for greater alignment and more unified efforts across campus. She also supervised the Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, Department of Diversity Initiatives, LGBT Resource Center and OneJax. In October, Meyer will assume a new role as head of DEI initiatives for the Jacksonville Jaguars football team.
  • Sharon Rowlands: Global Leader currently running Newfold digital a combination of and Endurance. On the boards of PegaSystems and Everbridge. Prior to her role at Newfold Digital, she was CEO of Reachlocal and President USA Today Marketing Solutions. Previously at Thomson Financial, then Penton Media and Altegrity. In these roles she completed several transformations, acquisitions and integrations.

“Our overall mission is to create opportunities for the developmental female professional golfer, for whom very few tours and tournaments exist, particularly compared to the men’s game,” said Mark Berman, who’s company, MediaShare Consulting Group is producing the PXWMPC.  He added, “We are shining a light on women’s initiatives not just on the golf course, but in the workplace and in the community.”

Tying into an organization like Generation W made sense for Berman, given the probability of becoming an LPGA star.  “The majority of these young women probably won’t get there. Then what? How do we create pathways for them outside playing professionally, in the business community and in the golf industry, so they can be successful given their propensity for hard work and winning attitudes?  They are who we all want to hire.”

The PXGWMPC is an official event on the WAPT, which is one of only three US women’s developmental tours for women and the only one which provides a pathway into the Symetra Tour.    The 64 competitors will be split into 16 four-player groups. Each player will play each group member twice in nine-hole head-to-head matches.  Each hole is worth one point to be either won, lost or halved.  The winner of each of those nine-hole matches will also receive a bonus point.  The player after her six matches with the most cumulative points, advances to the Knockout Rounds.  While sanctioned by the WAPT, the PXG Match Play Championship is open to all professional players who are not LPGA players.  “This is a pretty significant distinction as a professional event,” said Berman.  “We are very intentional in providing opportunities for the up-and-coming professional female players.”

GENERATION W, a registered 501(c)3, inspires women and communities to elevate their lives through leadership development, connection, inspiration and education. Generation W platforms include: Generation WOW, a girl’s leadership development and mentorship program; best-selling book and curriculum, WOWsdom! The Girls Guide to the Positive and the Possible!; and Generation WORKS, a day of community-wide service across Northeast Florida.

Mark D. Berman