Donna Orender is a sports executive and a former collegiate and professional basketball player. She was recently president of the WNBA. She grew up on Long Island, New York and was a five-sport athlete in high school, lettering in basketball, field hockey, volleyball, softball, and tennis. She is currently married to M.G. Orender and has four children, Zachary, Jacob, Morgan, and Colleen.
Early and college years
Orender is Jewish, and is a native New Yorker. She graduated from Queens College, City University of New York in 1978 with a degree in psychology, followed by graduate studies in social work at Adelphi University. While at Queens College she was an All-American basketball player.
Under the name Donna Geils, Orender played three seasons in the Women's Pro Basketball League (WBL), where she was an All-Star, and one of only 20 women to play in all three seasons of the league. During that time span, she played for the New York Stars (1978–79), New Jersey Gems (1979–80), Chicago Hustle (1980–81). In 1985, she played for the U.S. Maccabiah Team. Orender's WBL career is featured in the book "Mad Seasons: The Story of the First Women's Basketball League, 1978–1981," by Karra Porter (University of Nebraska Press, 2006)
She spent 17 years with the PGA Tour and became the Senior Vice President of Strategic Development in the Office of the Commissioner in 2001. Orender was the original producer of "Inside the PGA Tour". She helped negotiate television contracts that quadrupled the Tiger Woods phenomenon to $800 million.
In February 2005, Orender was named the new WNBA president, succeeding Val Ackerman.
On December 3, 2010, it was announced that Orender would be stepping down from her post effective December 31, 2010. NBA Vice President Chris Granger was tabbed to replace her on an interim basis until Laurel Richie was the named the new President.
In her short tenure, Orender is already recognized as having a strong focus in branding, partnership establishments and marketing via new media.
Halls of Fame
- "For ex-WNBA chief Donna Orender, NBA breakthrough for women a show of respect". Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
- "WNBA.com: Donna Orender". wnba.com.
- Geils, Donna Chait. "MAKING A DREAM COME TRUE, AND WATCHING IT FADE AWAY", The New York Times, November 15, 1981. Accessed July 30, 2010.
- "Late S.F. boxing champ to be enshrined". jweekly.com.