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Donna Orender

File:Orender, Donna (2007).jpg
Donna Orender (center) in 2007

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.[1][2] 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.[2]


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).[3] 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)

Her television production career began as a production assistant at ABC Sports and continued at the Sports Channel. Orender also owned her own production company, Primo Donna Productions.

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.

In December 2005, Fox Sports Network named Orender as the seventh most powerful women in sports behind notable names like Danica Patrick and Sheila Johnson, owner of BET.

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.[citation needed]

Halls of Fame

Orender was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2006, and elected to the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame's induction class of 2015.[4][5]

See also