Speed Mentoring Roundtable – Featured Mentors

Lisa Gagnon, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Executive Director of Marketing, PR and Presentations

Lisa Gagnon is the executive director of marketing, PR and presentations for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. In her position, she oversees all marketing efforts for the Show, including advertising, public relations, communications, and broadcast and audio-visual components.

Prior to her role at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Gagnon was vice president of marketing at the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee, overseeing all brand and marketing activities for the Host Committee, including Super Bowl LIVE, the ten-day fan festival.

She received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from The University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in business administration from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

She and her husband live in Houston with their 8-year-old daughter.


Sarah Gibson, Houston Rockets, Senior Director of Suite Activation and Development

Sarah Gibson is a strategic thinker and trusted advisor. A revenue generator and brand ambassador. She is focused on organic growth and partners with CEOs, executives, and solopreneurs to increase their bottom line and strengthen connections with their clients, customers, and peers. For over a decade, Sarah has fostered relationships with some of Houston’s most invested, high-profile business leaders – directly translating those relationships into strategic partnerships that deliver a significant ROI.

Sarah knows what truly drives the suite partnership experience – and it’s not what’s happening on the court. It’s how well you connect with your clients. How you embrace and highlight each of them. It must be done in a way that is genuine, sincere, and thoughtful. Game wins come and go but strong relationships will always outperform the odds. Sarah has built her career on creating best-in-class creative thinking and performance techniques. She provides coaching, training and development for staff while advancing the business needs of the Rockets front office.

Sarah holds a BA in political science from the University of Texas. So the obvious next step for her was a career in basketball! She resides in Houston with her advertising husband, Andrew, and 18 month old daughter, Fiona.


Patti Smith, Harris County-Houston Sports Authority, Public Relations Director

Patti Smith has been a staple in the Houston Sports Market since 1995.  After spending more than 20 years with Fox Sports Southwest, where she has won multiple Emmy Awards as both a producer and a broadcaster, she joined the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority as Public Relations Director in 2016.  Patti is also one of the announcers for the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo and is overseeing the Sports Authority’s new Houston Sports Awards scheduled for February of 2018.


Suzie Thomas, Houston Texans, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer

Suzie Thomas joined the Houston Texans and the McNair Group in March 2000.  She oversees the legal function for the Houston Texans and the human resources and business administration functions for both groups.

October 1998 until March 2000 she served as General Counsel and Vice President of Human Resources of Corporate Brand Foods America, Inc, a meat processing business that was subsequently purchased by Tyson Foods.  From January 1982 until June 1998, she was Weatherford International, a publicly-held international energy service and manufacturing company, the last 12 years as Senior Vice President and General Counsel. She started her legal career as an associate attorney at Baker Botts L.L.P. in Houston.

She earned her law degree from the University of Houston’s Bates College of Law and her undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a member of the State Bar of Texas and has served on the Board of Directors of Child Advocates, Inc. since 2001.


Shower our WISE Members with Gift Cards!

Unfortunately the devastation of Harvey affected some of our beloved members. We have identified five members who suffered total losses and are beginning to recover and rebuild.  

Please join us for a casual luncheon from 11:30 AM-1:00 PM on Wednesday, September 20th at the Harris County Houston Sports Authority offices to Shower our Members with Gift Cards.  Lunch will be provided and parking will be validated. You are welcome to stay as little or as long as you like.  

Bring a gift card(s), making sure the denomination is visible, and perhaps a note of encouragement or inspiration.  If you have household items, furniture, or appliances that you are able to donate, we are creating a giving tree for members to post descriptions of these items.

Please do not bring any goods to the luncheon-gift cards only to Home Depot, Target, Amazon or a Visa/MC/AmEx prepaid card. If you are unable to attend the luncheon, you may email gift cards to or mail them to WISE Houston, c/o Carrie Potter, 5225 Katy Freeway, Suite 230, Houston, TX  77007.

Let’s all join together to show our affected members that WISE Works. 


Address:  701 Avenida De Las Americas #450, Parking Garage Entrance on Rusk


2017 Women of Inspiration Nominations



2017 Women of Inspiration

Awards Nomination Form

Submission Deadline is October 1st 

Women of Inspiration is one of our four signature WISE events and is hosted in December as a year-end celebration.  At this celebration, we present awards in five (5) categories as outlined below and are asking WISE Houston members to nominate candidates for each award category.

WISE Women of Inspiration.  This award recognizes three extraordinary women who have made a significant impact on the business or sports or events and serve as positive role models and mentors for other women. The criteria for this award is as follows:

  • Women who are visible leaders and continue to be a voice for women in the industry

  • Women who break down barriers, help create new opportunities and serve as a resource for other women

  • Women who exemplify professional experience and are role models for others

Women with a minimum of 10 years work experience with at least five years working in or with the sports industry

2016 Winners

Anita Martini, Pioneer for Women, Sport Journalist

Sallie Sargent, Houston Super Bowl Host Committee President and CEO

Janis Burke, Harris County-Houston Sports Authority CEO


WISE Champion Award.  This year we are introducing the WISE Champion Award, which recognizes a male executive who has championed the advancement of women in the workplace. The criteria for this award is as follows:

  • A man who champions the role of women in the business of sports through the successful creation of new jobs, mentoring and networking opportunities

  • A man who clearly communicates a vision for women in the industry and their continued advancement

  • A man who shows consistent commitment to the promotion of women’s careers and recognition of their professional accomplishment

WISE Networking Champion of the Year.  This award recognizes a WISE member who was most active in 2017, being present at almost every program and event. You all know her!

2016 Winner

Zanetta Jones, Houston Rockets Ticket Operations Representative

WISE Committee Member of the Year.  This award recognizes a WISE member who dedicated her time and talent on a committee in an extraordinary way throughout the year.

2016 Winner

Jules Rice, Marketing & Communications Committee, with HCHSA

WISE Partner of the Year.  This award recognizes a WISE partner who supported us in a unique way, above and beyond partnership expectations in 2017.

2016 Winners

WISE Houston’s Founding Partners

Harris County Houston Sports Authority


Houston Astros

Houston Dynamo & Dash

Houston Rockets

Houston Texans


Submission Deadline is October 1st 

Nominator Name:*
Nominee Name:*
Nominee Company:*
Nominee Title/Position:*
Nominee E-mail:*
Nominee Phone:
Please tell us why you feel this individual is worthy of being honored:*
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WISE Within

WISE Within Mentoring Program

The Houston WISE chapter is proud to support WISE Within, the national signature program of WISE. WISE Within is a mentoring program with a proven track record of providing valuable career resources. The relationships formed in this program create a unique opportunity to accelerate professional development by connecting women through facilitated group sessions, personal one-to-one mentoring and national online resources.

The WISE Within application process launches each February and typically lasts 4-6 weeks. Once the application window has closed, the WISE Within Committee spends several weeks reviewing submissions, conducting interviews and looking for perfect mentor/mentee matches. The mentoring program officially kicks off in April with the introduction of matches at our annual WISE Within kickoff event. As a program participant, members agree to meet at least once every four weeks (either by phone or in person). They are also invited to a mid-program event hosted by WISE that could be a happy hour, volunteer effort or some other group activity. The program concludes in October with a celebratory event for all participants.   

Peer Mentor Groups

Since not every WISE Within program applicant will find their perfect match the first time they apply, the Houston WISE chapter is proud to offer Peer Mentor Groups to any member who applies and does not receive a mentor or mentee. The Peer Mentor Groups meet once per month from May-October. Each meet up will include a Featured Mentor and a conversation topic relevant to group members. For information about the Peer Mentor Groups, please email us here.  

Important Dates for WISE Within

January: Speed Mentoring Roundtable – Get a taste of what WISE Within is all about at the annual Speed Mentoring Roundtable event. Members have the opportunity to meet leaders from our industry and receive insight and advice on topics such as work/life balance, asking for a raise and networking.

February: WISE Within application process launches – Make sure your membership is renewed and submit your application to be a mentor or mentee. The WISE Within Committee will strive to make mentor/mentee pairings that have a minimum of 8 years-experience separation. Mentors must have at least 15 years professional experience. In order to ensure the program reaches as many members as possible, members are only allowed to participate as a mentee one time.

April: WISE Within kickoff event – If you’re selected as a mentor or mentee, you will be invited to meet your match at the annual program kickoff event.

May: Peer Mentor Groups begin – This monthly meet-up is designed for mentee applicants who are not matched with a mentor.

June: WISE Within mid-program event – Program participants will gather together for a happy hour, volunteer effort or a group activity to share how their WISE Within experience is going.

October: WISE Within program celebration – At the conclusion of the six-month program, participants will gather to celebrate their successful mentor/mentee experience.


WISE Within Resources

Your WISE membership includes access to career resources available on

Speed Mentoring Round Table – Featured Mentors

Amy Palcic, Houston Texans, Sr. Director of Communications

Amy Palcic brings a nearly 20-year proven track record in public relations, communications, non-profit development, marketing and event management. Palcic serves as the chief spokesperson and leads public relations, football communications and corporate communications efforts for the 14th-most valuable sports franchise in the world. In 2015, she spearheaded the team’s involvement in HBO’s hit series, Hard Knocks, which won two Emmy’s, including one for best serialized sports documentary, and received record viewership and ratings. Palcic also handles all relationship management with the NFL’s billion dollar network TV partners and also directs all publicity for three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, J.J. Watt.

Palcic joined the Houston Texans in 2013 after spending time as the Vice President of Public Affairs for George Faine Enterprises (GFE), where she founded and developed a partnership between the NFL and University of Notre Dame to make Notre Dame the fifth school to educate athletes as part of the NFL Business Management and Entrepreneurial program focusing on Social Entrepreneurship. She also oversaw fundraising for The Faine House, a residential home for young adults who age out of the foster care system in Florida. Prior to GFE, Palcic spent three years as the Director of Marketing & Public Relations at Premier Sports & Entertainment, an entertainment agency in Los Angeles, where she managed talent, pitched new business, produced large-scale charity events, negotiated marketing and sponsorship deals for celebrity clients, and served as an outside publicist to corporate partners. Prior to joining Premier, Palcic spent 10 years in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns, as Director of Communications. She has vast experience in public relations, marketing, event management, sponsorship and charitable development, both on the individual talent level and on the corporate side. This experience has allowed Palcic to cultivate a diverse background of expertise, including developing and delivering branding campaigns, facilitating media relations, television and radio production, and crisis management. Moreover, Palcic maintains senior level contacts at all of the national media outlets, as well as at many local outlets across the country, and is well-respected throughout the industry. Her impressive array of corporate relationships has resulted in endorsement opportunities and partnerships that have touched every business sector.

Publicity is essential to any organization and Palcic has developed strategic public relations campaigns that create buzz and support business growth. Her clients have appeared regularly in both traditional and non-traditional media including People Magazine, GQ Magazine, US Weekly, The New York Times, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and Entertainment Tonight to name a few.

Palcic earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Auburn University, and attended the Stanford University Executive Education Graduate School of Business Program in 2006, when she was selected as one of the “up-and-coming NFL Executives.” Palcic received a certificate in Fundraising and Development/Leadership Practice from Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business in 2013. She currently resides in Houston.


Anita Sehgal, Houston Astros, Sr. Vice President of Marketing & Communications

Anita Sehgal joined the Astros as Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications in January 2015 and is in her third season with the ballclub. In her current role, Anita provides strategic leadership for the ballclub’s marketing, communications, and media, including support for a broad variety of sponsorship, ticket, special event and community initiatives.

Prior to joining the Houston organization, Anita spent over 20 years in various strategic marketing functions with organizations including FGL Sports, Best Buy and most recently Academy Sports + Outdoors. She joined Academy Sports + Outdoors in Feb. 2009 and served as Senior Vice President, Marketing and Advertising until July 2014. Prior to holding that post, Anita spent four and a half years with Best Buy Canada as Director, Customer Experience. She also spent four years with Canada’s largest sporting goods retailer, The Forzani Group, Ltd. as their Director of Marketing.

Hailing from Canada’s Regina, Saskatchewan, Anita received a bachelor’s of business administration degree, with a focus in marketing and human resources, from the University of Regina. Anita works hard to make a lasting impact on her local community through volunteer and leadership efforts. She plays an active role in several Houston-based organizations, including her position as an Executive Committee Board Member of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston and as an Advisory Board member of TDECU. She is also a member of the Sports, Sponsorship and Sales Advisory Board for Baylor University and a Brand 50 member of World 50.

In addition to being an avid sports fan, Anita loves to travel and embraces the local culture, climate and cuisine wherever the road takes her.


Kelley Wohlenberg, Live Nation/Revention Music Center, Director of Sales

Kelley Wohlenberg started her career in Restaurant Management working for Applebee’s and Marriott Hotels after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 1992.  After 6 years in the Restaurant industry, she started working for Aramark at Heinz Field (Home of the Pittsburgh Steelers) in 2002 where she planned the food, beverage and decor elements for over 150 events per year.  This is where she gained invaluable knowledge of events such as Galas, Proms, Weddings, Festivals, Concerts, Games & much more.  In 2011, she transferred with Aramark to Houston, TX where she became the Director of Sales at the George R Brown Convention Center planning food and beverage for events ranging from 1,000 to 15,000 people.

In 2015, after 13 years with Aramark, she took a position with Live Nation selling Revention Music Center for Special Events.  Taking this step has helped her to learn about different elements of the Events Industry such as Production, Entertainment, Facility Management and Ticketing.

Kelley lives with her husband, Thorsten, and their 2 dog-children, Stanley and Sable.


Leah Mastaglio, NRG Park, Assistant General Manager

Leah Mastaglio is currently the Assistant General Manager at NRG Park.  Mastaglio’s day-to-day responsibilities included overseeing the Event and Guest Services, Operations, Maintenance, Engineering, Technical Services, Parking and Security departments.

Mastaglio has been with NRG Park since the property opened in 2002. She has worked in the Event Services and Sports Marketing and Sponsorship departments before being promoted to Assistant General Manager in 2014.  Mastaglio has over 15+ years of trade show and facility management experience.

Leah Mastaglio has served as the Tournament Manager for the 2008, 2010, 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.  For the 2011 and 2016 NCAA Men’s Final Four Leah was the chairperson of the Stadium Operations Committee for the event.  In 2010 – 2013, Leah assisted the NCAA Staff with managing the Men’s Final Four Championship by being a member of their Facility Management Group.  Leah has assisted in the management of Super Bowl XXXVIII, held at Reliant Park, Super Bowl XLVIII held at MetLife Stadium, Super Bowl XLIX held at University of Phoenix Stadium and Super Bowl 50 held at Levi’s Stadium.  Leah is the NFL contact or Stadium operations for Houston’s 2017 Super Bowl LI.  Other events Leah has managed include two Big XII Football Championships, international soccer matches, several large-scale stadium concerts, Offshore Technology Conference, the largest offshore drilling conference in the world, four years of the Grand Prix of Houston and many other events.

Leah has assisted other properties with projects such as opening the American Bank Center in Corpus Christie, US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, assisting with facility management for Oakland Coliseum, Solider Field and Louisiana Superdome.

Leah Mastaglio has served on the Houston Mayor’s Office Commission for People with Disabilities for four years.  She has also completed a two-year study of the International Association of Venue Managers’, Venue Management School.


Yvette Casares Willis, Houston Dynamo, Senior Account Executive of Corporate Partnerships

I am a native of the Rio Grande Valley (Edinburg, Texas).  I am Mexican-American and proud to be a woman in the Professional Sports Industry.
I have been in Houston since 1995, after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin. Over the last fifteen years, I have worked in the professional sports and entertainment industry.  I’ve been in a sales/marketing & promotions role with the following organizations including the Houston Rockets, Houston Astros, Boston Bruins, Boston Celtics, Live Nation Entertainment (Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, Revention Theater and House of Blues Houston/New Orleans) and Buffalo Specialties, Merchandise and Promotional Agency.  Currently I am a Senior Sales Executive in the Corporate Partnerships division for the Houston Dynamo, Major League Soccer Club. My favorite part of working in sports is the passion I see on and off the field.  It also allows me to be a part of a team.  Sports is very exciting – especially when your team is winning!
I have an Associates Degree from Kilgore College and a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree (Theater, Music and Dance) from The University of Texas at Austin. When I’m not working, I like to volunteer, exercise and dance. I serve on boards for the Houston Texas Exes and the Emergency Aid Coalition. I have been recently selected as a Director for the Texas Lyceum – Class of 2017. I am a proud member of WISE and currently serve on the membership committee. I’ve run six marathons (Houston -3; New York 1; Chicago 1; San Diego 1), two half marathons (Houston) and completed one triathlon (Galveston).
The things I love most in life is spending time with my family.  I have two kids, Zach (8) and Livi (5) – they are so much fun.  My husband is Dr. Marc Willis and we live in Boulevard Oaks. We enjoy living in the amazing city of Houston.


Dawn Keen, Houston Rockets, Senior Director of Corporate Partnership Activation

Dawn Keen is Senior Director of Corporate Partnership Activation for the Houston Rockets & Toyota Center.  Dawn oversees a team of account managers with the responsibility for relationship building, activation, fulfillment, budgeting and renewal for all corporate clients.  Dawn recently celebrated her 10-year anniversary as a Rockets team member!

Since joining the Rockets, Dawn has been fortunate to travel with the team hosting clients in all major market NBA cities, as well as internationally in the Philippines, Taiwan and China. She most recently led the planning team for the Rockets NBA Global Games trip to Shanghai & Beijing, which included hosting an exclusive reception recognizing Yao Ming’s 2016 NBA Hall of Fame induction, honoring him in his hometown of Shanghai.  Dawn has also been recognized as a leader in the NBA, being selected as an inaugural member of the NBA’s Strategic Advisory Council for Team Marketing & Business Operations and presenting at NBA League meetings on multiple occasions.

Prior to the Rockets, Dawn began her career in the Athletic Marketing Department for Washington State University. She moved cross-country to enter the NBA in Client Services & Game Operations with the San Antonio Spurs, who won the 2004-2005 NBA Championship in her rookie year with the team.

Dawn graduated Magna Cum Laude from Washington State University with a degree in Communications-Public Relations and a minor in Sports Management.  Dawn was born in British Columbia, Canada, and a love for the NHL drove her to a career in sports.  After a move to the States at an early age, Dawn was raised in Kent, Washington, a suburb of Seattle, and travels frequently to the great Northwest to visit her family.


Diane Crossey, Rice University Department of Sport Management, Professor in the Practice

Diane Crossey is entering her second year in the Department of Sport Management. She teaches SMGT 260 (Introduction to Sport Management), SMGT 266 (Leading with Service), and SMGT 366 (Event Management and Customer Service).

Prior to joining the faculty at Rice University, Crossey was the Senior Director of Event Operations and Guest Services for the National Football League’s Houston Texans. She joined the expansion franchise in June 2002 just prior to their launch and worked 14 seasons, during which the team sold out 143 consecutive home games.  In her position, she oversaw all aspects of customer service and event services for the Texans, including the hiring and training of all event staff, the facilitation of market research programs and the implementation of customer service initiatives for all Texans fans. She also managed the Video Production department, who produce the creative content for the in-stadium video boards as well as highlight videos and sponsor elements and the Events department, who execute year-round fan events such as Draft Day, Training Camp and community events. In her role, Crossey served as the team’s liaison to SMG, the management company for NRG Stadium, Contemporary Services Corporation, who provides crowd management services and Aramark, the exclusive food and beverage provider and facility services provider. During her tenure, the Texans were recognized for outstanding customer service by organizations such as J. D. Power and Associates, Peggy Morrow & Associates and the Sports Business Journal.

Crossey continues to work in the events industry and most recently served as the Venue Event Manager for the Copa America Centenario tournament games in Houston.  Second in size to only the World Cup, soccer’s Copa America tournament hosts CONCACAF and CONMEBOL teams as well as invited teams.  In her role, she oversaw multiple operational areas including accommodations, transportation, medical/doping, protocol, security, accreditation, logistics and special events.  Crossey worked with the National Teams of Argentina, the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Venezuela, and Colombia.  The three tournament dates in Houston hosted over 175,000 attendees at NRG Stadium.

Prior to coming to Houston, Crossey was the Director of the Premium Club and Guest Services for the TD Garden in Boston. Home of the NHL’s Boston Bruins and the NBA’s Boston Celtics, the 20,000-seat TD Garden hosts over 200 major events per year. During her seven years in Boston, Crossey worked with the NHL All-Star Game, the U.S. Gymnastic Olympic Trials, the NCAA men’s Frozen Four tournament, the NCAA men’s basketball regionals, as well as numerous concerts, family shows and other sporting events. Crossey was responsible for implementing the Premium Club concept for all club and suite holders as well as the management of all customer service initiatives and all guest services staff.

Crossey completed her Master of Science degree in Sport Studies from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She also holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from UMass and competed as a nationally-ranked athlete and captain of the women’s track and field team.

Crossey is involved with various professional and community organizations and is the co-chair of the Wise Within committee for the Houston branch of WISE – Women in Sports and Events.  WISE Within provides multiple mentoring and networking opportunities for women working or seeking to work in the Sports industry.   She is also a member of the International Association of Venue Managers and serves on the Universities Committee.

Topgolf Happy Hour

WISE Comes to Topgolf!

Tuesday, November 15th – WISE ventured to Topgolf Houston Katy for their November networking event.  It was several of the members first time to experience Topgolf and all that is has to offer.  The goal of Topgolf is to aim for the 11 targets in the fairway to score points.  We were playing for fun and bragging rights but you can make it a completion very easily.  Guests snacked on Chips & Queso, Italian Skewers, veggies and the addicting Injectable Donut Holes.

PGA Pro Hut Smith was on hand to fine tune the technique of several experienced golfer in attendance and start the rookies out with proper technique.  Lots of laughs and great conversation was had by the group.  There were several new members that joined us for their 1st event and commented that they couldn’t wait to come back.



Click here to check out more photos from our Topgolf Happy Hour!