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I am worthy, I am deserving, and I belong.

Brenda Andress

President & Founder

SheIS

× The interview with Brenda Andress was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

1Tell us about your role as the Founder and President of SheIS, why did you start the company? What does a typical day on the job look like?

I started SheIS when there were political issues about who was getting into leadership positions and the Black Lives Matter movement. I was asked if I was going to march to demonstrate my dissatisfaction with what was happening in our world.

My answer, shocked everyone, “NO” I was not going to march through the marches were a fabulous way to show our discontentment with what was happening, afterwards, nobody was going to take any kind of action. I showed up, made my stance and that was it. Done and back to my life.

I was sitting at my desk wondering why we react to negativity but don’t take positive action against it. I wanted to create a positive movement in the sports world, bringing together a collective of strong women to unite on a common goal of cross-pollinating the mobilization of fans into actions and each other across all professional sports.

The positive side of the story is that instead of saying there’s only four percent of media that cover women, the message is that you the fan the individual can increase it to six and eight percent over the next couple of years, so creating a positive spin on what is happening instead of complaining or giving more fuel to the negative side.

A typical day on the job is a funny statement; there is no typical day as the founder and president of SheIS. Being involved in a women’s not for profit company can be as far away from typical as you can imagine.

COVID 19 has provided us with a whole new set of obstacles and barriers that we have to overcome as current sponsors and donors are also facing difficult times. So, a typical day at this time is trying to be creative, trying to look at different ways in today's economy to get a sponsor or donor to understand the empowerment of branding with the message.

Today more than ever it is important that we continue to support equality and parity in our women's professional sports. Young children need to see role models and know that there are avenues for them to grow up and fulfill their dreams.

2You have made significant contributions to women’s sports. Having won the Women of Distinction award in 2013 for your work with the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL). A well-deserved award! SheIS came to life because your belief that posting and marching are simply not enough, and that action must be taken. What do you do outside of work to embrace these ideals and what steps would you recommend women take to actively participate in the growth of women’s sports?

One thing I do outside of work to continue to embrace my ideas is that I am the Vice-President on the YWCA board of Toronto and I continue to promote the equality of women in an avenue other than sports.

I also offer my voice and experience to sports and business organizations, Universities, Colleges and women organizations to tell my journey and what I’ve learned along the way.

The steps I recommend women take to actively participate in the growth of women’s sports is to take action. So often we say we support something, but we don’t give our time or money.

The simplicity in growing women’s professional sports lies in the hands of YOU the fan, You can make the difference, YOU are the game-changer all you have to do is go to game, watch a game or support the game. I challenge you today as you read this to go to sheissport.com and join SheIS Nation.

3During your acceptance speech for your Women of Distinction award you said, “I deserve it and I’m worthy of it” recently adding to that “I belong”. You suggested that women often do not believe these things. What advice would you give females in the industry to embrace these ideals and champion themselves and others?

I think it’s difficult for females in the industry to embrace that they are deserving, worthy and belong. Our entire life we’re taught the be seen and not heard, we are the mother, the caregiver, the shoulder, the hand that reaches and the fixer of all problems, all done within the shadows.

Although our powers are resilient and strong, we don’t believe we have them so when we leave the shadows, we disguise ourselves as not worthy, not deserving and that we don’t belong. We let people overpower us and deny ourselves the opportunities that await us, that belong to us and we must stand up and take it.

This is not easy to accomplish, others will want you to fail as it will take away their power that we have given to them.

My advice is to start each day in Infront of a mirror and repeat the following words. “I am worthy, I am deserving, and I belong.” Say it with all the strength you can muster and feel that power that surges through you as those words are spoken.

During your day look around you, find that women that you can support and slip it into your conversation, in a simple and truthful way. Tell her you love her outfit, that she looks powerful today, that you love her idea, she deserved that promotion, how essential of a part she is to your team.

4What advice do you have for women entering the industry or who show an interest in it?

My advice for women entering the industry or who show an interest in it is simply, do it!

Go for it, don’t let anything or anyone stop you, reach out to other women, own your power.

The sky is the limit.

5Women’s sports make up 4% of total sports broadcasting. You choose to view the 4% in a positive way and created a movement around that. How do you deal with challenges and setbacks such as the shut down of the CWHL and still stay positive and keep the movement going forward?

My 12 years with the CWHL was wonderful and stunning in what our team was able to accomplish with a plethora of memories.

Those 12 years were not without their challenges, yet we set records with the Clarkson Cup Championship, All-Star Games, Playing NHL arenas, CWHL awards night, The NHL outdoor game and the signing of China.

I had a front-row seat and the opportunity to engage with many wonderfully talented people. It is easy to be positive with the gifts of time and memories.

6As your time as commissioner of the CWHL you took initiatives to grow the sport such as having an expansion team in China. Along with this initiative and others such as broadcasting deals help to grow the sport and how did they make the sport be taken more seriously? What first steps should other women’s leagues do to start this process and gain traction?

I don’t believe there is one specific deal that made our sport be taken more seriously.

I do believe that the SportsNet broadcasting deal and China’s expansion provided us with the opportunity to showcase our sport more broadly and gain attention.

I think in today’s world what we must do is educate businesses, fans and sponsors to understand that women’s professional sport is a business and not a charity.

MacKenzie Vaughan MacKenzie's Final Thoughts

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