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Pacers Sports and Entertainment welcomes new DEI officer

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Tracy Ellis-Ward joined Pacers Sports and Entertainment (PS&E) in January as its first senior vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). In this role, she’ll lead the company in DEI efforts within the organization and the greater community.

“The goal of this role is to ensure that DEI is infused in every part of the organization,” Ellis-Ward said. “From ticket sales, marketing, to community engagement, this is meant for a strategic holistic look and how we can be better in all of those spaces through the DEI lens.”

Day-to-day, Ellis-Ward will work to build up Pacers Sports and Entertainment’s strategic framework and expand upon initiatives started throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Among those initiatives is the Inclusive Excellence Action Committee, which consists of roughly 40 employees who meet monthly to discuss engagement strategies.

“We have worked hard to make DEI core to the PS&E culture for all employees, and we are fortunate to have someone with Tracy’s experience and expertise to build upon all the important steps we have taken,” Rick Fuson, president and chief operating officer of PS&E, said in a statement. “Her knowledge of these important issues, understanding of the sports industry, and Midwest roots made her a terrific fit for our organization, and we are excited about all she will add to the PS&E family.”

Ellis-Ward’s background in sports includes a master’s degree in sports administration from Ohio University. Further, the 56-year-old previously served as senior director of basketball operations for the Women’s National Basketball Association.

When she started out in sports management, Ellis-Ward said there were very few women, let alone women of color, to look up to. That’s changed significantly, Ellis-Ward said, but her early experiences helped her grow.

“The [lack of diversity] presented some challenges,” Ellis-Ward said. “I had to really lean into my own moral compass in terms of the right way to proceed, because there were not a lot of people who looked like me who could share their experiences with me. Now, there are more and more qualified women and women of color who have emerged in the space. We’re living in a different era now, and people really value having diverse talent.”

Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.

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