Hired in June 2014, Alisha Valavanis is currently CEO and General Manager of the reigning WNBA Champion Seattle Storm and Force 10 Sports Management, LLC; a sports management firm that creates world-class sport and entertainment events in Seattle by providing operations, revenue generation, communications and marketing expertise. Valavanis has expanded the Force 10 Sports Management portfolio that has included the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament, USA Basketball, Seattle ProAm, Seattle Reign FC (NWSL) and the Seattle Seawolves (MLR).
Valavanis was the architect behind the Seattle Storm rebuild that led to a 2018 WNBA Championship. This began with her first move as GM to use the franchise 2015 No. 1 overall pick to select guard Jewell Loyd, who went on to win 2015 WNBA Rookie of the Year. The following year, Valavanis added Breanna Stewart to the roster, bringing to the Storm the only player in collegiate history to win four consecutive NCAA Championships and four Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors. In 2018, Stewart became one of a handful of WNBA players ever to earn both the regular-season MVP and Finals MVP awards. The same year, Stewart was also honored as the FIBA Women’s World Cup MVP and USA Basketball’s 2018 Female Athlete of the Year.
Deeply anchored in a leadership style that values meaningful community partners, Valavanis led the Storm to a marquee jersey and community partnership with Swedish Medical Center and negotiated a new television partnership with Q13 FOX. This partnership expanded the reach of the Seattle Storm through its live and streamed broadcasts nationwide. Valavanis also expanded the long-standing Carter Subaru partnership to include court-naming rights, a first of its kind for the Seattle Storm. In April 2019, the Storm announced a 10-year jersey patch partnership with Symetra Life Insurance Company, marking the largest sponsorship deal in franchise history.
A native of Valparaiso, Ind., Valavanis came to the Storm with a strong history in women’s basketball. She played four years at California State University, Chico, finishing her career as the program’s all-time leader in three-pointers. Valavanis went on to coach for the Wildcats. In her four years as an assistant coach, the program made four straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
In 2006, she moved on to the associate head coach role at the University of the Pacific. She has also worked as a WNBA scout with the New York Liberty before the pivot to the business side of sports wherein Valavanis spent time with the front office of the Golden State Warriors. In her final stop prior to the Storm, she served as an associate athletics director for Cal Athletics at UC Berkeley.
Valavanis completed her B.A. in journalism in 2000, and received her masters in physical education in 2004, both from Chico.
Valavanis is a member of the Washington Roundtable, the Seattle Sports Commission Board of Directors, and the Seattle Chamber of Commerce Board of Trustees.
Valavanis was named to the 2019 Sports Business Journal list of Game Changers; a prestigious list of 40 executives across sports acknowledged as leaders in the industry. In the same year the Puget Sound Business Journal listed her on the inaugural Power 100 List, recognizing leaders shaping the region. She received back-to-back recognitions by Adweek; as a 2018 Rising Brand Stars in Seattle and one of The 30 Most Powerful Women in Sports in 2019.
In 2017 Puget Sound Business Journal named her an Outstanding Voice recipient for her commitment to equality, inclusion and diversity, Valavanis was then selected as one of the 2018 Puget Sound Business Journal’s Women of Influence.
Previously, Valavanis received the 2016 Washington Leadership Excellence Award from the Washington Diversity Council; the same year she was honored as the 2016 Distinguished Alumni for Chico State.
Valavanis accepts dozens of speaking engagements throughout the year. She is passionate and focused on the dynamics and culture of high performing teams. As well as, committed to conversation around the intersection of business, sport and community as a space for positive social change.