BERKELEY - Alisha Valavanis will be leaving her post as the University of California, Berkeley’s Assistant Athletics Director of Development for Annual Giving and Alumni Relations, and heading to the Pacific Northwest to become the Chief Operating Officer for the Seattle Storm, one of the WNBA’s most storied franchises. The Seattle Storm made the official announcement earlier today adding that Valavanis is set to join the franchise on July 1, 2014.
Talking about the team’s most recent addition to its front office, Seattle Storm co-owner, Lisa Brummel, said, “In this hiring process, our ownership group was looking for someone to come in with new ideas and the ability to embrace what it takes to run a sports organization. Alisha has a true passion for what we do and a strong commitment to drive this business forward. She is an exciting addition to the Storm family and will be a great community leader here in Seattle.”
As a senior staff member at Cal from 2011-2014, Valavanis provided leadership, direction and fundraising models for head coaches and staff, while leading collaborative efforts with University Relations and campus partners on cross-functioning campaigns. Valavanis was responsible for creating revenue generation initiatives, annual fundraising efforts, development operations, and alumni engagement strategies.
“My life has truly been enriched by the game of basketball,” said Valavanis. “From the incredible experiences on the court to a career on the business-side of the game; basketball has been a way of life for me. The Seattle Storm is a model franchise in the WNBA and to have the opportunity to work for them and be part of the Seattle community is an honor. I look forward to building on the strong foundation and the exciting brand that is Seattle Storm Basketball.”
“The University of California, Berkeley, is the number one public institution in the country with an outstanding athletic department focused on creating a complete student-athlete experience through academic excellence, athletic achievement, community service and championship performances,” Valavanis continued. “Having the opportunity to work with some of the best in the country during my tenure at Cal under Director of Athletics, Sandy Barbour, and Deputy Director of Athletics, External Relations, Phil Esten has been great.”
Barbour added, “Alisha is incredibly bright and creative and one of the most talented leaders I’ve ever encountered. We are grateful for her time at Cal and her critical contributions to our success. It is a huge loss for us, but we could not be happier that she has earned this phenomenal opportunity with a first-class organization. The Seattle Storm has hired a superstar.”
Esten, whom Valavanis reported to directly throughout the majority of her tenure at Cal, said, “Alisha has one of the best qualities true leaders possess – the ability to bring people together and build team. She was a catalyst for Cal in the community, as well as a strong ambassador for the Cal mission. She truly made a difference and a positive impact on our efforts over the past few years and we are thankful for that.”
Prior to her time at Cal, Valavanis spent one season, 2010-2011, with the Golden State Warriors in the area of group sales where she helped develop sales initiatives to assist the Oakland non-profit sector in leveraging ticket sales for fundraising efforts.
Valavanis’ basketball background spans more than 15 years, starting as a four-year collegiate player at Chico State, where she captioned the team from 1997-99. In 2002, she made the transition to coaching and was the lead assistant coach as the program made four straight NCAA appearances, highlighted with a Final Four appearance. In 2006, she joined the women’s basketball program at the University of the Pacific as an assistant coach and in 2008 was elevated to associate head coach. She ran the defensive system, guard development and oversaw a team of assistant coaches and operations personnel. Valavanis was also involved in financial oversight and fundraising opportunities for the program.
Valavanis graduated from the California State University, Chico in 2000 with a B.A. in communications. She earned her Masters in athletic administration from Chico State in 2004.