top of page
  • Writer's pictureEmma Treptow

NWSL Names Jessica Berman as New Commissioner

Updated: Apr 29, 2022

Yesterday, the NWSL announced the hiring of Jessica Berman as the new commissioner after Lisa Baird resigned last season amid the abuse allegations amongst coaches in the league.

Photo courtesy of The Athletic

Berman comes into the NWSL after three years serving as the deputy commissioner and executive vice president of business affairs in the National Lacrosse League. Before that, Berman spent 13 years with the National Hockey League as the vice president and deputy general counsel for the league before she was appointed the vice president of community development, culture and growth and executive director of the NHL Foundation. Berman graduated from the University of Michigan with an undergraduate degree in Sports Management and Communications. She is also a graduate student of the Fordham University School of Law. From the NWSL press release, “Berman will oversee all operations of the league with a focus on supporting players on and off the pitch, working with NWSL clubs to continue to build on the positive momentum of the league’s growing audience, and collaborating with NWSL partners to create the most engaging and entertaining fan experience.” Berman will take over on April 20, 2022, as Marla Messing will stay the interim CEO until May 31, 2022, to ensure a smooth turnover. Berman will be in place as commissioner for a four-year tenure. The search committee organized from the NWSL board of governors as well as the Players’ Commissioner Search Committee worked together to find and hire Berman for this position. The search committee of the NWSL board of governors included Angela Hucles of Angel City FC, Mike Golub of Portland Thorns FC, Chris Long of the Kansas City Current, Sophie Sauvage of OL Reign, Mark Wilff of the Orlando Pride. The Players’ Commissioner Search Committee included Crystal Dunn, Kaylie Collins, Jane Campbell, Bri Visalli, Nicole Barnhart, Emily Menges, Tori Huster, and Executive Director Meghann Burke. In the NWSL press release, Sauvage commented on the hire saying, “We’re thrilled to have Jessica serve as the next commissioner of the NWSL as we embark on our 10th season of play. This process was incredibly collaborative throughout and we want to thank the players for their involvement. Jessica’s extensive professional background, her commitment to elevating diverse voices in the sports industry, and her vision for the future of our league, made her the right fit for this incredibly important position.” Berman is looking forward to building relationships with the players while implementing weekly calls in the players’ union as she mentioned in her first press conference yesterday, stating that “I view the CBA being done as the first step, the time to build trust and credibility [in the relationship with the players union] is during the time of the agreement. There’s still a lot of work to be done. We have to figure out a way to work together to implement and execute the terms that have been agreed to.” Jenna Tonelli who covers Gotham FC and the NWSL for SB Nation’s All For XI asked Berman about the Black Women’s Player Collective with her response being that she thought it was important to connect with Margaret Purce, the head of BWPC in the lead up; and "I spoke with her briefly last night, and I shared with her my passion for DEI and race issues.” Tonelli reported that Berman stated last night that she feels passionate in wanting to help break down barriers and address issues of marginalized communities as she grew up in Brooklyn surrounded by people of color. Berman is expected to meet with CBS, the league’s broadcasting partner, on Wednesday and has said that she has a lot to learn about that side of the business and negotiating a new deal as the current deal expires in 2023. Berman is walking into a league that struggled greatly leadership-wise last year, but with her experience, we hope that she will be the right person for this job.


bottom of page