Cavs' Shelly Cayette Weston breaking barriers and inspiring a new generation of female leaders

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Posted at 8:58 PM, Feb 18, 2022

CLEVELAND — This weekend is all about All-Stars, and the Cleveland Cavaliers are celebrating one of their own.

Shelly Cayette Weston is breaking major barriers in the National Basketball Association as she became the executive vice president and chief commercial officer of the Cleveland Cavaliers, making her the first Black woman to hold this role in the NBA.

With her height, it's no surprise she played for a college basketball team. But who knew years later she'd work for one.

“I've had a great team to work with… a lot of leaders and mentors that's helped pave the way, but it's been a lot opportunity and I'd say people giving me the autonomy to grow the business and be successful,” said Weston.

Weston previously worked for the New Orleans Pelicans before starting with the Cavs in 2012.

As she worked her way up in leadership, she said she rarely saw women in administrative roles.

“If you look at the stats of how many women are in lead revenue roles driving the business, there aren’t a lot. Hopefully, now I can open more doors so more women, young women can see that it’s possible and it can grow those pipelines,” she said.

Helping grow the pipelines is Corey James, the director of diversity and inclusion for the Cavs, a department only about three years old.

“One of the things that's most important for us is to be relevant and trusted in the communities that we serve, and you can't serve the community without knowing the diversity that Cleveland and Northeast Ohio represents,” he said.

During most his time in the role, James has focused on recruiting, retaining and hiring diverse candidates, which includes creating a hiring pipeline with historically Black colleges and universities and expanding women’s mentorship programs.

“In particular for young students to know that you can be in professional sports or be on the court without necessarily playing and it gives them a sense of aspirations and still knowing that they can be part of an industry without necessarily wearing a jersey,” he said.

While Weston is the first Black woman in this role, she wants other sports teams to create an environment so another woman can aspire to be the next leader.

“Be aware and be more intentional, I’m certainly not the first Black woman that's smart enough to be in this role, there’s a lot of them and the question is how do we get them in the right pipelines, how do we get them the right exposure that I received so this becomes the norm.”

RELATED: Cleveland Cavaliers make history, promote Shelly Cayette to executive leadership role

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