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The NY Liberty, women’s impact, and community ... all at an LI Nets basketball game

From L to R: Melanie LittleJohn, Vice President of National Grid, Keia Clarke, CEO of New York Liberty, Camille Buxeda, Creator of WSLAM, and Dr. Holly Johnson, Hospital for Special Surgery, speak to assembled audience at panel discussion
New York Liberty Public Relations Department

“Don’t drop the glass ball!”

Every March, people across the United States celebrate Women’s History Month. Throughout the month, we honor women for their contributions in making a more just and equitable society. As a society, we also think of how we can support women in the workforce and in the community, advance women’s rights, and protect women’s rights. With the wage gap continuing to widen, reproductive rights under continued attack and access to services dependent on where you live, transgender health care equity in Baltimore, Maryland has been stalled and severely limited by the legislature, things have been trending in a disconcerting direction.

To honor Women’s History Month, two of Joe and Clara Wu Tsai’s basketball teams, the New York Liberty and Long Island Nets, hosted a Women’s Impact Game on March 29th at Nassau Coliseum. During the game, the LI Nets rocked seafoam colored jerseys in honor of the Liberty and won an important game against the Windy City Bulls as they battled for playoff positioning.

Windy City Bulls v Long Island Nets Photo by Evan Yu/NBAE via Getty Images

Prior to the start of the game, the teams held a Women’s Impact Panel for the fans in attendance at the game.

The panel featured:

Keia Clarke, CEO of the Liberty

Camille Buxeda, Creator of WSLAM

Melanie Littlejohn, Vice President of National Grid

Dr. Holly Johnson, Hospital for Special Surgery

The panel ran for 45 minutes and they spoke on a lot of important issues. On the topic of gender equality, LittleJohn noted that with greater gender equality comes more empathy and efficiency at work among other things. Clarke spoke of her journey, starting at the basketball Hall of Fame and working at the NBA office before joining the New York Liberty organization. Clarke noted that having an ecosystem of women of color surrounding her allowed her to succeed in a growth environment.

As the creator and director of WSLAM, Buxeda has helped amplify the WNBA and expand its reach across social media. During the panel, Buxeda correctly noted that it’s up to everyone to catch up to the great product and games that are taking place in the W every night. She noted that she took the artistic lens that she utilized while working at the NBA and brought it over to the W’s coverage. The work done at WSLAM has been vital and has filled in where the larger outlets sometimes miss out on.

In the Q&A portion of the event, the panelists spoke of the importance of planning early, thinking of your finances, and supporting yourself so you don’t have to be overly dependent on others. For a generation that has been battling burnout, hearing the panelists talk about the importance of mental health and finding purpose what you do and where you go was something that everyone can relate to.

After the panel concluded, NetsDaily was able to speak with Ms. Clarke and ask a few questions. Here are her responses:

  • On the Liberty regaining their foothold in New York City after returning from Westchester:

“It’s been our entire focus is just to generate awareness and just make sure people understand and recognize that we’re calling Barclays our home now. We’re setting roots in Brooklyn but we are active and becoming more and more active throughout the community, throughout all of the boroughs. So I think it’s about just educating folks about this dynamic team, the players that we have on the team, and really what the mission of the New York Liberty is. Community work is in our DNA. Phenomenal basketball is what the what the WNBA brings, and the Liberty want to continue to be a part of that.”

Washington Mystics v New York Liberty Photo by Steven Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images
  • On growing the Liberty’s reach across New York City

“Part of the community that we’re building happens inside the arena during games when we’re bringing people together, and a lot of it is in a lot of ways external where we’re really identifying: what are the pillars, what does the New York Liberty want to represent, what do we stand for? And it’s really centered around providing opportunities for youth and even adults for basketball education, actually playing the game, participation. I think women’s initiatives and women’s empowerment and women’s equality is a major part of everything that we’d like to be a part of, so we identify specific partners in that area of focus. For many years, we’ve been very, very intent about racial equality issues and this is something that’s been led by the players, so our unity platform often suffices for that and we will partner up with events with organizations that are doing work in that space as well and really lock arms and try to make an impact. Another pillar or thing that we’re committed to is LGBTQ pride. Another initiative, another platform that’s been celebrated and really, again from an awareness standpoint, we work hard to build awareness for for many, many years. I think our organizations, and who we work with, and the people, the community is the community. The specific organizations really attributes to what kinds of activities or events we can do together to create more impact.”

  • On the issues and areas in which the Liberty can help make New York a better place

“I think equality across all genres is really important, but it doesn’t mean we’re not committed to other issues, especially those that are important in New York City. For example, food insecurity is one of them. We recently opened two food pantries in Brooklyn, both in schools which I think is a really important initiative. We’ve given back in the same way, in the same vein of food insecurity, during our 25th anniversary, we’ve done work in that space and I think providing for programming and activities, and just positive reinforcement for youth is a part of some of the city specific work that we’ve done where there’s a need. I’ll lastly add that we’ve really been focused on the mental health for youth. We did an initiative last season tied to back to school and we’re planning to continue that, to make that part of our continuity, especially throughout COVID and the challenges that have arisen from that. We feel like because of the platform that our players have taken in that space and the vulnerabilities they’ve shown in that area lends ourselves to be able to be a helping hand and be a voice to people who may be seeking out help.”