The First Female GM In The Minor Leagues In Nearly Two Decades
When Emily Jaenson chose to do an eight-month ticket sales internship with the Chicago Bulls over a full-time job with a salary at an advertising agency, it was the foundation for her career in sports. She discovered what the most essential component of a sports organization was.
“The goal was to wholly understand more about the lifeblood of all sports teams – the season ticket holders. You need a base of passionate, committed, and loyal fans in order to have a successful sports organization,” she told David Minor at Sport Management Hub.
She experienced deep disappointment when the Bulls failed to offer her a full-time job, “For somebody as competitive as me, it was incredibly painful. I saw it as a failure,“ she told Minor.
Jaenson planted her feet firmly on the ground though and used it as an opportunity, working for a big non-profit. Her time there helped her to understand the relationship between partnerships and programming. She also learned to establish and maintain partnerships with major sports teams, a lesson that would help her as the GM of the Aces.
When the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign alumni first arrived in Reno in 2013, she started as an account executive before being promoted to vice president in 2015. In her role as Vice President of Corporate Sponsorships for the Reno Aces and Reno 1868 FC, she led a team of six salespeople ensuring revenue was maximized for all events.
After her first stint with the Aces, she moved to Houston where she consulted for the Harris County Houston Sports Authority. During her time there, she learned from the best, Janis Burke, Sports Authority’s popular CEO. “She is an absolute dynamo,” Jaenson says of Burke. She volunteered on Super Bowl LI, worked as a sales director on the World Corporate Games, and helped the inaugural Houston Sports Awards Show.
In 2018, Jaenson moved her family back to Reno to become the General Manager of the Reno Aces Baseball Club, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. She became the first female GM in the Pacific Coast League in nearly two decades and only the second person to hold the role of General manager for the Aces. She runs day-to-day baseball and business operations and reports to team President, Eric Edelstein.
“We are extremely excited to have Emily rejoin our team. She was consistently a superstar in her time in Reno, leading her team to success and influencing all aspects of our business,” said President Eric Edelstein. “Emily is a true leader. I’m thrilled to inject her energy, intelligence, and work ethic back into our Greater Nevada Field.”
There is still a major gender gap in sports, but minor league baseball is working to change that. “Minor League Baseball strives to create an inclusive environment where everyone has an opportunity to contribute at every level of our game and Emily being named general manager of a Triple-A franchise is progress we can all be proud of,” said Pat O’Conner, Minor League Baseball President & CEO. “The number of women serving as general managers is increasing each year and they all do a terrific job. I have no doubt that Emily will do a great job for the Aces organization and I am very happy for her.”
When Jaenson started attending Minor League Baseball meetings, she was the only woman in the room. “It was something I knew, but seeing it is a little different,” she said to Connect Sports.
Jaenson has dealt with sexism in one way or another. When a fellow player at a golf event kept calling her “Aces Girl,” she responded “I’m not the Ace’s girl; I’m not a mascot. My name is Emily and I am the general manager of the Reno Aces. Nice to meet you.”
Emily has three pieces of advice for women who want to be trailblazers in the world of sport — Be so good they won’t forget you; be versatile (Jill-of-all-trades), and pay it forward within your team and community once you reach a leadership role.
Jaenson is truly an inspiration for young girls and women who want to advance in the world of sport. She spoke at the Baseball Winters Meeting In Las Vegas and was deeply affected when the many women who attended told her stories of unfair treatment in the workplace.
Jaenson is a role model. Her children refer to the Ace’s as “mommy’s team.” They have never known any different. “That’s why my position and role are so important,” she says. “The more you see something, the more normal it is.”
As of October 2020, there are only two female General Managers in Triple-A Minor League Baseball, Emily and Jaenson, and Laurie Schlender of the Omaha Storm Chasers.