Africa Leaders Magazine


Sarah Mensah has made history once more as the first female president of the Jordan Brand, nearly two years after becoming the first Black woman to oversee Nike’s North American operations. Craig Williams, the previous leader, will become Nike, Inc.’s president of Geographies & Marketplace.

Mensah’s new position, which was announced before to the start of the WNBA season, has received plaudits from many since it demonstrates how sports powerhouses like Nike are now dedicated to elevating women. Mensah recently served as Vice President and General Manager of Nike’s North American business, leading Nike, Inc. through ten years of growth.

In 2021, the University of Oregon graduate made history by becoming the first Black woman to lead Nike’s North America business as both Vice President and GM of the $166 billion brand’s largest market. Today, she is appointed as the first female to serve as President of Michael Jordon’s Jumpman empire which turns out an estimated $5 billion in annual revenue.

“It’s very personal. I grew up in Beaverton, Oregon, less than a mile from Nike. When I was little I used to run on an athletics track a mile away and I saw Nike grow,” said Mensah in May 2022. “For me, being a young girl who wanted to play sports, Nike was one of the brands that inspired me the most and allowed me to see what was possible. I feel empowered to continue the role Nike has played for me, for others, and to grow the aspirational nature of the brand.”

Mensah served as VP and COO of the Portland Trailblazers from 2009 to 2012 before joining Nike in 2013. According to Boardroom, during this time, the team’s income increased by 105%. The platform continued by stating that Mensah’s efforts with Nike, including his role as Senior Director of Strategic Planning, paved a 10-year blueprint for Jordan Brand “that currently sees signature stars in ascending spaces and a footprint that covers everything from college sports to Italian shopping.”.

In 2022, the company’s yearly revenue reached $5.1 billion. Over the years, it has worked to assemble a more inclusive, diverse team, with leaders including Larry Miller, Gentry Williams, and Howard White. The move marks not just a win for women in the sports industry but a spirited game of musical chairs within Nike, Inc. In addition to Mensah taking the reins at Since studying in Eugene, ascending in Portland, and moving to Beaverton, Mensah has held titles within Nike, Inc. including Senior Director of Strategic Planning, paving a 10-year roadmap for Jordan Brand that currently sees signature stars in ascending spaces and a footprint that covers everything from college sports to Italian shopping.

“Working in the Jordan Brand, I had the opportunity to sit at the table with Michael Jordan himself,” Mensah told Footwear News in 2021. “I was able to learn and draft off of his example. I understood that all success requires us to stretch and push beyond our comfort zones. The intensity and inspiration of being challenged to achieve something more by the GOAT himself stays with me to this day.”

In her new appointment, Mensah will be doing more than just sitting at the table with MJ — she’ll be calling the plays herself.


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