Donna Orender

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Donna Orender
Orender, Donna (2007).jpg
Donna Orender (center) in 2007
2nd President of the WNBA
Preceded by Val Ackerman
Succeeded by Laurel J. Richie
Personal details
Nationality American
Spouse(s) M.G. Orender
Children 4
Alma mater Queens College, City University of New York
Adelphi University

Donna Orender is a sports executive and a former collegiate and professional basketball player. She was formerly president of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). She grew up on Long Island, New York, and was a five-sport athlete in high school, lettering in basketball, field hockey, volleyball, softball, and tennis. She is married to M. G. Orender and has four children: Zachary, Jacob, Morgan, and Colleen.

Early and college years[edit]

Orender is Jewish, and is a native New Yorker.[1][2] She graduated from Queens College, City University of New York in 1978 with a degree in psychology, followed by graduate studies in social work at Adelphi University. While at Queens College she was an All-American basketball player.[2]


Under the name Donna Geils, Orender played three seasons in the Women's Pro Basketball League (WBL), where she was an All-Star, and one of only 20 women to play in all three seasons of the league. During that time, she played for the New York Stars (1978–79), New Jersey Gems (1979–80), and Chicago Hustle (1980–81).[3] In 1985, she played for the U.S. Maccabiah Team. Orender's WBL career is featured in the book Mad Seasons: The Story of the First Women's Basketball League, 1978–1981, by Karra Porter (University of Nebraska Press, 2006).

Her television production career began as a production assistant at ABC Sports and continued at the Sports Channel. Orender also owned her own production company, Primo Donna Productions.[citation needed]

She spent 17 years with the PGA Tour and became the senior vice president of Strategic Development in the Office of the Commissioner in 2001. Orender was the original producer of Inside the PGA Tour. She helped negotiate television contracts that quadrupled the Tiger Woods phenomenon to $800 million.[citation needed]

In February 2005, Orender was named the new WNBA president, succeeding Val Ackerman.

In December 2005, Fox Sports Network named Orender as the seventh-most-powerful women in sports behind names like Danica Patrick and Sheila Johnson, owner of BET.[citation needed]

On December 3, 2010, it was announced that Orender would be stepping down from her post effective December 31, 2010. NBA Vice President Chris Granger was tabbed to replace her on an interim basis until Laurel Richie was the named the new president.


In her short tenure, Orender was recognized as having a strong focus in branding, partnership establishments and marketing via new media.[citation needed]

Halls of Fame[edit]

Orender was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2006, and elected to the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame's induction class of 2015.[4][5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "For ex-WNBA chief Donna Orender, NBA breakthrough for women a show of respect". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. August 14, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b " Donna Orender". 
  3. ^ Geils, Donna Chait (November 15, 1981). "MAKING A DREAM COME TRUE, AND WATCHING IT FADE AWAY". The New York Times. Retrieved July 30, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 11, 2014. Retrieved 2015-02-16. 
  5. ^ "Late S.F. boxing champ to be enshrined".