Donna Orender

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Donna Geils 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
Born (1957-02-14) February 14, 1957 (age 61)
Long Island, New York
Nationality American
Spouse(s) M.G. Orender
Children 4
Alma mater Queens College, City University of New York
Adelphi University
Known for collegiate and professional basketball player; senior vice president of the PGA; president of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA)

Donna Geils Orender (born February 14, 1957)[1] is a sports executive and a former collegiate and professional All Star basketball player. She was formerly president of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), and senior vice president of the PGA.

Early and personal life[edit]

Orender was born in Long Island, New York, grew up in Queens, New York, and in Elmont, New York on Long Island, and is Jewish.[2][3][4][5] She belonged to a Conservative synagogue (the Elmont Jewish Center).[6][7][8] She attended and played basketball for Elmont High School, in Elmont, New York, and was a five-sport athlete in high school, also lettering in field hockey, volleyball, softball, and tennis.[9] 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.[10] While at Queens College she was an All-American basketball player.[8]

In 1990, she moved from New York to Jacksonville Beach, Florida.[9][11] She is married to M. G. Orender and has four children: Zachary, Jacob, Morgan, and Colleen.[12] Her twin sons attended the Martin J. Gottlieb School, a Solomon Schechter school in Jacksonville, and participated in the 2013 Maccabiah Games.[9][11] She is a member of the Jacksonville Jewish Center.[9]


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).[13] 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). She competed with Team USA on the Women’s Basketball Team at the 1985 Maccabiah Games in Israel.[12]

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.

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.[14][15]

See also[edit]