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Press Release

NHL announces partnership with Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative

Includes commitment to elevate dialogue on diversity through Hockey Is For Everyone program

by NHL Public Relations @PR_NHL

NEW YORK - The National Hockey League (NHL®) and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative (BJKLI) today announced a groundbreaking partnership at the inaugural Declaring our Principles - ADVANCING EQUITY: A Summit on Inclusion, which took place this morning at Encore at Wynn Las Vegas. The Summit focused on advancing diversity and gender equality across hockey and showcased the League's continued commitment to furthering these vital efforts. 

The partnership between the NHL and BJKLI will support research, action, advocacy and collaboration with organizations that have a significant community impact. The relationship includes a commitment to continue to elevate the dialogue on diversity through Hockey is For Everyone™, an initiative led by the NHL and NHLPA, to promote inclusion on the ice, in locker rooms, boardrooms and the stands. 

The Summit featured world-class speakers from sport and other industries, including NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Billie Jean King, Founder of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, discussing the importance of women to the growth of hockey, business and society. In attendance at the Summit were senior leaders from NHL clubs and other stakeholders across the sport. 

"From the locker room to the board room, the National Hockey League understands that our future is linked to the continued development and promotion of women in all aspects of our sport. To further support the NHL's commitment to equality, we have partnered with the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative to support programs that champion our diversity and inclusion efforts," said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. "We are also thrilled to announce our first-ever Diversity and Inclusion Senior Leadership Council, and in partnership with the NHLPA, the Female Hockey Ambassador Program, both of which are aimed at increasing the participation of girls and women in hockey at the grassroots level and within the workplace."

 "We are proud of BJKLI's partnership with the NHL and our combined commitment to diversity, inclusion and above all 'Advancing Equity'," said Billie Jean King, Founder of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative. "Achieving equality is a long road but events and conversations like today pave the path forward. We are looking forward to a long-term and productive relationship with the NHL."


Diversity and Inclusion Senior Leadership Council 

The NHL also announced today the creation of the League's first-ever Diversity and Inclusion Senior Leadership Council, which will be co-chaired by Commissioner Bettman and Buffalo Sabres owner and President Kim Pegula. The Council will demonstrate the League's continued commitment to diversity and inclusion and work to bring about internal change through workplace culture initiatives and employee engagement.


Female Hockey Ambassador Program 

At the Summit, the NHL and National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) through the Industry Growth Fund announced the creation of the Female Hockey Ambassador Program. The Female Hockey Ambassador Program, which is the first initiative born out of the NHL & NHLPA Female Hockey Advisory Committee created earlier this year, will provide NHL Clubs with funding and enhanced opportunities to use Female Hockey Ambassadors to serve as community liaisons and to execute grassroots marketing events, promotions and projects with a specific focus on girls and women. Female Hockey Ambassadors will be either current or former National Team members, or elite level players, coaches, or role models. 

"The Committee is pleased that the NHL and NHLPA are implementing one of the Committee's first recommendations to help increase female participation in hockey," said Maria Dennis, Chair of the Female Hockey Advisory Committee. "The NHL/NHLPA Female Hockey Ambassador Program will enhance the opportunities for women hockey leaders to participate as ambassadors in NHL Club programs that are in place to grow the game. When young girls meet their role models and see first-hand what women can achieve in hockey, they will know there is no barrier for them participating in the sport as well."


About the NHL

The National Hockey League (NHL®), founded in 1917, consists of 31 Member Clubs, each reflecting the League's international makeup with players from more than 20 countries represented on team rosters, vying for the most cherished and historic trophy in professional sports - the Stanley Cup®. Every year, the NHL entertains more than 670 million fans in-arena and through its partners on national television and radio; more than 151 million followers - league, team and player accounts combined - across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube; and more than 100 million fans online at The League broadcasts games in more than 160 countries and territories through its rightsholders including NBC/NBCSN and the NHL Network™ in the U.S., Sportsnet and TVA in Canada, Viasat in the Nordic Region and CCTV and Tencent in China. The NHL reaches fans worldwide with games available online in every country including via its live and on-demand streaming service NHL.TV™. Fans are engaged across the League's digital assets on mobile devices via the free NHL® App; across nine social media platforms; on SiriusXM NHL Network Radio™; and on, available in eight languages and featuring unprecedented access to player and team statistics as well as every regular-season and playoff game box score dating back to the League's inception, powered by SAP. The NHL is committed to building healthy and vibrant communities through the sport of hockey by increasing youth participation and engagement; fostering positive family experiences; promoting inclusion, positive culture and leadership; and supporting sustainable community impact.


About the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative (BJKLI)

BJKLI is a non-profit endeavor founded in 2014 by social justice pioneer and sports icon Billie Jean King to promote equality and inclusion, inspire future leaders and motivate those in positions of power to challenge the status quo. Members of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative Advisory Board include: Billie Jean King, Co-founder; Ilana Kloss, Co-founder; Paul Keary, Co-founder and COO, Teneo Holdings; Pablo Salame, Former Global Co-Head, Securities Division, Goldman Sachs; Christiane Amanpour, Chief International Correspondent, CNN; Jason Collins, Former NBA Player and Civil Rights Advocate; David Furnish, Chairman, Elton John AIDS Foundation and CEO, Rocket Entertainment Group; Maritza Gomez-Montiel, Former Vice Chairman and Deputy CEO of Deloitte; Sir Elton John; Jonathan Kraft, President, The Kraft Group; Robert McCann, Chairman, UBS Group Americas; Pat Mitchell, Founder and CEO, POW! Strategies and Executive Producer of TEDWomen; Robin Roberts, Anchor, ABC's Good Morning America; Michael Strautmanis, VP of Civic Engagement for the Obama Foundation; Serena Williams Professional Athlete & Entrepreneur, Venus Williams Professional Athlete & CEO/ Founder, EleVen and V Starr Interiors.


About the National Hockey League Players' Association

The National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA), established in 1967, is a labour organization whose members are the players in the National Hockey League (NHL). The NHLPA works on behalf of the players in varied disciplines such as labour relations, product licensing, marketing, international hockey and community relations, all in furtherance of its efforts to promote its members and the game of hockey. In 1999, the NHLPA launched the Goals & Dreams fund as a way for the players to give something back to the game they love. Over the past 19 years, more than 80,000 deserving children in 34 countries have benefited from the players' donations of hockey equipment. NHLPA Goals & Dreams has donated more than $24 million to grassroots hockey programs, making it the largest program of its kind. For more information on the NHLPA, please visit  

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