SUNRISE, Fla. - Florida Panthers and BB&T Center Owner and Governor Vincent J. Viola has been recognized for his leadership in diversity advocacy by Sports Business Journal's 'All In: Leaders in Diversity and Inclusive Hiring' issue, out today.
SBJ, the nation's leading sports industry publication, recognized Mr. Viola among top sports industry figures with a strong track record of advancing diversity and inclusivity through their actions in hiring, promoting, and advancing the sports business careers of people of color, women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Mr. Viola, who sits on the NHL's Executive Inclusion Council, was featured alongside others in the sports industry making an impact through their advocacy, leadership, and consequential hires including Hornets Sports & Entertainment Chairman Michael Jordan and President & Vice Chairman Fred Whitfield; San Antonio Spurs Head Coach & President Gregg Popovich; Los Angeles Kings President Luc Robitaille and COO Kelly Cheeseman; and fellow South Florida leaders, Miami Marlins Co-Owner and CEO Derek Jeter; Miami Dolphins Chairman Stephen Ross and Vice Chairman, CEO & President Tom Garfinkel; Miami Heat President Eric Woolworth, and others.
According to Sports Business Journal: "These are the individuals whose names came up again and again in our months of research and outreach to those working in the diversity, equity and inclusion space. Their efforts are changing what sports properties look like and how they conduct business."
"Mr. Viola believes that a diverse organization is a strong organization," said Florida Panthers President and CEO Matthew Caldwell. "Through his advocacy for inclusivity and representation both here at the Panthers and within our local community, he continues to be a key figure in moving diversity forward in the sport of hockey, and I couldn't be more proud to run this organization under his vision and leadership."
Under Mr. Viola's leadership, diversity continues to be a core focus for the Panthers, both on an internal and team level, and from a community standpoint. This spring, the Florida Panthers Foundation will launch a new Youth Hockey Scholarship Program in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Broward County aimed at increasing diverse representation within the sport of hockey by providing talented youth with the access, training, practice, and mentorship needed to excel both on and off the ice.
The Florida Panthers Foundation Youth Hockey Scholarship Program will provide 10 children from the Boys & Girls Club with free skating lessons, hockey training, equipment, ice practice, league fees, and more, for 10 years. Florida Panthers alum and Panthers IceDen Hockey Director Peter Worrell and Florida Panthers Assistant General Manager Brett Peterson have been key in shaping the Youth Hockey Scholarship Program, which will also include an ongoing series of hockey clinics with special VIP guests including Panthers players and local community & business leaders.
Since Mr. Viola's purchase of the club in 2013, the Florida Panthers Foundation has provided free educational programming to more than 13,000 students and 160 local public schools,and contributed more than $5 million to local 501 (c)(3) organizations dedicated to serving youth in minority communities.
Sports Business Journal sits at the epicenter of the sports industry. SBJ provides the news, the networking, and the data to equip the most powerful executives in sports business to make more informed decisions, deals, and partnerships. SBJ's award-winning media content is delivered via multiple media platforms, unparalleled networking opportunities through its hallmark events and awards and market-leading data.