December 15, 2020 – Turnkey Search, a subsidiary of Turnkey Sports & Entertainment, has placed Esu Ma’at as the new chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer of the Orlando Magic. This becomes the ninth NBA team to add a vice president-level position or higher dedicated to addressing diversity. “Turnkey Search is honored to help the Orlando Magic advance equity because it’s in our DNA,” said chairman and CEO Len Perna. “Not only are we filling many of these roles across sports, like recently at the USOPC for our Olympic program, but all of our non-DEI searches are also seeing increased levels of diverse candidates and hires.”
“We are thrilled to welcome someone of Esu’s stature and expertise to the Magic family,” said Alex Martins, CEO of the Orlando Magic. “As our organization works towards making change in the realm of social justice and equality, we look to his vast knowledge to lead us in that direction. Ma’at was identified and recruited as part of a comprehensive, inclusive, nationwide search conducted by the Orlando Magic and Turnkey Search, a top executive search/talent recruitment firm in sports, entertainment and media.”
“The clear vision of the Orlando Magic organizational goals and objectives around equity, a structure of support around the CDO, and direct buy-in from the most senior person in the organization, the CEO, made this role incredibly attractive in the market,” said Kelly Lewis, Turnkey’s director of diversity. “We were able to connect and engage with some of the nation’s best talent, all because the organization is ready to do the hard work.”
Mr. Ma’at previously created and led the United States Tennis Association eastern diversity and inclusion department. He serves as an advisory board member for the All-In Diversity Project, a London-based non-profit organization focused on establishing diversity and inclusion standards for companies around the world. Mr. Ma’at holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a master’s degree in sports management from Columbia University. He also studied diversity and inclusion through the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
In his new role with the Orlando Magic, Mr. Ma’at will focus on integrating diversity, equity and inclusion principles with the Magic’s business goals, the team’s values and key performance indicators. He will focus on attracting, engaging and retaining diverse talent and making sure that talent is both heard and has a chance to advance.
Diversity in Sports
“Like many industries, professional sports are struggling with racial and gender representation within senior administration,” said Ms. Lewis. “While there is data tracking, like the TIDES Sports Report of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, individuals need to look beyond the overall letters and dive deeper to understand our industry’s areas of opportunities. Excluding the CEO/president title –which is extremely homogeneous—data found from the 2020 TIDES report shows about 1,809 VP and above positions available at the NBA, NFL, MLS and MLB team level.”
Turnkey Search Assists the Atlantic Coast Conference in Finding New Commissioner
Turnkey Search has assisted the Atlantic Coast Conference in the selection of James J. Phillips, the Combe Family vice president for athletics & recreation at Northwestern University, as its next commissioner.
The ACC conducted a comprehensive, inclusive nationwide search process facilitated by Turnkey Search. Turnkey spoke with stakeholders across the ACC in developing the job description, and assembled a diverse array of candidates across sports, education, business and government.
“Jim is one of the most talented athletic administrators in the country and uniquely qualified to successfully and seamlessly take over the helm of the ACC,” says ACC Board Chair Kent Syverud (Syracuse University). “Over the course of nearly 13 years, Jim has elevated and cemented Northwestern’s position as an outstanding Power 5 athletics program. Northwestern’s ascension in the world of intercollegiate athletics is a testament to Jim’s vision, leadership and foundational dedication to the success of student athletes. The ACC is fortunate to have someone of Jim’s caliber and integrity lead the conference at this pivotal moment in intercollegiate athletics.”
“Of that, roughly 80 percent are held by individuals who identify as white male,” Ms. Lewis said. “Turnkey Search is actively striving to change the tide on that number. We are diving deeper into historically underestimated communities, whether that is engaging with Women in Sports and Entertainment, Black Sports Professional organizations, Prospanica, or simply networking. Our goal is to take a proactive approach to the identification and magnification of talent stemming from underrepresented groups.”
“Advancing diversity and inclusion in sports, entertainment and media doesn’t start within the framework of any one search,” said Ms. Lewis. “It means constantly building bridges to historically under-represented groups. My job is to continually build and strengthen relationships with communities that are often untapped to improve access to this industry. It’s a win-win and something I’m extremely passionate about.”
Serving Sports, Entertainment and Media Enterprises
Founded in 1996, Turnkey Search is a specialized talent recruitment/executive search firm focused on recruiting C-level, senior-level and mid-management-level talent for sports, entertainment and media enterprises. Over the past 20-plus years, Turnkey Search has filled more than 1,000 positions across these three sectors. The search firm helps teams, leagues, stadiums, arenas, theaters, college athletic departments, events, sponsors, agencies, media companies, private equity firms and other clients identify, recruit and hire top management talent.
Turnkey’s clients include the University of Alabama, the Atlanta Hawks, CitiGroup, the University of Denver, Louisiana State University, the University of Michigan, the Milwaukee Brewers, the University of Mississippi, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the University of Nebraska, the Oakland Raiders, Richard Childress Racing, RocNation, Rutgers University, the Tampa Bay Lightning, Temple University, Ticketmaster, Townsquare Media, the United Center, VStar Entertainment Group and the Washington Nationals.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media