Cynics may see athletes who do charity work as being out for their own gain; their actions may appear to be done solely to attract positive publicity.
WNBA players are leading by example and taking on challenging issues that impact their communities, leading an all-female sport league by example.
Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks credits her Stanford education with equipping her for leadership both on and off of the basketball court. Ogwumike has been an integral force in her local community throughout this season and earned the WNBPA Community Assist award this year as a result.
Ogwumike’s primary focus as an executive committee member of the WNBA Union has been salary equity. Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement that she helped negotiate, which raised maximum annual salary to $215,000 per year and gives equal share of revenue among players through league marketing agreements, additional incentives and mid-season tournament cash prizes; it also introduced dedicated nursing areas in arenas, childcare stipends and housing assistance assistance for players WNBA picks.
Nneka Ogwumike champions women’s equality and social justice issues, but wants the WNBA to do even more for its players and communities. She recognizes advocacy as being especially vital during today’s political environment when more people than ever before are listening in.
Layshia Clarendon has been an All-American and an All-America Honorable Mention while at Cal, playing 239 career games – with 127 starts! Clarendon entered the WNBA after nine years as she was selected ninth overall in 2013.
Clarendon made history during the 2020 bubble season as the first openly trans and nonbinary professional athlete to opt for top surgery voluntarily and know it could potentially cost them their career, yet were supported by both their league and players’ association through this uncharted path.
Clarendon found a second home after being released by the New York Liberty; joining Minnesota Lynx two weeks into 2021 and quickly excelling. Additionally, she is proud of being part of Team USA’s gold medal-winning squad at 2018 FIBA World Championships and uses both pronouns (they/her and they/hers). Clarendon embraces diversity through sport and is happy to be the face of an inclusive sport like basketball.
Atlanta Aces center A’ja Wilson knows first-hand the power of community involvement. Born and raised in Hopkins, South Carolina, Wilson already boasts several sponsorship deals (Dick’s Sporting Goods and Mountain Dew). Yet she continues to push herself for more.
Wilson has an undeniable zest for life and basketball that makes her unstoppable on the court, while off it she works tirelessly to use her platform for positive change – such as helping children with dyslexia through her foundation or combatting bullying.
Wilson celebrated her 2020 WNBA MVP award by FaceTiming her parents, Eva and Roscoe Wilson. It was an emotional moment, considering all she had overcome to reach this point, before going back to work to prepare for Team USA in 2021 Olympic Games.
Elizabeth Williams aims to open up scoring opportunities for her teammates like an aggressive point guard driving into tight paint, leading her Atlanta Dream team in social justice initiatives this season. Williams led an effective effort among her peers against one of the league’s owners – US Senator Kelly Loeffler – for criticizing Black Lives Matter and #SayHerName, and led players against any attempts made by his administration against these causes.
During August, she participated in Clay Counseling Foundation’s back-to school night and provided T-shirts as part of their services for counseling services, restorative justice programs, anger management classes and parenting education to youth in need. Additionally, she joined her Liberty teammates and staff in serving dinner to over 115 unhoused NYC residents at Bowery Mission.
Moore supports numerous organizations such as Athletes for Impact and the Win with Justice campaign that works to promote an equitable criminal justice system. She was honored this month by State Farm with their WNBA Cares Community Assist Award for her tireless service to her community.