'Women in Sports' Profile: Trail Blazers' Christa Thoeresz
Thoeresz is responsible for the management of the Portland Trail Blazers' social responsibility platform.
Thoeresz is responsible for the management of the Portland Trail Blazers' social responsibility platform.
Christa Thoeresz
Christa Thoeresz

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Fourteenth in a series

The second annual “Women in Sports” career seminar, presented by the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, will be held Saturday, Jan. 24 in Portland, Ore.

Designed for college and high school females interested in pursuing sports-related careers, the seminar will take place in the Georgia Pacific Room at Memorial Coliseum.

The event will feature panelists from a broad cross-section of occupational paths, including coaching, administration, business, marketing, media, media relations, NCAA compliance, sports medicine, ticket sales, and officiating. Attendees will have an opportunity to interact with -- and seek career advice from -- a slate of experienced sports professionals in a round-table format. In addition, the seminar will include a "professional development segment" and networking reception presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Below is a profile on a panelist who will be featured at this year's event. 

Christa Thoeresz, Portland Trail Blazers
Senior Director of Social Responsibility 

Christa Thoeresz joined the Trail Blazers as Senior Director of Social Responsibility in February 2014. In her role, Thoeresz is responsible for the management of the Trail Blazers social responsibility platform: make it better. Chief among her duties is the strategy, development, planning, and execution of the Trail Blazers’ community involvement in conjunction with local nonprofit organizations, key team partners and the Trail Blazers Foundation, the primary channel for the Trail Blazers’ charitable fundraising and giving. Before joining the Trail Blazers, Thoeresz managed the Portland Timbers Community Relations Department starting in 2011. Major League Soccer recognized the work of Thoeresz, her staff and the Timbers in 2012 and 2013 with the Community Relations Department of the Year Award. Thoeresz gained international development experience in sport and social change in South Africa, Australia, and Central and South America prior to moving back to her hometown in Portland. Thoeresz holds an MBA in International Business from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, a graduate school of Middlebury College. She is also a graduate of Connecticut College with a Bachelors of Arts degree.

College attended:

  • Connecticut College (undergrad)
  • Middlebury College (grad)

College major:

  • Sociology and Psychology (undergrad
  • Business (grad)

Current position: Senior Director of Social Responsibility for the Portland Trail Blazers

Years in current position: 1

Primary job responsibilities: Oversee the Trail Blazers Foundation, community impact strategy, youth basketball, nonprofit partnerships, alumni and ambassadors, and giving.

Things I enjoy most about my job: Everything :), especially creating memories, particularly for kids and families who are going through tough times, like little Austin.

First job in the sports industry: Corporate Partnerships (Sponsorship) Coordinator at the Portland Timbers.

Previous jobs in the sports industry: Community Relations Director at the Portland Timbers (my pre-sports career was working internationally in sport and social change).

A key mentor who helped me on my career path: Hannah Jones, Julie Mancini, and my mom. I honestly have no idea where I would be or what I would be doing without their guidance, advice, and support.

Most influential person in my early professional development: Too many to count! Every boss, mentor, coach, and teacher had a significant impact on me in various ways.

How I got involved in my professional career: By following my curiosity -- whenever I could I found opportunities to work or volunteer at sport and social change nonprofits -- in the Dominican Republic, South Africa, Hungary, Australia, Colombia ... (and got side jobs to pay for airfare, food and rent) and kept saying yes to meeting new people and diving into new opportunities that sounded interesting. I was also very lucky -- I have met amazing people along the way who took chances on me, to whom I am forever grateful.

Biggest hurdle I overcame breaking into the sports industry: Coming into it late -- I got my first job at the Timbers at 28 out of business school, which isn't the typical entry point.

Key attributes that have helped shape my career path: Listening. Learning. Being able to communicate/connect with different kinds of people. Not making excuses. Having fun. Caring. Not being too scared to try.

Knowing what I know now, the one thing I would do differently in college to help me on my career path: Ask more professors, bosses, and adults their stories. How they got where they are and why. What they think matters in life. College is the end of other people defining your path -- after college you paint your own life story, so it would have been helpful to be more thoughtful about that before graduation. I led outdoor trips in Colorado for a few months and then moved to Europe to play pro soccer after I graduated because I had no idea what to do with my life. I also would have watched more TED talks, if they existed then :). I'd focus more on what I'm curious about vs. trying to figure out what I'm passionate about.

Best advice I’d give to a young female wanting to work in sports: Grind. Talk to as many people who work in sports as you can so you can really understand what it would be like and if you do in fact want to work in sports, realize you might have to move to a new city if you really want to work in sports, go to teamworkonline.com and apply for every job you can find that you're qualified for.

If I could spend the day with one person (past or present), who would it be? Nelson Mandela -- there's no one I understand less but am more impressed by. And also Jon Stewart, of course.

Favorite sports team: PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS!

Favorite athlete: Jury is still out...

Most memorable sports-related moment: Damian's buzzer beater in game six vs. Houston last season (first playoff round). I still get chills thinking about it.