Dr. Allison Barber is a seasoned marketing and communications executive who has recently embarked on a whole new journey in sports. She has had an incredible career including running communications programs for the White House and Department of Defense — but this new role as the Indiana Fever’s President and Chief Operating Officer brings her back to her roots as an Indianapolis native and long-time basketball fan. Even her new LinkedIn profile picture pays homage to her favorite sport and new career with a snapshot of her spinning a basketball on her finger in front of a large Indiana Fever logo, the Women’s National Basketball Association team she now calls home.
“It took a few tries to get that photo,” she told me when we sat down to talk about her new role. Though never a professional athlete, basketball has played a special role in her life.
“Basketball is what we do in this state,” she remarks about Indiana's devotion to the game. “You can play basketball year-round — even in the snow. I remember playing basketball in my snowsuit and coming into the house with dirt all over it, my mom giving me this annoyed look.”
Our conversation comes on the heels of Salesforce’s recent sponsorship of the WNBA Indiana Fever and at the same time, she is settling into her new role.
Dr. Barber’s career spans from grade school teacher to university professor, to communications strategist for the White House and the United States Department of Defense, to her most recent role as the first Chancellor and Chief Fundraiser for Western Governor’s University (WGU) Indiana.
What brought her to The Fever?
You don't always need to pick a path. You should say ‘yes’ to learning new things, and be open to taking on new careers.” Reflecting on her many career changes she poses the questions, “Why not learn a new industry? Why not adapt to new technology? Why not meet new team members? Why not work to impact a new group of individuals?”
When she was approached to take on her new role with the Fever, she did exactly that: she said, “Yes.”
Her excitement about working with the Fever is palpable. Not only is she a fan of the team and always impressed by the sheer skill of the athletes and the strength of the WNBA as an organization, she's also most looking forward to making a positive impact in Indiana by inspiring more young women and children to play sports.
"We have a responsibility to our community,” she says, referring to the Fever organization as a whole. “Ninety-four percent of women in executive positions played sports growing up. I want to get more young girls playing sports to help build their confidence.”
In addition to instilling confidence in young women through sports, she wants to help decrease the childhood obesity rate — all while growing the Indiana Fever fan base in all 92 counties of the state.
The Salesforce-Fever sponsorship just so happens to align with each organization's 20th birthdays. The Fever is about to commence their 20th season in May and, at Salesforce, we celebrated our Salesforce Ohana Culture trail on Trailhead.