Founding President, WNBA and Adjunct Professor, Columbia University
Val Ackerman has spent more than 20 years as an executive in the sport of basketball. She was the founding president of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) from 1996-2005 and president of USA Basketball from 2005-08. She currently serves as the U.S. representative to the international basketball federation (FIBA).
Named WNBA President on August 7, 1996, Ackerman presided over the first WNBA game on June 21, 1997, when the league debuted with eight teams. The launch of the WNBA and its development into the preeminent women’s sports organization earned Ackerman accolades across the sports landscape. The league, which currently features 14 teams, averaged more than 9,300 fans per game during Ackerman’s eight-year tenure.
Ackerman joined the NBA in 1988 as a staff attorney and later served as special assistant to NBA Commissioner David Stern and director and vice president of business affairs. She continues to serve on the board of directors of USA Basketball, as well as on the board of governors of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the executive committee for the University of Virginia's current $3 billion capital campaign, and the board of directors for the Virginia Athletics Foundation. She is also an adjunct professor in the graduate sports management program at Columbia University.
A 1981 graduate of the University of Virginia, Ackerman was a four-year starter for the women’s basketball team and a two-time Academic All-America player. She played professional basketball in France before graduating from the University of California at Los Angeles’ School of Law in 1985, and she worked for two years as an associate at the New York law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.