Before Stender’s life in the business world, she was a Division I student athlete at the University of Richmond, where she played basketball for the Spiders and was elected as a co-captain for three years. After college graduation, Stender worked at Norfolk Academy, a college preparatory school where she was promoted to Athletic Director after just one year of teaching. She coached two varsity sports while directing the school’s teaching/coaching staff and managing the the athletic department budget. Her efforts at Norfolk garnered widespread support from parents and administrators as she effected permanent change to the curricula that increased opportunities for girls to participate in athletics.
Stender decided to take her team-building experience into the business world and went back to school at the University of Virginia to get her Master’s degree in business. She has spoken about her vision for the Sky, “We call it ‘fan-centric.’ Our fans will be at the core of everything that this team will do and everything that it will stand for. We are committed to delivering to Chicago a WNBA experience that will excite, invigorate, and motivate our fans from the competition on the court to the total Pavilion experience. It will then extend out into the communities, the neighborhoods and the schools serving as a powerful source of inspiration to dream, to believe and to achieve.”
The Virginia native considers herself a real Chicagoan. She lives in the DePaul neighborhood in Chicago with her two school-aged children and even has influenced her parents to move here. Not that she’s had much free time in the last year, but if she did she would be out running and marathon training and catching up on her reading.