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Storm Q&A: Karen Bryant

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Kevin Pelton, storm.wnba.com | March 5, 2008
In the wake of today's announcement that the Storm has promoted Karen Bryant from chief operating officer to CEO, storm.wnba.com caught up with Bryant to get her reaction and find out how the new position will change her role with the Storm.

storm.wnba.com: What's your feeling about being recognized for your work by the Storm's new ownership group, Force 10 Hoops L.L.C., for your work?
Bryant: It's great. I feel mostly just really grateful to continue to have the chance to do what I love to do. It's bolstered by the chance to work on behalf of four great women, three of whom I've known for a long time and Ginny (Gilder) in a very short amount of time have gotten to know really well. They are just the ideal owners in the WNBA, so to have a chance to continue to work on behalf of our fans and now on behalf of this ownership group is really a chance I'm grateful for.

This will be the fourth position you've held with the Storm: Senior Director of Operations, Vice President of Operations, COO and now CEO, right?
Yeah, that's correct.

How has your role changed with those position changes?
For the most part my job has not changed, but it has expanded and grown as the organization has grown. As our fanbase has gotten bigger, as the expectations have gotten bigger, I've been in a position to continue to expand my experiences and my responsibility as the organization has expanded. It's one of those things where I have done my best to continue to advocate on behalf of our fans and do everything I can from my position to grow the organization with a tremendous amount of help and support from hundreds of people. It truly is just one of those stories where I worked hard and things have worked out. Because of the great fortune of the franchise and some of the great people that we've had not only work in the front office but the players that have worn our uniform, I really feel like a lot of the credit goes to a lot of people.

Can you describe what it's like to have been linked with the franchise since, essentially, day one?
It's hard. I often have people comment on that. I'm humbled by that and honored that I'm positioned side-by-side with the Storm and all the success the organization has had. The reality is that while I might be the face of the business side of the organization, there are hundreds if not thousands who have contributed significantly to how this franchise has evolved. Obviously, the championship in 2004 significantly elevated the profile of the organization and almost immediately expanded the level of interest across our region for the franchise. It's just been an awesome ride. Having grown up in this town and played college ball, then having had the opportunity to bring the ABL franchise to Seattle and then have that opportunity sort of ripped out from under me literally. And then to have a second chance that was offered to me by the Ackerley family to come and help bring a WNBA franchise back to Seattle ... it's just been an incredible ride. And I think the chapter that we're embarking on now with Force 10 at the helm is going to be, I think, one of the most exciting.

What kind of momentum are you seeing with the Storm, both off the floor with the new ownership group and on the floor with the additions of Swin Cash and Sheryl Swoopes?
I'm as excited as I've ever been. The last nine, 10 years of working at this has been a grind and I've sacrificed a lot personally but wouldn't trade it for anything. The reality is what's going on right now around our franchise and around our community when you hear the word Storm is a buzz like none other I've seen. I'm as excited as I've ever been and really looking forward to this summer, when I really feel like the organization has got a tipping point in its future. I'm just really excited that the players, the owners, the staff who works so hard on behalf of the team every day, I'm really looking forward to the opportunity for all of us to come together this summer and really enjoy the ride.

Going forward, how will your job change in this new position?
For the most part, my responsibilities will stay the same. With a local ownership group who is going to be as involved as Force 10 is going to be - and as we want them to be - the reality is that's an added responsibility I haven't had. With both Clay Bennett's group and the Howard Schultz group, there was somewhat of an arms' length distance between the Storm and the direct chairperson of those ownership groups. With Anne (Levinson) and Ginny and Dawn (Trudeau) and Lisa (Brummel), they intend to be very supportive and involved, which is great for the franchise. I think that's a credit to them and their generosity. Having a local ownership group that's as visible and as engaged as they are just adds another layer to what I do. But the reality is we're going to have a lot of great things to report back to our ownership group and that makes my job in that regard a lot easier.