Laura Gentile is the vice president and founder of espnW, ESPN’s first dedicated business built to serve women who love sports. espnW initially launched in Dec. 2010 as a blog and evolved as of April 2011 to an enhanced web site at espnW.com that aims to become the premiere site for women’s sports and provides commentary, in-depth features and storytelling on the sports world at large. espnW is now a multimedia business encompassing digital, social, television, films and events such as The espnW: Women + Sports Summit.
Prior to researching and launching espnW, Gentile served as vice president, chief of staff at ESPN. In that role, Gentile worked directly with George Bodenheimer, President, ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports, on all aspects of the company’s business. She played an instrumental role in the development of “ESPN on ABC,” which brought the ESPN brand to the ABC television platform.
Before working in the office of the president, Gentile was senior director of brand management within ESPN’s consumer marketing department. In that role she was responsible for driving the marketing direction for properties including the NFL, SportsCenter and the NHL. Gentile joined ESPN in January 2003 as director, advertising and marketing. Her first assignment was the positioning and promotion of ESPN25, ESPN’s year-long 25th anniversary campaign that celebrated sports fans and created ESPN’s first online community of fans.
Gentile honed her marketing and advertising skills as a senior partner, management supervisor at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide. Her team led the development of IBM’s e-business infrastructure campaign that earned the 2002 GRAND EFFIE for advertising effectiveness, a first in Ogilvy & Mather’s history.
Gentile was a fellow of WICT’s Betsy Magness Leadership Institute Class XVII, and was named to Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal Forty Under 40 Class of 2012 and an SBJ Game-Changer. She was appointed to the U.S. Department of State’s Council to Empower Women and Girls Through Sports, developed by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. In April 2013, Gentile received the Advertising Women of NY Changing the Game Paradigm Shift Award and WICT’s Signature Accolade for espnW’s Global Sports Mentoring Program. Gentile was recently named to the Women’s Sports Foundation Advisory Panel. In November 2014, she was one of 17 participants in the inaugural Women in Sports and Events (WISE) and Tuck Executive Education at Dartmouth’s Executive Leadership Institute, a program created specifically for the advancement and retention of female executives in the sports industry.
A graduate of Duke University in 1994 with a double major in English and political science, she earned an MBA in Marketing and Organizational Behavior from Boston College’s Carroll Graduate School of Management in 1996. While an undergraduate, Gentile garnered All-America and All-ACC honors in field hockey and was a two-time team captain. She led Duke to their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament and was named to the ACC’s 50th Anniversary field hockey team.