Sports PR, GW Style
Shaw, BA 83, MA 85,
grew up in 15 countries
living with her father, a military attaché, and her
mother, who was a teacher, principal, and international educator.
Later Shaw served seven years as a spokesperson for the U.S.
Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, and the U.S. Mission at the United
Nations. This heavy international background isnt typical
for a vice president of communications for a National Basketball
But the background helps Shaw as a vice
president with the Utah Jazz because, in a quirk of fate,
a record 79 active international players had flooded the NBA
as of late January. Ironically, were the second
most international team in the league after San Antonio,
Shaw says. Half our team comes from overseas so I relate
very well to them.
In the elevator on our recent road
trip I was talking to Gordon Giracek, who is from Croatia
she adds. I spent a lot of time in Dubrovnik in Croatia
talked about the war, the rebuilding of Dubrovnik. Thats
an insight that I imagine very few vice presidents can offer
their players.Mehmet Okur is our new center from Turkey,
where my husband and I honeymooned and lived. Mehmet brought
his new wife here, and she doesnt speak any English,
says Shaw, who speaks three languages and a smattering of
others. I brought her into my office showed her a photo
on my desk of my husband and me at the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.
It brought a large smile to her face.
Conversations such as these are part of
Shaws effort to get good community and media exposure
for the Jazz and team owner Larry Millers sports and
entertainment group. Shaw, whose bachelors degree is
in journalism and masters degree is in international
affairs, fills her vice presidents role at breakneck
speed. She typically works 60 hours a week and another 10
hours at Jazz home games.
On the day of home games she arrives at
the teams Delta Center Arena at 8:30 a.m. She checks
messages while her staff prepares press information packets
on the evenings game. Then she visits team practice
to talk to reporters and bring them players for interviews.
After practice she works again in her office.
At the time of this interview she was promoting a concert
in the Delta Center, preparing a budget for a minor league
baseball team Miller had just purchased, and explaining to
a newspaper food editor how the arena feeds 19,000 fans each
In late afternoon she returns to the arena
floor for the teams pre-game shoot-around, assisting
as players or team representatives talk to groups of fans.
Then she eats in the press dining room, talking to and helping
During the game she answers more questions
from journalists while her staff provides scoring summaries
at the end of every quarter. Ten minutes after the game she
opens the locker room to the press, and at about 10:30 p.m.
her 14-hour day ends.
Shaw says she gets about three full days
off during the basketball season, but she manages to ski every
weekend with her husband and six-year-old twins.
On weekends when there are basketball games,
Sometimes were running late because of extra traffic
and Im changing in the car and running into the arena
at 5 oclock for a seven oclock game, she
says. The media is used to it. They joke that Ive
got the raccoon eyes [from wearing ski goggles] and Im
wearing a pony tail.
I guess I thrive on the hectic schedule,
she says. I like to have a lot of balls in the air and
make sure theyre all where they need to be
its very important to take time off, says Shaw,
who takes two weeks of vacation and sporadic days off in the
Shaw consistently has held high-level jobs.
After graduating from GW, she served from 1987 to 1994 as
a U.S. spokesperson at the embassy in Israel and the United
In 1997, she changed pace. The skiing devotee
moved to Salt Lake City to direct public relations and marketing
for two ski resorts. She got married and started a family.
I wanted to get out of the rat race, she says. I did
that for few years. I had two beautiful children then realized
I missed being in the thick of it.
She re-entered the mix from 1999 to 2002
as chief communications officer for the 2002 Winter Olympics
in Salt Lake City. She then started a communications consulting
firm before joining the Jazz in March 2004.
Shaw says GW provided great preparation
for her peripatetic career. I remember how vibrant the
school was, she says, being right near the State
Department and having the White House a few blocks away. I
remember going to class one day and learning that President
Reagan had been shot and hearing the motorcade zip by as they
rushed him to GW Hospital. You wouldnt get things like
that anywhere else in the world.
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