Dawn L. Ridley

"Carver Community Organization has had a significant impact on my life, from to Upward Bound to the Groups Scholar Program. Evansville can be a challenging place for a young black woman, especially in the late 70s and early 80s. Carver Community Organization provided access to information and programs that allowed me to learn about opportunities to further my education. I was also exposed to college campuses, cultural experiences, and influential mentors that enabled me to dream of a life beyond what was around me.

I went on to attend Indiana University, I received my MBA from Clark Atlanta University and I have been fortunate to have a great career. I have worked for organizations such as the Atlanta Braves, The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, the NFL Players Association, National Geographic Society, D.C. United and AARP. I am an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and have held positions at American University, George Washington University, Rutgers University and Johns Hopkins University. One of my greatest achievements was serving as the keynote speaker for the Carver Community Organization 60th Anniversary Celebration. I am honored to be a part of the Carver legacy."

Dawn L. Ridley is the President of Gamma Innovation Group, a consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, marketing and communications.  Ridley’s expertise includes developing and implementing marketing and brand strategies for various organizations and properties.  Ridley has also provided sponsorship strategy, sales and activation services for key clients, including the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration, Dominique Dawes, Ken Harvey, GameWear, Inc. and the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission as the founder of Ridley & Associates. Ridley has also served as a strategy and innovation consultant at AARP, where she led the development of a new strategy for Financial Products and Services line of business prior to becoming Strategy and Planning Director. Ridley is also the founder of FirstSportsJob.com, a blog dedicated to helping individuals secure their first position in the sports industry. 

Ridley previously served as Vice President, Business Development for D.C. United, the most successful team in Major League Soccer history. She was responsible for developing corporate partnerships for the Club, utilizing its unique marketing platform as a tool to help businesses reach their marketing and promotional goals.

Ridley has also served as Director, Corporate Partnerships for National Geographic Society where she led the development of internal and external partnerships and long-term corporate strategy for Mission Programs, which encompasses the non-profit activities of National Geographic Society. Ridley developed integrated partner programs to maximize National Geographic Society opportunities across all platforms and customized programs to achieve multiple business objectives, including access to exclusive content, brand awareness, prospecting, relationship building, and research innovation.

Prior to launching Ridley & Associates, she served as the Senior Vice President for NFL PLAYERS (formerly PLAYERS INC), the marketing and licensing subsidiary of the NFL Players Association.  Ridley was responsible for managing and directing NFL PLAYERS’ $750 million retail licensing business.  She supervised corporate marketing and business development efforts, and assisted in the overall operation and management of NFL PLAYERS.  NFL PLAYERS works with more than 90 licensees and sponsors and represents all 1,800 active NFL players.  Each year, the company generates more than 3,500 player marketing opportunities. Ridley was instrumental in the growth of NFL PLAYERS, a company that now generates more than $100 million annually.  

Ridley was the Vice President of Corporate Marketing and Business Development for NFL PLAYERS prior to her promotion to Senior VP, where she was responsible for maximizing sponsorship and promotional activities with NFL sponsors and NFL PLAYERS sponsors and licensees.  Ridley also served as Assistant Vice President for Trading Cards and Collectibles for over seven years.

Ridley has held sales and marketing positions with the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) and the Atlanta Braves baseball club.  Ridley’s board and committee memberships have included Women in Sports and Events, Special Olympics DC (President), Greater Washington Sports Alliance, and the Sports Card Association. She founded the Sports and Entertainment Management Association (SEMA) while at Clark Atlanta University and served as its first President. 

Ridley is currently on the faculty at Georgetown University and American University. She has served as an instructor at the Carey Business School at Johns Hopkins University, the School of Business at Rutgers University and at George Washington University.  A native of Evansville, Indiana, Ridley has a BA from Indiana University and an MBA from Clark Atlanta University.  She resides in Bowie, Maryland with her family.