After all, Suggs—whose specialty was the breaststroke— competed in the IM for Florida A&M University’s swim team. She brings a mix of experience to the position. A native of Tallahassee (where the foundation is based), Suggs’ resume includes time with Brown & Brown Insurance, Joe Robbie/Pro Player Stadium and the Marriott Corporation. Most recently, Suggs worked in a variety of roles at her alma mater since 2009, including as FAMU’s senior associate athletics director for external affairs and senior woman administrator. Suggs knows Florida is no stranger to major sporting events—the sports tourism industry is worth $57 billion to the state’s economy. She views her job as a bridge between Florida’s 29 sports commissions, professional sports associations, college departments and amateur athletic organizations. If all goes as expected, Suggs and the Florida Sports Foundation will be swimming in major sporting events for years to come. She discusses the opportunity with Connect Sports.
How would you describe Florida Sports Foundation’s role?
We represent the state as a whole. As a central office, we support our 29 sports commissions, professional sports teams and intercollegiate groups. We’re able to be a data collection resource and help broaden sports business beyond state lines to bring more tournaments, events and even organizations’ offices here.
What are your initial goals?
I want to enhance the foundation’s presence and let people know what we do, and show our commitment to job growth and economic sustainability through sports. I'll be going on a listening tour to visit all of our partners and hear the successes and challenges from the foundation’s first 25 years.
What is the key to being a good leader?
You have to make sure you can support your decisions and be able to show you are a resource while managing a team. And make sure you continue to learn—never be too smart that you can’t learn anything else.
What role, if any, does being a woman play in your leadership position in the sports industry?
I don’t look at it from a gender-specific standpoint, but I do recognize the reality is that “male-dominated industry” is a real term. Sitting at the table, I am representing young women coming up in the industry and the women who came before me. I want to represent them in the appropriate manner, which means being well prepared. My advice to other women is to prepare yourself for when your opportunity does come.