CHICAGO (Nov. 15, 2023) — The Chicago Red Stars have appointed sports executive and attorney Karen Leetzow as the club's new president.
Leetzow joins the Red Stars after serving as the chief legal officer of the U.S. Soccer Federation, where she oversaw the independent investigation into abuse and sexual misconduct in women's soccer and also helped lead the successful negotiations for an agreement to ensure equal pay for the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team.
"Karen is a committed advocate for women in sports and her work with the U.S. Soccer Federation leadership team to create a new culture is beyond compare," said Laura Ricketts, Chicago Red Stars principal owner. "In her distinguished career she has gone beyond barriers and blazed a path for women to have a seat at the table of the C-suite of major sports enterprises and she has assured our athletes are protected and have a level playing field."
Before assuming the top legal role at U.S. Soccer, Leetzow was the first woman to serve as NASCAR's general counsel.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to join Laura Ricketts and her group of accomplished women business and civic leaders in changing the culture at the Chicago Red Stars and to build a championship organization on and off the pitch," said Leetzow. "I look forward to working with every team member in the business and technical staff of the Red Stars to achieve Laura's goal of creating a championship culture of excellence and accountability."
Leetzow played a pivotal role in leading U.S. Soccer through a definitive period of change while fostering an inclusive environment that positively impacted not just the Federation but soccer at every level.
In her role at U.S. Soccer, Leetzow helped U.S. Soccer leadership select former U.S. Justice Department official Sally Q. Yates to conduct the independent investigation into women's soccer. Leetzow oversaw the Yates investigation and the resulting report found abusive behavior towards athletes endemic in women's soccer, beginning in the youth game. The findings were shared publicly and the groundbreaking Yates investigation ultimately resulted in major changes, including some coaching dismissals and the U.S. Soccer Federation launching numerous safety reforms throughout youth and women's soccer. The organization also called on Congress to strengthen the Center for Safesport, a federal office designed to protect young athletes.
Leetzow also took over the U.S. National Soccer teams' collective bargaining negotiations which, prior to her involvement, turned into an acrimonious fight. Leetzow and U.S. Soccer successfully achieved a deal that provided equal pay for U.S. National Women's Soccer and parity in the agreements for men and women players, including family-friendly provisions.
U.S. Soccer CEO JT Batson said, "Karen has been an invaluable colleague and everyone at U.S. Soccer congratulates her on this well-deserved opportunity. Her leadership, strategic vision, and commitment to inclusivity will be felt throughout the Red Stars and the NWSL. We look forward to witnessing her continued success in the next chapter of her career."
"It is an honor to work with Laura and the league to have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our athletes, team associates and fans," said Leetzow, who begins Dec. 4.