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Michele Roberts

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Born in 1956, Michele A. Roberts has blazed an incredible trail of sports leadership in the United States. She was the first woman executive director of the National Basketball Players Association Union (NBPA) and the first woman to hold such a pivotal position in a major professional sports union in North America.

Roberts grew up in a New York City South Bronx housing project. Roberts earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wesleyan University in 1977 and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Law in 1980. She launched her legal career in 1980, working as a public defender in Washington, DC, where she served for eight years. Roberts advanced to the role of Chief of The Trial Division before transitioning to work in private law firms, including Akin Gump (2004 – 2011) and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, and Flom in 2011.

Taking the helm at NBPA in July 2014, Roberts’s leadership style garnered respect and appreciation from executive staff and players. Under Roberts’s guidance, significant changes were made, including the relocation of NBPA offices to a luxury facility in Manhattan. A champion of player welfare, Roberts implemented mental health programs for the league, as well as life insurance benefits for retired players. Roberts guided the organization through the COVID-19 pandemic and also advocated for the implementation of racial justice initiatives within the league.

Retiring in 2022, she was replaced by Tamika Tremaglio, who took the reigns of a union strengthened by Roberts’s visionary leadership.

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