Joleen Cacciatore Miller

Joleen Cacciatore Miller
Executive Director of the Gainesville Sports Commission

Describe your role as the Executive Director of the Gainesville Sports Commission.

As executive director of the private not-for-profit Gainesville Sports Commission, I bid on, host and help others host a variety of sporting events within Alachua County to create economic impact by direct visitor spending and hotel stays. I manage all daily activities of the Commission, work with local hotels, businesses, sports organizations and local government. As the sports marketing branch of Alachua County, I market to national sports governing bodies and event owners to attracted sporting events into the community. After events, we track and report total hotel stays, out of county visitors and direct economic impact from these events. Working for a private not-for-profit sports commission in a small to mid-market town is unique and rewarding as I get to see firsthand the benefit of sports and sports tourism brings to our community.

Have you always had an interest in sports?

As long as I can remember, I was participating in sports. Growing up with an older brother and active parents, who were both college athletes, sports have always played a big part in my life. Whether it was trying to keep up with my older brother, or traveling to soccer tournaments or volleyball matches, I’ve always enjoyed the competition, teamwork and lifelong friendships that playing sports provides. I was also lucky enough to get volleyball to pay for my undergraduate degree at Florida Southern College. Go MOCS. After college, sports still play a large part in my life not only through work but as an avid fan and participant in volleyball, golf, running and softball.

Describe your leadership style. How do you lead and how do you tackle challenges?

I think playing sports for most of my life has helped to shape my leadership style. I try to lead by example with a professional and positive demeanor in order to nurture a team-like atmosphere. I think making effective communication and teamwork priorities can help tackle challenges that we may come across.

As a woman in a sports field, have you ever struggled with asserting yourself and gaining respect as a leader from your peers?

Yes, starting out in my career directly out of college in the sports field and in a leadership position, I encountered several challenges. I felt like had to prove myself, work harder and excel in order to gain the respect of my peers. I made it my goal to always act professional and to be positive. Nobody can take away my hard work and dedication and always having strong female friendships, support system and mentors have helped me get through difficult times.

What do you think your strengths are and how did you identify them?

Being detail oriented is definitely a well-needed strength. With managing events, even the most minor of details can help create a great sporting experience for the participants and event owners. Being detail oriented and willing to help your event team perfect these details ensures that even difficult challenges can be managed. It’s also important to communicate effectively to ensure that everyone completely understands what is expected.

How have your setbacks and weaknesses made you stronger?

Setbacks and weaknesses can highlight areas to improve on and focus on for future improvement. From these highlights, I’ve learned that you can’t be too prepared, communicate too much or have too much attention to detail when it comes to sports event management. With that said, understanding that events can be chaotic, not every detail is going to get be perfectly executed all the time no matter how well planned. I learned not to get too distracted by minor setbacks that I lose sight of the main goal and that is having a successful event.

How do you define what it means to be a fierce woman?

Be confident in what you know, what you do for your organization and know your worth!