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Nobody knows you better than you

Nobody sees through your lens or stands in your shoes. You need to do what’s best for yourself.
  • Leah Payne ’08
  • Erica and Leah Payne

“If I had a time machine and could go back to high school, I would tell the younger Leah to put yourself out there more, try new things, and trust yourself when you know what’s right for you,” shares Leah. “Remember, nobody knows you better than you. Nobody sees through your lens or stands in your shoes. You need to do what’s best for yourself.”

The oldest of three children, Leah was raised in Danville, CA, and the first of her family to attend private school. “Middle school was awful, and I needed a change from large public schools. I wanted a high school with strong academics and athletics,” shares Leah. “I loved that Carondelet was a melting pot with students from all over the Bay Area. It allowed me to hear different perspectives and experiences from the eyes of your classmates, teammates, and teachers outside of your own town,” smiles Leah. “Going to Carondelet helped me find my voice and build confidence. I gained a real sense of community and at that age, it was very important to me.”

Leah was a three year varsity basketball player, as well as club soccer player since she was very young. A standout high school athlete, she received a soccer scholarship to the University of Texas. A four year letter winner and a cornerstone of the team’s defense, Leah enjoyed being a collegiate athlete. She graduated with a degree in Corporate Communications and continued her connection to sports taking a job at a local broadcast network. “My first job was at CSN Houston. CSN allowed me to blend my communications background and stay connected to the sports world,” shares Leah, “but it wasn’t all a slam dunk.” The broadcast industry is known for volatility and one year after joining CSN Houston, they went bankrupt.” Leah shares, “it’s shocking as a newer employee to hear the news and watch your co-workers being let go, but thankfully I was selected to continue working there.”

After two more acquisitions and eight years being in Texas, she was ready to move back to CA. “A friend told me about a marketing job at a medical technology company in San Jose, CA and I applied and got the job,” said Leah. “Although it wasn’t in the sports industry, it was a good stepping stone as I gained a few years of management and leadership experience before feeling the desire to get back into sports.” Leah jumped ship and joined Octagon, the world’s largest sports consulting practice as an Account Manager. “Octagon is a great company and I was responsible for Kaiser Permanente’s sponsorships and naming agreements with the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings. The Warriors and Kings are tremendous organizations and I learned a lot about how professional basketball teams operate,” shares Leah.

The impact of George Floyd’s death in May 2020 gave Leah the push she needed to get involved in her community to address diversity, equity, and inclusion issues. She witnessed the lack of women in the sports industry and joined the San Francisco Chapter of WISE (Women in Sports and Events). Their mission is to empower women in the business of sports with the tools to reach their career goals. “I knew I could contribute in a meaningful way to help other women in their careers in the sports industry,” said Leah.

Recently, she accepted a position as Director of Partnership Marketing at the Phoenix Suns. “Yes, I moved again, but it was an incredible opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. The Suns are a great organization with a phenomenal team, and I feel very lucky to be part of this organization,” said Leah.

Her fondest high school memories? “Playing basketball with my sister senior year. We hadn’t been close due to the difference in age and all of our individual sports commitments, but when she came to Carondelet her freshman year and made the varsity team, everything changed. Our relationship solidified, and we became best friends and still are today!” “Also, my group of friends from Carondelet. They are amazing, and I am so thankful we are still so close. We meet every Christmas for brunch, and it’s like no time has gone by—and I love that.”



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