Dallas Mavericks

Mavericks CEO Cynthia Marshall is a slam-dunk for our city and beyond

by FWD>DFW | February 25, 2019

Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynthia “Cynt” Marshall is nothing short of a courtside trailblazer for our city and beyond. Not only did she make history as the first black woman to be named CEO of an NBA team, she stepped into the role while the organization was embroiled in controversy — in effect, tackling a massive charge to change the Mavs’ corporate culture. one that had been overrun with rampant reports of predatory sexual behavior and misogyny.

Now that she’s been at her post for a year, TODAY’s Craig Melvin sat down for an intimate chat with Marshall to talk about the Mavs and the positive changes she has brought about in just one year on the job.

To resolve the “locker room culture” that plagued the organization — brought to light by a particular Sports Illustrated expose last year — Marshall talked to female employees at the organization from day one — and before even taking the job. She discovered a culture and environment that wasn’t exactly friendly to women or people of color in terms of upward mobility.

To that end, she’s since increased the number of women in management to nearly 50 percent over the last year while instilling a healthier, more positive workplace that celebrates equality. She hopes by bringing more diversity, especially with the leadership team, she has brought about lasting change.

“I love basketball,” she says. “And if you have a diverse group of people around the table, you just make better decisions.”  

But, Marshall’s story goes way beyond her good work at the Mavs.

She also chatted with Melvin about her childhood, marriage, and family — and the legacy she hopes to leave.

Marshall grew up in Richmond, California, where her physically abusive father left both physical and emotional wounds including a broken nose. Her parents divorced when she was 15. Her mother pushed both education and faith for the young Marshall, which had lasting impact on her life.

“She put a math book in one hand and a Bible in the other,” said Marshall of her mother.

It worked, as Marshall attended the University of California, Berkeley on a full scholarship.

She met her husband at the beginning of her college career, but she laughs that she made him wait until she graduated to avoid any distractions.

The couple would not exactly have a smooth ride in front of them after they married, as Marshall would go on to suffer four second-trimester miscarriages as well as losing a premature daughter, who died at six-and-a-half months old.

They adopted their first son, Anthony, after those 10 years of heartbreak and later adopted two more daughters as well as Anthony’s older brother.

As Marshall’s career progressed, she became the president of AT&T in North Carolina.

But, eight years ago, she was hit with another massive challenge: stage 3 colon cancer. However, she took it on with her signature grit and unwavering faith — but not without enduring six months of “craziness” and “brutal chemo.”

She’s in remission now.

More than anything, though, Marshall hopes her life inspires others.

To see the interview, click here.

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