Special Report: Meet the powerful Packers women who play big role in team's success
GREEN BAY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Walking through the tunnel onto Lambeau Field never gets old. Just ask Cathy Dworak. She’s been doing it for 20 seasons.
“It’s not the same every day and that’s what’s neat about it. It’s different every day,” she said of her job as the Director of Community Outreach and Player/Alumni Relations for the Green Bay Packers.
She recently returned to Green Bay from a five day trip across the state of Wisconsin called the Packers Tailgate Tour. Every year, current and former players crisscross the state, surprising fans. It’s just one of the many event she plans every year.
“We had a lot of people crying,” Dworak said. “People are just excited to see us come out into the community and just surprise people.”
Dworak has an interesting story about how she got her start with the Packers.
“I dropped off a resume with no position even posted and said I would like to work here and started 7 weeks later,” she said.
But it’s a job that almost didn’t happen. She said she considered turning it down, worried about the time away from her kids, but her mother convinced her to take it.
“We can all have an 8-5 job, but if you’re not happy going to it, what type of job is it,” she reasoned.
Pro-football, once thought to be a man’s world, has more and more women working in high profile roles. The NFL estimates 30% of front office employees are women.
CBS 58 recently sat down with four front office leaders at Lambeau Field to hear what it’s like working in the NFL.
“I get to work every day and do something new every day and have a ton of fun,” said Gabrielle Dow. “I have one of the greatest jobs in the world and I am truly blessed.”
Dow is the Vice President of Marketing and Fan Engagement for the Packers organization. In college, she dreamed of becoming an FBI agent, but instead, found her passion in sports marketing. It’s a career that’s taken her to cities and teams across the country. For the last six seasons, she’s been the one on the sidelines coordinating the team’s broadcast, digital and retail.
“I stumbled into it as an opportunity, and it worked out great,” Dow said.
But getting a foot in the door can still be difficult for women. Melanie Marohl is a Packers salary cap analyst, which she said is popular at parties.
“They want to know who we’re going to be drafting, who we’re signing in free agency,” she said with a laugh.
In her analysis, men do have an advantage in the league.
“Men are the ones playing high school football and men are the ones playing college football. It’s really hard for women to get into that network,” Marohl explained. “They need an in, somehow and need someone to give them a chance to get into that.”
She has advice for young women, looking to break into the field of professional sports—get an internship as early as possible.
“Because it is very competitive,” she said. “They’re looking for that job experience.”
Jennifer Ark, Director of Stadium Services, said she thinks there are more opportunities for women in the NFL every year.
“I don’t think there’s a glass ceiling,” Ark said. “I think there’s more opportunities and we can see that changing on the football side and actually on the field side.”
These days, there are just as many women who are Packers fans as men. The NFL says 50% of football fans are women. Dow thinks that kind of diversity, whether it’s in the stands or in the front office makes the NFL stronger.
“The NFL used to just shrink it and pink it, that was kind of their motto back then, so they have come a long way to help teams like us build our female fan base and help us with tools to connect with them better,” Dow said.
Ark oversees the fan experience from stadium tours to gameday. She thinks women have a bright future in the NFL.
“I think it’s always evolving and different roles, different jobs, different positions and I think there’s only one way to go and that’s to continue to go up,” Ark said.
They may not be throwing touchdowns on the field, but these powerful Packers women are a key to the team’s success.