Shawn Lawson Cummings
VP, International Consumer Products Marketing & Sponsorship, Major League Baseball Properties • New York, N.Y.
Shawn Lawson Cummings’ father introduced her to the baseball field. He coached her Little League team and took her to games. Her career has now taken her full circle—to the executive offices of Major League Baseball Properties (MLB) in New York City. As vice president, international consumer products marketing and sponsorship, she manages all aspects of international licensing and retail operations for MLB and a staff of 18 scattered in seven offices around the globe.
After graduating from Occidental College, Los Angeles, with a bachelor’s degree in psychophysiology, she joined an insurance company as an underwriter. Her exposure to sales during that time made the college track-and-field and heptathlon star abandon plans for medical school and pursue an M.B.A in marketing and general management at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. She cut her teeth at General Mills Inc., where she negotiated event-marketing contracts and managed accounts with major sports clients. “This was a significant turning point in my career because it made me seriously consider going into sports marketing,” she says.
Cummings attributes her professional achievements to life lessons imparted by her late parents, her involvement with athletics and numerous mentors. “My father rose through the Naval ranks to be the highest-ranking African-American enlisted man in his field, Master Chief, E-9, Antisubmarine Warfare. … My mother went back to high school when I was in primary school and went on to get her associate’s degree then her B.A. in psychology at San Diego State University while raising three children,” she says.
Her dreams of traveling came true with her track-and-field career. She has visited Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, as well as most of the states here while on tour. “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly,” she says, quoting poet Langston Hughes.