Pamela M. Wheeler was appointed to the newly created position of Director of Operations for the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (“WNBPA”) in April 1999. Her initial charge was coordinating negotiations between the nascent WNBPA and the WNBA, which culminated in the first ever collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) in women’s professional sports in June 1999. As the first labor union comprised of professional women athletes, the WNBPA enjoys a unique place in the history of professional sports. In addition to establishing the organizational infrastructure of the organization, including creating the organization’s governing documents and formulating its governing bodies, Ms. Wheeler manages the day-to-day operations and coordinates the strategic and business needs of the Association.
While overseeing the enforcement of the terms and conditions of the CBA, Ms. Wheeler has worked to build upon the foundation of the WNBPA to create a valuable asset to women professional basketball players. Some of these efforts include the establishment of agent regulations and player programs, such as graduate school tuition reimbursement, career apprenticeships, financial planning, emotional and mental health support, substance abuse education and career management designed to advance the employment, social and post-playing lives of WNBA players. In 2003, Ms. Wheeler led the negotiations between the Players Association and the WNBA that led to a landmark system of free agency for WNBA players and the return of player group licensing rights to WNBA players. Most recently, Ms. Wheeler directed the negotiations which are lauded for salary increases, creation of a flexible salary cap system and overall enhancements in benefits for all WNBA players.
Prior to being appointed Director of Operations for the WNBPA, Ms. Wheeler was the Director of Business Development for the Continental Basketball Association where she was responsible for the development of sponsorship and licensing programs. Before joining the Continental Basketball Association, she served as General Counsel & Marketing Manager at Bob Woolf Associates. In addition to handling internal legal matters at Woolf, Ms. Wheeler negotiated marketing agreements for various athlete clients of the firm and created sports and entertainment marketing programs for some of the firm’s corporate clients.
Ms. Wheeler serves on the Boards of the Women’s Sports Foundation and the Greyston Foundation, is a Trustee of the Bethesda Baptist Church of New Rochelle, a mentor in the Unlimited Pearls of Wisdom Mentoring Program and the Chairperson of the $2 million Nehemiah Fundraising Program to bring a Family Life Center to the residents of New Rochelle, NY. She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Dartmouth College in 1989 and a law degree from Boston University in May, 1995. She was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in December 1995 and has been profiled in a number of traditional and sports publications, including the New York Times, the Arizona Republic, Women’s Business NY and Sports Illustrated, where she was highlighted in 2003 as one of the 101 Most Influential Minorities in Sports. She received The Network Journal’s 40 Under-Forty Achievement Award based on her community involvement and leadership in the field of business, was highlighted in the March 2005 issue of Black Enterprise as one of the 50 Most Powerful Blacks in Sports and was named to Essence Magazine’s List of Powerful Women in 2008.
She, her husband Charles and their daughter Ryan reside in New York City.