New Voices Under 30: Katrina Palanca

Katrina Palanca

Vice President, Global Partnerships, Spurs Sports & Entertainment

Katrina Palanca earned the Brooklyn Nets’ “Leads By Example” award, which sums up her approach to sports business. She moved from Guam to New York, joined the Nets and landed the team’s first jersey patch deal. Today, she is leading sponsorship sales and service for the San Antonio Spurs.

Spurs Sports & Entertainment

Age: 29
Born: Guam
Education: University of Guam, B.A., communications
Family: Spouse, David Robbins

More About You

Most important lesson of the past 18 months: I learned to discover myself beyond my career. Prior to the pandemic, I felt like a one-dimensional human being. My job was so closely tied to my identity, and I knew that if I lost my job, I would not know who I was. I used the past 18 months to identify my personal mission: to help young women believe in their greatness.

Go-to person when I need help: My husband, Dave, is my first stop when I need help. He has proofread presentations, helped me practice speeches and critiqued my emails. He is my best friend, the better half of my conscience and giver of unbiased advice. His rubric doesn’t include politics or prejudice, just doing the right thing as a human being.

My inspiration: I am inspired by Simone Biles’ unapologetic confidence. She works hard, she knows she’s good, and she doesn’t shy away from her accomplishments.

In the Industry

What drew me to a career in sports: Sports has the power to unite people in a way that so few things can. Sports brings the world together every four years. Sports eliminates borders. Sports makes becoming a fan feel like being adopted to a family.

Biggest surprise when I started my career: I continue to be surprised by all of the different jobs there are in sports. There are so many ways to apply your talent in sports.

Most exciting aspect of sports business: There is so much potential for sports to continue to be a driver of social change, not just in the United States but around the world. I am excited about how brands can lean in to purpose-driven partnerships to drive real-world impact.

Sports industry needs to do a better job of … : Elevating women’s sports.

In 10 years, I hope to be … : On a book tour visiting universities with diverse student populations.

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