MSM: “Danforth Dialogues” features Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall

ATLANTA, GA – Morehouse School of Medicine  (MSM) today announced the February edition of its 2024 “Danforth Dialogues” podcast, with a conversation between MSM’s President and CEO Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice and Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall, the first African American woman to be the CEO of a National Basketball Association (NBA) team.

“We have been fortunate to have quite a few of our guests on Danforth Dialogues who are the first person to achieve a major milestone in their life’s journey, but Cynt Marshall certainly stands out from the crowd,” said Dr. Montgomery Rice. “She was the first African American woman to be a cheerleader at her alma mater, the University of California at Berkeley, the first African American to serve as a state president for AT&T and, of course, the first African American woman to head an NBA team.”

Raised in Richmond, Calif., Ms. Marshall received a scholarship to the University of California at Berkeley becoming the first Black cheerleader in the school’s history. After graduating, she spent more than three decades at AT&T, rising to become the company’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer. The first African American to head the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce, she has been recognized by a wide range of organizations for her achievements including being named by Worth magazine as one of the 21 most powerful women in the business of sports. 

She took over the leadership of the Mavericks at a time when the team was reeling from a crisis. In five years, she has transformed the team.  “My leadership philosophy is really simple, it’s three L’s,” Ms. Marshall said. “I believe, in order to be a truly effective leader, that I have to do three things extremely well. I have to listen to the people, learn from the people and love the people. Because leadership is all about serving. I just truly want to be a serving leader.”

Utilizing a vision for the team based on the acronym “CRAFTS” — character, respect, authenticity, fairness, teamwork and safety – Ms. Marshall led the organization to achieve a 224% increase in women and people of color at the vice president and above level. And she took care of business too with ticket revenues up 64%, sponsorships up 111% and a 1,625% increase in grants made through the team’s foundation.

Ms. Marshall credits her success in helping the Mavericks organization become a great place to work by focusing on the people in the organization first and foremost. “Even before I went and talked to the media because it was all happening so fast, I met with our entire team and I told them what I was getting ready to tell the media,” she said. “So, communication is key because you have people that are going through a crisis. Everybody is responding to it very differently, but my whole focus was on our people.”

In this month’s episode, she tells Dr. Montgomery Rice she is a firm believer in the business case for diversity and inclusion. “Diversity is being invited to the party and inclusion is being asked to dance,” Ms. Marshall said. “You can invite me to the party. You can have me as the only Black woman at the table and not teach me the culture, not teach me the rules, not let me talk, or are you truly going to let me participate?”

Launched in 2022, “Danforth Dialogues” focuses on the leadership lessons from the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic and their broader implication for society. Named after the historic Danforth Chapel on the Morehouse College campus, the podcast series features a cross-section of guests and topics.

To hear this edition of the podcast, click here.