Kathy Goodman, '86: Chicago Values in Public Schools and the WNBA
After nine years practicing law in Los Angeles followed by five years as a film-industry executive and a couple of years of fun and reflection, Kathy Goodman, ’86, decided that she wanted to teach, and that’s what she’s been doing the past four years – teaching English and social studies at public high schools in L.A.
Her vacation from the classroom this summer probably won’t consist of very many days at the beach or catching up on bestsellers, since she and a friend recently bought the local Women’s National Basketball Association team. Her Sparks open their season May 18.
How she got here is far less interesting to Goodman than where she is. But alumni may be interested to know that she was a partner at Katten Muchin for five years, specializing in the financial side of the entertainment business, before she and four others founded Intermedia Film in 1995. Intermedia grew to sixty employees during the five-plus years Goodman was there. Two of her last acts before she left in 2001 were closing the financing for a Harrison Ford action film and acquiring the rights to produce Terminator 3.
Having decided after some time off what she really wanted to do, she became certified as a teacher, taught for two years in the largest high school in Los Angeles, and now is at a smaller charter school. “I love the kids and I love the adventure of working with them,” she says. “Every day is like getting called on by Richard Epstein in class: You don’t know what’s coming next, but you know you have to deal with it.”
She owns the Sparks because she and a fellow attorney, Carla Christofferson, decided one day while sitting in the stands at a Sparks game that they’d like to run the team. They each were season ticket holders, and, as Goodman recounts it, “We were always saying to each other, as fans do, ‘If I owned this team I’d do such-and-such.’ And then one day we said, ‘Why don’t we find out if we could own this team.’” They put together an investment group, approached the team’s owner, and reached a deal about nine months later.
Reflecting on the joys and responsibilities of her ownership role, Goodman says, “We don’t just own a basketball team; it really is a kind of stewardship we’re exercising.” The women who play in the league are not typical “spoiled athletes,” she observes. They love playing the game, they all have college degrees, they don’t receive stunning salaries, and they realize that they must prepare themselves for a life after professional basketball. Moreover, they are – and they accept the responsibility of being – role models for young women.
"About a third of the people who attend our games come looking for role models,” Goodman says. “Not just basketball-playing role models, but models of successful young women who demonstrate, everyday, the values of teamwork, camaraderie, and disciplined accomplishment.”
She declares that both her teaching and her team ownership owe a lot to her Law School experience: “I learned how to think at Chicago, and I try to impart that to my students in addition to using it myself. And I also learned that you have responsibility to a world that’s much bigger than just yourself. I feel most fortunate that I can try to live those values and have a spectacularly good time doing it.”
She invites alumni who are in the Los Angeles area to join her courtside at a Sparks game to catch a bit of the magic for themselves.