JoAnn Neale Promoted to President & Chief Administrative Officer;
Gary Stevenson Joins Mark Abbott as Deputy Commissioner
(Monday, March 4, 2019)
Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber today announced two promotions of the executive leadership of the League Office. As part of the moves, JoAnn Neale has been promoted to President & Chief Administrative Officer, while Gary Stevenson will assume the title of Deputy Commissioner and President of MLS Business Ventures. Neale, Stevenson and MLS President and Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott continue to report directly to Commissioner Garber.
“This structure enhances our league office by maximizing the skill, experience and dedication of Mark, JoAnn and Gary and everyone on our leadership team,” said Commissioner Garber. “This is a period of explosive growth in all areas of the league. We look forward to continuing to build on our momentum, and to delivering the greatest experience in sport to our fans.”
- MLS Executives Imagery(available for download)
Neale joined MLS as legal counsel in 1998 and most recently held the title of chief administrative and social responsibility officer. In her new role, she is assuming responsibility for strategic planning and information technology, while maintaining oversight of all aspects of the human resources and administration and facilities departments. As the architect of MLS WORKS, the League’s social responsibility platform, Neale spearheads its overall strategy. In addition, Neale oversees programs to support player education and engagement, and assists with off-field career development and transition.
A highly accomplished executive in the sports industry since 1980, Stevenson joined MLS in 2013 as president and managing director of MLS Business Ventures. He oversees the domestic and international commercial business of MLS which includes Soccer United Marketing (SUM), media and broadcasting, digital, club services, marketing, consumer products, special events and content creation and distribution.
Abbott has been instrumental in many of the League’s major accomplishments since he became the organization’s first employee in 1993, three years before MLS’ first season. He is a leading force in the league’s strategic expansion, with MLS adding nine clubs in the last decade, and four more joining in the coming years. Abbott manages all areas of league operations and competition, including product strategy, player relations and communications. The architect of MLS’ business plan, Abbott was named president and deputy commissioner of the league in 2013.
MLS’ 24th season kicked off on March 2. Highlighted by the arrival of more dynamic players from across the globe, the addition of expansion club FC Cincinnati, and a new single-elimination playoff format, the 2019 season is expected to be the most exciting in league history.