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Timbers name Heather Davis new CEO

May 14, 2022; Portland, Oregon, USA; A view of the Portland Timbers logo before the match against the Sporting Kansas City at Providence Park. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Timbers named Heather Davis their chief executive officer on Wednesday.

Davis, whose local roots run four generations deep, will take over the club business operations of the Timbers, Portland Thorns FC and Providence Park.

Her hiring represents another step forward for the franchises, especially the Thorns.

A report by former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates released last month found that owner Merritt Paulson continued to support then-Thorns coach Paul Riley despite the fact that players Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim reported that Riley maintained “a pattern of sexually charged comments, unwanted sexual advances and sexual touching, and coercive sexual intercourse.”

Paulson and Thorns president of soccer Gavin Wilkinson also made misogynistic comments in the office, per the Yates report. In addition, Thorns president of business Mike Golub was alleged to have made unwanted sexual comments to former Thorns coach Cindy Parlow Cone, now the president of U.S. Soccer.

Since the release of the Yates report, the Thorns fired Wilkinson and Golub, and Paulson resigned as chief executive officer of both the Thorns and the Timbers. Paulson has put the Thorns up for sale.

“Heather has been nothing short of remarkable during her time here,” Paulson said. “She joined us during a challenging period and has overseen significant positive change for the club. We had tremendous external interest in this position, but Heather has earned the trust of our staff and I could not be more pleased to remove ‘Interim’ from her title. She will be an outstanding leader for our organization.”

Davis joined the Timbers in May 2022 as the club’s general counsel. She previously worked in the NFL league office as the lead counsel for international operations, and before that, in law firms in New York and Washington, D.C., and at the White House in the Clinton administration.

“I am incredibly grateful for the support of our staff and for the confidence that Merritt has shown in me to lead this club,” Davis said. “It is an extraordinary privilege to be entrusted to lead such a storied and successful franchise that means so much to so many in my home state. We will continue to do the work to be a first-in-class club that everyone can be proud of.”

–Field Level Media