Former NBA Vice President Li Li Leung has been appointed as the new president and CEO of USA Gymnastics.
On Tuesday, the organization made the announcement after an extensive search conducted by its board of directors in the gymnastics community.
Leung is USA Gymnastics’ fourth president and CEO in the past two years, succeeding former Rep. Mary Bono, who resigned four days after her appointment over criticisms from Olympic gold medalists Simone Biles and Aly Raisman.
“Li Li’s unique combination of business skills, management experience and passion for gymnastics make her perfectly suited to lead our organization at this important time in our history,” said Kathryn Carson, chair of the USA Gymnastics Board. “She brings strong leadership, organizational and communication skills from her over two-decade professional career in sports business and management.”
A former gymnast herself, Leung is expected to “transform and strengthen” the organization in the middle of a bankruptcy filing that followed the U.S. Olympic Committee’s (USOC) move to revoke its status as the national governing body for gymnastics over its poor management of the Larry Nassar scandal, the Washington Post noted.
“We are thrilled to have Li Li as our next president and CEO, and the Board looks forward to supporting Li Li as she delivers her vision to transform and strengthen our organization and culture,” Carson said.
Leung, who started gymnastics at the age of seven, competed in numerous USA Gymnastics events. She was a member of a U.S. junior national training team and represented the country in the 1988 Junior Pan American Games.
For four years, she was also a member of the University of Michigan gymnastics team, which earned several big 10 titles and competed in the NCAA Championships. She then served as a volunteer assistant gymnastics coach while earning two master’s degrees at the University of Massachusetts.
Before serving as VP of the NBA, Leung worked as a managing director at Helios Partners, a global sports management firm. She helped build the company and managed its offices in Beijing and London.
“I am honored to be the next CEO of USA Gymnastics and to lead an organization that plays an important role in a sport that I care deeply about and had so much positive influence on my life,” the 45-year-old said.
She acknowledged the transformative work that rests on her shoulders after the sexual abuse allegations, which reportedly plagued the organization for two decades.
“Like everyone, I was upset and angry to learn about the abuse and the institutions that let the athletes down. I admire the courage and strength of the survivors, and I will make it a priority to see that their claims are resolved.”
Speaking to the Associated Press, Leung expressed her disappointment over the organization’s predicament. She hopes to stop the decertification from USOC.
“I was frankly very, very disappointed in terms of where the sport and the organization had gotten to,” she said. “I have bled, sweated and cried alongside my teammates as well as other team members and other gymnasts. And it really broke my heart to see where the sport was. We can do better for the sport. Our gymnasts deserve better.”
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