Interview: Leora Hanser

The direction of communications and fundraising at the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation talks to Gemma Quainton about influencing media, sponsors and government

Leora Hanser
Leora Hanser

When Leora Hanser joined the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation in October, the organisation was still riding a post-Olympics high after the success of British women at last year's games.

Hanser took up the role of director of communications and fundraising at the charity, which campaigns to make physical activity an everyday part of life for women and girls.

She says she was attracted to the job after being taken with the Olympics. "I was struck by the potential for growth and the opportunity the games presented for an organisation such as WSFF," says Hanser. "The Olympics gave us a chance to be an authority on so many issues affecting women's sport, such as increasing investment in elite women athletes and encouraging media coverage of women's sports, and to be at the forefront of change. It's all very exciting."

Strategic objectives

She points to the London 2012 Olympics as an example of how those working in communications should ensure their strategic objectives are flexible enough to adapt to events in the wider world.

"You should never lose sight of your strategic objectives, but don't hold so tightly to them that you don't maximise opportunities," she says. "The games provided a challenge for us to build on the momentum and broaden that Olympic spirit into participation for women and girls."

Hanser says the charity has noted a substantial increase in the amount of press coverage women's sport has received, but that doesn't mean its work is done.

"We always knew people enjoyed watching women's sport and there was an appetite for it, but we need the media and sponsors to continue to improve on what happened last summer," says Hanser. "We realise what we want isn't going to happen overnight.

"We are at the heart of discussions with government and the media, and it's a nice place for us to be, doing this influential work. But we also need to be involved in media coverage, because we can provide information, knowledge, expertise and insight into encouraging women to take part in sport."

Participation campaign

The charity has several initiatives on the go. This month, it launched a report, Trophy Women, that looks at the representation of women on the boards of national governing bodies in sport. In January, it unveiled its She Moves campaign, aimed at getting women more active by encouraging them to share tips and advice to inspire each other.

Hanser joined the charity after four and a half years as director of campaigns at Save the Children and has been based in the UK for the past eight years. She is originally from the US and her background there was mainly in American politics.

"What keeps me in this world is wanting to achieve change and outcomes," says Hanser. "I've been lucky to work for organisations that want to make the world a better place."

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