June 22, 2023


Feature Story

New Division II Pro League Bringing Culture Pillars to Life

CHICAGO (June 22, 2023) – The Women’s Independent Soccer League (WISL) – a new women’s professional soccer league gearing up for Division II sanctioning by the U.S. Soccer Federation – today announced the first eight members of its Cultural Advisory Committee. The group will meet a couple times a year and will be in constant connection with WISL leadership as it drives toward play in 2024.

“We are overjoyed to have these external voices and minds available to us and our prospective membership clubs,” says WISL Culture & Education Director Alexa Doebler. “We have been very purposeful to build this league on seven pillars needed for a safe, more transparent environment for women players, coaches and staff. These women will both be advocates and ombudswomen as the league builds and grows.”

The initial membership includes:

  • Lisa Bonta Sumii (LCSW) is the CEO and founder of AthMindset®. Sumii is a psychotherapist with more than 23 years of clinical experience. She works individually with the elite athlete and/or team to achieve optimal mental health and peak mental sport performance, including as the first-ever Mental Performance Coach for the Oakland Roots Sports Club.
  • Candice Fabry is the owner of Fearless & Capable, a woman-led sport mentorship program, and the head coach of Ottawa (Kansas) University’s women’s soccer team. She has been coaching soccer for more than 15 years across varying levels within the game and Midwest region.
  • Kassie Gray is former collegiate and youth national team player. She played Division I soccer at UC Berkeley and graduated with a degree in education and psychology. After 10 years in curriculum development and social emotional teaching, Gray started Female Footballers, a non-profit organization aimed to engage, educate and empower female soccer players through mental skills mentorship.
  • Shay Strawser is the Manager of Marketing, Communications and Events at Green Sports Alliance leading various campaigns including Green Sports Day, Play to Zero, and Playing for the Next Generation. Strawser’s expertise is in managing marketing and public relation efforts, while harnessing partnerships growth.
  • Rachel LaSala is the managing director and co-founder of Women in Soccer. A passionate advocate for a more equitable soccer sector, LaSala’s team-building experience in the technology industry, on the soccer field, and in the marketing sphere has spot-lit marginalized groups.
  • Aileen McManamon is the founder and managing partner of 5T Sports Group, a global sports management advisory enterprise focused on futureproofing the sports industry by aligning team and league revenue models to the environmental, social and economic realities of today. 5T also works with global brands bringing their environmental and social responsibility messaging forward through their sports partnerships.
  • Brenda Andress is the founder and President of SheIS, a not-for-profit established to leverage the power of women’s sports and to create a future of, by, and for, women. Prior to launching SheIS, Andress was the Commissioner of the Canadian Women’s Professional Hockey League, (CWHL).
  • Kristen Gambetta is a former two-sport varsity athlete at Rice University who helped launch Houston’s first Major League Soccer team in 2006. She later aided in the establishment of a National Women’s Soccer League franchise and the city’s first soccer-specific stadium. Kristen recently served as President of SheIS Sports Network.

WISL will announce additional women’s voices as they commit to the effort. WISL introduced its seven cultural pillars last November and is running the monthly, web-based interview series “Culture In Action,” launched in December. Each episode explores a different pillar with guests from the world of women’s soccer.


WISL is applying to the United States Soccer Federation for Division II sanctioning, targeting 2024 for its inaugural season. WISL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Equality Football and is not affiliated with the World Surfing League (WSL). Discover more about WISL at WISLeague.com, as well as on Instagram and Facebook (@WISLeague) and Twitter (@WISL_League).