Ilisa is currently Chief Operating Officer for Special Olympics Northern California & Nevada. Prior to joining Special Olympics, she was General Manager for FC Gold Pride, the Bay Area’s women’s professional soccer team. In the Pride’s two short years, Kessler amassed a team that many journalists penned as the best female soccer team ever assembled. With Kessler’s leadership, she led the Pride from a worst to first turnaround that ultimately captured the 2010 Women’s Professional Soccer Championship. Prior to FC Gold Pride, Ilisa was the News Business Operations Manager for KGO-TV/DT, ABC/Disney, and has played a key role in event management at over 12 venues including Director of Operations, San Jose CyberRays (2001-2003), Director of Event Operations, Silicon Valley Football Classic (UCLA vs. Fresno State), Bay Area Staff and Accreditation Manager for the 1999 Women's World Cup. Ilisa has also been involved at various levels of event management for CONCACAF Champions Cup, Stanford Athletics, Spartan Stadium, and the Modern Pentathlon World Championships. Ilisa has been an adjunct professor for USF’s Sports Management program since Fall 2004. Ilisa has a BA from UC Santa Cruz in Economics and Theater Arts.
A Bay Area resident, Kessler recognizes the importance of the community’s support and involvement with local professional sports teams and has helped integrate women’s sports at the highest level into the Bay Area’s sports landscape through her experience and leadership with the 1999 Women’s World Cup, Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA), and Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS).
M.A., University of San Francisco