Kiesha Nix has made history as the first Black woman to serve as the vice president of charitable affairs for the Lakers organization. The position makes Nix one of the most powerful women in the sport of philanthropy.
Before her current role, she had served as executive director for the Community Lakers Youth Foundation. And she got to know all about her new role from NBA legend Magic Johnson.
“I was in the middle of a Zoom call planning a community holiday event when his name showed up on my phone,” Nix recalled. “I almost didn’t take the call,” she said. But she did, and she heard him say, “Hello Miss VP.”
For 10 years, Nix and Johnson have partnered on a number of community events when she worked for Merrill Lynch and Bank of America. “I started out at the bottom of the totem pole almost 30 years ago as a project manager at Merrill Lynch, and by the time I left, I was negotiating contracts on behalf of Bank of America after the two institutions merged,” she told Sports Illustrated.
In addition, she was managing the investments for several CEOs and other high-net-worth clients and was comfortable in her official role as a financial advisor, according to Sports Illustrated.
Although she was in the finance field and was comfortable there, she was involved in several charitable organizations raising money, producing events and building relationships.
“It was not part of my normal day-to-day job responsibilities, but I did that work for 18 years,” she said. “I saw it as a way to bridge the gap between our clients and the kids in South Central, Watts and Compton because that’s where I grew up.”
Nix said a colleague later informed her of a position in the community relations department. While she was excited about the role, a major drawback was that she was going to take a pay cut. However, one of her mentors encouraged her to make the career move
“I took a leap of faith and I did it,” she said. “I’ll never forget, my boss at the time said to me, ‘If you do this job well, people are going to come looking for you.”
Nix managed the bank’s relationship with the Dodgers and other partners. The bank was at the time investing a few million dollars. But before she left, she had increased that to $25 million. People got to know more about her competencies and skills, thus, when Lakers president Jeanie Buss was looking for someone to run the Lakers’ foundation, Nix’s name was mentioned.
And now she has moved from executive director for the Community Lakers Youth Foundation to vice president within the Lakers organization. Nix has already done a lot for the Lakers. In her first year with the organization, she raised more than $400,000 in one afternoon at the foundation’s annual golf tournament—the most ever raised in the history of the tournament, according to Sports Illustrated.
She didn’t raise much in her second year because of the pandemic. But in the third year, the funds she raised topped the first. And in the fourth year, she raised more than half a million dollars with the one-day event.
Nix’s aim now is to grow the number of youth programs supported by the foundation and help more women, especially women of color, get to higher leadership positions.
Born and raised in South Central L.A., Nix faced a few challenges before getting to where she is now. She said she became a single mom at 24 years old but she and her son Kyler made huge sacrifices and today, Kyler is a graduate of Fisk University who manages high-net-worth individuals, athletes and entertainers for a living.