My Work at The NBA: The Power of Sports for Social Change

The moment that really turned it around for me was the first time I went to South Africa. I was visiting Soweto, which is the largest township on the continent of Africa and I realized, here I am in this community with no running water and electricity and they know more about the NBA than almost anybody else. And you can see the hope and excitement in their eyes – that’s when I realized the power of sports for social change.

My job now at the NBA is overseeing the social responsibility, public engagement and community outreach. The most successful thing I learnt, and I learn this at SIPA, is you have to find partners that share likeminded values, that understand and play different roles to success and work together to achieve a common goal. It comes down to relationships.

The EMPA program helped me foster relationships that have last a lifetime – not just person friendships but also business ones that have helped me be very successful building public-private partnerships at the NBA.


Todd Jacobson is Senior Vice President, NBA and Adjunct Associate Professor of International and Public Affairs, SIPA. Learn more about how he is using sport as a development tool here.