Today we’d like to introduce you to Laila Souktani.
Laila, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Since I was a little girl, I always loved helping people and knew that was the path I wanted to pursue as a career. In middle school, I started organizing my school’s Operation Christmas Child event, a Holiday initiative to fill shoeboxes with toys for kids in third world countries, not knowing that 14 years later, I’d be doing the same thing but for professional athletes.
I played volleyball growing up, as well as in college, and was able to experience the power of sports and the incredible impact that it has on the youth. This experience was something I wanted to help share with and give access to others. That, combined with my love for helping people, brought me to the Sports Philanthropy space – a space where my two passions could coexist. As soon as I found out this industry existed, I went after it with every part of my being. I enrolled in a post-graduate program at George Washington University for sports philanthropy, began working for a nonprofit, then worked for the Tampa Bay Rays in their Community Engagement department. It was in each of these positions where I was able to learn about the industry from a team perspective. Although I loved the experience and learned so much, I reached the decision that it wasn’t for me. I realized I loved being able to be creative with events and help players give back by helping them identify the causes in which they were most passionate. I then started consulting for a company that manages professional athletes’ foundations and nonprofits. This, too, was a great experience; however, it still did not fulfill my passions to the extent in which I knew it could. After extensive thought and identifying the need for professional athletes to have someone facilitate their charitable passions in a way that was easy for them, I decided to start Legacy Philanthropy.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
This journey has definitely not been smooth, but I have grown and learned tremendously. Being an entrepreneur forces you to grow, learn new skills, and constantly push you past your comfort zone. This was uncharted waters for me, as far as knowing how to start and manage a business. I still learn something new every single day. Any entrepreneur can attest to the fact that you have good days and bad days. You have days where you’re killing it, on the right path, and making strides; then you hit a low where you start thinking, “What am I doing? Maybe I should get a normal job.” What gets me through those bad days is my unwavering faith in God. I know He purposely has put this passion in my heart, and although things get hard, He sees me through and continues to show me this is the path I’m supposed to take. God, along with my favorite quote, “Be relentless in your pursuit,” keeps me pushing.
More recently, Covid has made business tricky. We’ve had a busy period and a slow period, with players headed back to play and having to go into a bubble. Furthermore, athletes love being able to engage with the people they’re giving back to, but with Covid, it is hard to have these in-person events. This struggle has forced us to ask ourselves, “How do we keep that element of engagement through virtual events?” We have been using this downtime proactively to get creative with upcoming events and programming as we head into the Holiday season.
Legacy Philanthropy – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Legacy Philanthropy is a boutique agency that manages professional athletes’ charitable events. We are also expanding into managing events for brands and artists. We help our clients identify what causes in which they’re passionate, put together charitable options that best fit their niche. Once they pick an option, we implement and manage the event from start to finish, including, but not limited to: public relations, marketing, strategy, logistics, sponsorship, donations, organization vetting, and all communication to ensure a successful and impactful event.
We pride ourselves in making sure the event we curate is something in which our client is passionate while also taking the laborious pressure on ourselves so our clients’ focus remains on their career and potentially other charitable events to collaborate on in the future. A trend we saw in the sports industry is that athletes tend to give back in their 4th or 5th year of their tenure. At Legacy Philanthropy, we try to get players involved sooner by introducing them to events that are easier for them in which to participate.
With my background, I am able to get teams’ community relations departments involved because I know the assistance teams can offer. With my education, I am able to apply the industry’s best practices by ensuring ethical and impactful events.
As a company, I am most proud of our ability to create impact in peoples’ lives. We’ve taken foster youth to their first NBA game, provided over 450 meals to frontline workers, organized a 200 meal donation for at-risk youth while adding a youth football clinic to the event, and provide foster youth with accessibility to their online schooling during the pandemic.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
My proudest moment of my career is finding a need in the sports philanthropy market and taking advantage of being able to offer charity, passion, and sports through Legacy Philanthropy. The fact that I have been able to create my own opportunity in the sports industry and persevere through every obstacle thrown my way remains one of my proudest accomplishments. I set my mind to be a sports philanthropy consultant in 2017, I have been reaching goal after goal to get here, and I know this is just the beginning.
- Website: www.legacyphilanthropy.com
- Phone: 831-521-4341
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @legacyphilanthropy
- Twitter: @lgcyphlnthrpy