Vanessa Bryant's Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation Names First Executive Director

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Jason Duaine Hahn
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Courtesy Mamba & Mambacita

The Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation is starting a new chapter.

On Tuesday, the foundation — named in memory of late NBA star Kobe Bryant, and his daughter, Gianna Bryant — announced the hiring of Kat Conlon, an experienced non-profit executive, as its first executive director. She officially stepped into the role on the first of the month.

"I am so proud to have Kat Conlon come on board as our Executive Director," Vanessa Bryant, Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation Board of Directors president, said in a statement. "She brings an abundance of knowledge and experience that embodies supporting young women and equal opportunity."

The Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation aims to fund programs in underserved communities and further Kobe and Gianna's legacies through youth sports and charitable actions. Both were killed in a helicopter crash just over a year ago, on Jan. 26, 2020.

In their announcement, the organization said Conlon's experience will help to promote those efforts.

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Clicks Images/Getty Images Kobe Bryant

Conlon — a former athlete who played basketball and hockey — is a graduate of both Connecticut's Trinity College and Duke University's Fuqua School of Business. She was most recently the president of Friends of the American University of Afghanistan, a nonprofit that supported higher education in Afghanistan using only independent, private, and not-for-profit schools.

"Working with young women in Afghanistan further emphasized to me that sport doesn't just empower on an individual basis, it unites and inspires people collectively, which builds communities," Conlon said in a statement.

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"I am grateful to work for an organization that will focus its efforts to use sport to empower young girls and provide opportunities to underserved athletes through the example of Kobe and Gigi Bryant, who routinely shared a message of hope, perseverance, and teamwork with their fans," she continued.

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Kobe Bryant and 13-year-old Gianna Bryant died in a helicopter accident along with seven other victims in Calabasas, California, on January 26, 2020.

Following his retirement from the NBA, Bryant — who played for the Los Angeles Lakers for 20 years — helped to promote women's sports in various ways, such as appearing in an ad for the WNBA and attending NCAA women's basketball games. His all-girls basketball team was also one of his passions in retirement.

"I saw the way he supported his family and his constant advocacy for women's basketball," WNBA star Sabrina Ionescu previously said of Bryant. "His encouragement and promotion of equality in sports along with his Mamba Mentality is what motivates me today."