Why She’s a MAKER: While Lisa Borders has had a range of careers and callings in life, she has always found a way to connect them back to the civil-rights-era learned championing of others that she was raised in. “I've had the privilege of working in all three sectors — public, private, and nonprofit,” she says. “When people look at my resume, they often do not recognize the thematic. Every time I have changed roles, I have found a role where I am serving the underserved, or those who have not reached their full potential, or whose voices have not been fully heard.”
Learning Curve: Borders grew up in Atlanta, where she helped to integrate her independent school, in 1969, when she was in seventh grade. “There were times in that period where I really felt isolated, because there were almost 1,800 students on the 180-acre campus, and eight of them — I was number eight — children of color.” But found inspiration in her grandfather, a revered pastor; her father, an internist; and her aunt, an OB/GYN. “When I grew up in Atlanta, there were only 100 African-American doctors in the entire state of Georgia. And our family had two of them.” She earned early admission to Duke University, studying French and chemistry.
Mother Load: Borders eloped with her boyfriend after graduating — “the craziest thing I've ever done in my entire life” — and though they divorced, the marriage produced her son, which she calls her “greatest accomplishment.” As a young single mom, she worked at his nursery so she could afford to send him there. “I took all the weekend shifts and bartered my work for his tuition,” she says.”So a lot of times, it requires us to be resourceful and think about what are we trying to do, and how can we do it. And I very quickly learned I needed to ask for help.”
Traveling: While still working for Coca-Cola, Borders met Adam Silver, commissioner of the NBA and a fellow Duke grad and board member, over dinner, where the discussion turned to the WNBA losing its footing. “He said, ‘Well, you've got so many ideas… Would you be interested in running the W? And I said, ‘Are you serious?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I'm serious.’ Adam called every single day until I said yes.The rest is history.” Borders was with the WNBA for three seasons, from 2016 to the end of 2018. “We were able to turn that business around.”
Brand New Chapter: Borders sees her last position, as the head of Time’s Up, as an extension of many of the other roles she’s had. “President and CEO here is comparable to the president of the WNBA in the sense that I was elevating and celebrating women and what they can do to reach their full potential in professional sports,” she says, calling TIME'S UP a “companion organization” to the Me Too movement. “We are the organization that wants to work itself out of business. We are here so that no woman ever again has to say, ‘Me too.’"