Dream launch program for retired players, hire first Director of Player Engagement
ATLANTA, Ga. (March 1, 2023) – The WNBA’s Atlanta Dream have hired WNBA veteran player Kia Vaughn as a Basketball Operations Associate and Kiara McClendon as Director of Player Engagement, the organization announced today.
Both hires reflect Dream ownership’s commitment to providing resources and opportunities to both current and former players, giving them a world class experience while in Atlanta and setting them up for both current and long-term success.
“Last year, we focused on adding resources to improve the team’s on-court performance. Going into this season our goal was to provide players with a more holistic experience here in Atlanta by adding more off-court resources and opportunities for players to thrive,” said General Manager Dan Padover. Both of these new positions focus on player growth off the court.”
Kiara McClendon, Director of Player Engagement
In her newly created position, McClendon will serve as the players’ primary off-court liaison, helping them seamlessly transition into life in Atlanta and build a community that bolsters their lives off the court. A major part of her role will also include coordinating player programming and educational enrichment sessions centered around financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and other topics pertaining to their interests and goals. She will work with each athlete individually on their personal and philanthropic interests in order to integrate them organically within the Dream’s community impact efforts, which will in turn help to further the organization’s community, partnership and sales efforts by putting the right players in the right places.
“I am thrilled to have Kiara McClendon onboard with the Dream,” said Head Coach Tanisha Wright. “Our organization understands that the women of the W are so much more than just basketball players, and we are grateful to be able to provide our players with a trusted professional dedicated to helping them continue to grow during their time with our team. Kiara will play a huge part in connecting our players with the opportunities they are seeking and putting them in positions that will help to enrich their lives as professional athletes.”
Retired Player Transition Program
The Dream will also launch a pilot program developed to transition recently retired WNBA players into the next phase of their careers while providing insight and training around the many opportunities in professional basketball, from coaching to working in a front office. The program is designed to develop the WNBA’s own talent with the goal of setting former players up for long-term success.
“Larry Gottesdiener, Suzanne Abair and Renee Montgomery made it clear to me and Tanisha from the beginning that they wanted to help players prepare for life after basketball,” Padover said. “This gives former players a chance to spend a year developing skills that will help them transition into the next phases of their career in an effort to create the new wave of leaders in the WNBA.”
Kia Vaughn, Basketball Operations Associate
Vaughn joins the team in 2023 as the first member of the Dream’s Retired Player Transition Program as a Basketball Operations Associate.
“It’s important that we continue to create opportunities for former players right here within the WNBA,” Wright said. “I am thrilled we are able to provide an opportunity for Kia to begin this next phase of her career with our organization. She has been a consummate professional throughout her career and was a major contributor in our success both on and off the court last year, and I look forward to watching her blossom in her next chapter.”
Vaughn retired from the league after coming to Atlanta for her final season in 2022. In her 13-year career she played with the New York Liberty, Washington Mystics and Phoenix Mercury before joining former teammate Tanisha Wright in Atlanta. She will join former WNBA players Wright, Vickie Johnson and Barbara Turner on the Dream’s staff for the 2023 season.
About the Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream is a professional women’s basketball team based in Atlanta, Ga. that strives to build a place where our team, our fans and our city come together to represent the community we seek to serve. We celebrate diversity, represent Atlanta, reward innovation and imagination, and aim to empower women both on and off the court. The team currently plays home games at the Gateway Center Arena @ College Park and has qualified for the WNBA Playoffs in nine of its first 15 seasons. To learn more about the Dream and purchase 2023 season tickets, please visit dream.wnba.com/tickets or call 877-977-7729.