Susan T. Spencer has never been shy about speaking to a room full of men.
So the women attending the Oct. 15 Kick Off Your Heels luncheon during the PGA Tour’s Shriners Hospital for Children Open should be ready to hear some hard-nosed advice from the Las Vegas resident who has long been successful in professions that are most often viewed as male-dominated.
“I’m going to encourage (the women) to succeed in the office, community and home,” said Spencer of her luncheon talk. “I’m planning on talking about the skill set they have that will help them reach their potential.”
Spencer, an attorney, is known in the sports world as the only woman to have ever served as a general manager in the National Football League.
She spent five years in the position with the Philadelphia Eagles during the early 1980s when the team was owned by her father, Leonard Tose. A few years ago, she sold a New Jersey-based food distribution business that had annual revenues of $50 million and moved to Las Vegas to be closer to her mother.
Spencer hosted a sports talk radio show in Las Vegas briefly and wrote a book, “Briefcase Essentials,” in 2011.
Last year, Spencer started a foundation, A Level Playing Field, to help local high school football teams obtain equipment and other essentials to help players train and compete. The foundation’s current focus is on Rancho High School, which has not had a winning season in almost two decades.
Spencer will be the keynote speaker at the luncheon, which takes place at The Hill, the tournament’s hospitality venue that overlooks the 16th, 17th and 18th holes at the TPC Summerlin.
Some of the golfers coming during the practice rounds might want to listen in on Spencer’s advice.
What advice do you plan to offer at the luncheon?
This will really be a pep talk for women. Hopefully I can open their eyes as to what they can accomplish. Women have much more persistence than men. Biologically, women have a much better perception of human beings and they can read body language much better than men. I’m sure I’ll tell them a football story or two, but I want women to know they can compete in the business world just as well as men. Women can’t be as aggressive as men, but they can be just as strong.
Has the foundation helped Rancho High School’s football team?
I was an outsider, but as a businessperson, I understood some of what was needed. I went to BILT Headquarters (a fitness equipment company owned by tennis champion Andre Agassi and fitness trainer Gil Reyes) and talked to them about donating some of their demo equipment to the program. I was persistent. We went to their warehouse and (Rancho head football coach) Tyrone (Armstrong) tried out every piece of equipment. I asked him which pieces he wanted and he said “all of them.” They gave us four pieces and we created a weight room for Rancho. (As of Sept. 20, Rancho was 0-4 for this season). We know things won’t turn around overnight for Rancho, but the players are dedicated and they now have equipment that can help them succeed. This is a prototype. If the model works, we can take it to other schools.
When will there be another female NFL general manager?
The first thing is that a woman needs to understand football. I was brought up in a football family and I knew a lot about the game through my father and his association with Notre Dame. As a kid, I didn’t realize how much information I could pick up. That’s probably my key advice to a woman. You need to have a hard outer shell. I was already a lawyer and had a business background. I think it could happen but it will take the right person.