Former WNBA star and Olympic gold winner recognized as one of 30 Influential Leaders

Author: Carol Elliott

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University of Notre Dame alumna Ruth Riley received recognition for her leadership in driving positive social change in communities around the globe by AACSB International, the accrediting body for business schools worldwide.

Riley was one of just 30 individuals named to the 2016 AACSB Influential Leaders Challenge, a listing launched in 2015 to honor notable alumni from AACSB schools for their positive impact and serving as inspiring examples for others. The honorees represent 15 industry sectors—from social enterprise to healthcare to technology—across 11 countries.

Riley Small

Riley, who was named general manager of the San Antonio Stars in April 2016, earned her undergraduate degree in psychology and sociology in 2001, before returning to Notre Dame to complete an Executive MBA from Mendoza College of Business in 2016.

As a basketball player, her career included a national championship for Notre Dame Women’s Basketball, two WNBA championships, a gold medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics, and many more accolades.

Throughout her professional and personal life, Riley has focused consistently on giving back to others, from serving as the spokesperson since 2006 for NothingButNets, the UN Foundation’s global grassroots campaign to help eradicate malaria; to co-founding Inspire Transformation, which takes a comprehensive approach to reducing the affects and instances of the AIDS pandemic in Africa.  

Riley also serves as spokesperson for No Kid Hungry and Share Our Strength, two national campaigns aimed at eliminating childhood hunger. In October 2015, she testified before Congress on the importance of food stamps and advocated against cuts to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Among her recognitions for service, she received the WNBA’s Community Assist Award in 2008 and 2012.

“The 2016 Influential Leaders illustrates how the power of a business degree to goes beyond—beyond industries, reaching lives in every part of the world—pioneering change, fostering global exchange, and improving the quality of life,” said Thomas R. Robinson, president and chief executive officer of AACSB International. “I would like to thank Ruth for exemplifying how business graduates can be a positive force in society, and congratulate the Mendoza College of Business for their role in helping to develop the knowledge, skills and fortitude needed to address some of the toughest challenges we face today.”

As the world's largest business education network connecting academe with business, AACSB provides business education intelligence, quality assurance, and professional development services to more than 1,500 member organizations across 91 countries and territories. Founded in 1916, AACSB Accreditation is the highest standard of quality in business education, with 775 business schools accredited worldwide. AACSB's global headquarters is located in Tampa, Florida, USA; its Asia Pacific headquarters is located in Singapore; and its Europe, Middle East, and Africa headquarters is located in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

For more information on the Influential Leaders Challenge, including a full list of honorees, visit www.aacsb.edu/Influential-Leaders.