EVP, Commercial Marketing Disney Networks & ESPN
Laura Gentile serves as Executive Vice President, Commercial Marketing, Disney Networks & ESPN. In this role, she is responsible for leading the brand marketing for all of The Walt Disney Company’s linear networks including ABC, Disney Channels, Freeform, FX and National Geographic, in addition to building a catalog of award-winning creative for the ESPN brand – including all shows, platforms and special events – while also overseeing ESPN’s social media content.
Gentile has previously held a variety of strategic roles at ESPN, giving her a unique purview. She has served as SVP, Business Operations and Content Strategy, a role that included oversight of the business operations of the Content group and strategy development. Simultaneously, she continued to lead espnW and Women’s Initiatives at ESPN. She was promoted to senior vice president, espnW and Women’s Initiatives in November 2015.
Gentile was instrumental in launching espnW, ESPN’s first dedicated business built to serve women, which debuted in December 2010. espnW is now a multimedia business encompassing digital, social, television, films, mentorship programs and events such as The espnW: Women + Sports Summit.
Prior to researching and launching espnW, Gentile served as Vice President, Chief of Staff at ESPN. In that role, she worked directly with George Bodenheimer, President, ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports, on all aspects of the division’s business. She joined ESPN in the consumer marketing department in January 2003, where she was responsible for driving the marketing direction for properties including the NFL, SportsCenter, the NHL as well as ESPN25, ESPN’s year-long 25th anniversary campaign.
Gentile serves as a member of the V Foundation’s marketing committee. This group helps guide the organization’s marketing strategies to improve brand health, reach wider audiences and raise more dollars to fund game changing cancer research. She also serves as a member of the Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) 2021 Global Board of Directors, and is a founding Member of the Board, and the Treasurer, of Santa for a Day, a non-religiously affiliated 501 (c) (3) Public Charity that provides holiday gifts, basic needs, and educational supplies for economically disadvantaged children living in urban public housing properties.
Gentile was named to the Forbes “Most Powerful Women in U.S. Sports” list in 2018, ranked No. 22. In 2017, she was named one of the 2017 Multichannel News Wonder Women, and in 2016 was named a WICT “Woman to Watch.” In November 2014, Gentile was one of 17 participants in the inaugural Women in Sports and Events (WISE) and Tuck Executive Education at Dartmouth’s Executive Leadership Institute, a program created specifically for the advancement and retention of female executives in the sports industry. In April 2013, she received the Advertising Women of NY Changing the Game Paradigm Shift Award and WICT’s Signature Accolade for espnW’s Global Sports Mentoring Program. Gentile was named to the Women’s Sports Foundation Advisory Panel. She was a fellow of WICT’s Betsy Magness Leadership Institute Class XVII, and was named to Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal Forty Under 40 Class of 2012 and an SBJ Game-Changer. Also in 2012, Gentile was appointed to the U.S. Department of State’s Council to Empower Women and Girls Through Sports, developed by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
She honed her marketing and advertising skills as a senior partner, management supervisor at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide. Her team led the development of IBM’s e-business infrastructure campaign that earned the 2002 GRAND EFFIE for advertising effectiveness, a first in Ogilvy & Mather’s history.
A graduate of Duke University in 1994 with a double major in English and political science, Gentile earned an MBA in Marketing and Organizational Behavior from Boston College’s Carroll Graduate School of Management in 1996. While an undergraduate, she garnered All-America and All-ACC honors in field hockey and was a two-time team captain. Gentile led Duke to their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament and was named to the ACC’s 50th Anniversary field hockey team.