An Interview with Betty Otter-Nickerson, COO of LIVESTRONG | Sports Destination Management

An Interview with Betty Otter-Nickerson, COO of LIVESTRONG



Betty Otter-Nickerson, Chief Operating Officer/LIVESTRONG
Betty Otter-Nickerson, Chief Operating Officer/LIVESTRONG

Years in industry?
Four years, with 25+ years in high tech prior to joining LIVESTRONG

Years in current position?

What is the mission of your organization?
Our mission is to inspire and empower people affected by cancer. We are a social change organization dedicated to building a worldwide grassroots movement to make cancer a global priority.

Nationally, how many participants do you have?
In 2008 more than 20,000 participants and volunteers contributed to the success of our events. Our current event season is underway, so we do not yet have final participation numbers for this year.

How many events are held each year?
In 2009, we are holding four events for the LIVESTRONG Challenge Series, and TEAM LIVESTRONG will participate in RAGBRAI, five marathons as part of the World Marathon Majors Program, the Walt Disney Marathon, two triathlons and theRock 'n' Roll Series of marathons.

In what regions/locations are they held?
The LIVESTRONG Challenge will be held in Seattle, Washington; San Jose, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Austin, Texas. RAGBRAI takes place across Iowa. Marathons include Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City. In 2009 we have expanded to add triathlons in St. Petersburg, Florida and Austin, Texas. We also added the Walt Disney World Marathon and the three Rock 'n' Roll Series marathons, which are held in Seattle, Virginia Beach and San Antonio.

As an organization, what do you look for in a location?
Metropolitan Statistical Area, a strong constituent base for our cause as well as local support from municipalities and businesses in the area.

From an event management standpoint, what is the most challenging aspect of your job?
We have astrong team that helps with our events and grassroots fundraising, so our biggest challenge is to ensure a safe, inviting and community-building event in each locale that makes every participant feelengaged. Our team succeeds in these goals over and over again in the various events in which we participate.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Meeting the great volunteers in the communities we visit; without their help our events would not be possible. Meeting cancer survivors and hearing their stories is very inspiring and remindsme of the necessity of our mission.

What is your biggest challenge in organizing your organization's events?
Maintaining a high-touch culture as theevents have grown - since the fight against cancer is such a personal one for so many, we want each participant to feel inspired and empowered - as well as balancing community building and fundraising.

Please describe how you feel your knowledge, skills and experience have contributed to the success of the sports events in which you are involved.
Our team has 10+-year history in producing events. As the business person on the team, I look at event ROI, analyze the tools we provide participants to engage and fund-raise, ensure our volunteersfeel involved and empowered and evaluate event experience and safety. The success of our events can be attributed to one thing - a great team effort: the LIVESTRONG staff, our tireless volunteers andour event production company who all work together to produce a phenomenal event experience with a 95 percent (yes, that number is that accurate) participant satisfaction rating.