Sports, stories and success: Alumna’s journey to Forbes’ 30 under 30

January 24, 2024

robyn brown poses on the side of a basketball court in front of the stadium seats

In a remarkable journey full of passion, dedication and impactful storytelling, Robyn Brown, MS ’19, has made her own indelible mark on the sports journalism landscape, earning her place on the 2024 Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

At only 28, it’s easy to see how her love of sports became her career.

“When I think about my childhood, every morning was spent watching ‘SportsCenter’ before school and every weekend was filled with a different sporting event. Basketball, volleyball, baseball – you name it, I played it,” Brown said.

With a passion for sports and a love for storytelling, there was only one job for her. The dynamic world of sports media gave her a dream to work toward.

After finishing her undergraduate degree, she looked for the perfect graduate program. Quinnipiac’s masters in sports journalism was obvious choice.

With a beautiful campus, a rigorous curriculum taught by industry-leading professors working for networks like ESPN and the opportunity to work at the on-campus television station, Q30-Television, Brown knew she wanted to be in Hamden.

And after two years on campus, she had no doubt she was well-prepared.

“Trying to explain the guidance, mentorship and education I received from Quinnipiac, especially from Professor Barry Sacks and my adviser Molly Yanity, feels impossible. Attending Quinnipiac and crossing paths with them changed my life. Professor Sacks was more than just a teacher, he became my greatest mentor. You could feel his passion in every class he taught. He challenged me to be better and believed in me more than I believed in myself,” Brown explained. “If there is one person I could share this award with, it would be Barry Sacks. I hope he’s looking down from heaven with the grandest smile, beaming with pride.”

After Yanity helped Brown secure her first internship, the opportunity turned into a job as a marketing specialist and team reporter for the New England Black Wolves professional box lacrosse team. With professors who taught classes above and beyond a lesson plan, Brown was incredibly successful and with the end of the COVID-19 lockdown, she applied for a new job, packed up her life in Connecticut and moved to the West Coast.

There she began working for the Phoenix Mercury basketball team as a social media manager and later as their senior manager of brand and content strategy.

Brown is responsible for defining and executing the different social media and content strategies across every Phoenix Mercury channel, as well as growing their presence. She is their lead when it comes to strategy planning, content ideation and overseeing the storytelling and social media campaigns for the team and each individual player.

“My favorite part of the job is working with the women on the Phoenix Mercury roster and developing a rapport with each player to authentically tell their story,” Brown said.

And tell their stories she does.

One of the most famous Phoenix Mercury players is a name that was in the news for almost an entire year — Brittney Griner. Brown worked behind the scenes to elevate her popularity and relevance, with the #WeAreBG campaign.

“The purpose of #WeAreBG was to make sure the world never forgot about Brittney Griner and to advocate for her release as she was wrongfully detained overseas. For 294 days, we dedicated the Phoenix Mercury social channels to keeping Brittney Griner’s name top of mind. There is no way to compare this experience to any other campaign I have ever worked on. To have played a small role in elevating her story is something I hold dear to my heart,” Brown said.

When Griner was finally able to return home to the United States from Russia at the end of 2022, it was emotional for everyone involved.

“I’ll never forget waking up to the news and seeing about 100 text messages on my phone. I immediately burst into tears and called my fiancé. A few days after BG returned to Phoenix, she came into the practice facility and we all got to hug her. It was such a special moment,” Brown shared.

This campaign has led to numerous award nominations for Brown — including the Best in Sports Social Media by the Sports Business Journal Awards in New York.

“While we didn’t win the award and bring back the hardware, we brought home our sister. And there’s no bigger prize than that,” Brown said.

A few months later, Brown received an email informing her of her spot on the 2024 Forbes 30 Under 30 list in their sports category.

To say she was speechless doesn’t begin to cover it.

“I didn’t necessarily know it was possible for me to even be considered for this list. I blinked a good 10 times while reading the congratulations email from Forbes because I didn’t believe it was real, nor had I put my contacts in, so my vision was a little blurry,” she said.

When it comes to her career and her passion, she wants every student to know that there’s no formula to being successful and making the perfect decisions. Every step counts, so lean on your mentors and trust your gut.

“Receiving my master’s degree from Quinnipiac completely altered the trajectory of my career, and Barry and Molly provided me with the tools I needed to succeed. The world of content creation, social media, production and brand management is limitless. Never put yourself in a box; own who you are and allow that to open doors for you,” Brown said.

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