Lauren Clayborne: The Queen of the Pride
Lauren joins SIS to discuss her background and how she continues to make an impact on the Detroit Community and future professionals in the sports industry.
Tell us about your background in sports and your proudest moment thus far.
I am the director of community relations for the Detroit Lions. In this role, I am responsible for building the comprehensive philanthropic programming of the Lions organization. I manage these efforts with Detroit Lions players, Lions Legends, and the Detroit Lions Women’s Association. Before joining the NFL, I worked with the Detroit Pistons the Detroit Pistons, Michigan State University Athletics, the Lansing Entertainment and Public Facilities Authority (LEPFA), and General Motors Corporation.
My proudest moment? Wow. This is hard to narrow down, so I will mention two. One of my most proud moments actually has nothing to do with sports. My senior year in college at MSU, I made up in mind that I wanted to be the student commencement speaker at my graduation and after applying and auditioning, I was selected to do so. Years later, a student reached out to me because they were interested in being the speaker for their upcoming graduation. I coached them based on my experience. Months went by and I totally forgot about it, and they reached out and told me they were selected as well. I was probably more excited for them than I was when I found out that I had been selected. I was elated because I know how it felt to set a goal for yourself, do everything you can to prepare for it, and accomplishing it. It’s my personal goal to share what I know in order to provide the tools for someone else to be successful.
Secondly, I look around at all of my friends and I realize how incredibly blessed I am to be around some of the most gifted individuals. Many of my friends are leaders in their communities. Broadcast journalists, pastors, authors, principals, entrepreneurs, attorneys, doctors, brand strategists, and the list goes on. It’s rewarding to see people you grow up with clear life’s hurdles to reach inspiring feats in their careers. You are only as great as your village and my village rocks!
Tell us about one of the biggest challenges you have faced in your sports career and how you overcame it.
One of the biggest challenges is not taking it personal when people say no to me. There have been so many times in my career where people have said no whether it was for a job, an opportunity, or a or new sponsorship deal. It’s hard not take it personal when you’re putting your best foot forward and it’s still not recognized or acknowledged; it’s challenging to bounce back from that. Even if someone says no, you can’t take it personal. You can’t wallow in the rejection because sometimes rejection is just setting you up for your next opportunity. Sometimes rejection catapults you into your future. I’ve overcome the “no’s” by throwing my own parade and by taking it day by day. If you need to get a good cry in, do it. Some days are just going to suck and it’s okay! Just don’t stay there! I keep my thank you notes close and I will read them when I’m having a bad day. I call my mom. She’s always on Team Lauren! One sure way to move past a challenge like this is volunteering. It’s something about helping others that completely changes your perspective and usually for the better.
You are heavily involved in the community of Detroit as the Director of Community Relations for the NFL team. What is your favorite initiative or organization that you work with each year?
There are so many favorites for so many reasons, but one of my favorites from last season was our Superhero Ball. We hosted 100 pediatric patients from Kids Kicking Cancer at our stadium for a Superhero Ball that was filled with superhero themed food, games, and even superhero capes! Our players really got into it as well. They actually participated in a breathing exercise with the kids and it was my favorite part of the event. Kids Kicking Cancer is an organization that teaches mind-body techniques of Martial Arts instruction, breath work and meditation to empower children beyond the pain and discomfort of disease. It was my favorite because it gave the families involved an opportunity to temporarily put aside the fight and enjoy themselves for an evening. We wanted those families to know the obstacles they have to overcome each and every day makes them the real superheroes and they should be celebrated!
If you weren’t working in sports, what is something you are passionate about that you would pursue as a career?
My friends will probably laugh at me if they read this, but I would travel the world as a food critic on the Food Network. I’m definitely the foodie amongst my friends and family…check out my IG foodie page, @elleseeisafoodie (shameless plug). I love trying new restaurants and I eat out waaaay too much, so I figure it would be the best of both worlds. I definitely could be the next “Girl vs. Food.”
When it is all said and done and you have finished your sports career, what do you want to your legacy to be in the industry?
Oh my. Another great question. One of my peers sent me this article a few weeks ago entitled, “Are You Living Your Eulogy or Resume” and it hit me on the head when I read it. When someone is being eulogized, they don’t bring up all of their professional accomplishments, they bring up the way that they’ve impacted the world through the things they are passionate about and how they made people feel…their legacy. With that being said, I want to be known as someone who loves God and loves people. I want people to know that I was always willing to give of myself, time, and resources. I want ladies in sports to kick tail and know that they can be the next CEO, Commissioner, or senior level executive. I want people to know that every time they left my presence they were encouraged and felt appreciated. I want people to know that I loved my family and friends, I loved to laugh, and I loved to celebrate life!