EVP Office of the Commissioner and Chief DEI Officer, Major League Soccer (MLS)
Sola Winley joined MLS as Executive Vice President, Commissioner’s Office & Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer in 2021. His role includes leading efforts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion among MLS employees, vendors, and partners, and drive access and participation in soccer in underserved communities.
Soon after his arrival, Winley enacted several programs and policies to make real and lasting change. In 2021, MLS unveiled a series of updates and enhancements to its Diversity Hiring Policy for sporting positions with the clubs. The changes, led by Winley and created with a working group of club personnel, league executives and current and former MLS players, were made to increase the policy’s efficacy, add a specific focus on the hiring of Black candidates and strengthen the policy’s enforcement mechanisms. The updated policy applies to the entire MLS ecosystem, which includes MLS clubs, MLS’ youth academies, MLS NEXT and MLS NEXT Pro. In March 2022, MLS announced that it will leverage a historic $25 million loan from a syndicate of Black banks, marking the first time any sports league has participated in a major commercial transaction exclusively with Black banks. The partnership was facilitated by the nonprofit National Black Bank Foundation.
Prior to joining MLS, Winley worked with the NFL and A+E Television Networks, and his own consulting and advisory companies. Winley developed and implemented leadership and training programs designed to prepare and advance mid-level executives of color into senior positions. At A+E Networks, he established the company’s first multicultural committee and led corporate values and community outreach efforts. Winley played a significant role in supporting A+E’s efforts to broaden and diversify its brand, content, and marketing communications strategy.
Winley has a BA from the University of Connecticut, an MA from Adelphi University, an MSW from New York University, and an MBA from Fordham’s Graduate School of Business. He is a member of the Executive Leadership Council and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. In 2016 and 2017, he was recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential Minority Leaders in Cable by Cablefax, and in 2017, Savoy Magazine included him as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America.