Women of the HEAT 2020
Akemi Martina Maehama Romain
Basketball Operations / Charitable Fund Assistant
1. What’s the story on how you became a part of the HEAT Family? I actually started as a volunteer for the Family Festival, HEAT Gala, and game day garage sales back in 2014 for the Miami HEAT Charitable Fund (MHCF). I was hired full-time in 2017.
2. Name something interesting people might not know about you. I speak three languages: Japanese, Spanish and English. My parents are Argentinian and I was born and raised in Japan until I was 15 years old before moving to the US with little to no knowledge of English.
3. In 2020, there are many more women with roles in the sports world. How is the HEAT a leader in this area? The HEAT organization gives women a platform to set examples and pave paths for the future of our next generation in the sports industry. Everyone in the organization encourages each other to be a go-getter. I believe that the HEAT love to have creative and inspirational women and has built this into their culture. I am proud to be a part of a family that honors and respects women in the sports world. If it wasn’t for the support of everybody in my life and the HEAT organization, I would not be where I am today.
Director of Sports Nutrition
1. You have a really cool job. How did you get into the sports nutrition world here at the HEAT? I initially started with the HEAT years ago in the Marketing Department. I then went back to school to get my master’s in Food and Nutrition and certified in Sports Nutrition. The HEAT had always been great to me, like family, and I maintained great relationships with the staff. When the franchise learned I was a dietitian, I was asked to speak with a potential player on learning how to manage a sports nutrition diet. The position evolved from there. I was lucky to have a coaching and training staff that believed in how you fuel is how you play and let me create the role.
2. Something interesting people don’t know about you. I was a competitive gymnast for most of my childhood.
3. How important is nutrition for overall athletic importance? It’s everything. You can’t play if you’re not fueled properly. You can’t skip meals, skip carbohydrates or give into fad diets and expect to play. You might play well, but you’re not playing as well as you could. You’re not giving yourself the right ratio of macronutrients.
4. What is it like working for the HEAT now? This is a dream job for me. I’m very fortunate because of our coaching staff, especially Coach Spo (HEAT Coach Erik Spoelstra). He really believes how you fuel is how you play. He values food and how you eat and what you give yourself. He believes in that 100%.
“The HEAT welcomed me almost 10 years ago in the role I am in now, before women had the roles they do now. That speaks volumes in their leadership.”
Assistant General Manager of AmericanAirlines Arena
1. What’s the story on how you became a part of the HEAT Family? I drove cross-country from Arizona to join the HEAT Family as the Event Services Intern in 2002. I was quickly captivated after learning first-hand all the details and effort it takes behind the scenes to put on a HEAT game and concert. Although the hours were long, I recognized I had a great team and I was determined to stay. Before the NBA season ended, I was hired full-time as the Event Coordinator later becoming an Event Manager, Sr. Event Manager, Director of Event Services and currently Assistant General Manager.
2. Name something interesting people might not know about you. I used to slalom, barefoot & trick water ski back in my high school days in Cleveland!
3. In 2020, there are many more women with roles in the sports world. How is the HEAT a leader in this area? Some companies speak about diversity and inclusion, but fail to take the next step to evolve and make it a reality. The HEAT, on the other hand, actually walks the walk and they understand the value and importance of diversity and female leadership. We are a more robust “family culture” by tapping into each other’s potential and expanding the seat at the table. I am proud to be a part of an organization that empowers women to lead. This inspires me to coach and mentor others.
Sr. Director of Corporate Partnership Marketing
1. What’s the story on how you became a part of the HEAT Family? I was an Intern in the Corporate Sales department during the Summer of 2003 and experienced drafting Dwyane Wade. With the excitement around the team and atmosphere in the office, I knew it was a special place to work. I returned the following summer with a full-time role as a Coordinator in Corporate Partnership Marketing. Three championship rings later, I am still enjoying every season with the HEAT.
2. Name something interesting people might not know about you. I wrote a children’s book for my nephew and hope to have it published one day.
3. In 2020, there are many more women with roles in the sports world. How is the HEAT a leader in this area? The HEAT is a leader and champion for diversity. It is built into the HEAT culture. The organization provides continuous opportunities for women as seen by the numerous women in senior leadership roles that inspire and mentor not only myself, but their teams every day.
Lissette Toirac Perdomo
Director of Data Platform Services
1. What’s the story on how you became a part of the HEAT Family? I was working as Data Architect using Big Data and Cloud Services. To my surprise, I got a message via LinkedIn from Edson Crevecoeur asking me if I was interested in having an interview for Manager of Data Services at the Miami HEAT. I was very curious to know what kind of technology and/or big data projects they were working with. After meeting the group in the interview, I could see the professionalism, projection and family environment at the HEAT. I loved the position and organization. I first started in a manager’s role. After two years, I got promoted to my current role as Director of Data Platform Services. I have the privilege to have an amazing team I love to work with every day.
2. Name something interesting people might not know about you. I moved to the United States six years ago with my family. Before that, I was a Computer Science teacher at the University for 10 years. After I got my master’s degree in Video Game Programming, I started to teach it to my students and it became their favorite computer science class.
3. In 2020, there are many more women with roles in the sports world. How is the HEAT a leader in this area? The HEAT is a leader in the industry for diversity and inclusion. Our executives recognize women for their contributions in the sports industry. The organization is always encouraging us to take leadership roles. Our voice is always heard! We have a lot of females in leadership roles across the board. The HEAT culture is based on creating and giving opportunities to develop leadership skills and professional growth of all employees regardless of gender, ethnicity, race or orientation. I am so proud to have an important role as a director in one of the biggest sports organizations of the industry. It makes me so happy to be a part of this great family.
Associate Security Manager
1. What’s the story on how you became a part of the HEAT Family? My journey with the Miami HEAT begins in 1999 part-time during the construction period of AmericanAirlines Arena. I was offered a full-time position in 2000. After a year, I was promoted to the overnight shift lieutenant, and throughout the years I’ve flourished within my department and the organization. I currently hold the position of Associate Security Manager, which involves managing a great team of security guards in addition to administrative work for the Security Department. I am also in charge of the daunting task of revamping the photo ID’s for the entire building, sub-contractors, sponsors and vendors, and all before our Home Opening Night.
2. Name something interesting people might not know about you. I am a plus-size model, actress, and am a part of a Christian-based dance ensemble called 13:46 (Pearl Empire).
3. In 2020, there are many more women with roles in the sports world. How is the HEAT a leader in this area? Working for the Miami HEAT, you are given the opportunity and encouragement to be creative and bold within your leadership role. The Miami HEAT constantly provide us with the necessary tools to improve our skills and development to further our career.
Senior Designer of the Miami HEAT Creative Team
1. What’s the story on how you became a part of the HEAT Family? While in college, I interned for a branding agency called Southern Brand Collective. After completing my degree, I worked there part-time as a freelancer. I loved it but was never able to secure a full-time role, so I began looking for other opportunities.
I fell into a few really great gigs following my time with SBC. One of them being a part-time designer for TIPOFF! I worked my butt off at three different jobs that year — part-time doing creative for Sushi Maki in the Gables, part-time designing TIPOFF here at the Arena, and waitressing a couple nights per week at a restaurant in Fort Lauderdale.
I’m happy to say that all my hard work paid off. The Miami HEAT decided to bring all creative in-house in 2013 and I was selected to be a part of the inceptive team that creates all the amazing work our fans have seen over the years.
2. Name something interesting people might not know about you. I was born and raised in a super small town in Northern Michigan called Cheboygan. I moved to Florida on my own when I was 18 years old (my whole family is still in the Mitten). And, I’m a crazy plant lady. If I was ever not doing design, I would love to have a little plant shop and hang out with my dog all day.
3. In 2020, there are many more women with roles in the sports world. How is the HEAT a leader in this area? I’ve never noticed that what we do is groundbreaking because I’ve never really had to. In the eight seasons I’ve worked in this building, I’ve been surrounded by so many women in leadership roles (I’ve personally worked under two incredible female leaders in this organization). It’s inspiring to see how they have grown within the company and made space for other women both working for the HEAT and in sports overall.
Videographer/ Editor, Media Productions
1. What’s the story on how you became a part of the HEAT Family? As a child, I was naturally drawn to video cameras, computers, and sports. As I grew older, those three interests found themselves merging. While I was obtaining my bachelor’s degree at Miami-Dade College, I ventured into the video production world where I gained experience in local commercials, live sporting events, and freelance video production. During my senior year, I applied for an internship at the Miami HEAT and was extended the opportunity. I viewed my internship as a long job interview and tackled all opportunities that I was presented with. By the end of the season, I was offered a part-time job as a Production Assistant and, five years later, I am thriving in HEATv as a Videographer/Editor. I attribute my drive and goal-oriented mindset in my career to my parents who always pushed me to follow my dreams and never settle for less.
2. Name something interesting people might not know about you. I am a hobby enthusiast. Outside of work, you can find me playing video games, buying sneakers, cooking up a storm in the kitchen, mowing my lawn, doing DIY home renovations with my husband, or hanging out with my dog.
3. In 2020, there are many more women with roles in the sports world. How is the HEAT a leader in this area? The Miami HEAT organization and our leaders have always positioned me to succeed. From the beginning, my ideas were always welcomed and my work was always respected. Yes, I may be a woman, but my colleagues respect my knowledge for the sport and my skill in video production. Above all, I am eternally grateful to the Miami HEAT for making this hometown girl’s dream of working in sports video production come true.