Tanya Snyder was named the Washington Football Team’s co-CEO, marking a shift in the franchise’s executive structure more than two decades after her husband and fellow CEO, Daniel Snyder, purchased controlling ownership of the team.
“Tanya is one of the most important figures in this organization, and that has only become more true over the last 18 months as her involvement has deepened,” Daniel Snyder said Tuesday in a news release from the team. “Publicly, many know Tanya for her incredible and impactful work in breast cancer awareness and her leadership of our charitable foundation. But behind the scenes, she has had a profound impact on the direction of the Washington Football Team. She was instrumental in our decision to evolve the brand and modernize our fan experience — including the entertainment team.”
For the past two decades, Tanya Snyder has led the team’s charitable foundation, which has given back more than $29 million to the Washington metro area community, the team said. She also founded the team’s Women of Washington fan club and in 1999, when Daniel Snyder bought the team, helped to launch the THINK-PINK campaign for breast cancer awareness, a disease she fought nearly a decade later.
Over the past year, Washington has overhauled not only its coaching staff but also its business operations after The Washington Post reported allegations of sexual misconduct from former employees. As the front office changed, the team and the NFL began to refer to Tanya Snyder’s role in the franchise’s decision-making. Public statements have been issued not solely by Daniel Snyder but by Dan and Tanya Snyder.
When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked during a pre-Super Bowl news conference in February about the status of attorney Beth Wilkinson’s investigation of the team’s workplace culture, he mentioned the organizational changes that had been made by the Snyders.
“To me, the important thing in the context of this is that the Washington football club has made a lot of changes already,” Goodell said then. “They asked for this type of review. They asked for the recommendations on this. Dan and Tanya are going to be done making those changes for the football club.”
For many recently hired team executives — including President Jason Wright, who was appointed in August — Tanya Snyder was part of the interview process and has been regularly engaged in top-level decisions, including discussions about a new stadium.
“It’s been collaborative from the jump,” Wright said in a recent interview with The Post. “My first interaction with them, even before I was interviewing for the role, when I met them for the first time, it was both of them. In every interview I did with them, it was both of them there. It was always a three-way, collaborative, building-on-one-another’s-thoughts type of conversation.”
Tanya Snyder is expected to have an office at the team’s Ashburn headquarters and appear at more public events with the team.
Multiple people familiar with the situation offered differing explanations for possible motivations behind the move. One of those said it is in line with a public relations effort by the team and the league to take the focus off the sexual harassment allegations, the league’s investigation, the recently resolved ownership dispute and Daniel Snyder’s 22-year ownership. Others said it is a maneuver that could provide leadership continuity if Daniel Snyder is suspended by the NFL as a result of Wilkinson’s investigation.
In the news release from the team, Daniel and Tanya Snyder characterized her new title as the formalization of her previously unofficial role with the team.
“This team is our family’s legacy,” Tanya Snyder said in the news release. “We are at a pivotal point in the history of this team as we work to become the gold standard of NFL franchises. The co-CEO titles reflect our approach to that effort. It is a natural progression, but it’s important to formally recognize the diversity of opinion and perspective that informs everything we do. In my new role, I’ll be positioned to ensure the core values that are central to our philanthropy permeate the entire organization and bring us closer to realizing our goals.”
Last summer, after The Post reported allegations from 15 women of sexual harassment by former male employees, Daniel Snyder hired Wilkinson to investigate the team under the premise that it would be unbiased and independent. A month later, 25 more women made similar claims to The Post, alleging the team produced lewd videos from outtakes of cheerleader calendar shoots in 2008 and 2010.
Snyder has denied knowing any such videos exist and has vowed to improve the team’s culture. The franchise has restructured its business operations and hired a new leadership team led by Wright. And the NFL assumed oversight of the investigation led by Wilkinson.
On Tuesday evening, attorneys for 40 former team employees denounced Tanya Snyder’s new title as “a shallow attempt to show progress without making any meaningful changes” and “a transparent move by Dan Snyder to try to placate” the NFL and other team owners.
“To show any true commitment to change, the Washington Football Team and NFL must make the full findings of the independent investigation public and act on Wilkinson’s recommendations to provide both transparency and accountability,” the attorneys, Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, said in a statement. “We must know the full truth of what has happened at the organization before any meaningful progress can actually occur.”
According to court documents filed last year related to Daniel Snyder’s ownership dispute with his former minority partners, he owned 40.459 percent of the franchise, while his sister, Michele, owned 12.552 percent and his mother, Arlette, owned 6.489 percent. Those court filings came before Snyder agreed to buy out the combined 40.499 percent owned by Dwight Schar, Robert Rothman and Fred Smith.
Fellow NFL owners voted unanimously in March to grant Snyder a $450 million debt waiver and approve his $875 million buyout of Schar, Rothman and Smith. That ended a contentious dispute that produced a grievance, an NFL arbitration process and litigation, and it put control of the franchise entirely with Daniel Snyder and his family members.
One observer in the industry likened Tanya Snyder’s expanded status in the team’s operations to the increasingly active and visible role Dee Haslam has taken in ownership with the Cleveland Browns. She stepped down as CEO of a media company in 2018 to put greater focus on the team and community work. Her husband, Jimmy, received negative publicity when his truck-stop chain, Pilot Flying J, was involved in a fraud scheme, but he was not disciplined by the NFL.
“Tanya has always been my closest confidant and most important advisor, but her role has outgrown such informal titles,” Daniel Snyder said in Tuesday’s news release. “The perspective she brings to this organization is invaluable and I am incredibly proud to recognize it with a fitting title: CEO.”
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