Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, parent company to NHL’s New Jersey Devils, the Prudential Center and the Philadelphia 76ers, tapped David Gould as its first chief diversity and impact officer.
Gould’s appointment comes less than a month after HBSE’s managing partners, Josh Harris and David Blitzer, unveiled the company’s racial equity action plan, which includes a commitment of $20 million to fight systemic racism.
In this newly created role, Gould will lead the organization’s internal and external diversity and inclusion standards, programs and initiatives.
“I’m just really grateful and honored for the opportunity, especially considering this is a newly created role, to have the confidence put in me to help lead the organization in the way we want to go,” he said.
Gould joined the 76ers earlier this year as the executive director of the Sixers Youth Foundation, playing a significant role in the development of HBSE’s racial equity action plan and leading many of the team’s efforts to support underserved communities during the COVID-19 crisis. While executive director, Gould furthered the foundation’s efforts to serve youth through the rehabilitation of basketball courts in the greater Philadelphia area, providing safe youth basketball clinics, and delivering lunches to thousands of children.
In his new role, Gould will help implement a comprehensive inclusion and diversity strategy across HBSE while working with company leaders, HBSE’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board and the human resources department.
According to an announcement on his hiring, he will be responsible for spearheading HBSE’s action plan and commitment to promote racial equality, including efforts to invest in Black communities; support Black and minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs; promote education, health and employment opportunities for Black community members; and amplify and build workplaces founded in respect, diversity and inclusion across HBSE properties.
“We’ve had a lot of conversations internally about the role that sports teams and the sports entertainment industry can and, in our opinion, should play in addressing issues related to racism and equality. What I’m really looking forward to is figuring out how we can be most effective in that [and create] positive change,” Gould said. “We hope that one we can do good within our company and community and also that we can be a leader. Hopefully this becomes more of the norm than the exception.”
HBSE’s threefold priorities, Gould said, include using its platform to promote difficult conversations and educate its fan base on systemic racism; becoming a leader in diversity; and having an impact on the community not just in terms of donating money, but also doing business in a way that doesn’t leave out local and minority-owned businesses.
“We want to be holistic in terms of how we have a positive impact,” he said.
Gould will also work with team marketing and community relations to promote positive educational, health and employment outcomes for local communities; and will build and maintain relationships with community leaders to drive change and make an impact on the communities in which HBSE businesses operate.
Gould previously served as the deputy director for community engagement and communications for Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s Rebuild initiative, which invested more than $400 million in low-income neighborhoods to revitalize community spaces and promote economic opportunity. He served on the leadership team that launched the program responsible for revitalizing community parks, recreation centers and libraries across Philadelphia; bringing construction opportunities for small, diverse businesses and creating jobs for women and people of color.
Prior to working for the Philadelphia mayor, Gould was a program officer at the William Penn Foundation where he was responsible for exploring new areas of focus for the foundation, specifically related to community development and impact investing.