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Renee Montgomery becomes the first retired WNBA player to be an owner and executive of a WNBA team

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Bee Trofort Wilson

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WNBA player of the Minnesota Lynx, Renee Montgomery is the co-owner and executive of the Atlanta Dream team.

“For me, it’s exciting because it’s hard for me to turn off the player mindset. Even though I’m an executive and a vice president, I’m always going to be a hooper at heart,” Montgomery tells PEOPLE about her role with the Dream.

As an executive Montgomery stated, “ That’s been interesting because I love seeing how things work, peeling back and seeing what makes things go, who decides what, what better ways can things be done, bringing an athlete’s perspective to the front office. As athletes, we’re always like, ‘Why doesn’t this happen this way?’ Now, I’m taking that logic that we know as athletes and trying to apply it as an executive.”

In addition to her responsibility as vice present and anexecutive, she is among the few openly gay women of color in the front office of a professional sports team in the U.S.

“I do hope that we start to see more WNBA players become WNBA owners and the same on the men’s side. Really any sport where an athlete gives their blood, sweat, and tears — and their heart,” she notes. “Who better to run a program or an organization than those people?”

Montgomery was honored in the 2021 TIME 100 Next list with Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms calling her “an inspirational leader” and “part of a new generation embodying the conscience of our communities.”