From Player to President (and Everything in Between): A Conversation with Cindy Parlow Cone
Cindy Parlow Cone’s life has been extraordinary: 1999 World Cup Champion, Olympic gold medalist, NWSL Champion, and, mostly recently, President of U.S. Soccer. Join us for a conversation about how adversity, teamwork, and leadership shaped this U.S. Soccer and women’s sports pioneer's career.
From the Soccer Field to the Boardroom, Cindy Parlow Cone on Lessons in Leadership
Cindy Parlow Cone is the first female President of the U.S. Soccer Federation and just the second sitting National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee to hold the position as well as the first U.S. Soccer President to have played for a senior U.S. National Team. Join her as she shares what lessons from the field helped her lead U.S. Soccer through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and also helped her negotiate a historic collective bargaining agreement with the Men’s and Women’s National Teams.
Invest in Women: Lessons on Adversity and Leadership from a 99er and the First Woman President of U.S. Soccer
Cindy Parlow Cone won a World Cup, two Olympic gold medals, and sits at number 8 on the USWNT's list of all-time leading goal-scorers and now serves as the President of U.S. Soccer. Few people have as much insight into where women's sports have been, where they are now, and where they are going as Cone. Join Cone as she shares her unique experiences in the fight for equal pay and leading through crisis.
Cindy Parlow Cone is first female President of U.S. Soccer, the second sitting National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee and the first person to hold the position who played for a senior U.S. National Team. Cone was elevated from Vice President to President of the U.S. Soccer Federation on March 12, 2020. She is also one of only seven female Federation presidents across FIFA’s 211 member associations.
She was first elected Vice President of U.S. Soccer in February 2019 and served in the position for a year, completing the term that was vacated. She then was re-elected as Vice President in February 2020 and was elevated to President a month later.
Cone navigated the Federation through a tremendously difficult period during the onset and height of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Her priorities as President included focusing on improving U.S. Soccer’s efforts to take meaningful action in the diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging space, stabilizing and ensuring the long and short-term financial viability of the Federation, improving communication and interaction with all of U.S. Soccer’s players and member organizations, putting an increased emphasis on team building among the staff, and leading efforts to grow the game in all its forms.
Cone helped navigate bringing U.S. Soccer’s commercial rights back in house for the first time in more than 20 years. She oversaw the Federation’s renewal with Nike in 2021, the largest commercial agreement in U.S. Soccer history. She also oversaw the eight-year multimedia rights agreement with Turner Sports, marking U.S. Soccer’s largest media deal. And, she was instrumental in resolving the Women’s National Team litigation on equal pay.
Cone was re-elected to a full four-year term as U.S. Soccer’s President in March of 2022. At the outset of her second term, she played a major role in helping U.S. Soccer reach a historic collective bargaining agreement with the U.S. Women’s and Men’s National Team unions that guarantees equal pay including World Cup prize money—the first country to do so.
Cone is also a title-winning coach at the grassroots, collegiate and professional levels and holds a USSF “A” coaching license. During the past 20 years, she has served on the Athlete’s Council as well as numerous committees at FIFA and at U.S. Soccer, including the FIFA Steering Committee.
The Memphis, Tennessee native was a star striker for the U.S. Women’s National Team during a career that spanned 1996-2004, earning 158 caps while scoring 75 goals, which still stands as eighth on the USA’s all-time goals list.
She is a three-time Olympian (gold medalist in 1996 & 2004 and a silver medalist in 2000) and a member of the historic 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup winning side, scoring two goals in that tournament including a diving header against Nigeria in group play and the crucial opening score in the 2-0 semifinal victory against Brazil. She is the youngest player ever to win both an Olympic gold medal and a Women's World Cup title.
Inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2018, Cone was a four-time All-American at the University of North Carolina, scored 68 goals and 53 assists in 103 games, and was on teams that won two NCAA titles. She won both the Hermann Trophy and the M.A.C. Player of the Year awards as the consensus college soccer player of the year as a junior and a senior. Cone was also a pioneer of sorts for college soccer, entering UNC early after three years of high school. She majored in Education in Chapel Hill.
She also served as an assistant coach at UNC, winning four NCAA titles, including 2012 when she took coaching lead due to an illness to head coach Anson Dorrance’s wife.
She was also the first head coach to win a National Women's Soccer League championship, guiding Portland Thorns FC to the title in 2013 during the league's inaugural season.
Cone is on the board for the non-profit Goals for Girls, an organization that uses “soccer to teach leadership skills to young women and teach them how to be agents of change, in their own lives and in their communities.”
She is currently the Girls’ Director for NCFC Youth in the Durham-Chapel Hill area.
In the summer of 2007, she married John Cone in Chapel Hill. She has a street – Cindy Parlow Drive – named after her in her hometown of Germantown, Tennessee.