The Network Journal 25 Most influential Women in Business -2010 001
Founder and President
SilverStone International L.L.C.
Nichelle Gainey’s early lessons of diplomacy were influenced and shaped by her parents, Sergeant First Class (U.S. Army, Ret) William and Lucy Gainey. She lived in Europe until she was 12 years old and speaks fluent German. When she returned stateside, “my classmates wondered why I spoke English with a funny accent,” says Gainey, founder and president of SilverStone International L.L.C., a sports management and marketing firm. “I used to be envious of those who grew up in one place, but realized I was very privileged to be exposed to different personalities, languages and cultures. Adapt-ability was easier for me.”
In 1991, Gainey received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry/biology from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University, and her master’s in education from Florida Sate University. She served as assistant commissioner at the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) in 2000 and worked with the NCAA to get Division I Soccer sanctioned in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
Gainey’s passion for “sports diplomacy” was ignited in 2004, when she organized care packages for her brother and his fellow soldiers who were all serving in Iraq. Gainey so thoroughly enjoyed the project that she was inspired to create a company that could combine the use of business, sports and diplomacy — she founded SilverStone International in 2005. She now provides consulting services to her global clientele and launches sporting events with a different twist. “The magnitude of what sports can do to help our country’s image [has not been realized],” she says.
Gainey served as a consultant to the 2006 Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup Germany organizing committee, which led to a partnership between SilverStone International and the 2010 South Africa FIFA World Cup Committee. SilverStone International currently works with sports organizations in China, Africa and Europe and holds the American contract for marketing with Confederation of African Football (CAF) for the African Cup of Nation games.
Gainey hopes to serve as an ambassador to Europe or Africa one day. “Mandela once said that sports has the power to change a nation,” she says.