While a senior at Central Michigan University, Widder attended an NBA career fair in Chicago — and left with six front-office job offers. She chose the Indiana Pacers, bounced around to the NFL's Detroit Lions and back to the Pacers before accepting a post in the NBA League Office in New York City. But she and her husband got game-changing news — twins. She decided to commute from Ann Arbor, Michigan, to be closer to family. After two years of four-day-a-week travel, she accepted a position as vice president of ticket sales and service for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014.
Recruiting Tactics: During her interview, the Cavs told her: "It's kind of a secret how cool the city is." When Widder discovered places like Ohio City and Tremont, she got it.
At Home: Widder and her husband, Mark, are renovating their 1950s Avon Lake home and plan on raising their family there. "This is the first place we ever lived where we knew everybody within two months."
Small Matters: Widder, who played basketball through high school, had WNBA dreams. "I wasn't as good as I thought I was. I never weighed over 100 pounds until I was in college."
More Than A Game: Widder's father left when she was young. "Sports gave me a purpose. It gave me a family. It gave me something to look forward to."
On Finding Herself: Perhaps because she didn't experience the helicopter parenting of others her age, she wasted no time on an identity crisis. "I knew exactly who I was when I was 12 years old."
Family Time: Widder works about 60 hours a week while Mark, a registered nurse, stays home with the kids. The twins' preschool is within walking distance of their house, as well as a couple of restaurants and Lake Erie. "Once I had kids, they really defined success for me," she says.
Unfair Millennials Stereotype: "We want what we want when we want it," she says. "Yes, but I'm willing to work for it."
What Cleveland Needs: Better downtown living options for families. While Heinen's was a move in the right direction, Widder says, the city is not family-friendly yet. "All my [sales] reps are living downtown," she says. "But they all say, 'You know, in two or three years, I'm going to have to move out.' "