After 18 years as a software and systems engineer and director in the satellite and wireless telecommunications industry, Denise Watkins launched her second career as a community volunteer, mother of three and owner of the Stealth. She holds a BS in Mathematics from UC-Irvine.
Watkins’ experience in sports management began as a co-founder and owner of the Primal Quest Adventure Racing organization. Primal Quest (PQ) is an expedition-length adventure race that has been called one of the most difficult athletic events in the world and was cited as the most prestigious expedition event in North America. The race once featured the largest prize purse in adventure racing.
Inspired by their children’s interest in lacrosse, Watkins and her husband, Bill, became season ticket holders with the San Jose Stealth when the team was relocated to San Jose from Albany, NY in 2003. From the very first game, they were hooked. In June 2007, Watkins and a small group of investors purchased the team from Silicon Valley Sports and Entertainment (SVSE). Watkins is committed to proving that lacrosse has a place in the Pacific Northwest, and not just as a sport, but also as a tool for child development.
Watkins is on the board of the Stealth companion charity, Sticks-2-Schools. Under her leadership, the Sticks-2-Schools program delivers lacrosse to local schools and communities to get kids active and to fight childhood obesity. Schools are provided sticks, balls, curriculum and on site support from a player representative so that “soft” lacrosse can be integrated into the schools PE curriculum at no cost to the schools. Sponsors are found to underwrite the costs of the program.
In addition to her responsibilities as an NLL owner, Watkins is active in the community as co-founder and president of the Pleasanton Schools Educational Enrichment Foundation, a non-profit organization that seeks to heighten and maintain art, science, and other learning programs for Pleasanton Unified School District. She also serves as a board member and chair of the education committee for the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center (LVPAC). LVPAC has a community art incubator, a state of the art 500 seat theater that opened in fall of 2007, and has plans for a 2,000 seat theater that will be able to host high profile artists and traveling Broadway shows. Watkins is also a trustee of the University of California-Merced Foundation. UC-Merced is the newest addition to the prestigious UC system and opened in Fall 2005. Since that time UC-Merced has grown to over 4,500 students. The first new American research university in the 21st century, with a mission of research, teaching and service. A majority of the UC Merced students are the first in their families to attend higher education.