Sandy Cross is the chief people officer of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America, where she fosters innovation, creativity and collaboration. She also developed and manages the PGA’s Inclusion and Diversity department to ensure the game of golf reflects the country’s diversity. A former NCAA Division I volleyball player, Cross began her career with the Cleveland Cavaliers before joining the PGA of America. Cross will speak at this year’s Women in Business Summit.

Local Profile‘s 21st annual Women in Business Summit will be held on September 30 at the Renaissance Dallas at Plano Legacy West Hotel. Click here for tickets.

How have you changed since the start of your career?

I have grown in countless ways. I’ve been incredibly blessed to work in many different arenas — business development, player engagement, diversity, equity and inclusion, and people resources. Each arena was a new one for me, which suits my growth mindset very well. The business development arena was highly competitive, whereas the diversity, equity, inclusion and people arenas are highly collaborative. They require different approaches, but leading inclusively has always been my anchor. 

How has the business world changed?

The need and desire for inclusive leadership are greater than ever. Cultural intelligence, curiosity, recognizing one’s biases, risk-taking, collaboration and staying the course in the face of adversity are essential traits for today’s business world.

What obstacles have you faced?

The golf industry is consistently becoming more diverse in terms of who plays the game, who works in the industry and who participates in the supply chain. However, there is a long way to go before the game, workforce and supply chain truly mirror the demographics of America. The aftermath of the exclusionary history of the sport continues to be an obstacle in our efforts to authentically engage individuals from diverse backgrounds and identities. What communities of color endured is not easily forgotten by those individuals. The creation of authentic invitations to safe and welcoming places and spaces in golf is critical. We must create awareness that the industry has evolved and continues to evolve and illuminate the pathways into the game and the business for everyone. 

Did any of the obstacles surprise you?

How deep-seated the hurt and damage are, rightfully so, from what took place decades ago. It has had a multi-generational, adverse impact on the sport’s growth trajectory. 

What experiences, training or education best prepared you?

My undergraduate pre-law background has always been very valuable across all the different arenas I’ve worked in. Developing my public speaking skills through Toastmasters International has been invaluable. My first board leadership experience on the Executive Women’s Golf Association Board of Directors was transformative as well. 

What has helped you the most during your career?

Having a growth mindset has been most helpful. I believe you have to be hungry to learn at every turn in order to add real value and feel fulfilled personally and professionally. 

What is the best advice you’ve received?

My mother has always told me, “Cross that bridge when you come to it.” I can’t get ahead of myself.  While being planful is important, things will happen in due time and they will take care of themselves. 

What was one of the most interesting (or useful) things you learned this year?

The power of a team being in person together. That’s where the magic happens in a way that it doesn’t over a video conference. Balance and a mix of settings are important, but the moments of being together in person are truly powerful for the individuals and the business. Our collective cups get filled up every time. 

What’s your personal brand and how do you nurture it?

I consistently strive to be an inclusive leader with an “others first” mindset who is committed to continuous growth and development. It requires daily, moment-by-moment nurturing and comes into play with every interaction. I simply have to keep it top of mind and ensure my words and my actions align with what I am committed to. 

What do you wish you would have known earlier?

Nothing. Everything happens in due time. We are all on an individual journey of discovery and development at every single moment.  

What book had the most impact on you and your career?

Strengths-Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams and Why People Follow from Gallup.

What is the biggest mistake you see women making when it comes to advancing their careers?

Thinking there is only one seat at the table and that they have to compete against other women to earn it versus having each other’s backs and raising each other up.  There’s room for everyone to stretch, learn, lead, grow, and make an impact. 

What was one of the most interesting (or useful) things you learned this year?

The power of a team being in person together. That’s where the magic happens in a way that it doesn’t over a video conference. Balance and a mix of settings are important, but the moments of being together in person are truly powerful for the individuals and the business. Our collective cups get filled up every time.  

What’s a recurring hurdle for you? (time, money, attitude, location, knowledge, etc.) What strategies are you using to overcome that?

It has become incredibly cliche but work-life balance is a recurring hurdle for me.  My strategies include CrossFit Lowe, playing with our yellow labrador retriever Swagger and the Aura app for mindfulness.

What’s your personal brand and how do you nurture it?

I consistently strive to be an inclusive leader with an “others first” mindset who is committed to continuous growth and development. It requires daily, moment-by-moment nurturing and comes into play with every interaction. I simply have to keep it top of mind and ensure my words and my actions align with what I am committed to.  

What do you think the future holds for women in the business world?

I believe it holds incredible opportunities. The business world is truly our oyster. We are the fastest-growing segment among entrepreneurs. While we are not short on the number of challenges and obstacles we face, particularly for women of color.  While sometimes it is one step forward, two or maybe three steps back, the opportunity is truly great if we are willing to press forward.


Local Profile‘s 21st annual Women in Business Summit will be held on September 30 at the Renaissance Dallas at Plano Legacy West Hotel. Click here for tickets.

Rebecca Silvestri

Rebecca Silvestri is the vice president of Sales & Marketing. She is also the wife of Philip Silvestri, publisher of Local Profile. In a previous life, Rebecca was a math teacher in London and the...