CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Former women's basketball standout Jessica Gelman '97 and Harvard alumnus Tom Stemberg '71 have been selected as Ivy League Legends of Basketball, the conference office announced Thursday, Jan. 11.
Gelman will be recognized and Stemberg will be honored posthumously for their accomplishments at the Ivy League Tournament March 10-11 in Philadelphia. The Ivy League Legends are comprised of individuals who have contributed significantly and left lasting impressions on their respective basketball programs and universities. Gelman and Stemberg are members of the second class of Legends.
Gelman, a board member of the Harvard Visiting Committee on Athletics, was a four-time letterwinner and a two-time All-Ivy League recipient, earning second team honors in 1996 and first team in 1997. She co-captained the 1997 team to the first 14-0 Ivy League record by any men's or women's team in the conference. Her accomplishments still resonate in the Harvard record books. She broke the all-time assists record while playing and is currently ranked third all-time with 485. She is one of 13 players in program history to score 1,000 points (1,045). She received the Radcliffe College Alumnae Association Award as Harvard's outstanding female athlete and went on to play for the Ramat-Hasharon Electra professional basketball team in Israel.
Today, Gelman is the CEO of Kraft Analytics Group (KAGR), a technology and services company focused on data management, advanced analytics and strategic consulting in the sports and entertainment space. It was founded in 2016 after a 15-year evolution that began by powering the business side of the Kraft Sports Group (New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium, New England Revolution).
Gelman, a past co-chair of the Friends of Harvard Basketball, has received recognition for her leadership and innovation, including the 2014 Sports Business Journal "Forty under 40" which honors the most promising young executives in sports business under the age of 40 and in 2012 Sports Business Journal's "Game Changers," which honors women who are leading and innovating in sports business. Gelman is the founder and a co-chair of the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference held annually in Boston. Gelman has always taken great time, pride and effort in mentoring undergraduate student-athletes.
Stemberg's association with Harvard dates back to 1967, as he earned his undergraduate degree from the College in 1971 and business degree from Harvard Business School in 1973 as a George F. Baker Scholar. During his time in Cambridge, Stemberg co-founded The Harvard Independent, a student-run newspaper, took on business management roles with Harvard Student Agencies and supported the basketball team as a member of the Harvard band.
One of Stemberg's proudest contributions to Harvard was serving as the "Godfather" of the Friends of Harvard Basketball, having helped found the group in 1974. His unwavering support of the Crimson basketball program throughout his life led to his family endowing the men's head coaching position. Stemberg, who passed away in 2015, also has the distinct recognition of having the court at the newly renovated Lavietes Pavilion named in his honor. The Thomas G. Stemberg '71 Court will hold its official dedication in February prior to a men's basketball home game.
A tremendously successful businessman, Stemberg became the youngest vice president at the Jewel Companies, a prominent Chicago-based grocery chain, at age 27. Considered a titan and visionary in the retail industry, his experiences at Harvard allowed him to launch and co-found the office supply superstore, Staples, in 1986, where he served as CEO for 16 years. During his career, he served on the boards for Carmax, Lululemon and Petsmart in addition to serving on the Board of Overseers for the Harvard Faculty of Arts & Sciences and the Visiting Committee of Harvard Business School.
Two of Stemberg's sons, Rylan Hamilton AB '02, MBA '09, and William Stemberg AB '14 also attended Harvard. His family remains incredibly active in and dedicated to supporting the Harvard basketball program today.